Mary Beth Ellis, known to the triathlon world as MB, is a five-time Ironman Champion and the American record holder at the Ironman distance.
After being diagnosed with osteoarthritis in 2005 and learning she would never run marathons competitively, she went against doctor’s orders and traded in her running career for triathlon. She quickly built a reputation for success at short distance races, including wins as part of the US National team in draft-legal racing and two second-place finishes at Ironman 70.3 World Championships.
But, that was just warm up for what was to come.
"She's probably one of the toughest triathletes that came through the national program in a long time," said Scott Schnitzspahn, of the U.S. Olympic Committee. "After a while, it became obvious that the longer stuff, the Ironman, is her speciality."
In 2011, MB joined Team TBB under the guidance of legendary coach Brett Sutton who immediately recognized her talent for long-distance triathlon. Shortly after, she stormed her way into Ironman with a debut of just over eight hours and forty-three minutes at Ironman Austria, smashing the rookie record, the American record and the course record that day.
Since then, MB has quickly pushed her way to the front of the sport, winning four of her first five Ironman starts and breaking three course records, including the infamous 20-year-old high water mark at Ironman Canada. In so doing, she has set a new standard for US Ironman women, and expanded her reputation for battling through adverse conditions, personal setback and increasingly fast competition to win.
Yet, as tough as she is on the course, she is well known for her light hearted, girl-next-door personality off the course. "I try not to take myself too seriously. I'm just grateful to have a chance to do what I love for a living because it seemed like it wasn’t even a possibility just a few years ago," she said. "The sport inspires so many people. I have seen so many amazing stories of people overcoming everything – cancer, obesity, anxiety – with the help of triathlon. My biggest wish it that what I do can, in some small way, add to that legacy and inspire other women like me to try the sport."
MB has competed in the Olympic trials for three sports, including swimming, running and triathlon. In 2006 she left her full-time job as a marketing director to pursue triathlon professionally. In quiet moments she loves to read, sip coffee, explore the outdoors and spend time with her husband and their goofy dog "Mr Fur."
||Hawaii Ironman World Championships