A triathlon relay team, which consists of one swimmer, one cyclist and one runner, with a combined age of 211, is challenging other teams in the Valley First Challenge Full distance triathlon, on August 30th.
A quick calculation reveals an average age of over 70 years. One might ask, “how fast can these guys really go?” Before jumping to any conclusions, consider that this team consists of three Ironman veterans with podium finishes in their respective age groups – as triathletes.
“Our main objective is to enter an upper end seniors relay team to serve as an incentive for others to participate” says Pete Stanton from Calgary, the youngster of the trio at 69 years of age. He’s a previous Ironman Canada 60-64 age group champion, who started focusing on his cycling after hip resurfacing surgery limited his running. Pete is capable of riding the180km bike leg in well under 6 hours, having recently completed the 160km Axel Merckx GranFondo event in 5 hours and 6 minutes.
Greg Sandkuhl from Whistler BC is another accomplished triathlete and Ironman Canada age group Champion in multiple categories and will start Team 211 off as the swimmer. Greg will be 71 years of age on race day and expects to cover the 3.8km swim distance in just over an hour. Sankuhl, who was an avid mountain-biker before taking up triathlon in his late 50’s has a swimming background. He has recently won his age group in the Squamish Standard distance Triathlon, a 1.5km swim, 40km Bike and 10km run, in an overall time of 2 hours and 35 minutes, including a swim time of 26 minutes and 16 seconds.
Running the anchor leg 42.2km marathon, is Joe Garcia of St. Albert, Alberta. Also 71 years of age, Garcia has been a multiple podium finisher as a triathlete and a second place finisher in the 70-74 Age Group at the prestigious Boston Marathon, with a 3 hour 29 minute clocking. The flatter marathon course laid out for this year’s Challenge race will provide Joe the opportunity to run a fast time if conditions on the day are also favorable.
Race day conditions play a significant role in the overall time an athlete, or relay team may be able to complete the Challenge Full Triathlon Course, with heat and wind being the main factors. In “fair” conditions, Team 211 expects a total finish time of around 10 hours 45 minutes.
The 3 seniors insist they are not seeking any recognition for themselves and feel have all received sufficient accolades over the last decade, with their long distance racing. “We simply thought we would try to mimic what happened a couple of years ago when the a team of young pros put up a time challenge to break the 8 hour barrier, explains Pete Stanton. “Focusing on the other end of the age spectrum seemed like a fun and possibly interesting thing to attempt”.