Maria “Triny” Willerton was on a final course recon for last year’s Ironman in Boulder, Colorado, when things literally went sideways. It was a sunny, calm weekday morning in early May—“a perfect day to ride,” she says—and the 46-year-old triathlete was travelling east on Nelson Road, a straight, treeless rural route roughly nine miles north of town. After signaling with her arm, she started to turn left onto North 65th Avenue, a quiet stretch of pavement where she would be able to worry less about traffic. She never made it.
Midturn, “I bounced off the grill of a brand-new Ford F-150,” she recalled. “I flew through the air and landed on the westbound shoulder.” According to a story that ran later that day in the local newspaper, the Boulder Daily Camera, Willerton made her turn in front of the driver, Stephen Gray, then 62, who was traveling in the same direction and hit her from behind. Willerton never lost consciousness, but she suffered six broken ribs, a triple pelvic fracture, chipped teeth, and a collapsed lung, among other injuries.