Athlete takes on Ultraman journey

Ed Marbach views Ultraman Canada as the pursuit of human excellence.

Penticton's Ed Marbach will be making his Ultraman Canada debut tomorrow. He is the lone Pentictonite in the event features 29 competitors from six countries and wraps up Monday afternoon.

Penticton's Ed Marbach will be making his Ultraman Canada debut tomorrow. He is the lone Pentictonite in the event features 29 competitors from six countries and wraps up Monday afternoon.

Ed Marbach views Ultraman Canada as the pursuit of human excellence.

“Just kind of see what you are made of and what you are capable of,” said Marbach, who is making his Ultraman Canada debut and the lone Pentictonite among the 29 triathletes competing. “I call it a journey. I have been on it for the last year. I think this weekend will kind of be the final chapter.”

As he does that, he will have his girlfriend Lawrie Wheeler by his side. She will also be a huge part of his support cast as a crew member.

“She has given a lot of support the last six months in this,” he said. “It will be a pretty good weekend of discovery for us as well.”

She was with him in Australia as he competed in the Challenge Cairns in Australia where he crashed his bike 90-kilometres into the race. He got back up hurt and sore, but she kept him motivated through the event. She is a motivating presence for him. For Wheeler, it’s the first time she is part of a crew team.

“Not sure what I got myself into,” she said smiling.

What she’s sure about is how Marbach will perform.

“I think he’s really ready for this,” she said, adding she has been impressed by his determination. “He’s really focused, he knows his goal. Very determined to get it done.”

Because Marbach helped Mike Leroux last year when he competed in the Ultraman Canada, won by Kevin Cutjar, he knows what to expect. The former peewee baseball coach is confident in what he can do because Marbach has committed himself the last 10 months. Marbach, who has 20 triathlons under his belt, has also been coached by Cutjar using the Endurance Planner program.

His interest in the sport came when he experienced a mid-life crisis in his 40s.

“I just happened to get into triathlon,” said the 50-year-old. “I love it. It’s more than the sport. It promotes a really good healthy lifestyle with yourself and kids.”

When the Ultraman Canada triathlon gets underway tomorrow at 6:45 a.m., people can follow Marbachs journey on his blog, http://umcjourney.wordpress.com/.

Organizers have been busy with the final preparations for the race which concludes on Aug. 1. The event has been dubbed the “Weekend of Discovery”.

“We have always considered Ultraman an event rather than a race, because of the journey the athlete goes through physically, mentally and in some cases spiritually,” said race director Steve Brown, explaining the name of Weekend of Discovery. “The distances often take the athlete to places within themselves they have never been before – a Journey of Self Discovery. This year we are also fortunate enough after months of paperwork and preparation to have a very special guest attend in astronaut Alvin Drew, mission specialist on Space Shuttle Discovery on her final voyage last February.”

Ultraman Canada is a three-day, 515.4 km (320 mile) individual event, which covers part of the Okanagan/Similkameen regions. Entry is limited to 30 solo athletes and is by invitation only. The event started in Canada in 1993, following the format of the original Ultraman established in Kona, Hawaii in 1983. Day one consists of a 10.0 km (6.2-mi) swim in Skaha Lake from Penticton to Sovereign Road boat launch near Okanagan Falls, followed by a 144.8 km (90.0-mi) bike ride, beginning at Sovereign Road, then south through Oliver and Osoyoos, over the Richter Pass and return to Kenyon Park in Okanagan Falls. Day two (July 31) consists of a 276.3 km (171.4-mi) bike ride, beginning in Penticton and ending at the Princeton arena where athletes and crews stay overnight. Day three is an 84.3 km (52.4-mi) double-marathon run from Princeton to Memorial Park in Summerland. Time limits for all stages are Swim (Day 1) plus bike (Day 1) in 12 hours total, bike (Day 2) in 12 hours, run (Day 3) in 12 hours.

This years event has 29 entrants from six countries: Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Australia, Canada and USA. Along with Marbach, the other Okanagan athlete is Vince Denis from Kelowna, who is also making his debut.