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Your Sports Diet: Quality calories for weight management?

Triathlon Magazine Canada 1 day 15 hours ago

By Nancy Clark

If you are like most triathletes, you are busy juggling work, workouts, family and life. You likely eat meals and snacks on the run, grabbing an energy bar here, a frozen meal there, and a protein shake to go. You can easily fuel yourself with highly processed foods that are ready to heat and/or ready to eat.

Credit: Thinkstock Photos

While you can choose a nutritionally well-balanced sports diet when eating on the run, you might want to pay attention to the amount of ultra-processed foods that sneak into your meals and snacks. They have a food matrix far different from natural foods, and they might have an impact on your weight and health. 

What are ultra-processed foods?

Cooked eggs, canned beans and dried raisins are all considered processed foods. Technically speaking, a processed food is one that has been altered from its original form. The foods have been cooked, dried, or canned in a way that’s safe for your health.

Ultra-processed foods include fast foods, sugary drinks, chips, candies, sweetened cereals, etc. They span the spectrum from minimally processed foods that are prepared to make them edible (bran flakes) to industrial formulations with five or more ingredients (Cap’n Crunch). Ultra-processed foods commonly have added flavours, sugars, fats, preservatives and ingredients that you are unlikely to have stocked in your pantry, like sodium benzoate. These foods are designed to be convenient, ready to eat, palatable, affordable and welcomed as replacements for freshly prepared meals and snacks.

More than half the calories consumed in the US come from ultra-processed foods (think packaged soups, instant noodles, frozen meals, hot dogs, cake mixes.) The foods tend to be high in calories, salt, and fat, and low in fibre. Ultra-processed foods can be marketed as natural, healthy and organic (those words don’t refer to the process of how the food was made.) Yes, your favourite all-natural, organic energy bar likely counts as an ultra-processed food.

A diet rich in ultra-processed foods has been associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and stroke. While these foods might not be the cause of those problems, people with health issues are more likely to consume a fair amount of ultra-processed foods. We need more research to determine if these easy-to-overeat foods are the problem (“I can’t eat just one…”), or if their high caloric density makes them easier to over-consume.

Ultra-processed foods and your waistline

Speaking at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ (AND) 2019 Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE), the National Institute of Health’s Dr. Kevin Hall spoke about the ease of weight gain among people who eat a plethora of ultra-processed foods. He conducted a study in which 20 healthy adults (10 men, 10 women) ate as much or as little as they wanted for 14 days from a buffet of minimally-processed or ultra-processed foods. The buffets were matched for calories, sugar, fibre, carbohydrate, protein, fat and salt. The subjects rated both diets as being equally palatable. Yet, when the subjects ate from the ultra-processed buffet, they consumed about 500 calories above their baseline intake and they gained about two pounds in two weeks. (Some of that weight gain can be attributed to water-weight, given the ultra-processed foods they chose were higher in sodium than their standard diet.)

When the subjects ate the unprocessed diet, they chose their typical caloric intake, yet they lost about 2 pounds in two weeks. How could that be? Some weight loss was related to water-weight, but some might have been related to a higher amount of calories needed to digest the whole foods. (This is called the Thermic Effect of Food—the increase in the body’s metabolic rate related to the consumption, digestion, metabolism and storage of food.) Foods in their natural state take more energy to be digested and metabolized than highly processed foods. For example, a grilled cheese sandwich made with whole wheat bread and cheddar cheese uses about 20 per cent of the ingested calories to digest and metabolize the nutrients. In contrast, the same sandwich made with white bread and processed American cheese uses only 11 per cent of ingested calories.

Ultra-processed foods tend to be high in simple-to-digest sugar with a low thermic effect. They also tend to be low in fibre. Fibre-calories are not readily accessible to the body. Almonds, for example, reportedly offer 170 calories per ounce (23 almonds), as written on the food label. The reality is, your body can access only 130 of those calories. Fibre-rich plant foods can be better for your waistline (and your overall health). 

