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McMahon the man at Ironman

Victoria runner beats the heat to top field



Victoria triathlete Brent McMahon twice lined up at the Olympics, but what he was able to accomplish Sunday ranks right up there.

McMahon, who grew up in Vancouver, topped the pro men's field at Subaru Ironman Canada, crossing the Whistler Village finish line in front of friends and family in a time of eight hours, 31 minutes and 33 seconds (8:31:33). The 37-year-old came in well ahead of runner-up Jeff Symonds of Vancouver (8:40:27) and Matt Russell of Sarasota, Fla. (8:45:34).

"The feeling is awesome. I've had friends in (the race) and I've followed and I've watched Ironman Canada for years and years," said McMahon, who raced in the Athens Games in 2004 and the London Games in 2012. "This is the first Ironman I ever watched live and to finally in my career, I come here, and race it and win it my first time is unbelievable. It's such a great feeling."

In a strong showing in temperatures that reached the mid-30s, McMahon was at or near the front throughout the race, but created some separation with top challenger Mark Bowstead in the latter half of the bike course. His most serious challengers started to fade during the run, but McMahon still took nothing for granted.

"That's the wonderful and terrible thing about an Ironman (is that) it's never in the bag until you get to the finish line. The marathon's so hard and your legs start to seize up. You walk in to aid stations," he said. "You just keep running because you've got to get to the finish line. I had a good buffer, so I just had to manage things and make sure I stayed hydrated and fuelled."

Symonds, meanwhile, had a yoyo kind of day, coming out of the water alongside McMahon and Bowstead, dropping back to fifth on the bike course, and then regaining ground on everyone but the champion on the run.

Russell, the third-place finisher, only climbed into podium contention at about the 12-kilometre mark of the run, which is just shy of the one-third point of the marathon. The 35-year-old was thrilled with how the day played out.

"I'm pretty satisfied. A great race for me would have been on the podium and a good race was top five," Russell said. "I peaked for the whole run. I think I got off the bike in eighth or ninth position and I just really kept believing in myself and I kept pushing and pushing."

Russell eventually climbed into third with about five km to go, but said that after a tough time on the new, looped bike course, Whistler's notorious marathon setup wasn't a welcome sight, either.

"There are lots of ups and downs (on the bike course). You're either pushing lots of watts or you're almost coasting downhill," said Russell, who ranked the bike course as among the toughest he's conquered in nearly 50 Ironman races. "You're doing that for close to five hours, so by the time you get out (on the run), you don't have as much zip and juice as you usually do."

Runners will continue to arrive in Whistler Village until the midnight cutoff.

A handful of Whistler runners have completed the full-distance Ironman, including: Tomas Korab (11:47:49); Struan Kilgour (13:05:40); Mike Solty (12:17:06); Johanna Hudson (12:44:41); Marla Zucht (11:48:53); Andreas Morel (14:17:14); Chris Bowen (10:39:09); and Jodie Hands (13:00:35). As well, several completed the half-distance 70.3 event, including: Robert Benstead (6:13:31); Will Vandenberg (6:49:29); Trevor Hopkins (5:24:35); Simon Blake (5:44:53); Murray Kay (8:16:32); Michaela Pacakova (6:16:58); Mark Sturgess (6:15:39); Chris Draper (5:38:37); Chantel Jackson (7:18:41); Brianne Ormerod (6:29:16); Bob Deeks (5:05:24); Anne Kilgour (7:21:06); and Adam Ward (4:48:16).

A quartet of Pembertonians, meanwhile, completed the 70.3, including: Susie Foley (5:51:59); Maude Cyr (6:13:15); Gary Martin (5:21:08); and Erica Hurtubise (6:01:55).

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