Gabbi Suver is a contender for the Texas Iron Man

Gabbi Suver is a contender for the Texas Iron Man

Numbers may not lie, but they don’t tell the whole truth, either. For a more accurate metric, God audits the heart.

Consider 34-year-old Gabbi Suver. No one would guess that weighing in at a mere 97.4 pounds and five feet tall, she is a major sports contender. In fact, Gabbi won first overall female February 2024 in the Tallahassee Marathon, with an official time of 2:54:07. To achieve this feat covering 26 miles, she had a pace of 6:39. This means she sustained close to nine miles per hour for the entire competition.

Her fascination with running began in high school where she started with cross country, but health issues threatened to force her off the track. “I have allergies, asthma, an autoimmune disorder, and a blood defect that require regular shots,” she said.

In addition to these ongoing challenges, she faced others as a young teen. “I had an eating disorder that began in my freshman year of high school and gradually worsened. The doctor my parents took me to in my senior year said that it had become dangerous for me to run, so they pulled me off the team. That just about broke me.”

Devastated, she felt mired in depression for a time. “I was at a crossroad,” she said. “I could give in to the anorexia or I could fight to get stronger so I could run again. I had to make that change, and my mind constantly was at war.”

Driven by the dream to race again, she regrouped. With mentoring from a physical education teacher at school, Gabbi had a role model to admire. “She was super fit and had a healthy relationship with food,” Gabbi said. “I wanted to be like her.”

As Gabbi addressed eating habits, she also focused on her dream to compete in Iron Man triathlons. “I had to remind myself every day why I needed to get better.”

The third aspect of her program involved setting SMART goals. “I had to meet a specific weight gain goal to be able to run in college.”

She persevered and walked on to her community college’s track team as a freshman. “By my sophomore year, I got a scholarship to run.”

Then she hit more obstacles. “A new runner’s body is kind of delicate, and I started getting lots of injuries the more I ran.”

But she didn’t give up—even after a bike racing accident in 2012 that shattered her left elbow and required three plates and 15 screws to repair. “The doctors told me then to reconsider my goal of competing in triathlons. I kept doing what I could, and thankfully, healed much better than anyone believed possible.”

For her, faith in Jesus is a big part of her training. She runs 18 miles most Sundays but still makes it on time for the 9:30 a.m. church service, often with an ice pack strapped to her calf. No stranger to pain, she sprints forward.

Qualified now as a professional athlete, she trains for the upcoming Texas Iron Man. There she will need to be able to swim 2.4 miles, ride her bike for 112 miles, then run 26.2 miles, and complete the entire circuit in under 10 hours.

She trains 20 to 25 hours a week and works full time as an elementary P.E. teacher. Whenever she feels daunted, she repeats this Bible verse:

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV).


National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

What are SMART goals and how do you set them?

Johns Hopkins Medicine Runner’s Diet