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Welland Half Iron Triathlon and Duathlon Preview

Nigel Gray is back to defend amongst record numbers on Sunday.

In the twenty plus years of storied triathlon history in Welland, this upcoming Welland Triathlon race weekend is shaping up to be the biggest that the city has ever played host to.

Saturday’s shorter distance events will see some 600 participants, and Sunday’s marquee event – the Half Iron distance Triathlon, Duathlon, and Swim/Bike will bring in over 500 racers.

Toronto’s Nigel Gray won the race last year over St. Catherine’s Wolfgang Guembel, and was the only athlete to go under four hours (3:59:55) and the fast and flat course. On Sunday, he will face a stiff challenge from Toronto’s Patryk Biegalski and Rhys Spencer, Markham’s Derek Virgo, London’s Chris Pickering, Brandon Habermehl of Milton, and speedy 49-year-old Jim Sunners of Niagara Falls who expects some fast biking.

“The roads are in excellent shape. Feeder Road is also way smoother than last year, as the tar and chip surface on the first half (that was put down a couple of years back) has settled in nicely. The second half of Feeder Rd is extremely smooth asphalt. The rest of the course is excellent,” said Sunners, who finished eighth last year. “For anyone who hasn’t done the course a couple of short pieces of advice – Feeder Road is a long section of road, be mentally focused, it seems to go on and on. The prevailing wind is normally a headwind heading out on Feeder Rd. It should be a fast bike course!”

Defending champion Paolina Allan will not be back but there are three women ready to assume her spot at the top of the podium.

Guelph’s Deborah Powell is one to look out for. Powell won the Swim/Bike race last year with sizzling swim (31:10), and bike (2:29:24) splits, and she comes from a track and field background so she can run. She completed Challenge Roth last year in 10:31:35 and is using Sunday as a tune up for Ironman Mt. Tremblant. Ajax’s Mindy Fleming is also gearing up for Mt. Tremblant, and the Woodstock Sprint Triathlon Champion is a fast runner. Also fleet of feet is Toronto’s Katie Snowden. Sixth overall last year, she also clocked the sixth best run overall (1:26:52).

The Athlete With A Disability category will see strong representation from Toronto’s Rich Vander Wal, and Oakville’s Robert Buren. Discover more about the incredible Robert Buren below.

Find out more about the Welland Triathlon Weekend.