David Matheson is up for the challenge.
The winner of the 2013 Ultraman Canada finished 10th in his age group (44) at Challenge Roth in Germany seven weeks ago and was the top Canadian. He used that race to ready himself for Challenge Penticton’s 3.8-kilometre swim, 180-km bike and 42.2-km run. He has no time goals for Sunday as he plans to race smart so he feels good crossing the finish line.
“I’ve successfully done back-to-back iron distance races in the past and have often had a better performance in the second race,” said the local triathlete. “I feel as though I’ve adequately managed my rest and recovery from Roth and my final preparation and taper for Penticton. I am getting a bit older, so I guess I’ll just have to wait until race day to test my theory.”
What Matheson looks forward to most is the change in the run course, which will take athletes along the Okanagan River Channel. He also can’t wait to run through the energy zone at Gyro Park and in front of the Barking Parrot into the stadium in Okanagan Lake Park.
Matheson is looking to place high. With the professional race switching to the half distance this year, which his wife Tina is doing, he sees this as a chance to finish high in the amateur only race.
While competing in Roth, Matheson experienced some struggles during the last half of the run, which caused him to run slower than normal. However, he was excited to be there and the energy of the people carried him through the rough patches. Matheson had always wanted to do Challenge Roth and all the great things he heard about it were true.
“It is the biggest triathlon in the world with 5,500 athletes, 6,000 volunteers and 260,000 spectators and I was so thrilled to be there to finally experience all of it,” he said. “It’s hard to describe in words the energy and excitement that was buzzing throughout the town over the few days we were there.”
Matheson said the course is fast and fun with numerous locations for spectators to line and cheer athletes on.
“There is a lot of history and culture with this race and all the communities that are on the race course get involved,” he added. “Street parties are taking place during the race with beer gardens, loud music and race announcing. The people of Roth and surrounding villages are all part of the race and take a lot of pride in it.”
One section of the bike course is a hill known as Solarberg, which had 25,000 people lined.
“You have to ride through this tunnel of people who give just enough room to ride by,” said Matheson. “They compare it to a Tour De France climb. It’s very energizing.”
Arriving at the finish in the stadium was exciting for him, something Matheson looked forward to. He described it as an amazing feeling. He saw his wife in the stands and heard his name called. Tina then handed him the Canadian flag, which he ran through with, creating an emotional finish.
“I was thinking about how cool it will be running through the stadium finish at Challenge Penticton at the end of August,” he said.