Kelowna's Trevor Wurtele finally won the big one, posting the top time at the 2013 Ironman Whistler on Sunday (Aug. 23).
It was a victory nearly a decade in the making.
Wurtele said he's been chasing a win on home soil for a long time, but it felt especially good to win in his home province.
“I've just been chipping away and knocking off a little time each year, so to finally come away with a win here feel so good,” he said.
Wurtele placed 27th back in 2004 but clawed his way to the top this year with a time of 8:39:33. He spent most of the day battling with last year's champion Matt Russell. “I had a bit of a rough patch on the bike when Matt Russell caught up to me but, I knew I couldn't let him go because that guy can run in the low 2:50s all the time,” he said. “So getting off the bike with him, I was just happy to be there with him. On the run I did whatever I could to get rid of him.”
Wurtele was in eighth place coming out of the swim, but jumped to third after the bike and then to first as he finally overtook Russell in the run.
“I ran on the borderline of uncomfortable and finally got away from him at mile six or seven,” he said. “Once that happened I got a little boost of energy and kept going. It was great to see the mile splits open larger and larger as the run went on.”
Russell said the bike was tough and he may have pushed himself a little too hard in that stage.
“I had the fastest bike-split time but I did too much work on the bike,” he said. “I didn't quite have my regular running legs under me after that.”
He explained that he led for the majority of the bike stage after passing Wurtele at the 70-mile mark. The pair battled at the 140-mile mark but Russell regained a confident lead until Matt Leito pushed hard to reach the transition stage first, but Wurtele transitioned faster.
“We passed each other a few times,” Leito said. “Then at about mile four or five he pulled away a bit – he had a great race.”
He added Wurtele was deserving of the win.
“We pushed each other and I think we both trained hard for this,” he said. “This is his first big win for Ironman, and for him being from Canada it's huge for him. But he's been up here for four weeks and this was the first time I rode the course – I just got here on Thursday. Now I know what I'm getting myself into for next year. “ Both Wurtele and Russell said they plan on returning to the event for 2014.
Paul Amey from California rounded out the top three for the men.
For the women, Uli Bromme from Colorado was the top competitor with a time of 9:28:13. She beat out second place Lisa Ribes from Arizona by over 10 minutes. North Vancouver's Gillian Moody placed third with a time of 9:49:09, with Christine Fletcher from Vancouver coming in fourth.
Earlier in the day, Bryan Rhodes from New Zealand was the fastest athlete out of the water in stage one. Rhodes swam the 3.8-kilometre Alta Lake course in 48:45 to build an early 20-second lead. Austria's Dominik Berger was right behind him at 49:05 and North Saanich's Andrew Russell ranked third coming out of the water with a time of 49:22.
American racers Christina Jackson and Christine Anderson were the fastest women, with times of 55:11 and 55:13 respectively. North Vancouver's Gillian Moody was the top Canadian female, placing fourth with a time of 56:51.
Ironman Canada featured over 2,500 athletes swimming in Alta Lake for 3.8 kilometres, biking from Pemberton and back in a 180 km loop and finishing off with a 42 km run through the trails of Whistler.