Processing changes the food structure, and this impacts satiety, the feeling of fullness that persists after eating. The more a food is processed, the lower it’s satiety, likely related to the higher its glycemic response (rise in blood glucose). Simply put, devouring 500 calories of ten (ultra-processed) Oreos is far easier than chewing through 500 calories of almonds (about 70 almonds) and is far less satiating.

The bottom line

At this time, we have no data to confirm that ultra-processed foods cause weight gain, but they are certainly associated with weight gain. Dr. Hall is planning another study to look at the impact of energy-density on calorie intake. Until then, common sense tells us, for weight management, your best bet is to snack on whole grains, fresh and dried fruits, nuts, and other minimally processed foods. Limiting ultra-processed foods may be an effective weight-management strategy.

Sports Nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes at her office in Newton, Massachusetts. The new 6th edition of her best selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook addresses today’s questions and concerns about what to eat. For more information, visit For her online workshop, see

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Une entrevue avec la cycliste professionnelle Maghalie Rochette

Triathlon Magazine Canada 1 day 17 hours ago

par Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches

Maghalie Rochette est une cycliste professionnelle qui excelle en cyclo-cross et en vélo de montagne. Maghalie fait du vélo depuis qu’elle a 4 ans et elle est toujours aussi passionnée par ce sport. L’athlète des Laurentides a compétitionné plusieurs années en triathlon avant de découvrir le cyclo-cross à 18 ans. 

Étant donné la popularité grandissante des courses de gravel et de cyclo-cross, je me suis entretenu avec Maghalie pour en apprendre davantage sur ces sports et pour répondre aux questions que tous les novices se posent.

Photo: courtoisie Maghalie Rochette

TMC: Le vélo de cyclo-cross et de gravel sont de plus en plus populaires. Les compétitions de gravel comme Rasputitsa et le Dirty Kansas, ainsi que les compétitions de cyclo-cross attirent de plus en plus de cyclistes à chaque année. Selon toi, qu’est-ce qui explique le nouvel intérêt pour le cyclo-cross et le gravel? 

MR: Je pense que que les gens sont de plus en plus conscients des dangers de rouler sur la route avec les voitures, alors que les chemins de terre ou de gravel sont normalement plus tranquilles. C’est aussi un sens de l’aventure je crois – avoir des pneus plus gros et des vélos plus adaptés permet d’emprunter de nouveaux chemin et faire de nouvelles boucles «hors des sentiers battus » et ça c’est attirant je pense. 

TMC: De plus en plus de triathlètes intègrent des compétitions de cyclo-cross et de gravel à leur saison de triathlon, particulièrement le printemps et l’automne. Comment, selon toi, ces compétitions peuvent permettre à un triathlète de s’améliorer en cyclisme?

MR: En général, plus on passe de temps sur le vélo, plus on devient à l’aise. Mais avec le cyclocross ou les événements de gravelle, les parcours sont parfois accidentés et cela demande des habiletés techniques différentes que de rouler uniquement sur la route. Donc en général, je pense qu’on devient plus à l’aise sur le vélo, plus à l’aise techniquement et cela peut définitivement aider en triathlon. Quand on y pense, plus on est à l’aise/confortable sur notre vélo, plus on peut relaxer, et donc on économise de l’énergie. Être inconfortable ou avoir peur sur le vélo n’est pas seulement dangereux pour les risques de tomber, mais c’est aussi néfaste à la performance parce qu’on perd tellement d’énergie à être stressé et être « raide ». 

TMC: Quels conseils tu donnerais à quelqu’un qui souhaite faire une première compétition de cyclo-cross ou de gravel?

MR: Honnêtement, je ne pense pas que je mettrais ces deux disciplines dans la même catégorie parce que bien que les vélos soient similaires, les deux disciplines sont tellement différentes. Une course de gravelle est souvent orientée vers l’aventure et se déroule normalement sur une longue boucle qui prend quelques heures à couvrir. Le cyclocross, c’est très différent; ça ne dure que 45min et c’est beaucoup plus intense. Les courses se déroulent sur des boucles qui prennent plus ou moins 8min à parcourir, sur des terrains àsurfaces variées et qui sont parsemés d’obstacles. 

