HUNTSVILLE – Rule Britannia.
That could be the cheer of many of those who turned out to watch the more than 1,100 athletes compete in the annual Subaru Ironman 70.3 Muskoka in Huntsville this past Sunday.
Brits Tom Lowe and Rachel Joyce took the men’s and women’s championship at the 2012 race, the second straight year the winners of the two races had a connection.
Last year, Michael and Amanda Lavato of Boulder, Colorado took the two crowns.
The two England natives were part of one of the strongest professional fields the five-year race had ever seen.
Mark Sinnige was the top competitor from Huntsville, clocking a time of 5:13:17 to come in 73rd overall. The top Huntsville female entrant was Rebecca Francis, who came in 434th place with a time of 6:15:29.
Lowe was deemed one of the pre-race favourites, along with Australia’s Chris Legh. The two came out of the water from Peninsula Lake down four minutes behind the leaders as they headed into transition to grab their bikes. During the closing half, the 94-km bike, Lowe used his strong cycling skills to not only erase the deficit but to build up an amazing 3:42 lead.
During the opening half of the out-and-back run course, Lowe held a 1:40 lead over the field. He went to solidify his lead over the closing kilometres to capture the men’s pro title in a time of 4:08:54. Lowe won the title despite a broken hand from a bike accident two weeks ago that has seriously limited his swim training and forced him to bike with a brace.
For her part, Joyce accomplished her title win in the same fashion, coming out of the water in third place, but only 58 seconds behind the leader. After 50 km in the bike portion, Joyce and two other competitors were riding together and making it appear that this was a three-woman race thanks to their five-minute lead over the closest rival. At the conclusion of the bike, Joyce came into transition behind the leaders by three seconds. However, Joyce used her running skills to secure the Subaru Ironman 70.3 Muskoka title with her race-best 1:21 run-time and a time of 4:34:47.
Rick Trenholm of TriMuskoka, a regional advocacy group for the sport, said the 2012 event was a big hit with the competitors.
“This year’s Ironman Muskoka 70.3 was a huge success with over 1,100 triathletes participating in the race,” he said. “The professional triathlete field was well represented with 35 professional triathletes, one of the largest pro fields in the 70.3 circuit. The swim started with a beautiful sunrise through the mist, and the sun shone all day with perfect racing conditions.”
He said his group also wanted to thank the community for cooperating with athletes that visited the area this year for not only the races, but for those “that came here to train on some of the most challenging and beautiful terrain in Canada.”
“There is a reason they keep coming back to a place that many call the North American capital of triathlon and endurance sport,” Trenholm said.
A complete list of the competitors and their results can be found at www.sportstats.ca.