For the past two weeks, local athlete Trish Omeri has been representing Sudbury on the seventh season of Amazing Race Canada as a shining example of the strength that comes from believing in yourself.
The 40-year-old triathlete, mud run and cross-fit athlete took on the challenge with her 50-year-old friend Amy De Domenico and are currently in the running to win two all-new 2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS, a once-in-a-lifetime trip for two around the world, a $250,000 cash prize and of course, lifelong bragging rights.
It was tough, of course, but in looking back at her time on the Amazing Race Canada, Omeri said it has been the experience of a lifetime.
"I know there will be times people watch will be like, 'oh my God, she must have had to pull her strength from somewhere,'" said Omeri. "I hope they realize that that really does come from the north."
Omeri was born at Sudbury General Hospital and lived in Sudbury until she was 22, attending high school in Chelmsford before obtaining her bachelor of arts in psychology from Laurentian University.
After completing her post-graduate degree in human resource management at Sheridan College, Omeri said she was faced with the difficult decision of having to return home or establish herself in southern Ontario, away from her family and friends.
Omeri said the decision came down to one phone call with her mother Nancy Trottier, who reminded her that while this may be difficult, she had been raised to persevere.
"She said, 'You're going to be okay, you're built tough,'" said Omeri, and she was right.
Having been raised by a large mining family, Omeri said she was taught from an early age that when the going gets tough, the tough get going - which she said has got her through everything from life experiences, races, to this contest in particular.
"It's been like that my whole life - dig your heels, in, stick with it and you're going to be fine - that is the mentality of the north," she said.
With much of their lifestyle growing up determined by the price of nickel, Omeri said that things weren't always easy, but it taught her that no matter how hard life may seem, it can always be worse.
“We were taught to work hard for what we wanted because our fathers were 3,000-feet underground working really hard in (less than ideal) conditions because it was a job, it put food on the table," said Omeri.
Settling into the western Toronto city of Etobicoke, Omeri married her husband Bekim and welcomed 13-year-old Nathan, nine-year-old Audrey and seven-year-old Lucas into the world. Now with an established support system, Omeri was free to take on her next challenge - achieving her long-awaited fitness goals.
At some points finding herself on the border-line of an eating disorder, Omeri said she had tried almost everything over the course of her life to try and lose weight, but it wasn't until six-years-ago that she was able to establish a healthy relationship with food. It was during her fitness journey that Omeri met a group of woman at her gym with similar challenges, who began encouraging each other in their particular goals.
It was through that group, who now call themselves the 'fit club,' that Omeri met De Domenico, who officially became her triathlon partner in January 2017.
Reflecting on their training, Omeri said she was the one who just wanted to get it done, while De Domenico wanted to prepare as much as possible and ensure they had their "ducks in a row" before competing.
"It was a very natural relationship for us - the Ying and Yang," said Omeri.
The two women competed in four competitions their first year, and four competitions in 2018, before considering how else to challenge their physical limits. In Nov. 2018, the women auditioned for the Amazing Race Canada and to their surprise, received their invitation in January of this year.
"We both thought this would be an awesome thing to inspire our kids, (and) inspire other women to take on challenges outside of their comfort zone," said Omeri.
"Life doesn’t stop because you're a mom, life doesn't stop because you're a woman over 40 - let's show the world what we're made of."
Overall, Omeri said the experience was like winning the lottery, not only for the people they got to meet and things they got to see but the experiences that forced them to live outside of their comfort zone.
"It was a race, so yes - there were prizes, but even just to take on some of the challenges that we had to do just really made you dig deep, find out what you were made of and you're not given that opportunity every day," said Omeri.
"A lot of the times we thought, I want my kids to see me do this because I don't want them to ever limit themselves."
The time she spent thinking about her children was when she truly felt the distance between her and the family she had been forced to leave at home.
While Omeri said the two were physically prepared for the race, they did not expect how mentally exhausting the experience would be - considering the many people, challenges and pace of it all.
But this wasn't enough to shake Omeri, who had been taught that nothing in life is given, and she would have to earn every leg of the race if she wanted it.
Another thing she said that caught her by surprise, was how hard it would be as the only two mothers on the show, to not act as caretakers. "Sometimes I think we were worried about other people's well-being when we should have just been focusing," said Omeri. "So if anything, we didn't need to be tougher, but have thicker skin."
For those looking to apply for the Amazing Race Canada, Omeri said it is important to be, "authentic, have a willingness to put yourself out there and work really hard for it.
"Make it known that you really are someone who is compelling and you have a good story," she said, "and there's a good reason why you would be good for the race."
Beyond that, whether it's a friend, family member or spouse, Omeri said to choose your partner wisely. While it may be nice to have a familiar face such as a sibling, along for the ride, Omeri said it is more important to find someone who can push you and have the ability to get you out of your own head when things get tough.
With filming over and done with, Omeri gets to sit back and enjoy the show with her northern community, which she said - has been more supportive than she could have imagined. I have heard from people I knew from high school, university, family I never knew I had, said Omeri. “I get messages after every commercial break.”
“I just hope that I made northerners proud, I hope I made the most of it, they were in my heart,” said Omeri.
Since returning home from the race, Omeri has launched an online coaching business under her name, which she said, was inspired by the struggles she faced achieving her fitness goals. Omeri has completed her personal training certification and is in the process of completing a nutrition course, allowing her to offer personalized coaching, nutrition plans, workouts and mindset coaching to her growing client base.
“At this stage in the game, I don’t want to live within my comfort zone, I always want to be challenged,” said Omeri. “I want people to live their best lives, there’s so much out there, and we’re too often held back by our own fears.”
Season seven of the Amazing Race Canada will air on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CTV and CTV.ca.