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Throwback Thursday: Canada’s great day at the inaugural 70.3 World Championships

Canada's Samantha McGlone won the first Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2006, with Lisa Bentley taking the silver medal in Clearwater, Florida.

The Ironman 70.3 World Championship debuted in 2006 and that first edition was a huge day for Canada. Just over 13 years ago, on Nov. 11, 2006, Samantha McGlone and Lisa Bentley took the top two steps on the podium ahead of some of the world’s premier half- and full-distance athletes.

Samantha McGlone competes at the 2005 ITU World Cup Edmonton. Photo: Courtesy ITU

Just two years after she represented Canada at the 2004 Olympics, McGlone burst onto the world long-distance scene with her big win in Clearwater. She’d already shown some potential, for sure. In 2005 she won the Muskoka Chase, holding off Simon Whitfield and Craig Alexander in the race’s handicap format (the women left 20-minutes ahead for the 2 km/ 55 km/ 15 km race). In 2006 she won Ironman 70.3 Florida (back in the days when it took place at Disneyland), then had another duel with Whitfield at the Muskoka Chase, this time finishing five seconds behind the two-time Olympic medalist in a dramatic sprint down the hill to the finish in front of Huntsville’s City Hall. Unfortunately for them both they trailed that year’s Chase champ, Tereza Macel.

McGlone would use her Kona qualifying spot from winning the 70.3 worlds in 2006 to make an auspicious Ironman debut in 2007, taking second behind Chrissie Wellington in Kona, then came back to Clearwater a month later to finish fifth at the 70.3 worlds. In 2009 she would win Ironman Arizona, but after that she struggled with injuries and her health. She started medical school in 2012 and officially retired from the sport in 2013.

Lisa Bentley welcomes athletes on behalf of Subaru at Subaru Ironman Mont-Tremblant.

Bentley’s impressive runner-up finish at the inaugural 70.3 worlds came just three weeks after she had finished third at the Ironman World Championship, behind Michellie Jones and Desiree Ficker. Bentley had also finished second at Ironman Canada just a couple of months before her big day in Kona. (She also took second at that year’s Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon during her “recovery” time between the two full-distance races.)

To this day McGlone remains the only Canadian winner of the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. Other Canadian podium finishers include Magali Tisseyre, who finished third in 2009 and 2010, Heather Wurtele, who took third in 2014, second in 2015 and third in 2016, and Jeff Symonds who was third in 2011.