Athletes participating in the 8th annual Runner’s Den Sylvan Lake Half Ironman Triathlon were able to take advantage of a new distance introduced this year, called the 1-60-10 race.
Competitors began in the waters of Sylvan Lake, where they swam for one kilometre. After finishing, they biked 60 km and then ran 10 km. The standard Half Ironman race, consisting of a 2 km swim, 90 km bike ride, and 21 km run also took place.
Race director Joe Dixon said he received positive feedback from the athletes both on the new distance and on the recently completed Centennial Park.
“It’s always different because there’s always changes to the venue. This year, Centennial Park is complete,” said Dixon. He added that in past years, the area had been under construction.
Dixon said registration this year has been the best for the past five to six years. The new distance was very popular, and Dixon said it will definitely return next year. Those in the lead on the bike portion of the course were averaging 40 km per hour, said Dixon.
“It’s a fast course and they can really push it on the bike,” he said.
Dixon said the new distance is easier to train for, in addition to being better suited to the local landscape. He added that he thinks Sylvan Lake is one of the best venues in Alberta for a triathlon, because it has “one of the best lakes in the province, a beautiful bike ride, and a nice run.”
Teresa Richer of Red Deer placed first in the women’s Half Ironman division, which she calls a “personal best.” She placed third in the women’s division last year.
“I always try to reach personal best. Just try to obtain the unreachable,” she said.
Richer has been competing in racing events for 11 years. She trains every day, making sure she works on something different every time. She starts off slow, working her way up to longer distances.
“There’s no rest,” said Richer. She added that she plans to compete in the Subaru Ironman race in Penticton in August, which consists of a 3.8 km swim, a 180 km bike ride, and a 42.2 km run.
Richer said she likes triathlon events because they keep her training routine more exciting and diverse. While she has no problem with the running portion of the event, she struggles with the swimming.
“I swam as a kid, then didn’t start until 2001 as an adult. I didn’t even know proper lane swim etiquette,” she said, adding that she began swimming as part of her triathlon training.
Richer said she always makes sure she has enough fuel and hydration while racing.
“I’m thinking about how my body feels at every moment,” she said.
Richer said the bike portion of the Sylvan Lake course was one of the most difficult she’s been on, but the running section is flat and very fast. She also said the water in Sylvan Lake was clean to swim in.
In the future, Richer hopes to compete in the Ironman World Championship race in Hawaii. She also hopes to increase interest in triathlon events.
“I believe that the more people we can get into the sport the healthier the community will be.”
Competitors in the Sylvan Lake Half Ironman came from around the province and the country. This year’s winners were:
Top five male Half Ironman: Wade Carlson, Penticton B.C.; Dusty Spiller, Red Deer; Craig Schmitt, Red Deer; Seth Bitting, Rossland B.C.; Mark Unchulenko, Kamloops, B.C.
Top five female Half Ironman: Teresa Richer, Red Deer; Jen Panteluk, Edmonton; Megan MacDonald, Calgary; Steph Neufeld, Edmonton; Christy Drever, Hardisty.
Top five male 1-60-10: Evan Smelquist, Canmore; Gordon Morrison, Edmonton; John Winterdyk, Calgary; Malcolm Stinson, Edmonton; Mark Schwan, Canmore.
Top five female 1-60-10: Nancy Lynch, Calgary; Jay Smith, Edmonton; Hillie Van’t Klooster, Olds; Rita McNulty, Sylvan Lake; Lori Leduc, Red Deer.