Ultraman Canada sees former records broken

Three records were broken at this weekend's Ultraman Canada race, which saw 31 athletes swim, bike and run a total of 512.7 kilometres.

American Stephen Stafford receives congratulations from a bystander at the finish line of the Ultraman Canada race at Summerland's Memorial Park Monday. Stafford won the grueling three-day event in just over 22 hours.

American Stephen Stafford receives congratulations from a bystander at the finish line of the Ultraman Canada race at Summerland's Memorial Park Monday. Stafford won the grueling three-day event in just over 22 hours.

This weekend, 31 athletes from all over the continent descended on Penticton to take part in a three-day race where through swimming, biking and running, the participants travelled 512.7 kilometre — only 14 km less than the distance to Revelstoke and back.

The three-day Ultraman Canada’s course was brutal, combining the intimidating distance with difficult elevation changes in the run and bike segments. However, the athletes rose to the occasion, with three records being broken between two of the different competitors.

Lively Consuela of Winter Park, Fl., took the overall top time in the female division with 27:25:33. She also beat the female record for the day one bike segment, finishing with a time of 4:56:55.

Stephen Stafford, who ventured from Fayetteville, Ark. to take part in the race, took the overall first place spot with a time of 22:34:35, the second fastest overall time ever recorded for Ultraman Canada. While he missed that record, Stafford broke the record for both day one and day two’s bike segments, finishing the first segment with a time of 3:58:58 and the second with a time of 7:47:33, shattering the previous day two record by nearly 20 minutes.

“It was great,” said Stafford. “The run was tough, I didn’t expect that much climbing up and down. It was hard on the legs, but overall it was great.”

The heat was on, said Stafford, to finish within 50 minutes of his closest competitor Chad Hon — a cushion his previous days’ times gave him.

“I didn’t want to lose the race,” he said. “I kept on trying to push and stay up with Chad, I wanted to make sure he didn’t beat me cross the line for 50 more minutes.”

In the end, Stafford finished only 15 minutes after Hon, cementing his victory.

After the race, Hon, from Mobile, Ala., had  high spirits.

“I feel really good,” he said at the finish line at Summerland’s Memorial Park. with a time of 23:09:29. “It was rough out there for a while but now that it’s over I feel great. It was just a really long day, legs were already beat up from the first two days so it doesn’t take long on the run before you’re really fatigued.

“The last one km out I was panicking, asked my wife and daughter about every 200 yards how much further I had to go,” he added.

From a organizer’s standpoint the race went flawlessly, said race director Steve Brown. For the first time in event history, after the second day all competitors were still in the race.

“It’s a testament to the athletes and the conditions,” said Brown. “When you get good conditions and you get good athletes, and you put those two together, you can expect some really really good results.”

However,  on the third day of the race three competitors, including one of two Pentictonites in the race, were unable to finish and dropped out of the race.

The broken records weren’t the only remarkable achievements this race. After 10 hours, 54 minutes and 49 seconds straight of running, Terry Craig, the other Pentictonite in the race, crossed the finish line with an overall time of 33:54:49. What makes this remarkable is that Craig donated one of his kidnys to wife Laura in 2005. He set out doing the Ultraman to prove that someone with one kidney is just as capable as everyone else, in order to encourage more living donations.

Craig said his wife, Laura, was his biggest motivator.

“I always just have to look to my wife for inspiration, because she has to do the same thing every day,” said Craig. “She doesn’t have a choice, and I felt the same way. I just didn’t have a choice for her and for everyone who suffers from kidney disease, this was the difference I can make in their lives.”

Craig’s selfless actions are a reflection on the calibre of person Ultraman attracts, said the race’s owner, Jane Bockus.

“That’s the kind of person Ultraman attracts,” she said. “People who are giving people. We don’t have rockstars here.”

For more information on Ultraman Canada, visit www.ultramancanada.com.