Ultraman Canada, which has long been in the shadow of the Ultraman World Championship in Hawaii, emerged into the spotlight of this ultra challenging, three-day version of triathlon last weekend with record-smashing performances by Ultraman rookies Amber Monforte of Reno Nevada and Benat Zubillaga of Spain.
Zubillaga overcame a 54-minute deficit to Day 2 leader Josef Ajram of Spain and a 32-minute deficit to Milton Augusto de Souza of Brazil with a sizzling, race-record 6:44:06 Day 3 marathon. When the race was over, Zubillaga’s 24:19:28 gave him a 29 minute 23 seconds margin of victory over the Brazilian and 43 minute-36-second margin over 3rd place Ajram.
But when the three-day, 520-kilometer test of swim-bike-run endurance was over, Xterra regular Monforte made the biggest impact. Monforte finished fourth overall including the men in a time of 25:36:49. She out-paced runner-up Barbi Brochu, who set a fastest swim time of 2:42:41, by 1:39:11. Monforte’s record time beat Tracy Preston’s Ultraman Canada women’s record of 29:31:44 by nearly 4 hours. Monforte’s amazing race also broke the previous women’s world best at the Ultraman distance of 25:45:51 set in 1989 by Tina Bischoff at Ultraman Hawaii.
While Monforte’s time was set at a very different venue without the blazing heat and humidity and winds of Hawaii, the Ultraman Canada course, whose terrain matches much of the traditional Ironman Canada venue, is no speedway and should not be confused with world Ironman-distance best courses like Klagenfurt Austria and Roth, Germany.
Monforte started Friday’s Day One with a third-best 2:52:39 swim, lagging behind Brochu’s 2:42:41 and 5-time Ultraman Hawaii winner Shanna Armstrong’s 2:47:11, but topping all the men’s major contenders. On the 90-mile bike, Monforte broke the women’s record with a 4:58:35 split, topped only by the first three men. However, Brochu hung tough for the first day’s overall lead with a 5:05:40 split that left her 2:53 in the lead.
On the 171.4-mile bike on Day 2, Monforte broke the race open with a 9:14:22 split that was 35 minutes faster than Brochu, and was again topped only by the first three men – Benat Zubillaga, Milton Augusto De Souza and Josef Ajram.
On the Day 3 double marathon, Monforte cranked out an 8:31:13 run that put another 66 minutes on Brochu.
Armstrong, who was making her first Ironman Canada appearance still not in prime condition, soldiered to a 4th place finish in 29:08:01, 25 minutes behind 3rd place Andi Ramer and two and a half hours slower than her Ultraman Hawaii best time set last year.
Penticton, British Columbia, Canada
July 31-August 2, 2009
Day One: Swim 10k/ Bike 90 mi.
Day Two: Bike 171.4 mi.
Day Three: Run 52.4 mi.
1. Benat Zubillaga S 3:28:35 B 4:50:02 B 9:16:45 R 6:44:06 TOT 24:19:28
2. Milton DeSouza S 3:02:15 B 4:52:08 B 9:16:45 R 7:45:30 TOT 24:48:51
3. Josef Ajram S 3:11:16 B 4:35:43 B 8:54:15 R 8:21:50 TOT 25:03:04
4. Scott Beasley S 3:14:40 B 5:02:46 B 9:25:28 R 8:12:35 TOT 25:55:29
5. Fernando Crespo S 3:30:38 B 5:22:47 B 9:56:41 R 7:49:47 TOT 26:39:53
1. Amber Monforte S 2:52:39 B 4:58:35 B 9:14:22 R 8:31:13 TOT 25:36:49
2. Barbi Brochu S 2:42:41 B 5:05:40 B 9:49:31 R 9:38:08 TOT 27:16:00
3. Andi Ramer S 3:04:29 B 5:25:59 B 8:30:29 R 10:02:12 TOT 28:43:47
4. Shanna Armstrong S 2:47:11 B 5:43:44 B 10:16:56 R 10:20:10 TOT 29:08:21
5. Beth Brewster S 3:37:04 B 5:48:02 B 10:17:15 R 11:46:22 TOT 31:28:43