Alors pour répondre à la question, je dirais qu’en général, j’encouragerais les gens à essayer un vélo de type CX ou Gravelle, et de sortir des sentiers battus lors de leurs entrainements. Les pneus plus larges rendent la ride beaucoup plus « smooth » et c’est super confortable et agréable. Des fois ça peut paraître épeurant, mais en fait, ces deux disciplines sont super accessibles – beaucoup plus que les courses de route à mon avis, car tu n’es pas obligé de rouler en peloton si tu n’es pas à l’aise. On peut rouler avec un petit groupe d’ami et l’esprit est généralement beaucoup plus ouvert. 

Puis, spécifiquement pour le cyclocross , je dirais que c’est probablement la discipline la plus accessible du cyclisme…même si ça ne semble pas l’être vu de l’extérieur! C’est normal de marcher ou courir un obstacle en cyclocross, alors personne ne va se moquer de quelqu’un qui marche. Puis, comme la course est assez courte, c’est plus facile de rentrer l’entrainement si quelqu’un a un horaire chargé. Alors j’imagine que mon conseil serait d’oser de l’essayer.

Photo: courtoisie Maghalie Rochette

TMC: Quelle est la différence entre un vélo de cyclo-cross et de gravel? Et si quelqu’un souhaite participer à quelques compétitions de cyclo-cross et de gravel, quel type de vélo devrait-il s’acheter?

MR: Bonne question. En général, les vélos sont similaires. Normalement un vélo spécifique de gravel aura un bottom bracket plus bas pour améliorer la stabilité lors de descentes de gravelle à haute vitesse. Sinon, ce n’est pas rare de voir les vélos de cyclcoross avoir seulement un plateau, alors que les vélos de gravelle ont plus souvent deux plateaux. 

Mais quelqu’un qui désire s’acheter un seul vélo pour pratiquer les deux disciplines? Peu importe le vélo que vous choisirez (gravelle ou CX) devrait faire l’affaire. 

À considérer : Si vous prévoyez « bunny hoper » les barrières en cyclocross, le bottom bracket plus bas du vélo de gravelle pourrait être dérangeant. Mais c’est une situation qui affecte peu de gens… 

En général, un vélo de gravelle pourra satisfaire vos besoins en cyclocross, et un vélo de cyclocross pourra très bien satisfaire vos besoins en gravelle. La différence majeure est de décidé si vous voulez un ou deux plateaux – mais si vous comptez faire les deux disciplines avec un vélo, j’opterais pour mettre deux plateaux sur le vélo question d’être plus polyvalent. 

TMC: Tu as compétitionné en triathlon avant de te concentrer entièrement sur le vélo de montagne et de cyclo-cross. Crois-tu que ton expérience en triathlon t’ait aidé en cyclisme? 

MR: Oui, je crois qu’on apprend de chaque expérience dans la vie, surtout lorsque tu dédies beaucoup de temps et d’efforts dans un certain domaine…ca fini toujours par être utile dans une autre facette de la vie. Par exemple, en triathlon, le volume d’entrainement est généralement plus grand qu’en cyclisme (jusqu’à un certain niveau). Alors je crois que de faire du triathlon étant jeune m’a permis d’apprendre à m’entrainer et d’augmenter ma capacité d’entrainement ; ce qui m’a aidé quand j’ai fait la transition en cyclisme. 

Je pense aussi que c’est bon d’avoir d’autres aptitudes que simplement pédaler. Tu deviens un athlète un peu plus complet et ensuite c’est plus facile de s’adapter à de nouvelles situations…surtout dans un sport aussi varié et dynamique que le cyclocross. Par exemple, je n’ai jamais complètement arrêté de courir après avoir quitté le triathlon et maintenant je fais encore des entrainements spécifiques de course à pied pour le cyclocross. Alors je n’ai pas eu besoin « d’apprendre » à courir quand je me suis lancé dans le cyclocross; j’ai simplement progressé vers différents types d’entrainements de course à pied. 

