Dave Lipchen’s first-ever ITU World Championship race, at 22, was back in 1998 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“I had one of my best times, ever,” Lipchen says, still recalling fondly every detail of the swim in clean, clear Lake Geneva and a bike circuit that involved a steep climb on cobblestone. “I met friends in Lausanne that I’m still in touch with today.”
Lipchen – the founder of Windburn Multi-Sport Academy in Winnipeg – is now race director of the Riding Mountain Triathlon in Wasagaming, Man. With as many as 600 participants, it’s the biggest triathlon/duathlon event in wheat country. And, for the first time, this year’s race, on Aug. 18, will be an age-group qualifier for the Olympic distance ITU World Championship in Lausanne in 2019.
“It makes sense in every way,” says Lipchen about accepting the challenge in his first year as race director “to bring the race up to the next level.”
“Lots of triathletes have had to travel out of province, some years all the way to Calgary or Toronto to qualify for a world championship event,” he says.
Also for the first time this year, the Echo Lake Triathlon, in Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle Valley, is a World Championship 2019 qualifying event, offering two agegroup spots for each gender. So, prairie triathletes who fail to qualify at that race on July 15 have another shot at Riding Mountain a month later.—LOREEN PINDERA
Sanders Does it Again
Sebastian Kienle is getting downright sick of pushing Lionel Sanders to his limit and “bringing out the best” in the Canadian. Last year, at the Challenge Championship in Samorin, Slovakia, Sanders and Kienle put on an incredible show, taking turns trying to break the other for 16 km before Sanders was finally able to break clear and run his way to the title.
This year’s race offered up a different script, this one providing a more heartbreaking result for Kienle, who appeared to finally be on track to beat his Canadian rival, only to see Sanders come up with yet another incredible performance to take the win.
The day started out as expected with Slovakian super-swimmer Richard Varga leading the way out of the water, but then all expectations got thrown out the window from there on. Sanders, who has shown remarkably improved swimming over the last year had a shocker of a swim, coming out of the water almost five-minutes behind Varga and 90 seconds behind Kienle, who he has routinely swum with over the last year or so.
Germany’s Florian Angert would come off the bike first, with Kienle two minutes down and Sanders another minute behind. Kienle moved to the front by the halfway point of the run, starting the second lap with a 23-second lead over Sanders. Over the next five km there was no change and it looked like Kienle might finally have found a way to finish ahead.
With three km to go Sanders managed to catch and pass the German, only to suddenly find himself behind shortly afterwards as Kienle surged ahead. Right after that surge, though, Kienle slowed down.
“I knew that’s when I had to go,” Sanders said after the race.
Sanders would eventually come across the line just over a minute ahead to successfully defend his title. Canadian Trevor Wurtele finished 15th.
On the women’s side, Great Britain’s Lucy Charles also made it two in a row, leading from the gun and successfully holding off German super-runner Anne Haug who managed to make up all but two minutes of a 7:30 deficit after the bike. Fourth off the bike, but unable to hold off Haug and another strong runner, Great Britain’s Emma Pallant, Canadian Heather Wurtele would finish sixth.—TMC
An Unlikely Champion: Finding the Path to Fulfillment and Winning in Life
LISA BENTLEY RACED for 20 years as a professional triathlete and ranked among the top five in the world for a decade. Her athletic success is all the more remarkable because she has dealt with a serious lung disease all of her life. Overcoming limits with outstanding mental focus, Bentley is sharing her knowledge to help others win at life no matter what cards they’ve been dealt.
This book could be described as a mental training manual that uses personal accounts of Bentley’s accomplishments to illustrate the power of attitude, belief and determination. Over time, she developed a tool kit of practices that were vital to keeping her head and spirit in the best possible shape.
Bentley began running in grade school and branched into crosscountry and track in high school. In university she was introduced to triathlon and in 1989, while still a student, she learned that she and two siblings had cystic fibrosis.
The diagnosis solved the mystery of a very sick childhood with nightly cough medicine and many chest infections requiring months of antibiotics. But the diagnosis didn’t slow Bentley down one bit. She was young and feeling invincible. “At least now, I thought, when I got a chest infection, I could take the appropriate antibiotics and get healthy faster! I saw it as a win-win!” she writes.
Bentley has won 11 Ironmans, 16 Ironman 70.3 races and achieved several top five finishes at the Ironman World Championship. She represented Canada at the Pan American Games and on national elite teams at the world championships. Between 2000 and 2007 she had at least one Ironman victory each year.
Among the mental tools that Bentley used, visualization was the strongest element. She would not give power to the fact of her health limitations or the talent of other triathletes. “I had a relentless self-belief that I could outperform my competitors. That was not overconfidence. That was a vision that I tattooed on my brain,” she shares. Visualizing back-up plans for anything that could go wrong allowed her to begin a race believing any possible problem could be handled.
Bentley frequently made asset lists and updated them for specific challenges. In preparation for an Ironman World Championship, she tallied 29 positive items about her life and a list of her best workouts.
“These lists, and their constant race day recitation, provided me with a personal pep talk outlining all the reasons I could be and would be successful. My lists gave me two oars and instilled in me a wholehearted belief that I would find a way to win because I was equipped to win,” she writes.
Woven through her advice is a theme of not winning just for the sake of winning. Bentley wants you to reflect and understand what it means personally, what individual fulfillment looks like, and how to be yourself rather than imitating someone else. Because otherwise, winning races and reaching goals will likely feel empty.
As examples, she writes: “There will always be someone better than each of us, so finishing first can’t be your only purpose,” and, “Achievement versus fulfilment is a choice. I achieved the podium more than one hundred times, but the memories come more from feelings of satisfaction than from medals.”
Bentley’s relentless determination took her through unbelievably difficult situations that many people would have backed away from. She offers lessons as an athlete who owned her situation by using strength of mind to be a champion time after time after time.
Helen Powers is a freelance journalist from Dundas, Ont.
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Lionel Sanders at the challenge championship