by Jeff Symonds
Coming from Penticton, B.C. I had the opportunity to learn from countless great triathletes. I grew up watching the best of the best compete in my own hometown on the old Ironman Canada (now Challenge Penticton) race course. I didn’t realize it at the time, but watching these guys race and perform at the highest level provided some of the finest insight into life as a triathlete. Below are six invaluable experiences and race-day lessons I gained from Ironman Canada champions.
2005 Chris Lieto: Anybody can be beaten.
Before Chris Lieto was the all-white spandex- wearing megastar he became, he was the underdog at Ironman Canada 2005 to 5 x World Champion, Simon Lessing. It looked like Simon was unbeat- able, especially when he built a sizable lead on marathon. But Chris kept his composure and re-passed a struggling Lessing at the 24 km mark.
2006 Jasper Blake: You must race the race you have trained for.
Jasper claimed that prior to 2006 he “was trying to do an Ironman in 8:30 on 8:50 fitness.” There are two options in this situation: lower your expectations or find ways to raise your fitness. Jasper chose the latter. I also learned that it doesn’t matter if you’re built like LeBron James or Muggsy Bogues, triathlon doesn’t play favourites when it comes to body size.
2008 Bryan Rhodes: Don’t let a bad swim ruin your day.
Rhodsey is known for consistently being the front-man exiting the swim. Did he panic when he came out of the water fourth and over three minutes back? No. He did his best Taylor Swift impression to “Shake It Off ” and worked his way to a commanding win.
2009, 2011 Jordan Rapp: Race your race.
In both of Jordan’s victories he came off the bike with great runners in striking distance. Many take the approach of riding extra hard in order to create a buffer, but Jordan chose to ride his race knowing that it would get him to the finish line as fast as possible. He knew that the good runners were going too hard to keep up with him on the bike and eventually they would pay for it. Both times he was right and he has two titles to show for it.
2013 Trevor Wurtele: Consistency is key.
Success in triathlon doesn’t come from a few good workouts. It is the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifices. Trevor did plenty of both as he worked his way from “Heather’s Husband” to a bona fide star.
2014 Marino Van Hoenacker: Get a disc wheel.
After this year’s race I asked Marino if he had any advice for the bike and those three words were all he said.