2020 Member Spotlight – Megan TuncerMay, 2020
I was a pretty competitive soccer player up until college. After a combination of injuries and burnout my freshman year, I decided I needed something different. My parents both did triathlons when they were younger, so I decided “why not” and signed up for the University of Maryland’s triathlon club at the club fair. They were really the reason I became hooked. They became my family in college.
What was your first triathlon?
I did the Liberty University triathlon (collegiate regional champs) for my first race. I was mostly peer pressured to do it by my new teammates, and I was terrified. I ended up qualifying with my team for collegiate nationals, which was my second race. It was one of those (literal) sink or swim experiences — I had to learn to keep up with the team pretty quickly.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in a triathlon?
At one of my off-season races (thank goodness), I realized that I forgot my contacts the morning of the race. Without my contacts, I am BLIND. I ended up doing the race with my glasses on, but I had to go blind during the swim. I ran into two buoys and a kayak during what felt like the longest swim of my life… now I always have AT LEAST one extra pair of contacts in my race bag at all times.
Do you have any memorable races or experience?
Right before I was set to leave for collegiate nationals my freshman year (the team was leaving at 3 am to take a bus down to Clemson), I realized that my bike lock keys had fallen off of my wallet…and my bike was locked to my bed frame (I am very protective over my bikes). It all turned out okay though — somehow I was able to find a friend of a friend who owned a saw and he came over and sawed the u-lock off of my bed in the middle of a dorm room at 2:50 am. I got written up for breaking the noise restrictions, but I made it to the bus right before it took off, and I’m sure I will never live that story down.
You were also an REI Ambassador?
I had the coolest opportunity in college to partner with REI and encourage college students to #optoutside. I coordinated hiking trips, set up coffee met-ups in outdoor spots on campus, and mapped out and led local trail runs. With the support of REI I got to meet a ton of new people on campus and really strengthen my own leadership skills in the outdoors. The experience was really one of the biggest reasons that I also got into trail running and races. Plus, I learned to make a mean cup of camp coffee.
What’s your favorite REI gear?
I was first introduced to the Jetboil as an REI Outdoor Ambassador and it changed my life forever. It can boil water in 100 seconds and can be transformed into a French press for morning coffee. Even when I’ve been at higher elevations, my water has always been ready before anyone else’s camp stove… and this is extremely important when you’re hangry after a long day on the trail or half-awake first thing on a cold morning. I would 100% recommend it to anyone.
What do you enjoy outside of triathlon?
I spend a lot of time in the outdoors. My family is from Oregon originally, so I was raised backpacking, camping and hiking from a super young age. Typically in the off-season and whenever I can sneak in a weekend away, I’ll spend a weekend in the mountains just running and exploring trails and camping.
Any fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share?
My not-so-secret life goal is to learn how to surf. I tried it last year and had the most amazing time riding some mini baby waves. If anyone knows how to surf and wants to teach a newbie, let me know!