Four champs returning to Ironman

It’s going to be a hot stage as the professional field chases a $75,000 purse for the 29th Subaru Ironman Canada triathlon.

Jordan Rapp

Jordan Rapp

It’s going to be a hot stage as the professional field chases a $75,000 purse for the 29th Subaru Ironman Canada triathlon.

Environment Canada forecasts a high of 33 degrees for Sunday’s race that begins at 6:45 a.m. for the pros and 7 a.m. for the amateurs.

Four former champions, including defending champ Viktor Zyemstev, are vying for the title. The other three champions include 2009 winner Jordan Rapp, Bryan Rhodes who won in 2008 and Jasper Blake in 2006. Ironman announcer Steve King said he hasn’t seen any results from Zyemstev but added the Ukranian is always a huge threat on the run.

“He can come back from say being 10 minutes down or so to be a challenger,” said King. “One would expect that he’s not going to do the race unless he’s in good form.”

Having as many champions as featured, King said that is “massive.”

This year there are 3,200 participants registered, however, King figures that actual number will shrink to between 2,800 and 2,900. Of that total, it’s expected there will be 1,100 newcomers. Figures will be firm on Friday.

What King looks forward to on Sunday are all the personal stories.

Trevor Delsaut, 27, of France, was the fastest non-professional at the world championships last year.

“I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing an 81-year-old (sister Madonna Buder) come across the finish line,” he said. “That will be one of the major highlights. Seeing the Geary brothers. I think that will be huge.”

There will also be physically challenged athletes such as Brian Martin in a wheelchair.

“It would be great if we could see him across the line in time,” said King.

On the women’s side, King said Meredith Kessler is returning to defend her title as will third-place finisher Mackenzie Madison. With both athletes in good form, King feels they are going to be shooting for the top again. Other females to watch are Canadian Sara Gross and 48-year-old Brazilian Fernanda Keller. The last time Keller competed in Penticton was 1991. The Canadian male contingent includes Kyle Marcotte, Scott Curry, Trevor Wurtele of Kelowna and Kaleden’s Scott Tremblay.

Ironman Canada is one of three Ironman events this weekend that will determine the final 10 men and five women to qualify for the World Championship in Kona on Oct. 8. There are 27 men and 16 women competing in the pro division.