Saturday marked the end of an amazing weekend of racing in St. George, Utah, at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. In the men’s pro race, Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt charged to the win, becoming the first of many world champions on the day. Following in Blummenfelt’s and the other pros’ footsteps were thousands of male age groupers (the women’s age groups all raced on Friday), including many Canadians. Of the Canucks who raced on Saturday, nine finished in the top 10 in their age groups, and two found their way onto the podium.
— IRONMAN Triathlon (@IRONMANtri) October 30, 2022
Canada’s highest-ranked age grouper on Saturday was Stuart Connolly of Burlington, Ont. Competing in the 70 to 74 division, Connolly used the second-fastest and fourth-fastest bike and run splits in his age group to fly into second place in a time of 5:57:53. Connolly exited the water in 13th place after a 43:20 swim, and he quickly got to work passing his fellow 70 to 74 athletes on the bike. He used a 3:01:09 split over the 90K ride to pass all but one of his 70 to 74 competitors, and after a quick transition, he found himself in first place.
Starting the run, Connolly’s lead was around 40 seconds, but the American athlete behind him in second place threw down the fastest half-marathon of the day in the 70 to 74 age group, running a 1:54. Connolly did manage to hold onto first for much of the run, but after 15 kilometres, the American finally found his way to the front of the race. Connolly was well ahead of third place at this point, though, and he held on for a comfortable finish in second.
Canada’s other podium finisher was Vancouver’s Brendan Gribbons, who finished in third in the 30 to 34 age group. Gribbons started the day with a 26:35 swim split, which put him in 19th place coming out of the water. His 2:12:34 bike split moved him well up the rankings, and by T2, he was in sixth. At this point, he was still well back of the podium, and he faced a gap of more than four minutes between him and third place.
Gribbons wasted no time in chasing down the leaders, and by the halfway point in the run, he had climbed up to third. That was where he stayed for the remainder of the race, and he crossed the finish line in a very quick time of 4:03:59. He also posted an impressive half-marathon split of 1:15:49, which was the fastest of the day in the 30 to 34 age group.
Here is a list of the other Canadians who posted top-10 finishes in St. George on Saturday:
Men’s 30 to 34 — Simon Leblanc (5th)
Men’s 35 to 39 — Nicholas Scott (8th)
Men’s 40 to 44 — Ernest St-Pierre (8th)
Men’s 45 to 49 — Martin Caron (6th)
Men’s 50 to 54 — Mike Neill (10th)
Men’s 55 to 59 — Michael Hay (4th)
Men’s 70 to 74 — Raymond Levesque (9th)