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Locals tame Ironman

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Suter, Palm qualify for World Championships

Although wildfires continued to burn up and down the valley, conditions were near perfect for this year’s Ironman Canada in Penticton. After weeks of heat waves and droughts, temperatures cooled and the skies clouded over, providing some relief to the more than 1,930 athletes who took part.

However, the local forest fires did take their toll. The firefighters who typically volunteer as lifeguards for the swim leg were on duty, forcing organizers to switch to a two-lap format to concentrate the available volunteers. As a result the course had more corners, and many of the slower swimmers – including many who were uncomfortable swimming in a dense pack – were lapped.

In addition, the marathon course was altered to keep a road open to fire crews and the possible evacuation of nearby towns. The marathon stayed close to town and to the cheering crowds as athletes made three laps of a new course.

The Ironman includes a 3.8 km swim, a 180.2 km bike and a 42.2 km run.

This year the top time belonged to Raynard Tissink of Jannesburg, South Africa, who completed the course in eight hours, 35 minutes and 11 seconds.

He was trailed by Tom Evans of Naramata, B.C. with a time of 8:37:01, and Gordo Byrn of New Zealand in 8:46:57.

Lisa Bentley of Caledon, Ontario, was the top woman in 9:21:18. Gillian Bakker of Winfield, B.C. was second in 9:47:09, followed by Andrea Fisher of Austin, Texas in 9:51:20.

The top Whistler athlete was Paul Suter, who finished 95 th overall and 10 th in the men’s 40 to 44 group with a time of 10:07:14. His goal from the beginning was to qualify for a berth in the Ironman World Championships in Kona Hawaii this fall, and he succeeded.

"Things went as I had planned them to go, which is always a good thing – it’s not often that things go as planned in this sport… It’s impossible to run a perfect race, but this was as good as I could ever have hoped for," said Paul.

His swim went well, said Suter, and he tried to be as consistent as possible on the bike leg. "I was counting the people in my age group that were passing me – you could tell by the numbers they had on – and I had to stop myself from trying to chase them all down. I just focussed on running my own race, saving up for the run.

"I was fortunate that not too many people passed me, and I managed to pass a few on the run and knew I had to be pretty close to the top ten. It paid off because my run was five minutes faster than I thought it would be."

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