Whistler athletes up to Ironman challenge 

Edwards, Suter qualify for Ironman championships

Grace Blok finishing swim portion of Ironman Canada in Penticton, photo by Justa Jeskova.
  • Grace Blok finishing swim portion of Ironman Canada
    in Penticton, photo by Justa Jeskova.

Eight Whistler residents took part in Ironman Canada this past weekend in Pencticton, battling heat, wind and often their own bodies to make it to the finish line.

The Ironman course includes a 3.8 km swim, a 180 km cycle and a full length, 42.2 km marathon. Despite the enormous distance and physical challenge, an amazing 2,178 of the 2,300 athletes who entered the water on Sunday morning made it to the finish line.

The top male this year was Victoria’s Jasper Blake, who placed first in the pro men’s race. He was 12 th out of the water, fifth on the bike, and first on the run with a marathon sprint of two hours, 48 minutes and 12 seconds to post a total time of 8:33:58. Australia’s Courtney Ogden was second in 8:47:46, while Ontario’s Gordo Byrn placed third in 8:51:23.

The top female was Australia’s Belinda Granger, who crossed the line 17 th overall in 9:25:13. Ontario’s Lisa Bentley was just three minutes back in 9:28:18, while Lori-Lynn Leach of Saskatchewan pulled up a distant third in 10:09:23.

Whistler’s fastest Ironman this year was Mike Edwards, who placed 62 nd overall with a time of 10:08:47, as well as 11 th out of 357 athletes in the 35 to 39 age category.

Sticking to his game plan he took it fairly easy on the swim and bike legs, then ran the whole marathon in a time of 3:30:33.

Next up was Paul Suter, who was racing the distance for the eighth time in his career and competing in his second Ironman of the season.

Suter was 147 th overall in 10:36:26, as well as 10 th out of 247 athletes in the 45 to 49 age category.

"The whole thing came down to the fact that my wife, Christine, and I set out over 14 months to both qualify for the world championships at the Arizona Ironman, and she made it and I didn’t," said Suter. "So this was my makeup race, and now we’re both qualified to race in the world championships at Kona, Hawaii. I think there are maybe only a handful of other married couples in the world who can say they’ve done that."

There were only championship qualifer spots for the top seven racers in Suter’s category, but three athletes passed on the opportunity.

Suter knows it will be tough to race a third Ironman in the same season, but lately it’s all coming down to strategy.

"(Ironman Canada) really came down to race planning, and I think having the experience I did in Arizona helped this past weekend in Penticton – I went in with a plan and carried it through on race day," he said. "I did exactly what I wanted in preparation for the race… I swam at exactly the pace I wanted to swim, I biked the pace I wanted to bike, and I kept my nutrition up to be able to run the marathon. That was a huge success for me.

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