This year five local athletes qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, but only two would make the trip — Mike Edwards and Bob Deeks.
Edwards qualified for the World Championships in June at the Ironman Coeur d’Alene in Idaho, where he placed first out of 344 athletes in the men’s 35 to 39 age group with a time of 9:33:41.
Bob Deeks, 47, qualified more recently when he placed ninth out of 296 racers at Ironman Canada in Penticton in 10:12:05 — the first Ironman of his career.
Times are usually slower for Kona, with waves and ocean currents to contend with on the 3.8 km swim leg, and high winds on the 180 km cycling course. The heat is usually an issue as well, and this year the temperature hovered around 30 degrees Celsius as most athletes transitioned from the bike to the 42.2 km run.
It was an unusual Ironman to say the least, as favourites pulled out of the race with stomach problems, rookies upset veterans, and several athletes — including the top female — had enough in the tank to finish the marathon in under three hours. Linda Gallo was just two seconds shy of making history by being the first female to win the swim leg. Chrissie Wellington was competing in only her second Ironman ever after qualifying seven weeks earlier in Korea. She set a record in the marathon stage, coming in at 2:59:58.
The Whistler athletes didn’t set any records or even personal bests, but both had solid races in the conditions.
Out of 1,800 racers who qualified in more than a dozen Ironman events around the world, Edwards placed 425 th overall with a time of 10:16:21. He was slower than usual on the swim with a time of 1:13:22, but made up some time with a solid bike leg of 5:13:53 and a marathon of 3:39:31.
Deeks was 554 th overall in 10:32:44, as well as 24 th in the Men’s 45 to 49 age category. He completed the swim in 1:12:48, the bike in 5:40:38, and followed up with a 3:31:53 marathon.
Deeks had modest expectations for his race, given that Ironman Canada was just six weeks before the World Championships and athletes need several weeks just to recover from a race, and months to prepare. He also was married between races, but deferred the honeymoon to Hawaii.