Whistlers Greg Sandkuhl was the Whistler Triathlon Clubs lone entry in the Oliver Half-Ironman last weekend (2 km swim, 90 km bike, 21 km run), and succeeded in winning the 60-64 age category with a time of five hours, 29 minutes and 10 seconds. Not only was he more than 50 minutes ahead of his next-closest competitor, Sandkuhls time would have been good enough to win the 55-59 age group as well by more than 20 minutes.
Even more impressive was the fact that this was Sandkuhls first half-Iron, and hes only been competing in triathlons for two years. Hes currently in training for the Subaru Ironman Canada.
"I went there last year as a groupie and ended up signing up," Sandkuhl explained. The Oliver Half-Ironman was part of his training for the main event, and he was pleased with the way it went.
"I felt pretty good for the most part. There was a moment in the run when I was saying to myself, why did I ever sign up for the full Ironman? I couldnt believe I had to do twice the running, after doing twice the biking, after doing twice the swim," said Sandkuhl.
He has been training since November with local trainer Val Burke, and hopes to peak in August, just before the Penticton event. He also trains with the Whistle Triathlon Club.
Before he got into triathlons, Sandkuhl was a mountain biker and had a background in swimming. The run is still his most difficult event, and hes been taking part in competitions like the Victoria half-marathon to get used to the long distances.
When Ironman Canada rolls around, Sandkuhl doesnt have any goals other than to finish, although he says he has been going over the numbers in his head.
"Its just a personal challenge for me," said Sandkuhl. "If I finish it, it is a very unique accomplishment."
More Whistler athletes are expected to compete in the New Balance Half-Ironman in Victoria on June 20.
Meanwhile the club has already been active with more than a dozen members taking part in the North Shore Spring Triathlon (740 metre swim, 20 km bike, 5 km run) on May 24. The results werent posted until June 1.
Whistlers David Higgins was eighth overall and second in the mens 30-34 race in a time of 1:00:36.
Christine Suter was 52 nd overall, eighth among women and third in the 35-39 age category with a time of 1:07:40.
Marie-Anne Prevost was 63 rd overall, 11 th among women and third in the womens 30-34 group.
Sandkuhl was himself 74 th overall and first in the mens 60-64 race in 1:09:41.
Craig Hill was 97 th and 12 th in the mens 30-34 group in 1:11:34.
Claire Daniels was third in the Under-20 group with a time of 1:12:48.
Chris Hodkinson was in at 1:17:15, Jody Wright in 1:17:48, Karen Blaylock in 1:19:19, Nancy Johnston in 1:20:21, Tracy Silvester in 1:26:53, Diane Mombourquette in 1:28:54, Christine McJannet in 1:29:36, and Jane Hage in 1:31:54.