First female in Ironman reflects

Dyane Lynch, the first female to compete in the Subaru Ironman Canada in 1983 talks about what it was like when she was among 23 athletes.

DYANE LYNCH was the first and only female to compete in the debut of Subaru Ironman Canada in 1983. She only competed in it once and was back as she was honoured by the organizers during the weekend.

DYANE LYNCH was the first and only female to compete in the debut of Subaru Ironman Canada in 1983. She only competed in it once and was back as she was honoured by the organizers during the weekend.

Rewind to 1983 when the first ultra-distance triathlon was held in Penticton.

There were no wetsuits, gels to eat or Gatorade, at least not for Dyane Lynch. She was the lone female in the event that year and Gatorade wasn’t for her.

“Most of my nourishment during the race was bananas,” said Lynch, 69, who was back in Penticton for the 30th and final Subaru Ironman Canada race. “ I hated bananas for years afterward.”

After being one of 23 athletes that first year, Lynch has witnessed the event grow. This year 2,591 athletes took part. She has also noticed a sophistication of the sport, which includes the use of electronics.

“It used to be just paper and tear off your number and you come in,” said Lynch, who has an Ironman logo tattoo on her left ankle with 1983 written below. “Now you have chips.”

“What hasn’t changed is the camaraderie and community spirit,” continued Lynch, who is an ESL teacher and yoga instructor. “Everyone turns out in Penticton.”

Lynch, who was honoured by the organizers of the race as part of their 30th celebration, has noticed more people doing triathlons. She said more people are inspired.

“The community spirit and Steve King and people like Sister Madonna Buder and other wonderful people we have seen through the years that inspired us,” she said. “The name of the race is important to some of us. I feel we need to watch carefully but don’t be drawn into a name.”

With Subaru Ironman Canada having its last hurrah, Challenge Penticton enters the mix in 2013. When news broke, Lynch was shocked initially.

“After thinking about it and hearing more about the Challenge, it seems to me to be very successful for the community spirit,” she said. “Let’s not forget that this is the place where it started. It’s given me personally, everything.”

“Penticton volunteers are very special,” she continued. “It’s the small town community participation of Penticton. It’s like a jewel tucked between the hills to nourish and cherish whatever you have to give. It’s a very unique experience.”

As the swimmers stood in the water, Lynch remembers it wasn’t as crazy when she competed.

“We had the room (to be in the water),” said Lynch, who was 40 at the time. “Standing there this Sunday morning, I’m awestruck by how many people there are, and they don’t have the same room. It’s a very humbling experience. You are very vulnerable in the water.”

Coming to the race she felt awkward because she said she was not as good as the boys. She was just using it as training for Hawaii.

“Felt awkward being the only women,” said Lynch, whose program site is http://yogalynchpin.com. “I wasn’t self-conscious because I had a job to do.”