The 2,237 triathletes at yesterday’s (August 18) Subaru IRONMAN North American Championships came to Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, for a variety of reasons.
Some lined up hoping to score Kona Ranking Points—needed to qualify for October’s IRONMAN World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii—though that wasn’t the case for women’s champion Mary Beth Ellis, who finished in 9:07:56. She’d already qualified for Kona, and with Sunday’s win she extended her IRONMAN winning streak to eight races. The last time the American failed to take first place was in 2011, where she finished 15th at Kona, the only IRONMAN event she’s entered and not won.
“It was a tough day on a tough course,” Ellis of Sunday’s race, according to Slowtwitch.com. “My coach told me to go for it on the bike and then run to survive for the win.”
She did just that, and by the time she reached the 26.2-mile run—the third stage in a race that begins with a 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bike ride—she’d put significant distance between herself and the rest of the pack. Far closer was the race for runner-up, as Australia’s Rebekah Keat passed Germany’s Anja Beranek in the final miles, taking second with a time of 9:16:55. Beranek held on for third, crossing in 9:17:26.
On the men’s side, Australia’s Luke Bell topped the field—and picked up 4,000 Kona points, enough to punch his ticket to Hawaii—with his 8:26:06 performance. Battling leg cramps in the final hour, Bell fended off American Brandon Marsh and Belgian Bert Jammaer, who took second and third with times of 8:31:01 and 8:31:35, respectively.
“It was a tough, honest course, which showed on the run as I battled those cramps,” Bell said, according to Slowtwitch.com. “I didn’t want to relent until I reached the top of the big hill and could run downhill to the finish.”
Among the other notable finishers Sunday was former NHL player Ian Laperriere, who crashed his bike while training earlier this month and had been experiencing the same kinds of concussion-like symptoms that forced him to retire from the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012.
Laperriere finished in 12:11:55, earning a congratulatory tweet from Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins.
“congrats to @dooda1414,” the coach wrote. “Never a doubt that he would complete @IMMontTremblant #FitterInHisRetirementYears.”
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg