New Westminster’s Ann Barnes was one of two Canadians to win their age group at Ironman Cozumel.
Barnes, 56, dominated he women 55-59 age group, winning by over 2 hours and 10 minutes. She swam 1:11:36, biked 5:48:55, and ran 4:27:55 to finish in 11:36:37.
We caught up with Ann to find out about her winning race at Cozumel, her acceptance to Ultraman Canada, and much more. Check out our interview with Ann below.
TMC: Describe how your day went in Cozumel. Did all go according to plan?
Ann Barnes: I really like this race, it was my third time back and I was looking for redemption as I had to drop out after one loop of the bike last year due to a fever. The plan was to try and secure a spot to Kona with an AG win. Mission accomplished but race execution didn’t unfold the way I had anticipated. The swim was a bit rough with the last 500m taking forever. Felt like I wasn’t moving forward, and apparently, we weren’t! I think the last 500 m took what seemed like forever. I will take the swim, and not complain as I know many others including several friends sadly didn’t make the swim cut off. I had a very conservative bike (was ill a couple of times on the bike) and the run was a bit of a suffer fest, thankfully I had relentless support from my husband Bob, and some amazing and inspiring friends both spectating and racing. It’s difficult to pull off an Ironman without great support like that.
TMC: Is the heat and humidity as bad as everyone says? How do you prepare for such conditions?
AB: I did not mind the heat and humidity, it was indeed hot, but manageable, I have worked on a solid nutrition and hydration strategy that seems to work for the most part. I was fortunate to have raced 6 weeks or so earlier in Kona, so perhaps that was good prep, and in BC we had a mild fall allowing for some decent late season outdoor training
TMC: In 2012, you were at both the IM 70.3 and IM Worlds, placing in the top 5 for both. How was that experience? Do you plan to get back to those races in 2013?
AB: While not my best performances, I feel very lucky to be on the podium for both Vegas and Kona with some very talented women. The Vegas race was stinkin’ hot, I was happy just to finish, and was surprised at my placing, It was a hard but very fair race, love the venue, and Kona is just down right magical. There is nothing like turning that corner onto Alii Dive and feeling the energy of the crowd. It’s a very emotional experience. Being on the podium again was the icing on the cake. I have every intent to get to Vegas again and thankfully I have punched my ticket for a fourth time for Kona.
TMC: How did you get hooked with triathlon? And what sporting background gave you your strengths for triathlon?
AB: I had a swimming background growing up, and continued through my university years, I was a “nobody” in the pool, mediocre at best, but simply thrived on the training, I don’t have any natural ability, I just like to work really hard. My swim stroke is terrible, and I run like a duck, my nickname is Annimal. It just stuck with me. I cycled a lot after my first daughter was born, getting into Triathlon was a natural transition, I did my first race in 1987, and I was hooked and raced most weekends throughout the summers. I gravitated to longer distance events including some Ultra trail runs, loved the solitude of running through single track and knarly trails with my Blue Heeler Brody, I worked on cycling strength by racing some Local Masters Road races, and riding at our local Velodrome, again I wasn’t very good at but it did help develop skill and I loved trying to hang on by my eye lids at every race or training session even if it crushed me. I did my first Ironman distance at Ironman Canada in 2007, and went on to Kona that Fall for a fifth place finish…
TMC: So why do Ultraman Canada?
AB: Ultraman Canada has been on my radar ever since I knew it existed. I have wanted to submit an application for a long time. I have a handful of good friends that have done it over the years and as I expected they all tell me it’s a life changing experience. I like that about an event, like running down Alii Drive in Kona for your first time. It’s surreal, magical and for me, life changing. I expect completing an Ultraman will have some unforgettable magic too.
TMC: Will preparing for this now affect your training or your goals for 70.3 Worlds and Kona?
AB: Now that I am officially registered, I expect my training volume will be a higher than Ironman training. I will need to rely on a sound training program that will keep me injury free so I can still get to the starting line and chase down some podium finishes again. I am confident my good friend and Coach Shaun Callaghan will keep me in line.
TMC: How does the hubby feel about this?
AB: Well I did one of those ‘Act now and beg for mercy later ‘ scenarios. The race comes with a price tag of time (away from family) and other financial obligations. Once I was confirmed, I came clean and told him I was in. He is all over this and is my number one fan. He only worries about my body getting injured, leading to me becoming grumpy and hard to live with. Ha!
TMC: Will he be recruited to be part of the support squad?
AB: Bob will paddle for me, he paddled for me in the past when I did the Skaha Ultraswim (a point to point swim across Skaha lake). He will leave the land crew up to the expertise of my good pal and extreme ultra-endurance queen Lucy Ryan and her very experienced crewman Husband Larry Ryan. I am so grateful to have their support.
TMC: For Ultraman Canada, how do you expect to fare? I suppose your ultra running will come in handy to be a threat for the title?
AB: I am just excited to be included in this year’s entries. I have no idea how I will fare, I am setting the bar to finish, and of course I would love to do well but I do know for sure this journey is going to fulfill another dream.