After 1,450 metres of climbing and a 4:27:22 bike split followed by what looked like a perfectly executed marathon run, it was the step onto the podium that nearly did in Collin Chartier at Ironman Mont-Tremblant Sunday.
“I don’t think I can do it,” he said, only half joking, as third-place finisher Canadian Cody Beals gave him a helping hand up.
Victory was sweet for Chartier, 29, the Virginia, U.S. native who has just moved to Arizona, where he has a new training partner in Lionel Sanders. Both athletes are coached by Mikal Iden.
“It’s only been two and a half weeks in Tucson, but we put some great work in,” Chartier said.
Chartier has had his pro card since 2015 but only moved up from ITU and half-distance racing to the full Ironman distance in South Africa last April, in a race where the swim was shortened to 700 metres due to cold, choppy sea conditions.
“This was my first full full Ironman,” said Chartier. He played it smart, he said: watching his pacing, staying on top of nutrition and following Sanders’ advice for the last hour of the run.
“He said, ‘You should go like you’re jogging the first half of the run,’” said Chartier. “The real race is after two hours … that last 10K.”
Chartier finished in 8:08:39, four-and-a-half minutes ahead of Australia’s Josh Amberger, followed one minute later by two-time Mont-Tremblant IM winner Beals, who holds the sub-eight-hour course record set in 2019. Beals was the fastest runner Sunday, nearly a minute ahead of Chartier with a time of 2:41:35, but he said he struggled on the bike leg, from start to finish.
“Clearly, it’s back to the drawing board with the bike training,” said Beals, 32, of Guelph, Ont. “Maybe I’m not as passionate about the bike training right now as I could be, if I am honest. I rallied on the run – just not quite enough with a field of this calibre.”
That field included the second Canadian to finish, 29-year-old Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches of Sainte-Anne-du-Lac, Que., who shattered the XTri CanadaMan/Woman record in Lac-Mégantic, Que., in early July. With a swim time of 47:54, Jolicoeur Desroches was first out of the water but had to settle for seventh place overall, in 8:24:00.
“It is the turn of the younger athletes now,” said 12th-place finisher Romain Guillaume, the veteran pro who won the inaugural Mont-Tremblant Ironman a decade ago. “They’re incredible.”
Guillaume announced he will retire from 14 years of pro racing after Ironman Wisconsin on Sept. 11. With a toddler at home, he’s finding the work-life balance a hard thing to achieve.
“It’s hard to give it all up,” he said, “but at the end of this race, I was completely dead!”
Top five professional men’s race results:
|1. Collin Chartier||USA||00:51:04||04:27:23||02:45:59||08:08:40|
|2. Joshua Amberger||AUS||00:48:01||04:27:47||02:52:46||08:13:11|
|3. Cody Beals||CAN||00:51:30||04:33:31||02:45:01||08:14:13|
|4. David Plese||SVN||00:51:50||04:30:21||02:51:21||08:18:25|
|5. Maximilian Hammerle||AUT||00:57:22||04:26:54||02:50:33||08:19:56|
Chura surprises herself with the win
At 37, Guillaume may be ready to put his racing days behind him, but the pro women are just getting started. American Haley Chura, also 37, was the first female pro to cross the line, in 9:17:21 – her first full-distance title since Ironman Fortaleza in Brazil in her second year as a pro, way back in 2014. Chura was hit by a car the following year.
“It took me a while to come back from that,” she said after her victory Sunday. Chura has won several half-distance races, including Challenge Puerto Varas, in Chile last March, but she was uncertain that another Ironman win would ever be in the cards.
“I have struggled in my last five Ironmans, where I just couldn’t put everything together,” she said. “You savour the days when it does come together. It is really special when it does.”
There was a threat of a thunderstorm throughout the day Sunday, but it never materialized – although the downpour in the last half of Chura’s run was a gift, she said.
“I was kind of in a low moment, and the storm came through, and it shocked me into waking up and cooling off,” said Chura. She is no fan of the heat, and because of that, she was still sitting on the fence Sunday about claiming her Kona slot.
“Kona is just so hard,” she said. However, this year, for the first time, there will be an equal number of pro women and pro men in the world championship race, to be held over two days.
“That is something I am super-passionate about,” said Chura. Her friend and long-time training partner, with whom she raced Kona as an age-grouper in 2009, convinced her to sign up for Mont Tremblant so she could have a shot at a Kona slot.
“You want to be in Kona for that historic moment,” she said. “That was a big impetus for why I am here, so I will probably take the slot.”
Sunday was the first time at Mont-Tremblant for second-place finisher Jen Annett of Penticton, B.C. Annett, also 37, would normally have raced in her hometown, but there is no pro race next weekend at Ironman Canada.
“I looked at it and said, ‘Why not?’ I have always wanted to race here.”
Annett qualified for Kona in Des Moines, Iowa in June with a second-place finish. She could scarcely contain her disappointment with yet another silver, after finishing in 9:24:20.
“If I could count the number of second-place finishes I have had,” she said. “I couldn’t have done any better than I did today.”
Third place went to American Rachel Zilinskas, in 9:30:38. The only other Canadian pro woman in the race, Erin Snelgrove, came in eighth, in 9:56:50.
Top five professional women’s race results:
|1. Haley Chura||USA||00:51:45||05:07:20||03:13:09||09:17:21|
|2. Jen Annett||CAN||01:00:23||05:06:02||03:13:21||09:24:20|
|3. Rachel Zilinskas||USA||00:51:04||05:15:46||03:18:00||09:30:38|
|4. Renee Kiley||AUS||00:59:40||05:04:44||03:24:27||09:33:53|
|5. Chloe Lane||AUS||00:56:53||05:20:07||03:15:30||09:38:31|