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Interview with Elite and Long Distance Triathletes of The Year: Canada’s Dynamic Duo

Triathlon Magazine Canada Trevor and Heather Wurtele
Triathlon Magazine Canada Trevor and Heather Wurtele
Trevor and Heather Wurtele

Care to take these guys on in a Valentine’s Day Ironman? Heather Wurtele won Ironman Coeur d’Alene with a new course record and also notched wins at Rev3 Quassy, Ironman 70.3 Panama and Ironman 70.3 Calgary. Husband Trevor took Ironman Canada in August, the culmination of a 10-year quest.

“It was a big win,” Trevor says. “I put a lot of my year into that race to make that my focus and come out with a win there. It’s been a long road. This is my tenth year doing Ironman. A lot of years were as an age grouper. I’ve had a slow progression as a pro – I had some good races and some brutal races – but the last few years I’ve started to figure things out.”

Heading into the race in Kona many thought Heather was a lock for a top-five performance and possibly even a podium finish. Unfortunately, her day in Kona did not turn out as planned and she was unable to finish the race. We caught up with Heather to discover what happened and to look forward to her 2014 season.

Triathlon Magazine Canada Heather Wurtele at the Bahamas Triathlon
Heather Wurtele place fourth at the 2013 UWC Bahamas Triathlon in Nassau, Bahamas

TMC: I take it that you entered Kona confident that you were ready to have a great day. So do you have any idea what went wrong?

Heather Wurtele: I definitely went into Kona confident and ready to have a great race. I was fit and prepared, but frankly, even if a person has a less than ideal build up, you can’t ever go to a race in any other frame of mind than one of confidence and belief. Getting to the start line 100 per cent healthy is probably the biggest challenge of racing Kona. An athlete’s ability to completely put potential negatives out of their mind is pretty amazing. I mean you really can’t approach the day thinking: maybe that niggle is going to mess me up, I’m not ready, it’s so hot and so on. All season up to the two world championship races, I felt confident in my ability and preparation and have gone in and won, or placed on the podium. In Kona I went in believing in my ability to have an awesome performance, but I didn’t.

TMC: What prevented you from finishing?

HW: I had really bad muscle cramps in my adductors, hamstrings, hip-f lexors and diaphragm at the end of the bike and throughout the run. I simply couldn’t keep pushing through the pain and dropped out at mile 13 of the run.

TMC: Have you ever experienced cramps before?

HW: No, I haven’t ever had cramps like that before. Highly specific muscle cramps are generally due more to specific muscle imbalance/dysfunction than electrolytes. From that I take away things that need to change in my lead up, overall maintenance issues with massage and art.

Triathlon Magazine Canada Trevor Wurtele wins Subaru Ironman Canada
Trevor Wurtele wins Subaru Ironman Canada in Aug., 2013

TMC: What will be your focus for 2014?

HW: I know that I can do much better in Kona, and I’m definitely going back to try and nail that race. I also love racing other events, so I don’t want to focus my entire season on that race alone. It will be a bit of a points chase to qualify, but I didn’t have a problem last year with racing bigger, high point, 70.3 events and one Ironman.

TMC: Can that mean that both of you could possibly race it together?

HW: Trevor and I love racing at the same races, and we tend to race together in the early season 70.3s. When I have focused on Kona, and Trevor on Ironman Canada, our later season schedules have diverged. It can be nice to have one of us as the support person, while the other is racing, but at the same time it’s hard to support someone else while training hard yourself. All in all, we like doing the same events best, and now that Ironman Canada is in July, we’ll probably both race it, and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Mont Tremblant. I am going to do Panama 70.3 in February and the Abu Dhabi International in March again this year. I may do Ironman Los Cabos at the end of March to get some more points and validate my spot for Kona.