Kate Bevilaqua wins Ul­tra 520 in Pen­tic­ton

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - HALE KERRY

Prior to this year, no woman had ever fin­ished higher than third over­all in an Ul­tra­dis­tance mul­tis­port event any­where in the world.

En­ter Kate Bevilaqua, a 38-year-old pro­fes­sional triath­lete from Perth, Western Aus­tralia, who stunned the triathlon en­durance com­mu­nity by grab­bing the top spot over­all in the bru­tal Ul­tra520 – for­merly Ul­tra­man Canada – held in Pen­tic­ton Aug. 1–3.

Day 1 in­volved a 10-km swim in Lake Skaha, fol­lowed by a 149.8-km ride on parts of the old Iron­man Canada course, Day 2 in­cor­po­rated a 275.8-km bike ride to Prince­ton, and – on ex­tremely tired legs – Day 3 dealt out a dou­ble-marathon 84.4 km of road and trail run­ning.

Bevilaqua, ac­com­pa­nied by her en­tourage, which in­cluded hus­band and pro­fes­sional triath­lete, Guy Crawford, posted an cu­mu­la­tive time of 24:16:27 to fin­ish ahead of men’s cham­pion Juan Bautista Castilla Ar­royo, who clocked a 24:42:02.

Over the three days, Bevilaqua set five records in the 520-km event: the women’s (10 km) swim course (2:37:57), the Day 1 com­bined time (7:26:38), the Day 1 and 2 com­bined time (16:44:21), and the 84.4-km dou­ble-marathon on Day 3 (7:32:06), thereby smash­ing the women’s old mark of 25:24:32 set in 2014 by Yvonne Timewell by more than an hour.

On the long ride dur­ing Day 2 the race started to get in­ter­est­ing for Bevilaqua. “It was such a strug­gle at the end of the bike and I was ly­ing in bed won­der­ing if I could run 84 kilo­me­tres,” she ad­mit­ted. The fol­low­ing morn­ing she al­lowed the front run­ners to move ahead and opted not to have her sup­port crew or a pacer for the first 42.2 km. “I wanted to hold that off, save it as a treat for the sec­ond half,” she said.

Con­sum­ing a gel ev­ery 30 min­utes, while con­tin­u­ing to take in her elec­trolyte drink and briefly walk­ing through aid sta­tions ev­ery 10 km, she fo­cused on two-kilo­me­tre in­cre­ments to inch to­ward the line. “I knew 50 to 70 km was the tough­est in terms of ter­rain. The hills were big­ger and I was ex­posed to the el­e­ments,” she noted. At this point she opted to run with a mem­ber of her crew be­side her. “It was at this stage I was start­ing to get de­mand­ing. I didn’t want to know how great I looked or that I was nearly there be­cause I wasn’t. I didn’t want to know about keep­ing a high ca­dence, stay­ing re­laxed and strong. I was in my own lit­tle world and it didn’t in­volve any of that.”

With just over 20 km of the run to go, race di­rec­tor Steve Brown drove by in his car to­ward the fin­ish line. He slowed to pass on words of en­cour­age­ment, pro­vided time gaps and then in­formed Bevilaqua that if she con­tin­ued at the pace she would cre­ate his­tory; it would be the first time a fe­male had won an Ul­tra­man event out­right in the 32-year his­tory of the event.

Fi­nally, af­ter more than seven and a half hours of run­ning, she made the last left-hand turn and, with her crew, crossed the fin­ish line to­gether. “No words will ever be able to de­scribe the emo­tions I was feel­ing. I saw the time on the clock and could not be­lieve what I had done. That Day 3 was what dreams were made of. That day you know you have in you – but just never think it is pos­si­ble – un­til it hap­pens.”

Af­ter cross­ing the fin­ish line, Bevilaqua said, “I had a lot of per­sonal things I wanted to achieve and win­ning the over­all [ti­tle] was an incredible bonus. It was just an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence all around and I ex­ceeded all my ex­pec­ta­tions.”

Brown was thrilled with the first ver­sion of the Ul­tra520k.

“It’s just fan­tas­tic for the event and the sport to have a fe­male win the race out­right,” said Brown. “It’s just a tremen­dous ac­com­plish­ment. Women are on the cusp of do­ing some amaz­ing things in ul­tra-en­durance rac­ing and what Kate did here – it’s a new bench­mark. I just think it’s great for fe­male ath­letes and hope­fully it gives even more of them the courage to step for­ward and take on the chal­lenge.”

Race in­for­ma­tion

ul­tra­520k­canada.com.–

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