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David Henkel - Head Coach & Founder
USAT Level 1 Certified Coach

Growing up along the coast of NJ, Head Coach David Henkel, was a fixture in the water: swiming, surfing and lifeguarding. He swam in college, and once he became land-locked in PA, he took to the bike to conquer the hills. He quickly became a Category III cyclist but always had the triathlon bug. Under a local coach, he developed into an elite road triathlete, earning podiums and qualifying for world championships at multiple distances. Dave also has a passion for mountain biking, and qualified for XTERRA World Championships in his first year of off-road racing.


For a decade, Dave has loved mentoring and coaching his own athletes, and greatly enjoys watching their personal growth and celebrating their successes. Dave's athletes have qualified for: Pro Card; Ironman World Championships (Kona); Ironman 70.3 World Championships; Xterra World Championships; all ITU distances on and off road (Team USA). 


Dave resides in Fairfax, VA with his triathlete wife and two sons.  He coaches athletes across the United States in a highly personalized fashion.

Athletic Accomplishments
  • 55+ Career Triathlon Podium Finishes (Overall, Elite, and Age Group)

  • World Championship Qualifications 

    • Short Course World Championship Team USA (2012, 2013, 2018)

    • Off-Road World Championship Team USA (2014, 2015)

    • XTERRA World Championship (2013)

    • Long Course World Championship Team USA (2011)

  • National Championship Highlights

    • USAT Sprint Nationals, 2nd Age Group (2012)

    • XTERRA America Tour 2nd Age Group (Northeast, 2013)

  • Regional Racing Overall Wins 

    • Ironman Atlantic City 70.3 Aquabike Champion (2019)

    • Escape the Cape Sprint Triathlon Champion (2019)

    • Atlantic City Sprint Triathlon Champion (2017)

    • Quantico Triathlon Champion (2017)

    • Wisdom Oak Winery Sprint Triathlon Champion (2014)

    • Mid Atlantic Sprint Age Group Champion (2012)

    • Mid Atlantic Aquabike Age Group Champion (2011)

    • Quakerman Olympic Triathlon Champion (2011)

    • Seaside Super Sprint Champion (2009)

  • Long Course Racing Experience

    • ITU Long Distance World Championships & Ironman Finisher

    • 8 x Half Ironman Finisher

Josh Hageman - IRONMAN Certified Coach

Josh Hageman, a native of the Pacific Northwest, got his start in endurance events in the mid-90's by organizing a team of school friends to compete in the Ski-to-Sea -- an eight-leg relay known as "America's Original Adventure Race".  Josh's intro to triathlon came in California in 1998 when he completed his first sprint relying on a borrowed mountain bike and the support of his friends to cheer him through.  From crossing that first finish line, he was hooked.


Josh is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and served as a member of the elite Marine Reconnaissance teams, as well as a graduate of Army Ranger School, Airborne School, and Navy SERE School.


Josh has continued to remain "always faithful" to the concept that triathlon embodies both a lifestyle and experience that is empowering, inspiring, and accessible to anyone with the drive and willingness to put forth the effort to succeed. He is passionate about helping others reach their goals. Josh lives in Vienna, VA with his triathlete wife, children, and two dogs. 

Athletic Accomplishments
  • 10 Career Triathlon Podium Finishes (Overall and Age Group)

  • Ironman World Championship Finisher ​(2019)

  • Ultra Racing Experience

    • Triple Anvil Finisher (3 x Ironman distance!)

    • 1 x Ultra-Marathon Finisher

    • Barkley Fall Classic 50k 

  • Long Course Racing Experience

    • 5 x Ironman Finisher (Ironman Maryland 2015 -10:26 PR)

    • 7 x Half Ironman Finisher (Atlantic City 70.3 2016 - 4:59 PR)

    • 5 x Marathon Finisher

  • National Championship Experience

    • USAT All American (2018)

    • USAT National Qualifer (multi-year)

Katie Pulizzano - IRONMAN Certified Coach

Katie's life-long passion for running began at a young age after her first race with her Dad. She went on to run cross country and track in high school and college. Katie caught the triathlon bug in 2009: Finding success in local races, Katie decided to aim for bigger goals. Indeed, after competing well in Escape from Alcatraz, she set her sights on Kona. In 2012, Katie enlisted Coach Dave to take her racing to the next level. She went from placing in her age group to winning overall. Ultimately that year she qualified not only for the Ironman World Championship, but also for the ITU Sprint World Championships, earning a spot on Team USA. 


Katie believes in training smart; that everything you will do as athlete/coach will have a purpose. She believes “we are never done growing, and we always have more to learn. Small accomplishments should be celebrated just as much as big accomplishments." It is her goal to help you reach your full potential as an athlete. 

