Canada’s Rachel McBride battled through challenging weather conditions to win her first career bronze medal in the elite race at the ITU’s Long Distance World Championships in Belfort, France on Saturday.
Cold weather forced officials to cancel the three-kilometre swim, and reconfigure the format to a duathlon consisting of a 10-kilometre run, followed by an 87-kilometre bike, and another 20-kilometre run. Vancouver’s McBride completed the ultimate grind in high-performance sport with a third-place time of four hours, 52 minutes, two seconds (4:52:02).
“That was my first duathlon, and it was an amazing race,” said McBride. “My goal was to achieve a podium finish, and I did just that. The plan was to go all out on the bike, and hang on for the run. The last three kilometres were extremely hard. I didn’t know the French girl (who finished fourth) was so close. I am so happy with my bronze.”
The world’s best long distance triathletes were treated to a spectacular bike course that rolled through picturesque Frech towns while climbing into the clouds at the top of the Ballon d’Alsace, before experiencing a quick descent into the natural reserve park of Site du Malsaucy where they dismounted the bike for the run to the finish.
Australia’s Melissa Hauschildt was crowned champion of the women’s elite race after clocking a time of 4:42:38. Denmark’s Camilla Pedersen ran to the silver spot on the podium after clocking-in at 4:44:14.
Pierre-yves Gigou, of Sherbrooke, Que., was the lone Canuck in the men’s elite race, placing in 13th spot at 4:35:00.
The men’s race was won by hometown hero, Bertrand Billard, who broke the finish tape with a time of 4:08:45. Terenzo Bozzone, of New Zealand, was second at 4:10:43, while Luxumbourg’s Dirk Bockel rounded out the men’s podium at 4:11:51.
Meanwhile, Canada also sent 44 athletes to the start line of the Long Distance World Championship age group races where the country came away with two more medals.
Colleen Gray-Hewett, of West Vancouver, was crowned World Champion after clocking the best time in the women’s 40-44 age group at 5:30:27. North Vancouver’s Kara Imani ran to the bronze-medal step on the podium in the women’s 20-24 category. Imani stopped the clock at 6:06:19.