Palm going for record at Canadian Ironman 

Profile in Sports Illustrated Women may help land a sponsor

The September issue of Sports Illustrated Women will feature local athlete Mae Palm, the World Ironman Champion in the 60 to 61 age group, as well as a champion in virtually every other race she has entered.

The article focuses on top athletes in every decade, from under age 10 to under 100. The reporter asked her personal questions and compiled a list of her achievements – 100 marathons under four hours, record times in ultra-marathons, and top results in several triathlons.

One record could very well be missing from that list of achievements – a new record in Ironman Canada.

"Last year my time was about eight minutes behind the record. I hope I can get it, but it’s a long day and anything can happen," says Palm. "My cycling has gotten better, so I can make up some time there, and of course my swimming is much, much stronger, so I can make up a little time there.

"And my transitions – I spend too much time chatting to volunteers and other racers while I get ready, which is something I enjoy, but I guess I should be all business if I’m going for the record."

This year’s Ironman takes place Aug. 25, in Penticton. It includes a 3.86 kilometre swim, a 180.2 km bike and a full 42.2 km marathon run. More than 2,000 people take part in the race, which is a qualifier for the World Championships in Hawaii in October.

While Palm may have fame as a result of the Sports Illustrated spread, where she is the only Canadian athlete featured, success has not added to her fortune. A sponsor recently withdrew financial support for Palm’s return to the championships in Hawaii after she had gone ahead and booked the trip.

"If I had known, I wouldn’t have signed on for the race in Penticton, but concentrated on the championships which I already qualified for last year," she said. According to Palm registration for Ironman Canada is $500.

Palm is hoping that someone will see her in Sports Illustrated and offer to sponsor her participation in events. She has had help from a number of sources in the past, and last year locals helped her to purchase a $2,600 racing bike.

Friends and supporters are chipping in a few hundred dollars here and there, but Palm would rather have a sponsor or three that she could represent at events for the long term. Finding sponsors for every event has been time consuming, and this time she has found herself in a situation where a new sponsor has yet to step forward. The trust fund that was set up for her at the North Shore Credit Union is overdrawn.

"I really feel that after the Sports Illustrated article, maybe somebody will step forward," she says.

Palm says the article doesn’t just focus on her achievements, but also on her experiences as a woman athlete in her age group, physically and mentally. She hopes she can inspire other women who are a bit older to become more active.

"Some of the questions were a bit personal, they wanted to show how people change as they age, and the different stages. It’s a bit embarrassing, but I can’t wait to see what comes out of it," says Palm.

Palm’s latest event was the 67-kilometre STORMY (Squamish Test of Running Metal – Yeah!) trail run on the Test of Metal circuit on Aug. 10. She completed that race in seven hours 49 minutes, slightly slower than her time last season.

She says her knees are feeling the 1,300 metre verticle gain and loss of the day, and she will swim and bike for the next few days until things get back to normal.

"I do feel ready for Ironman Canada, and I’m starting to get a little bit excited about it," she says. "I have to remind myself not to enter every event in between now and then."

If you want to contribute to Palm, you can make a donation to her trust fund at the North Shore Credit Union. For sponsorship opportunities, contact her at 604-894-4550.

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