For years, any discussion about top athletes in Arlington County wouldn’t last long until the name Anne Viviani entered the conversation.
For two decades, Viviani was one of the country’s and world’s most highly-accomplished triathletes, duathletes, aquathletes, multisport athletes and more – winning multiple national and world age-group individual and team competitions.
On April 9, while returning from a duathlon national-championship-qualifying event in South Carolina with her husband Donn, Viviani was killed at the scene when the car she was riding in was struck by a deer on Interstate 85 near Greer, S.C. She was 68.
Anne Viviani was the passenger. The accident occurred when a deer jumped the median barrier, striking the vehicle, breaking through the windshield and hitting Anne Viviani. Donn was driving and was not injured.
According to Donn, 70, the couple was laughing and having a conversation when the accident occurred.
“Anne never saw the deer, because she was looking at me and smiling,” Donn Viviani said. “She didn’t know what happened.”
Many have fond memories of Anne Viviani and praised her accomplishments. Dozens of condolences have been posted on Donn’s Facebook page.
“Anne was probably the best triathlete and duathlete in Arlington, and had been for a long time,” said Sun Gazette running columnist Jay Wind. “As she moved up in age over the past 20 years, she won her age group everywhere in the U.S. and abroad at all distances. She was such a very vibrant and very nice lady.”
Donn Viviani often was his wife’s publicist. Then because of Anne’s success, he eventually became a strong triathlete as well in his age groups.
“The thing about Anne was she smiled at everybody. Everyone adored Anne,” Donn Viviani said. “She would stop during races to help others who were hurt or off course. That happened all the time.”
Anne Viviani was a late-blooming athlete. She did not play a sport at Trinity College. Anne joined Donn in racing multisports when her older children could baby-sit the younger ones. Anne represented the U.S. in 37 world championships and eventually won three age-group world championships representing the United States in the long-distance (100-mile) triathlon.
In addition, she earned two world silver medals and four world bronze medals in triathlon, duathlon and aquathlon. Viviani won nine national championships in triathlon and duathlon. She won the first race she ever entered, a 10K.
“Anne told people that she learned to run fast because she was always late,” Donn Viviani said.
In 2002, she was part of a cycling team that raised money for Zonta International, a women’s-advocacy organization. The team won the Race Across America that year. The women rode their bikes in relay from Portland, Ore. to Pensacola, Fla., in seven days and 14 hours.
Viviani participated in the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon three times. In 2012 Anne and Donn won their age groups in the Beach to Battleship Ironman. Anne beat her husband by more than an hour, and her time would have defeated the male champion as well.
Anne Viviani gave back to the sport, holding clinics to teach young and old women how to train and how to race.
A memorial service for Viviani is scheduled for Saturday, April 21 at the Lyon Park Community Center at 10 a.m. Those attending are asked to wear swimsuits, their favorite running attire and bright colors. A wake will follow the memorial service at the Viviani’s residence at 2:30 p.m.
Viviani had four children – daughter Anne and sons Donn, Will and Tony – and three grandchildren.