Meant To Be

Triathlon Coach Reconnects With Sweetheart

Mark and Tonia Wilson met when they were in Kindergarten at Mayville Central School. Even though they were very close throughout the years, they lost track of each other after Mark moved away in ninth grade. Not only are they thrilled to have reconnected after many years, but her parents couldn’t be happier. Photos by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

Mark and Tonia Wilson’s story starts in a kindergarten classroom at Mayville Central School and goes full circle until they reunited and married a couple of years ago.

“We were together since kindergarten and started liking each other in fourth grade,” said Tonia.

Mark moved away in ninth grade, but not before they made memories together and not before he left a lasting impression on Tonia, as well as on her parents, who had cared for him when he was little, taken him school clothes shopping and cooked for him. They each married and went on to live their separate lives with Tonia raising two sons and working in the hospitality business, the restaurant business and eventually becoming the director of Randolph Area Community Development Corporation and an Innkeeper, while Mark was a professional singer in New York City, eventually becoming a triathlon coach and race director while owning Coldbrook Bed and Breakfast in Hudson Valley. They both found themselves single again.

After Tonia “liked” her elementary school friend’s coaching page on Facebook in 2012, she wrote to tell him she had done an indoor triathlon with her 13 year old son. One day, after weeks of sending several messages between them, Mark decided they should speak their conversations over the phone.

A couple of days before Mark was scheduled to fly out west to meet a friend for a biking trip, he cut his leg in a chainsaw accident, causing him to cancel his plans. After self-treating and bandaging his leg, he made the decision to call Tonia and ask if she would meet him for breakfast the next morning. Her willingness caused him to travel all night from Woodstock, New York to Randolph.

The Wilson’s serve scrambled eggs, home fries and raspberry dark chocolate banana bread on Tonia’s Great-Great Grandmother Anna Smith’s circa 1870 Limoges China.

Her parents, Dick and Lynn Hall, were ecstatic when the couple reconnected.

“And now he takes care of them,” said Tonia. “My mom is way spoiled.”

They all got a good laugh when her mother found her daughter’s eighth grade report card where her English teacher, Mrs. Ruth Gordan, had commented the young girl “talked too much to Mark.”

Mark said they are both very sentimental and romantic, but his wife is even more so, as she still has the necklace he gave her when she was twelve years old. They both agree they couldn’t have picked a better spouse, because they have so many common likes and interests.

“We are together all of the time and we want to be together all of the time,” he said. “We like to travel together and we like to love and give and receive touch.”

Tonia Wilson’s great-great-grandmother, Anna Smith, the original owner of the Limoges china.

Tonia had a scare in October when she witnessed a car hit her husband when they were biking.

“Make sure you watch for bikers,” she said.

Together the couple has formed Wilson Endurance Sports, LLC. Annually, they produce 22 events in New York State from 5K races to a marathon.

“We literally are 50-50 partners in that business. I am the coach and race director and Tonia is sales and marketing,” said the proud husband. “Our events are built to encourage beginners, as well as veterans. Anybody who thought they can’t (participate), they can.”

“It’s about people moving,” said Tonia. “I lost 35 pounds after I connected with Mark. I was on eight prescription drugs and I am not on any now.”

Proof of the Wilson’s fondness for one another shows in English teacher Mrs. Ruth Gordan’s comments on Tonia Hall’s eighth grade report card.

“One girl came across the finish line of Kayak Bike Run (KBR) and sobbed. She had lost 70 pounds. Her boyfriend had Parkinson’s and he completed it, too,” Mark said. “Neither wanted to swim, so they could do this and they’re coming back.”

A KBR Ice Breaker edition will take place April 7, 2018 in Cassadaga.

“At every community we give to a local charity or non-profit. At Cassadaga we gave to the Fire Department and to the kid’s summer recreation program,” said the coach. “Giving back is an important part to our success. Every company should be doing that.”

He was the race director and co-creator of HITS Triathlon series. The series had 14 venues around the country with five different triathlon races at each event. Mark has completed ten Iron Man Triathlons.

“It was my goal for my fiftieth year. Having family there was so awesome,” he said.

His wife told how he is recognized as they travel across the country and how freely he gives his cell number to race participants.

“I want people to know they can approach me,” he remarked.

Mark is the founder of Hudson Valley Triathlon Club and Southern Tier Triathlon Club. The local club trains weekly on Wednesdays throughout the summer.

More information about the club or to sign up for races may be found at They are seeking local sponsors to, not only help fund, but to promote their company in a healthy fashion. Some of their sponsors are Hollyloft Ski and Bike, Jamestown, Evergreen Outfitters, Mayville and Simply Natural Alpaca Gift Shop, Randolph.

“We’d like other companies to be on our list so we can talk about them. We want to promote them,” Mark said.

“As a matter of fact, Bill Wadsworth at Metallic Ladder is designing the podium for our awards ceremonies.”

