Flat tires, 35-degree heat and winds this year added to the challenge of swimming, cycling and running the 225.8 kilometre Subaru Ironman Canada triathlon. But local triathletes responded to the challenges with exceptional results.
Clear skies and beautiful, calm water greeted more than 2,200 Ironman starters Sunday morning in Penticton. But by the time athletes were completing the 3.8 km swim the temperatures were starting to climb. Soon after the first competitors were out on the 180 km bike route through the rolling hills of the south Okanagan, the winds had picked up to 30 km/h, making the ride, and later the run, more difficult.
But it was the 42 km run, a full marathon, in the heat that really took its toll on many of the athletes. Staying hydrated was a major concern, and those who didnt drink enough paid the consequences towards the end.
The first person across the finish line was Chris Lieto of California. The 33 year-old claimed his second career Ironman victory in a time of 8 hours, 33 minutes and 32 seconds.
Stephan Vuckovic, the 2000 Olympic triathlon silver medalist, finished second, three minutes behind Lieto. Torontos Nigel Gray was third.
Canadians took the top five spots in the womens event, which was won by Karen Holloway, who was born in Quebec but now resides in Virginia. Paolina Allan of Aurora, Ont. was second, followed by Christine Fletcher of Vancouver.
Whistlers Mike Edwards led the local contingent finishing 114 th overall, and 25 th in the highly competitive mens 35-39 age group, in a time of 10:29:10.
Greg Sandkuhl finished 21 seconds off a course age group record in easily winning the mens 60-64 category despite a flat tire. His time of 11:21:08 was 20 minutes slower than last years time. He wound up 324 th overall.
Just behind Sandkuhl was Greg McDonnell, doing his first Ironman. McDonnell had to fix two flat tires during his bike ride but still finished in 11:24:18. His time was good for 342 nd overall and 72 nd in the 30-34 age group.
Paul Suter had a fast swim and a very fast bike ride but suffered from dehydration on the run. He wound up 440 th overall in 11:39:41; 70 th in the mens 40-44 category.
Christine Suter also had a good race, although not a personal best. She finished in 11:55:30, good for 17 th in the womens 35-39 category and 556 th overall.
Other triathletes from the Sea to Sky corridor who finished this years Ironman included Neil McKinnon of Garibaldi Highlands, who was 298 th overall in 11:17:22. McKinnon was 42 nd in the 40-44 age group.
Mae Palm was the only female in the 65-69 category. She finished in 14:35:06.
Teresa Hoivik of Squamish finished in 11:37:04, an excellent 426 th overall and 11 th in the womens 25-29 class.
Garibaldi Highlands' Ben Eksteen was 488 th overall and 96 th in the mens 30-34 group in a time of 11:45:39.
Zak Gilson of Squamish crossed the finish line in a time of 12:29:40, good for 799 th overall and 135 th in the mens 30-34 class.
Also from Squamish, Sarah Hiseman was 1112 th overall and 52 nd in the womens 25-29 age group in a time of 13:10:50.
Chris Neufeld of Garibaldi Highlands finished in a time of 14:04:26, which put him 210 th in the mens 30-34 category, and 1469 th overall.
Daniel Stiner of Squamish was 1889 th overall in 15:53:35, and 115 th in the mens 50-54 group.
Stephen Guerin of Squamish finished the swim and bike portions but had to abandon the run.