Aug 27, 2012 / 8:19 am
Photo: Deborah Pfeiffer
Gillian Clayton, 31, of Vancouver was the first place female finisher in the Subaru Penticton Ironman.
Photo: Deborah Pfeiffer
Matthew Russell, 29, of Scottsdale, Arizona was the first place male finisher in the Subaru Ironman Canada Sunday
The 30th and final running of the Subaru Ironman Canada triathlon in Penticton unfolded on a picture perfect day.
More than 2,600 tough triathletes tested their strength Sunday in the grueling event, as people lined city streets and highways throughout the South Okanagan to cheer them on.
For the most part it was a joyous and noisy occasion, if not a little bittersweet, as Ironman will be replaced by a different triathlon next year.
“It is a pretty special day . . . anyone can do it kind of mentality,” said volunteer Kathy Richardson. “Everybody is pumped, it’s like that every year. But there is also a little melancholy because it is the last one in Penticton.”
The triathlon kicked off at 6:45 am as pro athletes plunged into the chilly waters of Okanagan Lake for the 3.8 km swim. The rest of the field followed.
Next was the 180 km bike course, winding through the South Okanagan, followed by the 42.2 km run to Okanagan Falls and back.
Matthew Russell, 29, of Scottsdale, Arizona won the men’s pro race in a time of 8:48:30.
While Gillian Clayton, 31, of Vancouver won the women’s pro race in a time of 9:46:07, after trailing over 18 minutes, early on in the run.
Russell said the swim was challenging for him but he was able to stay mentally tough throughout the event.
“Last year I was seventh, and this year it was smooth sailing,” he said. “It is the history here that makes this so special. I also feel sad it is the last here, because it is the oldest Ironman in North America."
Clayton described it as a perfect day.
“It was great for me. Everyone has problems on the course, but I was able to push through,” she said.
As for next year, when the Challenge Penticton triathlon comes to town, she is looking forward to it.
“It doesn’t really matter what they call a race here, I will be involved,” she said.
Olly Piggin, 37, of Penticton took second in the men’s pro field, while Christian Brader, 32, from Germany was third.
Karen Thibodeau, 33, of North Vancouver was second and Janelle Morrison, 35, of Penticton was third in the women’s professional race.
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