All of the recipes printed here, with the exception of Oven-Baked Garlic French Fries, were served at the Wilson’s bed and breakfast.

“I like making breakfast and enjoy cooking,” said Mark, whose guests chose the foods they wanted for breakfast the following morning. They were offered a wide range of food that was beautifully presented. His wife takes pride in a set of Limoges china in a small rose pattern with a gold band, that had once belonged to her great-great-grandmother Anna Smith. Actually, the original circa 1870s set was split with another relative. Tonia received service for six including dinner plates, dessert plates, salad plates, soup bowls, sauce dishes, butter dishes, cups and saucers. She also has several serving pieces consisting of a large and small platter, a covered butter dish, a gravy boat and two covered soup tureens.

Mark admits his mother “was the worst cook ever” and that he had a desire to eat good-tasting food.

“While traveling I was able to enjoy good food, which lead me to cook. I like to make people happy through food.”

If trying something new, out of your comfort zone, is part of the new leaf you vowed to turn over in the new year, let’s tell your story at bkehe25@gmail .com.

Mark’s Recipes:


4 eggs

2 T salted butter

1 tsp sea salt

Warm small frying pan on medium heat. Melt butter. Add 4 eggs and sea salt. Stir gently and do so every 30 second. Fold and turn, but do not scramble. Continue until all fluid is gone, but the eggs are still moist.


4 chopped potatoes

1/2 chopped onion

7 cherry tomatoes

6 c water

sea salt

1/2 c vegetable oil

Boil water in medium pot over high heat. Add potatoes, leaving heat on high, until potatoes boil. Potatoes will be firm. Drain. Place large frying pan on stove over medium high heat. Add some vegetable oil to frying pan; and chopped onion. Stir onions to make them moist. Add chopped potatoes. Turn all to make moist. Add some salt and whole cherry tomatoes. Let sit for about 2-minutes at a time and then turn to mix the onions, potatoes and tomatoes. Add salt and oil each time when turning. Add oil only, if burning or potatoes look dry.


6 slices bread

3 eggs

1 stick salted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 T cinnamon

1/2 c half and half

Warm large skillet on medium high heat. Melt one tablespoon butter. Mix eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon. Add half and half. Mix well by stirring until creamy. Put one slice of bread in mixture. Place in skillet. Continue with each slice. Turn when first side is golden brown. After second side is golden, place on serving plate. Butter each slice.



1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped in small pieces

2 c water

1 large onion, chopped

1 T sea salt

1 stick salted butter

Place chopped onion in large soup pot on medium high heat with stick of butter. Add squash and stir until moist. Add enough water to barely cover squash. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover, cooking until soft. Puree the mix with electric hand-blender. Consistency will be creamy. Add salt to taste. More salt is better for this.


6 chicken thighs

2 c baby carrots

3 quartered potatoes

1 large onions, chopped

1/2 c oil

sea salt

10 cherry tomatoes

Add oil to large frying pan, placing on medium high heat. Add chopped onion. Stir to make moist. Let sit. Add chicken thighs. Cover. Turn thighs and cook other side. Add cherry tomatoes, carrots and potatoes. Cover. Reduce heat. Liquid from vegetables will now be in frying pan. Cook uncovered until liquid is nearly gone. Add salt each time you stir. Rotate pan for balanced cooking of the chicken and vegetables. Add a little oil if burning occurs or meal does not seem juicy or cover again to keep liquid in or to get more water out of vegetables, etc. and ultimately softening them. The overall consistency should be juicy/sticky not runny. Slow cooking is important.

Tonia’s Recipes:


Pre-heat oven to 350. Spray small loaf pans with baking spray.

2 c flour

1/4 tsp soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 c sugar

4 T unsalted butter, room temp.

2 large eggs

3 ripe bananas

1/3 c plain or vanilla yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 c dark chocolate chips or chunks

1 c raspberries, halved and tossed in 1 T flour

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, soda and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and butter at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each. Add bananas, yogurt and vanilla, beating until blended. Stir in the flour mixture slowly, just until moist. Do not over-mix. Stir in chocolate and then gently stir in raspberries. Spoon batter into the prepared pans. (Smaller loaves of this is nice, but can be made into larger loaf if preferred.) Top the batter with extra chocolate and raspberries. Bake 30-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Remove from pans and cool on rack.


2 large Idaho potatoes

olive oil

garlic salt



Romano or Parmesan Cheese

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large pan with foil and lightly spray a cooling rack with small criss-cross pattern to keep fries up off of foil. Peel and cut potatoes into strip. Soak in a bowl of cold water for approximately 10-15 min. Take potatoes out and pat dry on paper towels to take off excess water. Place potatoes back in medium- size bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until coated. According to your taste, cover with spices and cheese. Toss until coated. Place in single layer on pan and try to spread out as much as possible. Sprinkle once more with a thin layer of cheese. Bake 30-40 minutes, flipping once with a large spatula or tongs, until desired crispness has been reached. Serve immediately.