140.6/Full Distance TriathlonAthlete Stories

The Family That Tris Together – An Interview with Iron Family The Kunsts

Tom, Chris, Brian & Steve Kunst are all Full Distance Triathletes who have been participating in the MI Titanium since the beginning. West Michigan has a lot of great, strong families, but the Kunst Family is Titanium strong. Learn more about these four incredible triathletes and the rest of their family.

Who is the Kunst Family?
Tom Kunst (dad), 66 originally from Grand Rapids, MI, currently living in Grant, MI
Chris Kunst (mom), 61, also moved from Grand Rapids to Grant, MI
Brian Kunst (son), 39, not married, living in Grand Rapids, MI
Lisa Gee (daughter), 37, married, living in Bailey, MI
Steve Kunst (son), 34, not married, living in Grand Rapids, MI
Tommy Kunst (son), 33, married, living in Gaylord, MI

Lisa and her husband, Andrew, have 4 children, who love to cross the MiTi finish line with Mormor Chris (Swedish term for grandmother).

Tommy and his wife, Courtney, also have 4 children; unfortunately because of the distance, are unable to come down to the MiTi and finish with their grandparents.

Q: Who in the family started doing triathlons first?
Steve started doing triathlons first.

Q: How did the rest of you get involved?
It was when the family went down to cheer Steve on for Ironman Louisville that the rest of us got interested in doing triathlons ourselves. In fact, Tom (dad) signed up for an Ironman before he had ever done a triathlon. At our age, we knew we shouldn’t wait too long before trying it, so just decided to go for it and give it our best “tri”.

Q: Do you train together?
We train together when we can, but also must do some training on our own. We especially enjoy doing longer bike rides together. An enjoyable activity is to ride our bikes to Grand Haven, have breakfast and then ride back.

Q: Have you ever competed together as a family relay team?
No – we have never worked as a relay team. Steve is quite a bit faster than the rest of us and so we would probably make an unbalanced team.

Q: What’s your family’s most memorable race/highlight moment?
When we all finished Lake Placid Ironman. It was Steve’s second Ironman and Tom, Chris, and Brian’s first. We had a lot of experiences to talk and laugh about when it was over, but sharing this experience together was special.
A funny thing that happened during Ironman Lake Placid was that you could write something inspirational that would show up at mile 18 of the run. (The runner’s timing chip would activate it and it would come up on an electronic sign as the athlete came by.) We had created a message for Tom that said: “TOM – NEVER QUIT!” The only problem was that the sign failed to include the word “never” so when Tom came by it read, “TOM – QUIT!” When we were all sitting around sharing our experiences, he wanted to know which smart alec had told him to quit. Maybe it was because we had been up so long, but we all got a good laugh out of this.

Q: Was your family always into athletics like this when your kids were growing up?
We have always been an active family, but not really triathlons. Tom played sports in school and college. Chris went to school before Title 9, so did not have the opportunity to do sports. All 4 of our children were very busy with sports while growing up. While this was happening Tom and Chris did coach some youth teams and also became professional spectators.

Q: What other kind of activities do you enjoy doing together?
Traveling, going to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs, hiking mountains, talking in the hot tub at the Y after a workout / long run, playing volleyball, and just spending time together.

Q: What are your goals for 2015?
We are still focused on accomplishing unfinished 2014 goals. Tom, Chris, Brian, and Steve are all attempting Ironman Boulder, where there will be heat and altitude to contend with. While the MiTi has trained us to tri in heat, we have not had experience with the altitude.
Chris may do the Boston Marathon, as she has qualified for that. She hopes that Steve may join her as he was just a couple minutes off from qualifying and moving up an age group and running a marathon in cooler weather may net the needed couple of minutes needed.

Leave a Reply