If you aren’t familiar with Iron Girl®, imagine this: thirteen events, nationwide, ranging from a 5K run walk all the way to a full grueling triathlon. And they’re all just for women. The Iron Girl mission to empower women toward a healthy lifestyle inspires us and resonates with our values. It’s a whole new angle on competition. Supportive. Community-oriented. Designed for all of us to help each other reach our athletic potential. Athleta is honored to be the title sponsor for the 2011 Iron Girl event series, and have the pleasure of introducing you to one of the inspirational women behind the organization.
Judy Molnar is not your average woman – nor does she want you to see her that way. A towering presence at 6’2, a whole head and shoulders above the average woman, and not at all slight of build, Judy knew she wasn’t like everyone else from the start. It was a quality her mom encouraged, telling her once, “… Remember, you are tall so people will look up to you.” Years later, and many struggles and triumphs later, these words still ring true — Judy is currently the Vice President of Iron Girl. And, she is still as tall as ever.
Before she became involved with Iron Girl, Judy had faced an ongoing battle with her weight, going back to her days as a student at Clemson University. Her weight eventually escalated to the point where a doctor labeled her “morbidly obese” — an unkind label, to say the least. Seeing those words, Judy had a revelation: “It doesn’t matter what label you wear – know that you can change it!” Soon after, Judy witnessed Oprah running her first marathon, proving that the marathon is not restricted to the elite athlete. For Judy, this was a real instigator: “…if Oprah can do a marathon, I can do one too.” As is her nature, Judy tackled her new found quest for health with a confident, bright-eyed swagger, inspiring others along the way.
Today, Judy Molnar has many marathons and triathlons under her belt, but she looks back on her first Ironman with the most pride. For her first time competing in the event, she was lucky enough to have her family and fiancé beside her when so many others said she couldn’t do it. Despite not finishing her first attempt, Judy was determined and finished on her second try. She realized afterward, “My accomplishment was not about finally finishing Ironman, but what I learned along the way to help me finish it.”
Judy seeks to inspire others through her work with Iron Girl, and through her bestselling book, You Don’t Have to Be Thin to Win. Judy believes women should “take a chance to step outside and rediscover themselves,” and one of the best ways to do this is through physical activity, whether it’s a marathon, triathlon, or anything that involves creating a place and being immersed in it. As Judy says, “Only you can swim the next stroke, pedal on and run that next step — no one else is there to do it for you.” With Iron Girl, Judy expands upon this idea, creating events where women can embrace their accomplishments through a collectively female atmosphere. It’s an avenue for women to “find their tallness,” as she likes to put it, and find out what makes them unique: “We are given many gifts, we just need to learn how to embrace them and grow.” For her, it’s all about seeking that camaraderie we often go our entire lives without fully appreciating.
Of course, says Judy, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a time when you run an entire marathon with a hole in your pants, and no one tells you about it. It’s all in good fun.