Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - KM

IRONMAN LE­GENDS SYL­VIANE and Pa­tri­cia Pun­tous fin­ished first and sec­ond at the Ironman World Championship in 1983 and 1984. The two re­main in­sep­a­ra­ble – they are each other’s best friend, train­ing part­ner and room­mate. There’s a rea­son so many of us who have been in the sport can’t help but re­fer to them as the “Pun­tous twins” when­ever we talk about them – they al­ways seem to be to­gether. When they first started work­ing as nurses the hospi­tal man­age­ment tried to put them on dif­fer­ent sur­gi­cal teams – only to be told by the doc­tors that the two are much bet­ter to­gether. Now, when they’re in an op­er­at­ing room, Syl­viane is al­ways the one work­ing next to the doc­tor, while Pa­tri­cia takes care of ev­ery­thing else and is able to get her sis­ter what she needs, seem­ingly with­out hav­ing to com­mu­ni­cate any­thing.

They con­tinue to be en­durance junkies, but their fo­cus is on run­ning these days. They rou­tinely train 120 km a week. In July they fin­ished a 100 km race and took on the Mon­treal Marathon this fall, a reg­u­lar event in their sched­ule. If one is ever in­jured, they take to walk­ing – up to three hours a day.

The 56-year-old twins live next to their par­ents, tak­ing care of them when they’re not work­ing or train­ing. Sur­prise of all sur­prises, their 90-year-old fa­ther and 87-year-old mother walk ev­ery day. “I think we have good genes,” Pa­tri­cia laughs. “I think we’ll com­pete un­til we’re 100 years old,” Syl­viane adds. The two were swim­mers grow­ing up, and even com­peted at the Cana­dian swim­ming cham­pi­onships as young teenagers. Then, when they were 15, they started run­ning track at school and re­al­ized that they were bet­ter run­ners than swim­mers. At 19 they did their first marathon, fin­ish­ing that in 2:48:49. Shortly af­ter that they saw the dra­matic ABC cov­er­age of Julie Moss crawl­ing to the fin­ish line of the Ironman World Championship and de­cided they’d found their sport. Two years later Syl­viane took the ti­tle, with Pa­tri­cia just be­hind.

A re­cent trip to Mont-trem­blant to check out the Ironman race re­minded them of just how much the sport has changed since they com­peted.

“The equip­ment has changed to much, and things are so ex­pen­sive,” says Pa­tri­cia. “It was eas­ier to get into the sport when we started. We never changed bikes ev­ery year – it’s not the bike that makes all the dif­fer­ence, it’s your legs. We went 9:20 with all that old equip­ment and now peo­ple aren’t go­ing that much faster. It’s all about the train­ing. For us it was never about the money. We have al­ways wanted to be healthy and to do some­thing that we en­joyed.”

It wasn’t to­tally about just health and fun, though. The two are in­cred­i­bly com­pet­i­tive.

“We didn’t want to lose – we hate to lose,” Syl­viane says. “If one fin­ished first and the other was fourth, we lost. If we both fin­ished on the podium, that was a win. We never com­peted with each other – just in train­ing. We pushed each other harder in train­ing than rac­ing.”

Con­sid­er­ing all the times they won, and con­tinue to win, that’s a scary thought.–

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