Strength came through for Linsey Corbin.
The 36-year-old Oregon resident captured her first full Ironman in three years at Subaru Ironman Canada on Sunday in the professional women's rank.
"This was a very strength-based course and I consider myself a strong athlete... I kept thinking 'strength and endurance pays off. Race strong,'" Corbin said. "I came here looking for a challenging course.
"It's an honest and fair course, and we're all bonded together now saying we've done one of the hardest Ironmans. And it was pretty windy today, too, which made it even more tough."
Corbin passed Vancouver's Rachel McBride in the run portion of the event to win her sixth Ironman race overall, crossing the finish line on Blackcomb Way West in a time of nine hours, 17 minutes and 12 seconds (9:12:17) to best Penticton's Jen Annett by 7:44 and McBride by 10:04 in the pro women's division. (As the professional division has alternated which gender class competes at the event since 2016, there was no professional men's class this year.)
"It really honestly was a dream. I haven't won an Ironman in a few years and I realize it's not every day that you get the opportunity to win one," Corbin said. "I was pushed all day by Rachel. She was ahead on the bike and just killing it."
At about the seventeenth kilometre of the run, Corbin overtook McBride and never looked back, finishing the race strong.
In her recent races, Corbin said she'd been more influenced by the other racers than she'd like, but overcame that mindset even after McBride put up a lead of over 10 minutes early on in the bike ride.
"I've let the other racers dictate my race and in this race, I wanted to race on my own terms, so I really focused on myself. ... Today, I just said I'm going to do what I can do and not worry too much about what everyone else is doing," Corbin said. "I had a strong swim and rode within my means on the bike and really pushed on the ride from Pemberton back to town. The marathon, I just ran as fast as I could. It was really windy coming back into town — the last 5K of the marathon, I was suffering," she said.
McBride acknowledged she knew, even with her lead, that it wasn't insurmountable, especially considering those chasing her. Even though she didn't come up with the victory, she knows there were plenty of positives to take from her second-ever Ironman.
"I had the swim of my life. I came out of the water first, which has never ever happened. I felt really strong on the bike — I had a plan and stuck to it. I came off the bike with quite a good lead and knew I had some speedy runners coming up from behind," she said. "I held a pace that I felt I could hold and was pretty consistent throughout the run.
"I'm so lucky to have held onto third place and ended up on the podium."
McBride explained the second half of the run is where the greatest challenge arises, with mental and physical exhaustion starting to set in, not to mention the other competitors seeking to make a pass.
"I knew that there were some runners that could run down that deficit, so I wasn't surprised to get caught," she said. "Of course, you always go in to win and I'm so excited to have come so close to it. I've got to keep going, keep training and try again."
Penticton's Annett, meanwhile, said she came in gunning for the top spot, but knows there's no shame in coming second to Corbin, especially making gains since her last time in Whistler.
"I was hoping for the win, I'm not going to lie, but I took half-an-hour off my time from two years ago. I finally came under an hour for my swim. I can't complain with that since I'm not a strong swimmer, and I biked a little harder than I had planned to bike so I was a little scared that I was going to blow up on the run, but I held it together for a solid finish," she said. "Linsey is an amazing runner, so even if I had something else in my body left, I don't think I would have caught her anyways."
The other major change over 2015 was the absence of freezing cold weather in the morning. While Annett admittedly prefers cold to hot, her previous trip was over-the-line chilly.
"It was nice to actually enjoy the bike course this year. Two years ago, it was horrible," she said. "It was definitely a better day weather-wise."
The day's top amateur, Dylan Gleeson, was the first competitor to complete the full course, breaking the nine-hour mark by finishing in 8:58:46. Gleeson, who lives in the city but often stays with his in-laws in Creekside and trains here regularly, was thrilled with the day in his 10th Ironman overall.
"I knew I was going to be very close to breaking nine hours, especially for the last hour and I wasn't sure it was going to happen. It was a huge sense of relief when I turned the corner and saw on the clock that I was going to do it," he said. "I knew that I had a big enough gap on the next guy behind me (Martin Caron) that I was going to take the win."
Gleeson said his biggest challenge came in trying to close out the race.
"I always think of the 25-km mark of the marathon as being the halfway point of the race because that's when the piano falls on your back and your legs don't want to go anymore. It's a real struggle to close it out," he said.
In addition to focusing on training for his best race, Gleeson is also a new father, with his first son born in May.
"This Ironman build has been very interesting with a lack of sleep at times, but my wife cut me slack the last five weeks and I didn't have to do any night feeding," he said with a chuckle.
Gleeson, who competed in the men's 30 to 34 age group, qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in October, and he'll look to build off a 14th-place finish in 2014 after leading heading into the run.
Other age-group winners were: Ryo Ishida (men's 18 to 24); Bruce Deakyne (men's 25 to 29); Joshua Randall (men's 35 to 39); Caron (men's 40 to 44); David Matheson (men's 45 to 49); Kenneth Riess (men's 50 to 54); Peter Kornelsen (men's 55 to 59); Greg Stannard (men's 60 to 64); Mike Wien (men's 65 to 69); Even Evensen (men's 70 to 74); Tadayoshi Ogawa (men's 75 to 79); Nicole Wood (women's 18 to 24); Chino Nishimura (women's 25 to 29); Ashley Robota (women's 30 to 34); Kristen Yax (women's 35 to 39); Marcella Rietz (women's 40 to 44); Jennifer Burtner (women's 45 to 49); Kate Stebbings (women's 50 to 54); Lynne Fiedler (women's 55 to 59); and Christina Bromme (women's 60 to 64).