On Saturday, three-time Ironman champion Kate Bevilaqua of Australia will begin her unknown journey on Ultra520 K Canada.
Bevilaqua said her feelings about the three-day triathlon constantly change.
“When I first started training and doing the longer stuff, it was like this is ridiculous. I can’t do this,” she joked. “Then you learn to eat more. Deal with the training more. Become mentally tougher. It’s been a roller coaster. My partner has had to deal with me being grumpy and tired and hungry.”
She is excited about the race, but still experiences some nerves even though she has won Ironman Western Australia in 2010, Ironman Korea in 2011 and Ironman Louisville in Kentucky in 2013. The nerves for her are more than any other race, but she knows she can get through it. To her, it’s a matter of how fast and how well she is going to do. She warned a friend of hers, who will be one of her crew members, that going through this could get emotional in a good and bad way.
Bevilaqua and the other 24 athletes start with a 10-kilometre swim from Skaha Lake to Sovereign Road near Okanagan Falls. They will then get on their bikes and complete a 149.8-km bike ride through the South Okanagan, over the Richter Pass and ending back in Kenyon Park in OK Falls. On Aug. 2, the athletes continue on their bike for 274.2-km from Penticton to Osoyoos. They return to OK Falls, then climb “The Wall” to Willowbrook and Twin Lakes on their way to Princeton where they complete an out-and-back section to Alison Lake to finish at the Princeton Arena. The final day on Aug. 3 will have them complete an 84.4-km run from Princeton to Summerland along the Old Princeton Summerland Road.
The athletes finish at Memorial Park in Summerland. Spectators are welcome to witness the end of all stages as follows: Stage 1, Kenyon Park, Okanagan Falls at approximately 2 p.m.; Stage 2, Princeton Arena at approximately 3 p.m., Stage 3 Memorial Park in Summerland at approximately 1:30 p.m.
Bevilaqua is excited about the talent competing with her. She has always wanted to do an Ultraman, but the timing never worked with her schedule.
“I wanted to do one that was in a great, beautiful location. There was no other choice,” she said. “Canada was always on the radar.”
“We are very excited to have an athlete with Kate’s credentials doing Ultra520,” said race director Steve Brown in a press release. “I know she has been training hard for the Ultra while keeping her other training up so she is going to treat us all to a great show of athletic ability. I would say she will be in the top three overall and in with a shot to win this event outright. While the distance may be a little outside of her comfort zone, she is coming with a great support team behind her.”
Bevilaqua has been to Penticton before, in 2004, while she was a teacher on exchange before she became a professional athlete. She got into triathlon because her cousin suggested it would be a good way to stay in shape for when she played netball. The 37 year old ended up quitting that sport.
Bevilaqua, whose last name is Italian, was born and raised in Perth and graduated from the University of Western Australia with a degree in physical and health education with a diploma in education. Belivaqua said her last name ‘means drink the water’. She has been to Italy, and when people see her name they start speaking Italian.
“I don’t know anything other than ciao (good bye),” she joked.
Along with Belivaqua, the 24 athletes are from 11 countries: seven from the United States, five from Canada and Spain, as well as Singapore, Ireland, England, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Guatemala. The field consists of six women and 19 men. In order to compete in the 15th annual event, competitors must complete at least an iron distance race (226.3km) in under 14.5 hours during the past 18 months. The only returnee is Ingrid Hillhouse of Houston, Tex.
Portions of the race will be live stream at www.ultra52kcanada.com with help from Shaw Cable who are providing the appropriate connections for the technical side and have made the streaming possible.