BOZEMAN — One of Bozeman’s most beloved community members and athletes, Molly Hayes, died last week at the age of 88.
According to her friends, to have known her was to love her, and although she may not be here anymore, there’s no doubt her legacy will live on forever.
“She’s been a longstanding person in our sport," USA Triathlon Chief Sport Development Officer Tim Yount said." Matter of fact she’s been an icon in the sport.”
Hayes was a well-known member of the triathlon community, competing in more than 330 in her lifetime. There was never a challenge she wasn’t up for, and her spirit for the sport inspired many.
“She was a redhead - a typical redhead - but she tempered it with her generosity," close friend Jen Wendel said.
“She loved people, and that’s why she pushed them," Liz Ann Kudrna explained. "She brought out the best in people. What you think you can do, you can do more.”
Even at the age of 88, Hayes couldn’t be missed running or riding through the streets of Bozeman. She was planning on running in the Montana Women’s Triathlon later this month.
“A lot of us women are going up to the Montana Women’s Triathlon from Bozeman, and I think we will all have her in our hearts and minds when we are up there," Kudrna added. "For sure.”
The impact Hayes left on people’s lives stretched much further than just the triathlon community. She had so much love to give and found a way to share it with every person she crossed paths with.
“Wherever I saw her I wanted to - at like races or triathlons - I wanted to sit down and have that conversation and ask her more about her stories and hear more about her life," Wendel explained. "I did get some of those through the years, but it was never enough because she was always moving onto the next thing. I didn’t feel like I had enough of Molly before she left.”
Along with her feisty and overall competitive nature, she was also known for sporting a very special pin during every single race: a photo of her son Walter, who died at a young age.
“I’m pretty sure Molly has already found her new age group, wherever she is, and she’s already probably doing her run, and Walter’s at her side doing it with her," longtime friend Ann Gilbert smiled.
“Molly Hayes will be a part of stories that I will tell when speaking about motivation and incentives for people to do things that they were maybe fearful of doing," Yount explained. "Molly Hayes will be a person that we’ll continue to use her picture - photo of class, of professionalism. Molly will live on in our minds forever. It will be because of the impact she had on so many people.”