Ironman debuts at Elk Lake this weekend

Saunders Subaru Ironman 70.3 Victoria Triathlon happens Sunday out of Saanich

Vancouver athlete Elliot Holtham won the half-Ironman race of the Saunders Subaru Victoria Triathlon in 2013 at Elk Lake with a record-breaking time of 3:48:41. This year the race is officially operating under the Ironman banner.

Vancouver athlete Elliot Holtham won the half-Ironman race of the Saunders Subaru Victoria Triathlon in 2013 at Elk Lake with a record-breaking time of 3:48:41. This year the race is officially operating under the Ironman banner.

It’s a new name, but it’s the same race – for now.

The everlong Saunders Subaru Ironman 70.3 Victoria Triathlon will snake through all three Saanich municipalities on Sunday: Central, North and Saanich proper.

Among the hundreds of hungry athletes is a deep field of elites, though the race is still without the substantial prize purse that goes along with the Ironman name. That may come in future years, as will a few other tweaks since Ironman purchased the five-race Western Triathlon Series in May.

One of the key changes for the Victoria race this weekend is the creation of 75 qualifying spots for the Ironman 70.3 North American Championships in Mt. Tremblant, Que., on Aug. 17.

“It’s a key qualifier for a lot of athletes that want to go to the world championships,” said Keith McGonigal, Ironman’s operations manager for the Western Tri Series. The Bend, Ore., resident has been based out of the new LifeSport building at Elk Lake during the transition. He expects an extra 50 to 65 additional entrants on top of the 330 who participated in the 2013 Victoria Triathlon, though the prize purse is rather modest compared to other Ironman 70.3 (mile) events.

“We’re trying to focus on making sure we’re prepared for the increased number of athletes. It means increased support on the water, medical support, and other areas,” he said.

“We didn’t think it was fair to the athletes who had already set their schedule to bump up the prize purse (so late in the season), but we’re certainly considering it for 2015.”

As it stands, the top three males and females will receive $1,000 for first, $600 for second and $400 for third.

Still, the race will bring out hometown boy Brent McMahon, LifeSport’s star pupil, a favourite to win after he took the Boise and Hawaii 70.3 races in the past two weeks.

Joining the elite field for the 19th year of the race are Andrew Russell, who was second among the men last year, and the 2013 women’s winner Karen Thibodeau, as well as local threats Stephen Kilshaw and Janet Nielson.

Race numbers for Sunday are consistent for the shorter sprint and Olympic distances, which were 236 and 245, respectively, in 2013. It’s rare for Ironman to run a sprint or Olympic distance race, he said, and it’s even more rare to have them on the same day.

“Not much is going to change right now; we just want a successful event,” McGonigal said.

LifeSport, which continues to operate as an elite Triathlon coaching business, created the Tri Series, but sold that part of their business to Ironman. It meant cutting ties with four employees who are dedicated to the race series, though they’ll remain in LifeSport’s snappy new building at Elk Lake.

“(LifeSport) is helping to operate the race in conjunction with Ironman this year, but we do hope to carry on as the official coaches of all five Western Tri Series events for many years coming,” said Paul Regensburg, co-owner of LifeSport. “We built these races and we know them.”

Regensburg and LifeSport own the two-storey office space where Elk Lake Restaurant once sat. It overlooks the starting line of the Ironman 70.3, as well as the starting line Self Transcendence Triathlon (Aug. 3).

There was a possibility that Ironman would lease a 1,400-square-foot loft space in the new LifeSport building, but that opportunity is still open to a new tenant, Regensburg said.

reporter@saanichnews.com

••••

LifeSport explained

Ironman’s recent purchase of the race series’ parent company, LifeSport Properties, means the long distance triathlon previously known as a half-Ironman can now use Ironman’s official 70.3 branding, which refers to the number of miles covered in the race, a 1.2-mile (1.9 km) swim, a 56-mile (90 km) bike ride and 13.1-mile (21.1 km) run.

Victoria is the second of five races in the Western Triathlon Series with coming dates in Saskatoon (June 29), Vancouver (July 13) and Banff (Sept. 6).

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

Low interest rates have acted as a catalyst for the pandemic real estate market. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)
Real estate sales surging across Greater Victoria but risks lie ahead

Single family home prices jump nine per cent over past year while condo values remain stable

Crews deal with a rock slide on the Malahat section of Highway 1 in 2017. (Black Press Media file photo)
Rock work closes Highway 1 in Langford for spurts

Friday closures could delay drivers up to 20 minutes

Crews disassemble the iconic red and white KFC bucket from a sign on Goldstream Avenue. (Photo courtesy of Mark Schoor)
Iconic KFC bucket removed from Goldstream Avenue

Popular fast-food chain closes Langford location

One person is dead after a camper van caught fire Thursday morning in Victoria's Beacon Hill Park. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
UPDATED: One person dead after vehicle fire in Beacon Hill Park

Investigation into Victoria death in early stages

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Most Read