Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL) regained his winning form, while Bree Wee (USA) fought off a pair of strong challengers as each claimed triumphs at the 2014 Subaru IRONMAN Canada with times of 8:16:10 and 9:46:58, respectively.
Race-favorite Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL) started the day strong and was first to exit Alta Lake in 50:56. Behind him was a chase pack that included Paul Ambrose (GBR), Jeff Symonds (CAN), Matt Lieto (USA) and the 2013 IRONMAN Canada champion, Trevor Wurtele (CAN).
Once on the bike Ambrose put the hammer down and stormed to the lead at a torrid pace. Sticking to his game plan Vanhoenacker was reluctant to go with Ambrose while Wurtele, Symonds and Lieto were unable to match the pace and started to lose time.
After following for close to 25 miles, Vanhoenacker eased back into the lead on a long decent, and eventually pulled away from Ambrose and the entire field. Heading into the transition, Vanhoenacker was 9:33 ahead of Ambrose, 10:16 in front of Wurtele and 19:44 up on Lieto.
Early in the run Vanhoenacker put time on everyone except Symonds, who started to pick off the men using his race-best run to surpass Wurtele and Ambrose. Vanhoenacker, who remained solid on the run, captured the Subaru IRONMAN Canada title in 8:16:10. Symonds ran his way to second with his 8:25:22 clocking while Ambrose rounded out the podium in 8:33:10.
Top 5 professional men's results:
1. Marino Vanhoenacker 8:16:10
2. Jeff Symonds 8:25:22
3. Paul Ambrose 8:33:10
4. Trevor Wurtele 8:42:59
5. Andrew Drobeck 8:50:32
The women's race was a much tighter affair with a number of lead exchanges throughout the bike and run. Anna Cleaver's (NZL) 53:09 swim was the class of the field and gave her a 2:51 advantage over Karen Thibodeau (CAN), 2:51 on Bree Wee (USA) and 3:10 on Jackie Arendt (USA).
Once on the bike, the field started to tighten up. Before the first half of the ride was completed, Thibodeau jumped to the lead with Arendt, Wee and Mackenzie Madison (USA) keeping in close contact. Wee, Arendt and Cleaver exchanged positions behind the leader during the last loop, while Madison made a strong push to the front and by the time she reached T2 she was 31-seconds ahead of Thibodeau and 1:14 in front of Wee.
Madison's fought hard during the first 12 miles of the run but Wee found another gear moving into the lead. Thibodeau would eventually overtake Madison as well, staying within striking distance of the leader. Wee's race-best run of 3:17:41 moved her well into the lead and to her second IRONMAN title in a time of 9:46:35. Thibodeau claimed second with a finish time of 9:51:35, while Madison finished third, with a 9:52:46 showing.
Top 5 professional women's results:
1.Bree Wee 9:46:58
2. Karen Thibodeau 9:51:35
3. Mackenzie Madison 9:52:46
4. Jackie Arendt 9:59:06
5. Anna Cleaver 10:05:23
One of more than 30 events in the global IRONMAN Series, the 2014 Subaru IRONMAN Canada triathlon led athletes along a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run on a course that utilized a variety Whistler and its surrounding areas. The two-loop swim took place in the clean, shallow waters of Alta Lake at Rainbow Park, while the one-loop bike course took participants through the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway and into the Callaghan Valley, site of the Nordic skiing events during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Athletes then enjoyed a spectator friendly two-loop run past Lost Lake and Green Lake that concluded with a spectacular finish in the Whistler Olympic Plaza. The event offered a total professional prize purse of $75,000 and 50 coveted age-group slots to the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship.
Photo Credits: Nils Nilsen