The Whistler venue is just a few hours drive from the Wurtele’s home base in Kelowna, BC. Quite familiar with wildlife encounters in and around BC, Wurtele laughed when she described a memorable moment from IRONMAN Canada having an interaction with wildlife during the race “I actually had a “peak Whistler” experience when I scared a little black bear off the run course during the race! There was a camera guy behind me at the time, so he caught it on film too. I’m pretty used to bears being part of the territory but people were definitely freaking out. This one guy who had stopped, said “wow you get extra points for scaring the bear away””
Having raced all over the world in numerous spectacular venues, Wurtele, who excels on challenging terrain, is always looking for tough and inspiring race courses to get motivated by, said
“This course is HARD! Almost 8,000 feet of climbing on the bike, and a super undulating run with some deceivingly steep gravel sections.”
“I didn’t spend much time training in Whistler this time around, but I was familiar with it all from having trained here in the past when Trevor raced. All the terrain at home in the Okanagan actually has steeper and punchier climbs than around here so it was nice to feel like the “big climb” up to Callaghan was not actually that big of a climb. I love hard courses like this, and it definitely suits me well.”
If Wurtele has a ‘weakness’, it would be considered the swim but she exited the water just 6 seconds back from the lead and was first out onto the bike with a quick transition. Remarking on her swim, Wurtele said
“I was super happy to start the day off well with one of my fastest ever IRONMAN swims.”
“We had a nice clean start, I was out with Dede (Griesbauer)and when Kelsey (Withrow) came buy, I was able to close the gap and jump on her feet. She’s a great swimmer and it was one of those, dare I say, enjoyable swims where you feel strong and the chaos isn’t too bad.”
Blazing the bike course in a controlled effort to set herself up for a strong finish in the marathon, Wurtele turned on the jets in the final kilometers of the bike to distance herself from Griesbauer – who rode a few seconds ahead of Wurtele half way into the bike leg – forging a 45 second advantage heading into T2.
By half way into the run, Wurtele had opened the gap to Griesbauer by over 10 minutes and in the latter miles of the marathon had plenty of time to enjoy the finish and cruise to victory in her home country in a time of 9:20:41. Fellow Canadian, Jen Annett ran her way into 2nd place with a race best run split, followed by Kelsey Withrow in third place.
With an astounding 25 half distance victories, Wurtele was thrilled to see the focus and training for her A race, translate and pay off for the win to earn her 7th professional IRONMAN win.
“I went into this race feeling confident. I was super keen to win my 7th full-distance IRONMAN and especially my first on home soil at IRONMAN Canada.”
Wurtele’s husband, Trevor, won the inaugural event here in 2013. Combined with Heather’s result the star triathlon pair created a successful bookend to IRONMAN Canada with this being the last year the event will be held in Whistler. Remarking on the storybook ending, Wurtele said “There was definitely extra motivation because it was the last race here in Whistler and because Trevor won the first race here. It was pretty cool to wrap it up that way. Being at home in BC, with so much of our family down to watch and cheer was extra special. I seriously felt like everyone out there was cheering for me!”.
WHISTLER, BC, CANADA
July 28, 2019
1. Heather Wurtele 9:20:41
2. Jen Annett 9:27:43
3. Kelsey Withrow 9:38:28
4. Dede Griesbauer 9:46:32
5. Jodie Robertson 9:47:58
6. Naomi Washizu 9:53:58
7. Natasha Van Der Merwe 9:57:25
8. Erin Green 10:08:52
9. Kaitlin Allen 10:16:44
10. Melanie McQuaid 10:18:49