Photo: Zacharie Turgeon

TMC: Étant une ex-triathlète et étant donné tes habiletés en vélo de montagne, aimerais-tu participer à un triathlon X-Terra un jour? 

MR: Je ne dis pas non! En fait, j’en ai déjà fait un il y a quelques années et j’avais bien aimé! Alors je ne dis pas non, mais pour l’instant, je me concentre vraiment sur le cyclocross…il faudrait que je me remettre à nager parce que disons que mes bras ont perdu pas mal de force! 

TMC: Finalement, quel conseil tu as reçu dans ta carrière de cycliste qui t’a beaucoup aidé et que tu souhaiterais partager avec les gens?

MR: Je dirais qu’il n’y a pas de secret ou de recette secrète pour atteindre le succès. Ce n’est pas UNE chose ou UN détail en particulier qui nous permet de s’améliorer drastiquement du jour au lendemain. En fait, je crois que le plus important c’est la constance…être constant à l’entrainement jour après jour et constamment faire de son mieux, même dans les journées où ça ne va pas bien. Et en lien avec la constance…la santé! La santé doit rester la priorité, parce que si on n’est pas en santé (malade, blessure, etc.) on perd la constance. 

TMC: Merci beaucoup pour ton temps et bon succès pour le reste de ta saison!

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XTERRA Shifts Focus Entering 25th Year

DIRT TRI 1 day 19 hours ago
XTERRA enters its 25th year in 2020 with a renewed focus on brand management. This means heightened attention to quality, on providing great athlete and family experiences, and on building a path for more outdoor adventurists to get immersed in the XTERRA lifestyle in the future.

via XTERRA press release-

XTERRA enters its 25th year in 2020 with a renewed focus on brand management. This means heightened attention to quality, on providing great athlete and family experiences, and on building a path for more outdoor adventurists to get immersed in the XTERRA lifestyle in the future.

“XTERRA has evolved from the days of being a race-focused company. Over the past few years we’ve made a concerted effort towards becoming a full-fledged lifestyle brand,” explains XTERRA President, Janet Clark.  “Our racing structure has been reimagined right alongside our business model, and has brought a lot of changes across our organization.”

One of the most notable impacts from a consumer-facing point of view has been the reduction of races across the U.S. and internationally as quality control, branding, and consumer experience has become more important to the brand than the quantity of race offerings.

Photo Courtesy – XTERRA

“We built the America Tour starting in 2001 in a very grassroots manner with the goal to give athletes as many opportunities to race as possible, but our expansion outpaced our quality control and the end result was inconsistency in participation and experiences,” said Clark.  “Our focus now is on building a sustainable lifestyle brand to support the world tour with high-quality events that attract participants, media, marketing, and partners. It comes with difficult, but necessary, changes to ensure consumers are getting the XTERRA-branded experience they deserve while positioning ourselves for controlled growth in the future.”

Initiatives to improve the XTERRA branded-experience include increased activations of lifestyle festivals and live music, a two-year plan to consolidate all race pages to the website, the roll-out of a global registration platform, and a quality assurance strategy to connect and improve XTERRA events around the world.

To support its organizers XTERRA has created sponsorship tools, a social media alignment strategy, produced brand and visual style-guides, shared best practices, added technical directors, started an XTERRA specific coaching certification program, and re-envisioned its television productions to inspire adventure by focusing on the athletes and destinations of the World Tour.

“We are also in development of an elite-athlete event series featuring additional prize money, TV, and media exposure.  We are experimenting with additional race offerings such as short course races, swim-runs, and mountain bike events, and we are actively pursuing partnerships with brands and organizers who value high-quality events and want to join us in taking XTERRA to the next level,” added Clark.

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Swim form tips for triathletes: Fall warm up drills that improve technique

Triathlon Magazine Canada 1 day 20 hours ago

by Clint Lien

For the majority of Canadian triathletes, it’s a perfect time to focus on your technique. During race season I shorten warm-ups substantially, but in the fall almost half the session will be “warm-up,” where we work on technique.

Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

When it comes to technique there are two main questions you need to ask yourself:

1          Are you flat and tight in the water?

2          Is your elbow above your wrist, and your wrist above your fingers during your stroke?

I haven’t even mentioned breathing or cadence, but if you can answer yes to these questions before the end of the off-season, you’ll be setting yourself up for some dramatic improvements to your swimming. Since most of us will have answered “no” to these questions, here’s what you should be doing as part of your warm up:

Flat and tight in the water: 

Good swimmers are tight. They’re smooth and graceful, but they are not floppy. Their hips don’t sink and they don’t sway from side to side. One of the most powerful way to create that tightness is through a strong engaged core. Doing sit-ups and plank is great, but, for a swimmer, kicking is better. I like a small kick board, a snorkel and fins if you’re not a good kicker. Stronger swimmers don’t need fins, but it’s okay to use them.

  • Start with ultra short strong bursts: 10 meters very hard, 15 meters easy x 10.
  • Use the snorkel to keep the head low and your body line straight. Build these until you’re able to do 25 meters quite strong x 10. Make sure you’re kicking from the hips and not the knees.
  • Vertical kicking is excellent as well. Put your arms over your head, keep your body straight and streamlined. Dolphin or crawl kick. Start with 15 seconds strong x 10. Build up to 30 seconds.
Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

Elbow above the wrist.  Wrist above the fingers:  

If this is a problem for you, then awareness is the first order of business. Many swimmers don’t know they’re dropping their elbows. Addressing this with a coach is best, but a swim mate or a friend with a camera can help.

  • A single arm drill with a snorkel (so you can look at your arm) with the non-stroking arm sitting on a kick board is a good place to start.
  • Do 25 meters with the right arm and then 25 meters with the left arm, then drop the kick board and swim 50 with both arms. If you’re in a 50-meter pool then put the board between your legs and use it as a shark pull buoy.
  • Don’t rush this one. Enter the water fingers first and make sure the wrist is slightly cocked, which puts the fingers below the wrist and the wrist below the elbow. Move through the stroke and make sure you’re maintaining the rule. Don’t over think it. Stroke strong and stay focused.
  • Start with 3 x 100 and build to 6 x 100 with 10 seconds rest on each.

There’s an excellent way to work on both issues with a single piece of equipment – that’s the dreaded band. My old coach used to say if you can swim with a band without any other equipment, you can swim.

  • Take a punctured tube and create a 4 inch rubber loop so it can secure your ankles firmly. You don’t want to be able to kick with the band on.
  • If you’ve not used the band before, you’ll probably find your toes dragging along the bottom of the pool before you take five strokes.
  • Let yourself almost fail – then engage a few dolphin kicks to bring your legs back up. Repeat.
  • If you’re absolutely hopeless with this, a snorkel will help, but also see if you can find a set of small kids pull buoys then start with them.
  • Once you learn to engage your core and keep your hips up, and you’re able to efficiently pull water with a high elbow and wrist, you’ll eventually have that magic moment and figure out how to stay straight. I recommend starting with 8 x 25 and work up to 12 x 50.

The off-season is a great time to work on your swim technique. Use this time to work on body alignment and an efficient stroke. Keep it simple and incorporate these few drills and you’ll be setting yourself up well for the always-on-the-horizon race season.

Clint Lien is the head coach of Victoria’s Mercury Rising Triathlon

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Winter triathlon training what to concentrate on

220 triathlon 2 days 1 hour ago
Top tri coach says the off season is the perfect time to focus on weaknesses and build strength

Cycling How to improve your cadence this off season

220 triathlon 2 days 2 hours ago
Get your offseason off to the best start by working on your cadence while also aiding recovery

Dapena, Pallant victorious at inaugural Challenge Cape Town

Triathlon Magazine Canada 2 days 15 hours ago

Pablo Dapena Gonzalez and Emma Pallant took the wins at the inaugural Challenge Cape Town triathlon, the first Challenge Family event ever held in Africa. The half-distance event consisted of a 1.9 km swim, 90 km bike and 21.1 km run.

