Highly devoted to fitness and peak performance, Cherie Hendrickson is a tremendous competitor whose positive attitude and gracious demeanor were key factors in making her an accomplished champion and popular teammate in ice hockey. Part of a unique sorority of distinguished women to have captured both the Isobel and the Clarkson Cups, along with a Russian league championship, Hendrickson was the kind of competitor that anyone would be proud to call both a teammate and friend.
Although Hendrickson balanced her hockey career with annual participation in the Boston Marathon, there has recently been an addition, involving competition in the very demanding field of triathlon. As there remains a strong sense of admiration in the hockey community for her athletic endeavors, the presence of teamwork is very prevalent. Every remarkable run in the Boston Marathon involved an admirable fund raising initiative, emphasizing Hendrickson’s heart of gold.
With Hendrickson expanding her repertoire, adding a pair of unique events that added luster to her stature as a highly conditioned athlete, it motivated her to enter a growing zone, reaching a personal pinnacle. Coincidentally, said events both took place in the Midwest, with Hendrickson making the trek to another region famed for developing elite female hockey talent.
Although Hendrickson had experience competing in half triathlons, she would push herself to new limits, taking on the thrill of a full triathlon. Competing in September’s Ironman Wisconsin event, held in Madison, she employed an even more intense approach to her training. Undoubtedly, the self-discipline involved in both training and the eventual competition itself represented a strong devotion to excellence that has defined Hendrickson’s sporting life.
Taking into account the self-discipline and dedication required to compete in triathlon, this most demanding display of physical excellence, crossing the finish line was more than a personal victory. It was testament to her reliability and durability, qualities that were always evident on the ice, making her a valued member of any team that she played on.
“Ironman Wisconsin was not my first triathlon, but it was my first attempt at the full Ironman distance. I had raced in many shorter course races and three prior half Ironmans, but racing a full Ironman was certainly a different beast.
I had to make a lot of adjustments to my usual training routine and enlisted a friend from work who is an Ironman veteran to help me with putting together a plan that would fit with my work schedule.
I tried to stack my long workouts on my off days, but spending 5+ hours on my bike trainer at home was a whole new experience – let’s just say I watched a lot of documentaries and movies.”
In addition to the experience of the Triathlon, Hendrickson’s sojourn in the Midwest also involved competition in the 40th Chicago Marathon. An expansion of her athletic endeavors, she was one of over 40,000 runners that started at Grant Park.
Considering that Hendrickson was raised in Massachusetts, where the chance to run the Marathon in Boston brought with it a residual comfort, running the 26 miles in the Windy City, running on streets such as LaSalle, Addison, along with Damen and Michigan Avenues, crossing the Chicago River multiple times, brought a sense of newness, while adding luster to her status as a world-class athlete,
“A few years ago the Abbott World Major Marathons were announced, which includes Boston, New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Berlin, and London. At the time I had only run Boston so I thought it’d be a fun goal to try and run all six majors. I was fortunate to get into Chicago via their lottery system and had a ton of fun seeing 26.2 miles of the city!”
In abandoning such a milieu, taking on new ground in Chicago, simultaneously it represented an evolution in her endeavors as a long distance athlete. Adapting to an unfamiliar environment and absorbing new sights, while remaining focused on the finish line, the journey that started and eventually culminated at Grant Park represented the chance to enter a growing zone as an elite athlete. Worth noting, it was also the 10th official marathon that Hendrickson successfully completed.
“After many years of running Boston, I have gotten to know the course well, so running in a new city is a different experience. I had read about the course before and knew it was flat (bonus!), but I wasn’t familiar with the city at all so it was fun to run through all the different neighborhoods of the city and see some amazing views.”
The journey itself was also part of a much more compelling narrative, representing Hendrickson’s values of devotion and friendship. Paying homage to her hockey roots, Hendrickson’s endeavors as a distance athlete have helped raise awareness about a very cherished teammate.
Garbed in a T-Shirt that honors former Boston Pride teammate Denna Laing, Hendrickson has also raised funds for Laing’s Foundation in numerous events. As a side note, she also raised over $8,000 in 2017 for the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research, part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge in 2017. Considering that Hendrickson competed in Laing’s final game, where she sustained injury at the Women’s Winter Classic, she has found tremendous encouragement in Laing’s bravery and courage.
With Laing’s number 24 adorned on the back of the T-Shirt, there truly was a sense of hometown pride, representing Boston on the streets of Chicago, with thoughts of friendship and motivation firmly entrenched in her heart.
“Denna continues to inspire all of us and I think wearing her shirt and keeping her in the spotlight as much as possible is very important.
She is still working hard a rehab several hours a day and currently is pursuing a new clinical trial for a treatment of spinal cord injuries. This injury is something she deals with daily, and she is working so hard to not only maximize her recovery but give back to others who have also sustained injuries.
Wearing her shirt reminds me of how hard she works, and that being able to participate in these races is truly a gift that should not be wasted.”
All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated