Local Ironman competitor Marla Zucht is off to Hawaii after a fellow competitor was disqualified.
Zucht found out on Aug. 19 that she will take part in the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on Oct. 10.
Competing in the women's 40 to 44 division, Zucht completed the Subaru Ironman Canada challenge in Whistler on July 26 in a time of 11 hours and 11:42 minutes (11:11:42).
"I'm super excited, for sure," Zucht said.
The original qualifier, age-group champion Julie Miller of Squamish, was disqualified and Zucht will head stateside in her place after rising to third in the age group. While the official news comes relatively late in the game, Zucht had heard rumblings she might be called on to go not long afterward. The timing worked well, as it came toward the end of her pre-prescribed rest period.
"I started hearing about it about a week after our race had finished," she said. "I kept the training going."
Though she is a five-time Ironman competitor — thrice here at home and twice in its previous Penticton location — Zucht is a tad concerned with what the Hawaiian course will throw at her. She's spoken with friend and previous World Championship competitor Marie-Anne Prevost to pick her brain about it, and has learned she might be facing a fairly tough challenge.
"I don't do well racing in the heat," she said. "I competed up in Oliver at the beginning of June and it was about 40 degrees. It just zaps my energy."
She also noted the cycling sections are much flatter than in the Sea to Sky corridor, while her unfamiliarity with swimming in the ocean and the infamous wind will also provide challenges.
"I anticipate it's going to be difficult," she said.
Aside from the physical advantages of competing close to home, Zucht acknowledges she will also lose the boost of familiarity, as she and her family have long been involved with Ironman in capacities ranging from competitor to volunteer.
"It's all very familiar," she said. "I've spent lots and lots of time around both of the courses (in Penticton and Whistler).
"It helps you mentally prepare."
Still, she'll be heading over in early October to acclimatize, gain familiarity and hopefully help to mitigate the tougher new elements of the course.
Aside from the competition, Zucht is also facing some practical challenges, as competitors who have qualified are already booking accommodations, leaving her scrambling to get everything sorted out.
"It's late in the game," she said.
In an email statement, Ironman public relations said: "Based on the combination of photographs and timing data, it was determined Julie Miller did not complete the entire run course of IRONMAN Canada and was therefore disqualified. As a result of this, everyone in the F40-44 age group moved up one place and the final IRONMAN World Championship slot in this age group has been subsequently awarded to another athlete."
Triathlon Magazine Canada reported on Aug. 25 that Miller had completed the run without a chip and her time had to be entered manually. She was originally given a time of 3:17, which was later amended to 3:31. After an Ironman investigation, Miller was disqualified and her spot in Kona was revoked.
In an email to the Squamish Chief, Miller denied the accusations.
"What I can tell you is that I know the race I ran throughout the whole course," Miller said. "I know how I performed and the training that went into that performance and I am confident in the results as they were originally announced."
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