By Barrie Shepley
It’s already day three of IRONMANIA WEEK! Today, we would like to celebrate some amazing female athletes who have shaped and revolutionized the sport of triathlon.
We would like the acknowledge some of the most recognizable female triathletes on known to the sport – Sylviane and Patricia Puntous, Julie Anne White, Heather Fuhr, Lori Bowden and Lisa Bentley.
The Puntous Twins
Very early in the development of the Hawaii Ironman, two identical twin sister from Quebec took up the sport and were the best the world. Dozens of times a year over the shorter Olympic distance Sylviane and Patricia Puntous would win the biggest races in America. In 1983 the sisters were an unimaginable 1-2 finish at the Hawaii Ironman and did the same thing again in 1984. It still boggles my mind that the women did not fair better with sponsors and should have been household names around North America. Sylviane also was second in Kona in 1986, 87 and 89. The Puntous twins were the pioneers for Canada and were feared and universally respected where-ever they raced.
Julie Anne White
After the Puntous Twins, Canada’s Julie Ann White started winning Ironman races with sub 3hr marathon splits at the end of the race. Julie was 2nd in Kona in 1992 in 9hrs 21 min, but her incredible career was cut short after overheating so badly in Kona one year, that doctors rushed her to the hospital and surgically removed 20cm of her colon which had dried up due to dehydration. She was never the same after that.
Alberta’s Heather Fuhr won the Ironman in 1997 with Canadian Lori Bowden second (another 1-2 Canadian punch). Heather still holds the record for the most Ironman wins by a Canadian a 12 (1 Kona win and 11 other Ironman races in her career).
After her second in 1997, Lori was second again 1998 before winning her first of two Hawaii Ironman Championships in 1999 (and again in 2003). By the end of her career, Lori Bowden had won Kona twice (99 and 2003) was second an amazing 4 times (3 times Natascha Badmann beat her) and had a 3rd in 2002. Thats 7 straight years that Lori was on the podium in Kona from 1997 to 2003. Truly amazing.
With 11 Ironman wins in her career, Lisa Bentley did make the podium in Kona with a bronze in 2006. A decade ago, Lisa was in Kona to race and had her wedding planned two days after the event was over. During the race she had severe abdominal pains and was eventually taken off the course to have her appendix removed. Still sore from the Ironman and the surgery, Lisa was only a few days delayed walking down the aisle in Kona.
Remember, the Ironman World Championships are being held this Saturday, October 10th!