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Can Tamara Jewett beat Flora Duffy at Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant?

Can the Canadian half-distance specialist beat one of the all-time triathlon greats?


It comes as no surprise that Canada’s Tamara Jewett, a former national-team runner, would quickly become one of the sport’s premier runners. Last year she was the Professional Triathletes Organisation’s top-ranked runner, and earned our Elite Triathlete of the Year award thanks to the world’s fastest half-distance run split on her way to a runner-up finish at Ironman 70.3 Augusta, the win at Ironman 70.3 Timberman, another runner-up finish at Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells and a 13th-place finish at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George. Two weeks ago Jewett ran herself to a close runner-up finish at Ironman 70.3 Eagleman. All of which normally would have made her the favourite heading into this weekend’s Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant … were it not for the fact that this weekend the Canadian will be taking on a woman who is arguably one of the greatest triathletes the sport has ever seen.

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Instead of competing at this weekend’s World Triathlon Sprint Championships in Montreal, Olympic champion Flora Duffy will be in Mont-Tremblant looking to secure a qualification spot for this year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George, Utah in October. Duffy was supposed to race at Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga last month, but had to pull out of that race when she came down with COVID. That left her options for earning a spot to compete in St. George later this year extremely limited. She raced at the World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds event a few weeks ago, where she wasn’t in top form, finishing seventh. While for most that would be an outstanding achievement, Duffy has set such a high bar over the last four years that, believe it or not, that’s her lowest finish at a race in the last four years.

Flora Duffy shows off her Olympic gold medal. Photo: Wagner Araujo/ World Triathlon

In addition to her Olympic gold won last year in Tokyo, Duffy is a three-time World Triathlon world champion, the defending Commonwealth Games champion,  a two-time winner of the World Triathlon Cross Triathlon World Championships, a six-time winner of the Xterra World Championships and, in case you were wondering, won her one and only Ironman 70.3 race in South Africa in 2020. At the end of last year she was even made a Dame of the British Empire.

All of which means that if Duffy is even close to her regular form, she’ll arrive in Quebec this weekend as the prohibitive favourite. The Bermudan is likely to dominate the swim (she’s a front-pack World Triathlon swimmer), and, as one of the sport’s strongest cyclists, she is likely to remain at the front on the bike. So, the question is whether or not Jewett can stay close enough into T2 to use her formidable run talents to get to the front.

There isn’t a big women’s pro field set to race in Mont-Tremblant this weekend – 16 women are registered in the pro race. (You can see the full pro start list here.) Others to watch include the ageless Mel McQuaid, another former Xterra and World Triathlon Cross Triathlon world champion, and American Ali Brauer, who was third behind Jewett in Indian Wells last year.

The race for the win, most likely, will be between Jewett and Duffy. If the Canadian can manage to come off the bike within five minutes of the Olympic champ she would have a great chance to earn what would likely be the biggest win of her career. For Duffy one assumes the main goal is to earn one of the three qualifying spots for the world championships, and based on her Instagram posts of some heavy duty run workouts this week, it would appear she’s looking to train through this as she gears up to defend her Commonwealth Games title at the end of next month. You don’t get to be one of the sport’s all-time greats, though, without a competitive edge, so you can be sure Duffy will be gunning for the win this weekend.