2013 Ultraman Canada
Written by: Jim Gourley
Added: Tue Aug 06 2013
For the women, Iona MacKenzie of Edmonton, Canada, turned in a solid first day to finish in 9:28:49, ahead of fellow Canadians Kathleen Wood and Lucy Ryan, with 9:53:16 and 10:17:13, respectively. Though an Ultraman veteran, MacKenzie said she was surprised at finishing the day in the lead due to a lack of training leading up to the race. Ryan mentioned that she found herself in the same situation, joining in the race only three weeks ahead of the start. “I was supposed to be crewing for my friend this year, but she got injured and suddenly the slot was open. My husband asked if I wanted to do it, so I said ‘sure.’ Not the best way to go into a race, but it makes great training for Challenge Penticton and Ultraman Hawai’i!”
The final thrill of the day was delivered by Polish athlete Peter Lipinski, who developed motion sickness during the swim and spent 30 minutes in transition before getting on the bike. He crossed the line with only twelve minutes to spare before the 12-hour cutoff.
The second day recycled the initial portion of the first day’s bike course, with a flat and fast ride to Osoyoos and back before hitting the first of several difficult climbs. The men’s field started conservatively, though favorable winds contributed to a record pace. Once at the climb known as 'the wall,' John Bergen tried to ride off the front, initiating a frenetic chase. Six men went over the top and continued as a stampede before Matheson finally made a clean break at the 150-kilometer mark. Percival rallied from nutritional debt to reel Matheson in. Bergen, de la Parra, and Christian Isakson couldn’t keep up. By 180 kilometers, the leaders were alone again, this time with Matheson in the lead. They continued together all the way to the finish, crossing the line hand-in-hand.
In the women’s race, Iona MacKenzie put the hammer down to add another hour to her lead over Kathleen Wood. Meanwhile, Stacey Shand rode all the way from fourth place to breathing down Wood’s neck, finishing the day only six minutes behind second place overall. Lucy Ryan fell to fourth, but only by seven minutes. The contest for second place was a virtual dead heat.
Once again, the day closed with an absolute nail-biter. Rory Bass of Kelowna, Canada pedaled hard against the clock to get in less than two minutes before the cutoff. He preserved the contingent’s zero attrition rate going into the final day.
Day three kicked off at a full gallop for the men. Though 84.4 kilometers of racing would normally seem a gigantic distance, the top men knew they were already running out of room to eke out a higher place in the final rankings. De la Parra went off the front at a blistering pace, a gamble that he ultimately lost before making it to the first marathon point. He paid the price heroically, suffering throughout the remainder of the distance to pull off a fifth-best 8:18:15. Though Matheson made good on everyone’s predictions to lead the run, he did not bound away easily. Michael Owen kept him within sight for much of the day, letting the gap widen begrudgingly over the last 42 kilometers. Matheson crossed the line in 7:04:13, Owen followed at 7:30:42, then Bergen at 7:34:18. Isakson arrived fourth with 7:50:58. That left everyone waiting for Percival to arrive and decide how the final order would work out. Exhausted by the previous two days, he struggled mightily to the finish. When he finally collapsed at the line, he fell to third.
Matheson’s finish was good for more than just the win, though. His cumulative time broke the course record set by Kevin Cutjar in 2010. Cutjar attended the race throughout the weekend to watch, as Matheson had been on his support crew during that 2010 race, even helping to pace him on the run. Cutjar spent five years coaching Matheson, and since then the two have trained as equals.
"I knew when I saw him break an 11-hour Ironman that he could break my record," Cutjar said. "I'm happy for him. He's worked hard for this."
By contrast, Matheson was surprised and gave credit to his fellow athletes. "I thought that I had as much of a chance of winning as anyone else, but I never thought about the record," he said. "I don’t think I would have raced as hard without Craig and John pushing me. I didn’t expect things to go this way."
Matheson was embraced by his wife and his mother when he crossed the line on day 3.
Iona Mackenzie was able to close out the women’s race with a third-best run of 10:34:56, giving her an overall finishing time of 30:15:38.
She and Ryan will both be competing in Iron-distance races within the next few weeks. Afterward, Ryan is signed up for the Ultraman World Championships in November.
There were two other remarkable accomplishments on the day. Brian Dillon provided the last moment of drama for Ultraman Canada 2012, running to the finish just thirteen minutes ahead of the cutoff, and Alan MacPherson of Great Britain achieved the distinction of becoming just the sixth person to complete all three Ultraman races. He finished Ultraman United Kingdom in 2011 and the World Championship in Hawai’i in 2012.
After 10 kilometers of swimming and 261.4 miles of biking with 16,200 feet of climbing, the Ultraman competitors settle the matter with a double marathon from Hawi to Kailua-Kona. Photo gallery by Timothy Carlson 11.30.12
Alexandre Ribeiro of Brazil finished off a wire-to-wire 6th Ultraman World title with a race-best 6:45:24 double marathon; Amber Monforte finished her Ultraman Worlds three-peat with a 3rd-best 8:12:06 double marathon. 11.25.12