Stellar performances all around made for a gold- and silver-crowned weekend for Bahrain Endurance 13 at races across Canada and Europe.
Brent McMahon brought home the Ironman Canada title in Whistler and set a new record in 8:31:33 over the notoriously challenging course in surprisingly warm conditions. McMahon led out of the non-wetsuit 3.8-kilometer swim, then kept pace on the 180-kilometer bike leg with former Tour de France rider Andrew Talansky. The fast-paced bike leg did little to take the sting out of his running legs as he clinched the win with a blistering marathon of 2:53, the fastest of the day. The win was especially poignant, as this was the race that lit the flames of his desire to master the Ironman distance.
Meanwhile in Edmonton, Ashleigh Gentle collected a silver medal over the sprint distance in the individual ITU elite race. Down 39 seconds out of the swim, Gentle and her strong bike legs over six hilly laps helped bring the chase pack into contact with the leaders. On the run, she was outworked only by Vicky Holland who broke the tape just 11 seconds ahead of her.
“Before the race I thought this was the course that might suit me. The hills are quite tough obviously when you’re racing over them six times. I was really happy to catch onto that front group, and I knew I had to be smart, stay at the front, and run as well as I could,” said Gentle.
Gentle also figured in Australia’s gold medal win in the mixed relay series event the following day as the starter on the four-person relay team. She will next defend her individual title at WTS Montreal at the end of the month.
In Switzerland, David Plese nearly ran away with the Ironman crown as he found himself in the lead halfway through the marathon. Battling stomach problems, he held on to take the silver as Jan van Berkel charged ahead for the win. He said, “So, so pleased with my performance today! Great swim, bike, and fast run, until stomach problems around 30k. Had to let go the lead and finished second. Big congrats to champion Jan van Berkel and third Cameron Wurf.” Still, the Slovenian had accomplished what he came to do: to qualify for Kona early.
Daniela Ryf gave the 5150 Zurich men’s field a fright as she defended her title over the standard distance and finished in 1:56:18. After the men and women started at the same time, her finish was a scant four minutes behind the male winner Mitch Kibby, good enough for sixth overall. She said, “Proud to win 5150 Zurich in front of my home crowd today. Was fun to mix it up with the boys who made me push all out on the bike. Very happy with a successful training hit out.”
In another training hit-out this weekend, Javier Gomez won the inaugural Challenge Prague. Fellow Spaniard and training partner Pablo Dapena matched swim for swim and bike for bike with him, but Gomez unleashed a lightning-fast 1:13:48 half marathon to take the crown by six minutes.
Gomez said, “I haven’t raced in such hot conditions for a long time! Happy to take the win at Challenge Prague today. Great city, great course, great race.”