UPPING THE ANTE
FULL DISTANCE RACING
IWAS LUCKY TO be one of the media and triathlon VIPS, like former Ironman Canada champion Jasper Blake, who got to watch the spectacle of 2,000 gutsy triathletes lining up for the start of Subaru Ironman Canada in Whistler, B.C., from a floating dock in Alta Lake. Temps were unseasonably cool for late July and light drizzle turned to gusts of rain that left us blue-lipped, shivering and drenched. The gun went off and racers embraced some of the worst conditions of any Ironman event this year as they plunged into the 3.8 km swim, then rode the hilly 180 km through Callaghan, Pemberton and the Sea-to-sky highway, followed by a marathon. From the pros to those who finished just before the midnight cut-off, every athlete defined courage, passion and mental and physical fortitude.
Some smartly decided not to continue given the state they were in, including podium hopefuls Jeff Symonds and Karen Thibodeau; many discovered a new part of themselves that day.
TMC contributor Melanie Mcquaid’s mastery of her first attempt at the distance left a deep impression on me. Although she finished second just behind American Danielle Mack, Mcquaid led the race from the first few kilometres of the bike through 38 km of the run. Blake insisted that the harsh conditions were perfect for Mcquaid – that she has the uncanny ability to block out the world, put her head down and just go, and he was right. There were many other amazing finishes as athletes ran down the red carpet in Whistler, elated and spent, epitomizing enduring toughness.
Third on the podium was Penticton’s Jen Annett, who has been successful at the full distance despite suffering from epilepsy. Her ability to overcome adversity outside the sport is clearly an asset when racing, proving she has the mind of a champion. Although he just missed the podium, fourth-place finisher, American Derek Garcia also demonstrated how to mentally master physical limitations. Shortly after he turned pro, Garcia was diagnosed with cancer, but came back to the top in the pro ranks.
With the Ironman World Championship fast approaching, we bring you our Kona preview with an in-depth look at the Canadian contenders. Ironman statistician Raymond Britt gives us the scoop on just how hard it is to qualify for a coveted spot on the Big Island (p.48) and Kevin Mackinnon profiles German Olympic gold medallist Jan Frodeno, who is a strong bet for the win (p.56).
For those not going to Kona and about to enter their off-season, we’ve got your bases covered too. Try something different this fall, while continuing to boost fitness. Lucy Smith and Danelle Kabush give you a how-to on running (p.40) and riding (p.34) in the trails.
Whether you’re in Canada in October, or in Hawaii racing or cheering on the athletes, be sure to follow our coverage of the event as TMC’S Kevin Mackinnon brings you the action throughout race week.
Jeff Symonds contends with the harsh conditions at the 2015 Subaru Ironman Canada, ultimately pulling out of the race