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Triathlete and Hollywood publicist enjoys thrill of racing on a world level
Story by Julie Wesolowski, with photo by Douglas Levere, BA ’89
Life before triathlons Jarrett sailed both racers and cruisers, netting more than 10,000 miles; Personal hero World champion Ironman Cherie Gruenfeld, founder of Exceeding Expectations, a nonprofit that helps redirect at-risk inner–city kids by using the sport of triathlon; Favorite quotes “What do you call a person who comes in last in a triathlon? A triathlete!” (Jef Mallett). “One hundred percent of the shots you don’t take don’t go in.” (Wayne Gretzky)
As a student at UB in the late ’60s, Rosalind Jarrett took bowling for her physical education requirement because she didn’t want to wash her waist-length hair. She recalls getting a B in the class. Today, Jarrett, 61, is a world–class triathlete. “I’m a late bloomer,” she says, understatedly.
In fact, she didn’t begin competing until her 50s, when she received a poor medical check–up. With low bone density, high cholesterol and worsening asthma, Jarrett was urged by her doctor to do something to improve her health. The final push came when she was 54, and her former public relations teacher and mentor, Julian Myers, then an 84–year–old runner, told her he was exactly her age when he began running marathons.
Jarrett started endurance training with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program in 2002. The fundraising aspect of the sport came easily for her. “When I told people I was going to swim .9 miles, bike 24.8 miles and run 10k, most people said, ‘Yeah I’ll pay for that,’ “ she says.
But when Jarrett began training, she hadn’t ridden a bike in more than 10 years and couldn’t swim the width of a pool, or run from her house to the corner of the street. Her first race took her 5:11:08 to complete and she ended up that night in the ER with hyponatremia (low blood sodium). But by the time she finished the race, she was hooked on the sport.
Since her bumpy start, Jarrett has set yearly goals and can boast a lengthy roster of completed triathlons and marathons, including winning her age group in a 2008 Aquathlon World Championship, running the New York City and Los Angeles marathons, and being a member of Team USA in the 2009 International Triathlon Union Age Group World Championships on Australia’s Gold Coast. “I can’t begin to tell you what it’s like to be racing on a world level,” she says. “It’s thrilling and it’s all about doing your personal best.”
When she’s not racing, Jarrett is the executive in charge of publicity for the Screen Actors Guild Awards. She credits her time spent at UB as partly the reason for her success in the industry. “To be a good publicist you need to be a good journalist and a good writer. To some extent, I owe that to being an English major at UB with incredible professors, such as Bruce Jackson [Distinguished Professor and James Agee Professor of American Culture].” Jarrett says she's thrilled that UB is currently beefing up its journalism program under the direction of Jody Kleinberg Biehl, adjunct instructor in the Department of English.
Because of the positive experiences with UB faculty and mentors, Jarrett is a strong advocate of “ paying it forward” through mentoring. As co–founder of the successful UB Coast to Coast Symposium (UBC2C), Jarrett has helped to create a sustainable model for engaging older, more accomplished alumni, while providing opportunities for young people who aspire to be in the entertainment industry. With last year’s UBC2C Hollywood already a success, the next entertainment and media symposium will take place in New York City this summer (go to http://ubc2c.com for more information or to register).
Jarrett’s mentoring carries over to her passion for triathlons and her hope that she can inspire other women. “You can change your life, your shape, and your health and your diet. I really do live the multisport lifestyle and I can’t begin to tell you how much it’s changed my life.”
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