Two new champions will emerge during Subaru Ironman Canada on Sunday.
Mary Beth Ellis isn’t among the field of 14 pro women vying for the title, while Jordan Rapp will be on the sidelines commentating for Shaw TV.
Rapp is fresh off his Ironman New York victory and is headed for Kona. The men’s field has 18 pro competitors. Among the favourites, according to announcer Steve King, is Christian Brader, who placed second overall in 2010 and Chris Bagg, fourth last year. Also among the men’s field is Penticton’s Olly Piggin.
The women’s field has Meredith Kessler, who won in 2010 and placed third last year. Others to look for are Mackenzie Madison, local Janelle Morrison, Marilyn McDonald and Samantha McGlone. McGlone, of St. Catharines, Ont., represented Canada during the 2004 Olympics and placed second in Hawaii.
“You don’t get much better pedigree then being second in the world,” said King.
When asked, Rapp picked Kessler to win a strong women’s field. On the men’s side he said it’s wide open.
“It’s almost the roll of the dice,” said Rapp. “Almost any one in the top 10 can probably win the race.”
Rapp said both pro fields will provide entertaining races.
“I think you might see some guys pulling some surprising performances out of themselves because they look at it as being so wide open,” said Rapp, who enjoyed commentating and joked he can show people he can do more than just swim, bike and run. “It could be an incredibly exciting race.”
In terms of Canadians, King said Chilliwack’s Scott Curry and Calgary’s Kyle Marcotte have been in the top 10. There is also Chilliwack’s Anthony Toth. Elliot Holtham is considered a sleeper. Gillian Clayton of Vancouver is considered another sleeper in the women’s field.
King also said that there will be strong age group participants. Last year there were records bested. In the men’s 70 to 74 age group, Milos Kostic set a new time standard at 11:14:24.
“He is the same guy that owns the record in the 65 to 69 age group,” said King. “In the men’s 75 to 79 category, the record holder is Michael Laramie. Last year he set a new record at 14:14:17.”
Also participating in the race will be the Three Dick Eds — Ed Wong, Ed Russell and Dick Enslie. They have done the triathlon every year except the first.
As far as organizing the event, Ironman race director Laura Carleton said, “everything is going fantastic.”
Focus has been on set up, which began Sunday at Okanagan Park. Gyro and Rotary Park have also been set up. In terms of celebrating the 30th anniversary, not as much is being done as was for the quarter century mark.
“We do have a video that we are having put together that covers all three decades of Ironman Canada,” she said. “We have some of the athletes and key people from those three decades that are here this year. We’re doing a question/answer fun panel with them at our banquet on Friday night.”
Carleton is looking forward to good weather (forecast is for a high of 28 C) and the athletes all having a really fantastic race day. She loves her volunteer role. Being a local, she also loves the sport.
“I love the event here in Penticton,” she said. “I love all the challenges.”
Volunteers are key in the event running smoothly and Carleton said they are still looking for a few more.
“If people are interested in volunteering, they can come down to the Ironman Expo in Okanagan Park and visit the information booth,” she said. “They will have information on how they can sign up.”
Focus for the professional triathletes hasn’t changed with news that this will be the final Subaru Ironman Canada. That it will be replaced by Challenge Penticton.
Local Janelle Morrison said the Penticton race is her favourite in the world. With it being the final time, it makes her participation in the triathlon more special.
Morrison, was joined by Mackenzie Madison, Paolina Allan, Kyle Marcotte, Scott Curry and Christian Brader for the press conference on Friday.
Since running the fastest marathon among the women of 3:03:53 in her Ironman Canada debut, Mackenzie Madison said she has nailed down the swim, her weakness, and has become a complete triathlete. She was saddened by the news of the change.
“It has a lot of meaning for me,” said Madison. “This is the first Ironman I ever saw. My dad competed in it when I was 15 years old. It has a nostalgic feeling for me.”
Christian Brader of Germany joked that he would change his plan for the race.
“I don’t want to win anymore,” he smiling.
Winning is something he’d like to accomplish after losing two years ago by 13 seconds.
“I didn’t expect to be in this situation in 2010,” he said. “I just wanted to qualify for Hawaii and this was my last chance.”
Brader said he enjoyed being on the podium that year but admitted it was also very sad to lose his first Ironman title.
“I told myself if I’m in a similar situation I would act differently,” he said. “This course is so strong and you can make so many efforts on the bike, gain or lose time.”
If it comes down to a sprint, he said he will run a bit faster.
As for it being the final Ironman, he said it’s not the last race here.
“It’s just another label,” he said. “I don’t think it’s less attractive than before. They (Challenge Family) do a good job, I know them from Germany. I’m sure it will be a good race. I would also come back if it is not an Ironman.”
Scott Curry has returned after recovering from a severed Achilles tendon, which happened during last year’s race. Despite the injury, he still finished. Following that, he re-evaluted what he wanted to do.
“I certainly missed the thought of racing again,” he said. “Having that almost taken away.”
A return was a matter of committing to the event.
Asked for their predictions, Morrison disappointed one fan by saying it’s “private knowledge.”
Madison simply wants to beat her time from last year of 9:30. Marcotte took it upon himself to say that Curry, his longtime friend, will come in at 8:09. Brader wants a new personal best and to humour the crowd, picked 8:32.