Lisa Bentley

11-time IRONMAN Champion

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Lisa Bentley raced for 20 years as a professional triathlete. She won 11 Ironman and 16 Ironman 70.3 races. She should not have won any of them. She has cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic lung disease.

But cystic fibrosis was the perfect fan for her inner fire, to turn “no” into “yes,” to find a way where there was no way.

She found that way many times. She found a way to turn cystic fibrosis into a gift. She found a way to turn hard work into talent. Her genetics would have had her wrapped in a warm blanket and coddled. But a sturdy work ethic, fierce desire, clear goals and an unwavering belief in self squashed her genetic blueprint. Lisa did not want to be told what she could not do. Instead, she showed the world what she could do when mind, body and spirit act in unison for the singular pursuit of excellence.

Lisa became one of Canada’s best triathletes and was ranked top 5 in the world for over a decade. She had several top 5 finishes at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.  She represented Canada on multiple National Teams and finished 6th at the Pan American Games in 1995. But her most important accolade is as a beacon of hope for families with CF.

And while winning was her job, fulfillment was her goal. Now she helps others learn how to win in life and how to be the best they can be with the cards they’ve been dealt. She encourages everyone to have the courage to get out of the comfort zone, to be an eternal student and to turn seemingly inevitable failure into victory. She demonstrates how attitude trumps fact no matter what that fact is.  

Since retiring from professional sport, Lisa authored her first book An Unlikely Champion and has delivered motivational speeches across North America. She teaches audiences how to turn adversity into mastery and fires them up to be their best self every day. She has done sports commentary work with CBC, CTV, TSN and SportsNet for the Olympics and triathlon. She is an ambassador for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Lisa has an honors degree from the University of Waterloo in Math and Computer Science and a Bachelors of Education from the University of Western Ontario. Lisa taught high school for 7 years prior to pursuing sport full time in 1999.

Lisa was inducted into the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 and into the Triathlon Canada Hall of Fame in September 2014. She continues to run marathons as an elite masters athlete with her best time of 2:47 at 46 years of age at the Boston Marathon.

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Speakers Like Lisa Bentley

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Speaking Topics

Transforming Adversity Into Mastery Like a Pro - Be a Life Champion

Lisa shares her strategies for winning in life and thinking like a champion. She educates, motivate and inspire business people, entrepreneurs, doctors, IT professionals, managers, students, athletes and parents on finding their path to fulfillment, having courage to get out of their comfort zone and elevating themselves to become their best self.


Tactics for Excellence

Lisa teaches her trademark tools for success which include:

  • Defining “what is winning?”
  • Action items to prepare to win.
  • Mental training to achieve the win.
  • Mindset adjustments to ensure the win.
  • Choosing courage over comfort to find excellence.

Finish What You Start. Do It With Heart.

A champion in any venue – parent, student, executive, entrepreneur, athlete - may not always cross the finish line first, but a champion always finishes. You cannot abandon the task just because things are not going well or because your ego is being tested or because you are afraid to fail. Pursuing a goal is risky. You have put time, energy and talent into the project. And it is frightening to be raw and exposed as you try to fulfill it. But there cannot be success without risk.

Lisa raced for 20 years and took that risk hundreds of times in her career. She wanted to quit many times. That is a natural human inclination. When things get difficult and when it looks as if success may not happen, we want to escape the pain: the pain of failure, the pain of working through the difficulty, the pain of picking up the pieces. But in fact the only escape from the pain is to finish what you start. To finish, regardless of the outcome, is success every time.

Lisa discusses how to program your heart, mind and attitude to find fulfillment and cross every finish line.


Recent Publications by Lisa Bentley


AN UNLIKELY CHAMPION: Finding the Path to Fulfillment and Winning in Life
Available for order at

An Unlikely Champion redefines winning. It will show you how to adopt a champion’s mindset, carve out your unique excellence and achieve success in any endeavor.

Ironman champion Lisa Bentley chronicles her path from “no-talent” high school runner to champion triathlete, and her transition from hiding her cystic fibrosis to seeing it as a gift that enables her to bring hope to others and meaning to her own career greater than any found on a racecourse.

But An Unlikely Champion is not about winning races. It’s not about cystic fibrosis. It’s about winning in life, about being the best you can be with the cards you’ve been dealt. It is about finding a path to fulfillment even when every path looks impassable. It is about having the courage to get out of your comfort zone, to never stop learning and to turn seemingly inevitable failure into victory. An Unlikely Champion demonstrates how everyone can harness their inner fire to find their true purpose, achieve their goals and become world class, no matter what the field.

In her 20-year career, Lisa Bentley won 11 Ironman races and represented Canada at the world championships and Pan-Am Games. She now shares her love of sport through motivational speaking and coaching. She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 20 but continues to live a full, healthy life, providing a beacon of hope to families with children diagnosed with CF.

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"Please know that your talk touched people like you can't believe. Sometimes we "speakers" don't realize the impact we have on the "mass". You held this audience captive from minute 1. Keep sending the message...especially 'throw your heart out in front of you.'
"I look forward to your book."
Jim Donald, former President and CEO of Starbucks

"Your talk was a real inspiration to me and reflects what I’ve always hoped to role model for my three kids. Dedication, health, happiness and a grit to keep going when it all gets tough. I’ve told them about your talk and we also discussed CF which was an ideal opportunity for them to learn. 

"It’s always great to have reminders and the depth of your strength and courage are incredible."
Kevin Snook, CEO Saxagon Limited

"Lisa, your talk was motivational, inspirational, heart warming and quite frankly a testament to the power within us all to do great things. At the same time you also found a way to really speak to a restoration of humanity‎... Your talk was a highlight of the wknd for many of our delegates."
Dr. Scott Howitt

"Lisa, I wanted to circle back to thank you for doing such a terrific job for us at our National Conference.   You nailed it!    I can’t tell you how many folks approached me over the 4 day Conference to express their enthusiasm for your key messages.   Your energy and passion are contagious and you inspired everyone.   Thank you so much."
Mike Guindon
Director Retail, Unilever Canada

"I saw you speak at the MultiSport expo in Boston. Your speech was truly inspirational. I love how it was organized around things you say to yourself during races. I ran my first half-marathon the day after I heard you speak. With an inflamed IT band and a raging case of strep throat, I wasn't sure I would make it through the race. But I just kept telling myself to Finish What I Started. I got over the hills and made it to the finish line. So far in my racing career, this was definitely my Challenge Race! Thank you for sharing your story with Boston!"
Jenny Sadler, attendee at the Multisport Expo, Boston

"For the second year in a row, I get the pleasure of writing to express how thankful we are at TriNB to have had you attend our banquet.  We've been getting so much positive feedback since the event and wanted you to know how your message impacted our membership.  The fact you had to come up with a new presentation obviously was a happy coincidence as now you have two killer presentations to pick from!"
John Russell, President, Triathlon New Brunswick