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Late starter becomes first finisher

Langridge tops age group in Ironman 70.3

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Joyce Langridge didn't even know how to swim when she decided to start doing Ironman triathlons at age 50.

But it wasn't long after she started entering them that she started winning them.

Langridge and her husband, Philip, regularly visited Penticton — then the Ironman Canada host — and she became enamoured with the idea of doing one herself.

"I came from a running background, I had run a few marathons and one day, I just said 'I think I could do that,'" she said. "At that point, you had to sign up the very next morning. You would line up at 3 a.m. because by 8 a.m., it would be totally sold out.

"So I signed up the very next day and then had to learn how to swim."

That first race led to several more triathlons, including Whistler's Subaru Ironman Canada 70.3 event on July 30. Langridge, who lived part-time in Whistler up until last year but still visits regularly, won her 60-to-64 women's age category, besting her next nearest competitor by over 32 minutes.

However, Langridge said adjusting to the water wasn't easy as a first-timer, and it's still a challenge on competition day.

"I never learned to swim as a kid and both of my sons were on swim teams. I'd take them to their swim meets and sit on the sides and watch them, but I never learned how to swim," she said. "It was a real challenge. I had a couple really rough starts in small Olympic-distance races. I couldn't complete the swim and had to withdraw.

"But finally it just started to come together and in August, when the race came along, I made it through the swim. It's not my strength by any means, but I'm not scared of the water. I don't have a fear of it."

All competitors in the half-distance 70.3-mile (113-kilometre) race, Langridge included, were tested during the first stage of the race — the swim in Alta Lake — as the wind picked up after the full-distance race had completed that stage and moved onto the cycling course.

Langridge, however, wasn't fazed.

"For the swim, by the time we started the 70.3 distance, the wind had kicked up and it was very choppy," she said. "(In those situations), you think about everything that you've learned and that you've practiced. I've done ocean swims before that were not as tough as that one was. You really have to stay focused, stay in your own head and just breathe through it.

"It was a really tough one, I have to admit."

Standing just five-foot-two (157 cm), Langridge explained triathlons can be a challenge, but added there are some benefits to smaller frames, too.

"It's challenging, but I like that challenge," she said. "I'm kind of small, so going down the hill, I don't get as much speed up as the larger people do, but I love climbing up the hill."

Other age-group winners in the 70.3 were: Aubrey Wall (women's 18 to 24); Vanessa Tilson (women's 25 to 29); Christine Hoffman (women's 30 to 34); Michelle Barnes (women's 35 to 39); Katie Frauts (women's 40 to 44); Siobhan Clement (women's 45 to 49); Shelley Thomson (women's 50 to 54); Barbara Polehoykie (women's 55 to 59); Cullen Goodyear (women's 65 to 69); Dexter Yeats (women's 70 to 74); Jeremie Showa (men's 18 to 24); Marcus Farris (men's 25 to 29); John Vanderveen (men's 30 to 34); Nicholas Browne (men's 35 to 39); Stephen Handel (men's 40 to 44); Graham Hood (men's 45 to 49); Daniel Brewer (men's 50 to 54); Stephen Marshall (men's 55 to 59); Vince Nethery (men's 60 to 64); Paul Filippi (men's 65 to 69); Ken Zell (men's 70 to 74); and Dick Ennslen (men's 75 to 79).

As well, Whistler had 39 entries in the event. In the 70.3, Adam Ward was second in men's 25 to 29, while Emily Petty took sixth in the women's 18 to 24 event and John Blok took seventh in the men's 60 to 64, as did Karen Norton in the women's 25 to 29. In another top-10 finish, Mike Solty was ninth in the men's 18 to 24 while Pemberton's Gary Martin, one of five entries from that town, was sixth in the men's 40 to 44 event.

In the full-distance race, Marla Zucht took second in the women's 45 to 49 division while Chris Bowen was sixth in the men's 30 to 34 event.

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