Sports » Features

Send our Ironwoman to the Ironman



WHAT: Fundraiser for Mae Palm

WHERE: Tapley’s Pub

WHEN: Friday, May 30, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Whistler’s Ironwoman needs a little help from her friends.

At 63 years of age, there is almost nothing that will keep Mae Palm from realizing her goal of qualifying for the 2003 Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

She’s got the strength, the determination and the willpower but what Palm needs now is financial support to help her achieve her goal. Palm, who was named last year as the Masters Long Distance Triathlete of the year by the Canadian Triathlete Association, is hoping to compete in the Ironman Canada race in Penticton, B.C. on Aug. 24. Her ultimate goal is to win her age group division in Penticton to qualify for the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Hawaii, representing Whistler and Squamish.

Having competed in more than 100 marathons, this mother of two adult children estimates that her feet have covered more than 70,000 miles of terrain since she began running at the age of 37. She was first in the women’s 60-64 age category in both the 2000 and 2001 Ironman events in Penticton and first in the 2001 Ironman World Championships at Hawaii. She’s hoping to repeat her success on Aug. 24 in Penticton and again on Oct. 18 in Kona.

Palm trains every day with a run or swim in the morning and a bike ride in the evening. After putting in a full day at the office (Palm is a reservations agent with ResortQuest Whistler) she’s right back at it, heading out on the local bike trails or swimming a few laps at the pool at Brennan Park, or both.

For Palm, success has been the result of hard work and determination. She began running at the age of 37 for health reasons. Her first trek was a quarter mile loop around an elementary school in Squamish. From there, she started running every day – two miles a day. Two years later, she competed in her first five-miler and finished in first place. From there, she was hooked for life.

In 1982 Whistler was hosting its first marathon and a fellow Squamish runner gave Palm a second hand copy of The Complete Marathoner and a registration form for the Whistler event.

Three months later, Palm finished her first 26.2 mile marathon in three hours and 52 minutes. The following year, she did the Whistler run again, as well as the Vancouver International Marathon. After that there were five-mile runs, 10-mile runs, a couple of Knee Knacker events (Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove), a few 50-milers, Boston marathons, Victoria marathons and in 1994, she completed the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in 29 hours.

In 1998, inspired by Squamish resident and triathlete Bob McIntosh, Palm decided to take her athletic ability to the next level. McIntosh, who was murdered on New Year’s Eve, 1997, had been a strong community leader and Palm wanted to do something in honour of his memory. She began to train as a triathlete. But it wasn’t easy.

"I couldn’t swim," she says.

Not being one to give up, Palm persisted and conquered swimming. She bought a bike for $500 and competed in her first triathlon. Last year, Palm competed in the Vancouver International Marathon and became a member of the 100 Marathon Club.

Indeed, Palm has come a long way since her first loop around the Squamish elementary school. While she admits that she still occasionally runs in the same pair of shoes she won in the 1990 Knee Knacker event, she now has a custom-built $2,600 bike and can even "splurge" on proper eye wear and clothing. But competing is expensive and it’s starting to catch up with this local athlete. She’s had support from the community in the past and is grateful for the opportunity to compete. She’s hoping that Whistler will again come out in support of its local Ironwoman.

To help send Palm to the Ironman Canada in Penticton and to qualify for the Hawaiian Ironman competition, a fundraiser is being held in Whistler at Tapley’s Pub on Friday, May 30 from 5 to 9 p.m.

Several great prizes have been donated by local businesses and are up for grabs throughout the evening. Raffle tickets will be sold at $5 each or three for $10. Winners of secondary prizes will also have their ticket entered into a grand prize draw. All proceeds raised will go to the Mae Palm Sponsored Trust Fund. And of course, the star of the evening, Mae Palm, will be on hand for the event. If you’d like to help Palm realize her dreams but are not able to attend the fundraiser, a bank account is being set up to receive donations.