By Barrie Shepley
IRONMANIA WEEK is in full swing! We are officially 4 days out from the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Today, we are celebrating the history of the sport of Ironman. Specifically, Canada’s longtime successes in the sport.
Not long after the 1978 Innagural Hawaii Ironman, a group of endurance people in Penticton British Columbia started Ironman Canada. Being one of only five Ironman races in the world for decades, Canada’s history in the sport has been shaped dramatically by Ironman Canada. Within a short period of time the top pro men and women in the world were making their way to Penticton British Columbia each August and the small interior British Columbia town became one of the most loved races in all of the entire world. Past Ironman Canada winners from Canada included Julie Ann White, Lori Bowden, Lisa Bentley, Peter Reid, and Jasper Blake to name those best known. As it became more and more difficult to qualify for the Hawaii ironman, Canadians had a home course advantage with one of a handful of races in their own country. In the late 80s and early 90s, athletes from all over the world, would move to Penticton to live and train in July and August before the yearly Ironman Canada race at the end of August each year.
Canadian Olympian: Peter Reid
Quebec’s Peter Reid raced on Canada’s Olympic distance team for nearly a decade and was close to quitting the sport of triathlon before he had a break through race in Nice in the mid 90s. Peter decided to give triathlon one more shot and moved to Victoria British Columbia to focus his career on the Hawaii ironman. Peter raced and won all over the world, but it was his THREE Kona Ironman wins and 7 Kona podiums in 8 years that was truly spectacular. With a fastest time of 8hrs 22 minutes, Peter Reid kept Canada in the limelight and was eventually put into Hall of Fames in BC, Canada and Ironman. Today Peter is a pilot for float-planes in British Columbia.
Canada’s Ironman Golden Time
There were a number of times in the a decade ago, when Canada would have Lori Bowden, Heather Fuhr, Lisa Bentley and Peter Reid all in the top 10 overall and a few of the athletes on the podium or having won. Canada’s golden time for Ironman racing in Kona is cemented with the names of those four incredible athletes. But on Saturday Oct 10th, Canada has the opportunity to recapture that glory with three men and two women who are all very capable of being top 10 in the 2015 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. Heather Wurtele, Angela Naeth, Jeff Symonds, Brent McMahon and Lionel Sanders are the strongest Canadian team in a decade and the men’s team has the potential to be the strongest ever in nearly forty years of Ironman racing.