Home > News

Canadian age groupers impress on Day 1 of 70.3 World Championship

Three Canadian women flew onto the age group podium in St. George on Friday

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

The first day of racing at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George, Utah, was filled with drama and excitement, starting with a thrilling race from the pro women and followed by the women’s age group events. Among the thousands of triathletes who raced on Friday, several Canadian women ran to top results, joining compatriot Paula Findlay, who secured a podium finish earlier in the day. In total, 14 Canadians earned top-10 results in their age groups, including two second-place finishes and an age group win.

Age group winner

Grabbing the only age group win of the day for Canada was Deborah Eckhouse of Surrey, B.C. Eckhouse took the win in the women’s 35 to 39 age group, stopping the clock in 4:44:06. After a 37:01 swim split, she sat in 119th place in her age group. She quickly got to work climbing through the rankings on the bike, and she eventually clocked a 2:32:27 split for the 90K ride. This was the fastest ride of her age group, and it put her in tremendous position as she set out on the half-marathon course.

Leaving T2, Eckhouse was side by side with a Brazilian athlete, and an American was only 28 seconds back. At the halfway point in the run, she had taken sole control of the lead and she was 55 seconds clear of second place. From that point on, the lead only continued to grow, and by the time Eckhouse hit the finish line, she was close to three minutes ahead of the next-closest athlete in her age group. This result wraps up a busy few weeks for Eckhouse, as she competed in Kona at the start of October, where she finished in ninth in her age group.

Podium finishers

A pair of Canadian women joined Eckhouse on the age group podium on Friday. Angela Lilly of Stirling, Ont., was second in the 45 to 49 age group and Ottawa’s Leslie Sanderson finished in second in the 55 to 59 race. Lilly got her race started in the best way possible, posting first the fastest swim split of her age group (27:42) and then the fastest ride (2:36:57). She set out on the half-marathon course with a healthy lead, and she would have held on for the win if not for a Swiss athlete who threw down a 1:27 run split, which was the fastest of the day in their age group. Lilly’s 1:43:50 half-marathon result was more than enough to help her win silver, getting her across the line in 4:56:25, more than seven minutes ahead of third place.

Just like Lilly, Sanderson led her age group out of the water after posting a speedy 28:11 split. Her 2:55:18 bike time was good enough for fifth in the 55 to 59 race, which put her in a great position as she started the run. Sitting in third after T2, she was four minutes back of an American athlete, but after only 5K, she’d erased that gap and climbed into second. Sanderson held onto second place for the remainder of the run, and she crossed the finish line in 5:18:52. This is the second podium result that Sanderson has posted at the 70.3 worlds, as she also finished second back in 2017.

Here is a list of the other Canadians who posted top-10 finishes in St. George on Friday:

Women’s 40 to 44 — Maureen Mahony (4th)

Women’s 60 to 64 — Judy Andrew Piel (4th)

Women’s 45 to 49 — Blaire Kniaziew Gervais (5th)

Women’s 18 to 24 — Alice Cote-Allard (6th)

Women’s 60 to 64 — Sharon Mackinnon (6th)

Women’s 70 to 74 — Viola Burke (6th)

Women’s 18 to 24 — Marie-Jeanne Landry (7th)

Women’s 50 to 54 — Sandra Cole (7th)

Women’s 60 to 64 — Anne Condon (8th)

Women’s 65 to 69 — Anne Wilkie (9th)

Women’s 60 to 64 — Sharon McDowell-Larsen (10th)