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Archive for Monday, August 19, 2002

Ostertag’s wife an athlete, too

Kansas University graduate taking part in Supreme Adventure in Utah

August 19, 2002

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— Nine-year-old Cody Ostertag was a little perturbed earlier this week when his mother and her teammates rappelled off the family's house:

"Mom," he said, "I'm too young for you to die!"

"He was just kidding," said Heidi Ostertag, wife of Utah Jazz center Greg Ostertag. "I said, 'Yeah, don't ever do this.'"

Heidi Ostertag and her three teammates were just fine-tuning their technique before Saturday's start of the Four Winds USA Supreme Adventure Race.

The grueling 350-mile trek through some of Utah's most rugged wilderness is Ostertag's first expedition-length competition.

Greg, the bread-winning athlete in the family, considered serving as support crew for his wife's Wasatch Adventure Consultants team.

But he was in his home state of Texas to throw out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

And, after donating a kidney to his sister in June, the Jazz veteran believed he needed to focus on preparing for his own athletic endeavors this season.

Supreme Adventure racers have until Friday morning to make it to the finish line at Utah Lake, so driving around day and night for more than a week to minister to his wife's team would have disrupted his own training.

Although Greg won't be joining Heidi in adventure racing any time soon his Jazz contract forbids him from participating in dangerous activities he knows she has the mental toughness for the sport.

"She's a determined person and what she sets her mind to, she won't give up until she gets what she wants," Ostertag said of Heidi, like Greg, a graduate of Kansas University.

While sheer athletic talent is definitely her husband's realm, Heidi, 33, agrees that mental strength and hard work are her forte.

She figures she has to work twice as hard as the average woman to stay in shape and keep her weight down.

And in the past couple of years, she has coped with the premature birth and hospitalization of younger daughter Shelby, and seen her husband through his kidney donation.

"If you take my will and work ethic and put it in Greg's body, you would have a super-duper athlete," she said.

While the Ostertag children besides Cody and Shelby, there's daughter Bailey, 5 know that their father plays basketball, they haven't quite grasped the multipronged nature of mom's sport.

"They think I should do one sport," Heidi Ostertag said. "They say, 'OK, what is it you do again?'''

Last October, Ostertag finished her first 24-hour race in Houston after dropping out of two previous events.

After taking a month off from training while the family was in Texas for the kidney transplant, Ostertag intended to serve as a volunteer for this week's race, figuring she wasn't fit enough to compete.

But at a volunteers' meeting in Salt Lake City six weeks ago, she hooked up with three other Utah adventure racers keen to take part.

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