Emma Pallant at the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

Spain’s Dapena, the 2018 ITU long distance world champion, took the men’s race in a quick time of 3:46:48, edging out Australian Steven McKenna and local South African Matt Trautman. After leading by a minute out of the water, Dapena came off the bike with a group of six that included McKenna and Trautman, along with South Africans Kyle Buckingham, Bradley Weiss and former ITU world champion Tim Don.

Dapena then ran 1:11:23 to pull away for the victory, while McKenna clocked in at 1:12:52 to solidify second place in 3:48:13. Trautman rounded out the podium in 3:49:43.

Men’s results
  1. Pablo Dapena Gonzalez, ESP, 3:46:48
  2. Steven McKenna, AUS, 3:48:13
  3. Matt Trautman, ZAF, 3:49:43
  4. Kyle Buckingham, ZAF, 3:52:11
  5. Tim Don, GBR, 3:55:48

In the women’s race, Great Britain’s Pallant came off the bike in the lead alongside South Africa’s Annah Watkinson, but quickly asserted herself with a dominant run. A former track athlete and two-time world duathlon champion, Pallant put together a 1:20:48 half marathon to finish in a time of 4:14:50, over six minutes clear of Watkinson.

Watkinson took second in 4:21:19, while Pallant’s countrywoman Laura Siddall, who had the fastest bike split in the field at 2:19:54, was third in 4:24:22.

Women’s results
  1. Emma Pallant, GBR, 4:14:50
  2. Annah Watkinson, ZAF, 4:21:19
  3. Laura Siddall, GBR, 4:24:22
  4. Gillian Sanders, ZAF, 4:38:19
  5. Lauren Cannon, ZAF, 4:39:58

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Sanders and Charles-Barclay highlight Challenge Daytona field

Triathlon Magazine Canada 2 days 16 hours ago

One of triathlon’s most exciting new races now features two of its biggest stars.

Sanders beginning the run at Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant. (Credit: Kevin Mackinnon)

Canadian Lionel Sanders and Great Britain’s Lucy Charles-Barclay will race at next month’s second annual Challenge Daytona, a unique, spectator-friendly event held at the Daytona International Speedway.

The professional athletes will race the “Daytona Distance Under the Lights” format, a one-mile swim, 37-mile bike, and 8.2-mile run. The race begins at 4:30 pm, which means the lights – normally only used for NASCAR racing, sports cars and Supercross – will illuminate the track at 5:30 as the sun is setting and as the athletes power their way through their ride.

The top six men and women will share a total prize purse of US$20,500, with the winners earning $3,900 each. The top-six also gain points for the end-of-season Challenge Family bonus.

Sanders enters the race off a dominant win at Ironman 70.3 Los Cabos earlier this month, and has been very vocal about how excited he is to race at the event.

Lucy Charles-Barclay on the bike at the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon.

Charles-Barclay has had a sensational 2019, winning the Ironman African Championship, Challenge Roth, and finishing second at the Ironman World Championship last month for the third straight year.

Other notable names entered on the men’s side include Americans Andrew Starykowicz and Eric Lagerstrom, along with Canadians Taylor Reid and Mikael Staer Nathan. Starykowicz was the runner-up last year, while Reid placed fourth.

A loaded women’s field includes 2012 Olympic silver medalist Lisa Norden, last year’s second and third-place finishers, Americans Alicia Kaye and Meredith Kessler, along with Canadians Paula Findlay, Angela Naeth and Kristen Marchant.

The Challenge Daytona festival will run from Dec.13-15, with the pro race on Saturday the 14th. The festival features numerous races over the three days including sprint and middle-distance triathlons. For more information on the event click here.

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Iron Insanity: B.C. woman becomes first Canadian to complete equivalent of 20 Ironmans

Triathlon Magazine Canada 2 days 19 hours ago

Most triathletes spend many years slowly working their way up to the full Ironman distance. Countless hours spent in the pool, on the road, and on the trails zeroing in on that one big day. Now, imagine doing 20 Ironman races, all in less than a month.

