3 local athletes qualify to represent Canada at international triathlon event

A confident group in both their training and experience, three Fort St. John triathletes have qualified to compete at the 2017 International Triathlon Union Multisport World Championships in Penticton next summer.

Irvin Tang, Sandra McDonald and Bob Andrews punched their tickets to the event earlier this month with top times at a qualifying event in Stony Plain, Alta.

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McDonald finished fourth in the 45-49 female age category with a time of five hours, 11 minutes and 57 seconds. She said knowing that the top five finishers in each category would qualify for Worlds, there were some tense moments down the stretch.

“It went really well,” McDonald said.

“I was ready… I was very excited, I came off the bike and there were no other bikes in my area. I knew I was first off the bike and a women caught me two or three kilometres in [to the run portion]…I knew I came across the [finish] line fourth, so I was very relived, but very, very happy.”

McDonald started her training in March for the race this summer and will run in an Ironman event this fall to improve her running in preparation for Worlds next summer. McDonald said in order to perform at her best next summer, running will be her main focus leading up to the event.

Andrews grabbed his spot with a second place finish in the 60-64 male age category, finishing the race in 5:32:31, just two seconds behind winner Kerry Nisbet of Edmonton. 

Tang worked his way into Worlds in the duathlon, with a top finish in the 35-39 male age category and a fourth place finish overall at the event. He finished the race, which includes two running portions and a bike, in 2:06:49 which was also a personal best.

“The duathlon is a little bit smaller overall, there were maybe 150 people. Much smaller than the triathlon,” he said.

“It felt great because it’s an early season race, so I have two more races that are also qualifiers… going into the race I kind of knew I would make it in, I have been in these races so I know where my times are and just looking in the past at the times. I knew probably top five would be within the books.”

For this group, it’s the second time in the past two years that they will represent the region on the world stage, as they all attended the Ironman 2014 70.3 World Championships in Mount-Tremblant. The difference between the two events will be a longer distance this time around, a bigger turnout and a few different events like auqathon and cross triathlon in the mix this time around.

“The race is longer, it’s a three kilometre swim, 120 kilometre bike and a 30 kilometre run. So, it’s a little bit longer race. I’m hoping it will be about the same calibre [as last worlds] but there will be a lot of fast people there. I’ll just be excited to have all the different races there as well,” McDonald said.

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