Jed Chappell

July 31, 2018

Written by Rachel McCoy | Photos by Jessica Stewart


DEFINITION:  Loyal and willing to give your time and energy to something that you believe in.

Jed Chappell’s view of St. Joseph and the surrounding region is one reserved for a handful of residents. It’s a view set aside for those motivated to push themselves from both a physical and emotional perspective.

To paint this picture, think about early morning mist on a farm field as the miles and minutes spent running intertwine. Think of the moon, huge and still, as the first day’s light emerges with only the sound of crickets and the whirr of bike tires. Think of the sun gently setting over the bend on an urban trail, casting an orange glow across the river bluffs. Picture the occasional curious nod from a cow along a gravel road – or the sounds of downtown businesses coming to life on a weekday; the crunch of ice and snow under your feet.

Chappell is a relentless triathlete. He is currently training for the Ironman Louisville competition in October of 2018. As he says, “he enjoys putting in the work and getting the results.” He’s one of the people many drivers have passed on their way to work – in all seasons – and wondered to themselves “is that guy always running, always biking?”

The answer is yes. He’s not messing around.

Chappell recently placed 4th at the USA Triathlon Ultra Distance National Championships in the full Ironman distance. He dedicates six to 30 hours a week training across all three triathlon disciplines. While he enjoys the challenge of swimming, biking, and running, he prefers the biking leg of the race even though it’s the longest portion. His upcoming Ironman will put this love to the test with a 2.8 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike race and concluding with a full marathon run.

Chappell’s dedication to these disciplines has its roots in Eugene, Oregon, where he grew up along the Willamette River. Always outdoors, Chappell enjoyed fishing, canoeing and hiking. When he and his wife, accomplished and noted endurance runner/trainer Ann Marie Chappell, moved to St. Joseph twelve years ago, they naturally began finding opportunities to keep training. He’s currently in his third triathlon season and participates in both full and half triathlons.

“I’ve seen a shift here over the years,” says Chappell. “There are more people getting involved with running, swimming, biking, triathlons and general fitness. You can see it as you’re out and about, and in new businesses like Ad Astra and the growth of Horizon Cycling shop. There’s a shift from thinking fitness is a chore to ‘fitness is something I want to do.’”

Chappell notes that St. Joseph and the region have great places to train. “I enjoy the Parkway trails, the trails at Krug Park, and area mountain biking paths,” he says. “There are amazing areas near us with the bluff scenery and gravel roads for biking. Really, there’s a lot to offer if you look for it.”

Finding time to weave in serious training with his full-time job at St. Joseph Plastics and a family isn’t easy, but it’s a challenge Chappell says is worth the payoff. He finds creative ways to fit training hours into the week, including riding his bike to work on St. Joseph trails. “Pushing myself on an individual level to accomplish the next goal is a great way to let off steam and hold on to self-discipline. This is true for anyone. It doesn’t matter how good you are, just find something you enjoy and start somewhere.”

Chappell says that triathlon training is something that “makes him tick,” but that there are more options than ever in St. Joseph for others to find that same feeling.

“Just get started at something; just find an area park or trail and use it. It will evolve from there. It’s got to be something you enjoy. And the effort you put in naturally brings more enjoyment and more success.”

Like many triathletes, Chappell often trains solo – but he does occasionally enjoy the community of area bike and running clubs. He says he’s seen a big increase in groups and fitness activities, which is inspiring. Chappell has participated in bike races and events with Horizon Cycling and says he especially enjoys the gravel rides.

“There are lots of good gravel routes around the area, and all different kinds of bike racing to try,” he says. “This is my social life, and also my fitness passion, so I find ways to make it work.”

Chappell says that most drivers are considerate toward bikers and runners in the St. Joseph area, but finding early morning times without traffic for longer rides is still a highlight. In the near future, this may mean many more early mornings. If Chappell qualifies in Louisville, he can compete in the Ironman Kona World Championship – a dedicated goal for the triathlete.

“I don’t want to be stagnant in my fitness or my life,” says Chappell. “Achieving something and working for it, no matter what it is, is a major key to contentment. And there’s always another goal to reach for. I’ll keep growing, challenging, pushing myself.”

Like many “uncommon” residents of St. Joseph, Chappell says the area really has a lot to offer for those willing to just get out there and get started. And once you get started, it’s pretty exciting to see just how far that path may go. (In any weather … on any given day … on any type of terrain.)


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