Josh on the way to the podium at Richmond
Athletic Accomplishments
  • 15 Career Triathlon Podium Finishes (Overall and Age Group)

  • World Championship & Long Course Racing Experience

    • Ironman World Championship Finisher (2012)

    • Ironman Lake Placid Finisher (2012, 4th AG - 11:55 PR)

    • Ironman 70.3 Princeton Finisher (2013, 3rd AG)

    • Ironman 70.3 Syracuse Finisher (2012, 4th AG - 5:25 PR)

  • World Championship & Short Course Racing Experience

    • Short Course World Championship Team USA Finisher (2013)

    • 2 x USAT National Qualifier

    • 3 x Mid Atlantic Regional Champion

  • Running Experience

    • 3 x Marathon Finisher

    • St. Luke's Half Marathon (2nd Overall)

Kim Wikel - Coach
USAT Level 1 Certified Coach

Kim got her start in multi-sport racing in 2009, when her sister begged her to join her in this thing called triathlon! After placing 1st AG in her inaugural race (riding a $50 mountain bike!!), she was captivated. Always looking to challenge herself, Kim increased training through the years to work up from sprint to the 140.6 distance. Now, after 30 years of soccer and high school track, she has found her love in triathlon and road-racing.


Kim’s philosophy of sport focuses on “Believe in Better.” She encourages athletes to focus inward and work at bettering their own individual performance, drive, and attitude, rather than comparing to others. She considers the small building blocks of training just as important and worth celebrating as the significant competitions. Kim has the skills and understanding to work with new athletes, and because she trains to win, she has the experience and drive to train elite athletes, as well.


Kim resides in Ohio with her husband- also a triathlete and runner, and puppy Carli, who enjoys training and cheering Kim on at races! She spends her days as a teacher and coach to high school students- including teaching classes such as Food and Fitness and Healthy Foods.

Athletic Accomplishments
  • 50+ Career Triathlon Podium Finishes (Overall, Elite, and Age Group)

  • World & National Championship Experience

    • Ironman 70.3 World Champion Finisher (Australia, 2016)

    • USAT All American Triathlete Ranking

    • Olympic Nationals Qualifier (multiyear)

  • 2 x 140.6 finisher & 7 x 70.3 finisher

    • Podium finish OA women on first 140.6

    • 2 x OA Women Winner (PR 4:56)

  • 8 x 26.2 finisher

    • 1 x OA Women Winner (PR- 3:30:31)

    • 2 x OA Women Runner-Up

    • 3x Boston Qualifier (2013, 2016, 2018)

  • Coaching Experience & Other Certifications

    • High School Track and Field (Level 1 National Certification)

    • High School Cross Country

    • High School Soccer

    • Nationally Certified Personal Trainer

Sara - Tri Club Manager & Media/Marketing

Sara keeps the Speed Sherpa athletes smiling. She is our marketing guru, our purveyor of positive thinking, and our mental skills messenger. Sara also volunteers in assisting our women and novice athletes with their unique questions and concerns. 


Sara grew up in Connecticut as a competitive swimmer and ballerina. In high school she swapped lap lanes for goal posts and fell in love with water polo. She also played on her high school's New England Championship winning volleyball team. In college, Sara played Division I water polo before succumbing to severe shoulder injuries. After a decade away from any sports, Sara discovered triathlon and has now been competing since 2013, with several hiatuses thrown in for motherhood! 


Sara loves living and training with her husband (Coach Henkel!) and their growing family!

Athletic Accomplishments
  • 13 Career Triathlon Podium Finishes


  • National Championship Experience

    • USAT National Qualifer (multi-year)

    • USMS Top 10 National Relay


  • Division I Water Polo Player 


  • Sports Hall of Fame Inductee - High School Volleyball


  • Coaching Experience 

    • Varsity Boys Water Polo 

    • Varsity Track 

    • Middle School Volley Ball 


Kelsey Abbott - Mental Skills Coach

Kelsey Abbott is a Confidence Coach & Instigator of Joy, writer, speaker and host of the Find Your Awesome podcast. She helps driven humans learn to really truly love themselves, shed the shoulds, embrace their own unique greatness and SPARKLE.  She works with the Speed Sherpa Racing squad each month through zoom conferences to boost our confidence, performance, and joy as triathletes. 

Kelsey studied at the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC) where she earned certifications as a Certified Professional Coach, Energy Leadership Master Practitioner and Cor.E Performance coach. She also studied at the Applied Nueroscience Institute, earning her NeuroPositive Certificate in using neuroscience to change how the brain processes challenges.

Before becoming a Confidence Coach, Kelsey was a nationally-recognized science writer and marine biologist, working in DC, Seattle, Hawaii and Barbados, training dolphins and studying killer whales in the process. A competitive swimmer for most of her life, Kelsey transitioned to triathlons where she now competes at the national and international level. Kelsey has qualified for TEAM USA four times and she is a consistent threat for the overall or age group podium in whatever triathlon she enters! 


Dr. Kur Sohn - Team Physio

Velofit offers the most up-to-date manual therapy techniques, movement re-education, bike fitting and sports performance to meet all your needs.  It is owned by Dr. Kur Sohn. Kur is a board certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) physical therapist who graduated from The George Washington University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science in 2001 and earned a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from Marymount University in 2005.


For Speed Sherpa athletes Kur offers discounts for treatment, bike fitting, and an app-based strength program he has designed specifically for triathletes. Kur believes in manual therapy and functional strengthening to help people reach their goals.


Kur is on the teaching staff at Kinetacore and is an Assistant Instructor for the Functional Dry Needling 1 course. Kur worked at elite sports performance facilities before opening his own studio He is passionate about biomechanics and sports performance and truly believes that elite level physical therapy should be available to athletes of all levels. Tapping into the athletic potential of the human body is what drives him to provide this service to the DC area.