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Posted: July 25, 2005
Triathlon: Armstrong takes Paris: Fuhr wins Lake Placid again
By Lynne Bermel
Two things have been constant in this world since 1999. On the second last Sunday of July, Lance Armstrong has cruised to victory down the Champs-Élysées and Canada’s Heather Fuhr has dominated the Ford Ironman USA in Lake Placid.
Organizers had hoped a women’s-only $50K professional prize purse and a 35-minute head start would guarantee that a woman would cross the tape first around the Olympic oval where Eric Heiden won 5 gold medals in 1980.
Heather Fuhr wins fifth title in Lake Placid, and her 14th Ironman win! (Photo By asiphoto.com)
Age grouper Tony Delogne; however, didn’t follow the script. The 31-year old Belgian who lives in Massachusetts and goes by the name ‘Waffle Boy” took the honour by putting in a blistering bike split of 4:43:52 to build an insurmountable lead, passing the top women pros in the process. Only cycling strongmen (and professionals) Steve Larsen and Thomas Helreigel have covered the 180kms through the Adirondak mountains faster. “My goal was to be first across the line. I knew I had to hammer the bike because I couldn’t outrun the women,” he said.
Tony Delogne surprises as first across the line (Photo By asiphoto.com)
He’s lucky he did. The 37-year old Fuhr put in a 3:09:11 marathon – with a 7-minute mile that included a washroom break - to defeat a stellar women’s field and take her 5th Ironman USA title. Her win in 9:45:06 was her 14th Ironman victory, moving her another step closer to first on the all-time Ironman victory list. That honour is held by Paula Newby-Fraser.
“I was really happy to come off the bike with only a single digit deficit,” said Fuhr. Unlike some Ironmans where she’s had to make up 10-15 minutes on the race leaders, Fuhr found herself heading into T2 less than 6:30 behind Tereza Macel, another Canadian. The ITU Olympic distance specialist was the early leader off the swim and bike but then faded to 12th in the marathon, clocking a 4:15 for a 10:46:47 finish time overall.
A physically spent Kim Loeffler of Coldchester Vermont crossed the finish line 4 and a half minutes behind Fuhr, showing she is becoming a force on the Ironman scene. She and Fuhr ran together in the early miles but Fuhr’s pace was just too strong. “I knew I couldn’t sustain it so I had to let her go,” she said. “I’m just thrilled with my race.”
Florida’s Heather Gollnick, two-time winner of Ironman Wisconsin, was third in 10:01:47 with 1995 World Ironman Champion, 42-year old Karen Smyers, finishing fourth in 10:04:17.
The women’s-only professional format was the brainchild of Graham Fraser, Director of Ironman North America. “We wanted to put the spotlight on the women in 2005, “ said Fraser. “We wanted to give them a clean, fair race and put them out front for a change.”
Fraser added that having Ford Motor Company as title sponsor has raised the stakes, promoting the Ironman in the mainstream and helping to make it one of the fastest growing sports today.
Lynne Bermel, a former World-ranked Ironman competitor, is a Marketing and PR consultant living in Ottawa. You can reach her at email@example.com.
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