How’s this for a 2016 race season? She was the Ironman 70.3 North American pro champion. She won 70.3 races in Monterrey, Mexico; Oceanside, Calif. and Victoria. She took the win at Challenge Iceland. It wasn’t just the fact that she won those races that impressed – she also set course records in St. George, Utah; Monterrey and Oceanside. Wurtele also finished second at Ironman 70.3 Mont-tremblant. Possibly one of the biggest highlights came in Australia in September. For the third year in a row she was on the podium at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship – her third place in Mooloolaba put her one spot in front of the prohibitive favourite going into that race, Daniela Ryf.
The only thing that seems to have eluded Heather Wurtele in her impressive career that includes six Ironman titles and 18 half or 70.3 titles is a top finish in Kona. While her 12th-place performance this year would thrill most others, one gets the feeling that at some point Heather Wurtele is going to crack the Kona code. Over the last few years she has put everything in place to excel on the world’s biggest stage. At one point the feeling was that Wurtele wasn’t able to back up her strong bike leg with a quick enough run. Nothing could be further from the truth now – she’s now amongst the best runners in the sport, especially over the half distance.
Kona might have to wait for Wurtele, the same way that it did for champions like Mark Allen and Chris Mccormack.
Kona aside, there’s lots of reason to celebrate Wurtele’s impressive year.
A popular figure on the triathlon scene, Wurtele and her husband Trevor split their time between Kelowna, B.C.; St. George and San Diego, Calif., living in a small RV. The two met at the University of Victoria and both got into the sport in 2004. Their steady rise through the pro ranks really took off in 2009 when they committed to the sport full time.
That commitment has earned both Wurteles lots of respect in the triathlon world. And Heather’s impressive 2016 earns her our nod as Triathlete of the Year, too.– KM