Shanda Hill becomes the first Canadian to complete a double-Deca triathlon. Photo: Twitter/@infonewskelowna

That’s what Vernon, B.C.’s Shanda Hill did over the month of October in Leon, Mexico, becoming the first Canadian to complete the gruelling double-Deca triathlon.

The double-Deca race is an exact equivalent of 20 Ironman races: 76 km of swimming, 3,600 km of biking and 840 km of running. The event in Leon took place from Oct.5 until Nov.2. Athletes had 28 days to finish. They started every day at 7:00 am. The swim took place in a 50-metre pool.

Hill, 37, finished the event in 646 hours, 12 minutes and 20 seconds (just over 26 days). Of the 14 athletes in the race, she was the second woman and fifth overall.

Previously Hill had completed three Decas (the equivalent of 10 Ironmans) in her career prior to taking on the double for the first time in Mexico. She completed her first Deca in August of 2017, becoming the first Canadian to do so.

American Laura Knoblach won the double-Deca race in Mexico, setting a new female world record of 633:41:39.

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Gentle and Van Riel excellent at 70.3 Xiamen

Triathlon Magazine Canada 3 days 13 hours ago

Olympians Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) and Marten Van Riel (BEL) moved up to half-distance racing in style this weekend, taking the wins at Ironman 70.3 Xiamen.

Ashleigh Gentle competing at the 2019 WTS Grand Final in Lausanne, Switzerland. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

Gentle led from start to finish, coming out of the water a few seconds ahead of France’s Julie Iemmolo, then staying a minute clear of a fast-riding Frankie Sanjana (GBR), before closing her race with a 1:21:10 half-marathon to easily get to the line ahead of American Lesley Smith. Sanjana would hang on for third.

“I wanted a new challenge at the end of the year so I decided to head to China with Josh [Amberger] for my first ever 70.3,” Gentle told Triathlon Australia before the race. “I’m just gonna go experience it, pace myself, be prepared for a four hour plus race and I’m looking forward to it.”

Despite her success, don’t expect Gentle to be giving up on a second Olympic appearance next year.

“I just chose that one because next year is a massive year and obviously my priority is the Olympics, so I didn’t want to extend my season too long.”

The win came just a week after Gentle took a record seventh Noosa Triathlon title, her sixth win at the iconic Australian race in a row.

Women’s results: 1. Ashleigh Gentle 4:16:04 2. Lesley Smith +4:46 3. Frankie Sanjana +7:30 4. Robin Pomeroy +19:12 5. Kate Bevilaqua +21:53 Van Riel and Amberger duel … until the run

Like Gentle, Marten Van Riel had never competed in a half-distance race before the weekend, but that didn’t stop him from racing alongside the experienced Josh Amberger (Gentle’s boyfriend and the 2016 Xiamen champ) through the swim and the bike. Amberger, who led the men out of the water at the Ironman World Championship last month, found himself in an unusual position – trailing out of the water to start the day off as Van Riel led the way into T2, with 2012 Kona champion Pete Jacobs (AUS) 1:32 back.

Josh Amberger leads out of the water at the Ironman World Championship in 2019.

Van Riel and Amberger would continue to pull away from the rest of the field, with Amberger jumping off his bike a couple of seconds ahead of the Belgian, and both over six-minutes ahead of 2016 Ironman 70.3 world champ Tim Reed (AUS) and Jacobs another three minutes back.

Once out on the run course Van Riel used his formidable running skills – he finished sixth in Rio – to cruise to the win thanks to a 1:13:56 run split that put him almost four minutes ahead of Amberger, with Reed over 10 minutes behind in third.

Marten Van Riel, right, on the podium at WTS Edmonton with Mario Mola and Jonathan Brownlee. Men’s Results: 1. Marten van Riel 3:44:25 2. Josh Amberger +3:57 3. Tim Reed +10:02 4. Kevin Collington +13:55 5. Leigh Anderson-Voigt +14:31


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