IT’S BEEN A long time since Canadian Ironman fans have had this much to look forward to in October. The fact that we’ll have at least five men and women likely to line up in the pro field is reason enough to celebrate. That this group has the firepower and ability to follow in the able footsteps of former Canadian Ironman champions Sylviane Puntous, Heather Fuhr, Lori Bowden and Peter Reid is cause for even more excitement.
Heather Wurtele is the most senior of the crew, having already racked up numerous Ironman and 70.3 titles and has finished in the top-10 in Kona before. She knows what it takes to succeed in Kona.
Angela Naeth came a few points shy of qualifying for the world championship last year. Instead of the Hawaii trip she headed down south to win Ironman Chattanooga, then followed that up with an impressive race at the Ironman North American Championship in The Woodlands, Texas. Naeth always has the firepower on the bike and has become a consistently strong runner, two ingredients that are critical if you’re going to contend in Kona.
On the men’s side there’s lots of excited talk about all three of the guys we’re likely to see on the start line. Lionel Sanders spent race week in Kona last year taking it all in – he rode the course multiple times and spent a lot of time running in the intense heat, too. Sanders will struggle in the water and the rest of the field are likely to be worried enough about him that they’ll make sure that he’ll have to work really hard to get to the front on the bike. If he can get there, though, without having to leave a lung on the side of the road and better hydrated than he was in Texas, Sanders will be impressive on the run.
Brent Mcmahon turned more than a few heads last year when he turned in the fastest ever men’s debut Ironman race. He followed that up with another sub-8 third-place finish in Brazil. The former Olympian will swim well enough to come out of the water with the main group in Kona and enjoy the luxury of at least starting the ride where he needs to be. Add to that the speed he acquired from all those years of ITU racing and he’ll be a man with potential on the marathon course.
Finally Jeff Symonds was simply outstanding over a tough field at the Ironman Asia-pacific Championship in Melbourne last March. When he’s on, the Penticton native can compete with the best in all three disciplines, which is increasingly becoming an important attribute for the world’s best Ironman athletes.
Brent Mcmahon races the Ironman 70.3 California Oceanside
Jeff Symonds racing the 2014 Subaru Ironman Canada in Whistler, B.C.