Female Olympian humbles men in Banff triathlon
In the outer realms of macho sports circles, there are still men who gnash their teeth and shake with rage at the thought of being passed by a girl.
At the Subaru Banff Triathlon, Lisa Mensink ensured almost every man on the course got a taste of that feeling.
Mensink nearly won the entire race outright, finishing in a time of 2:02:57 on Saturday (Sept. 8) in ideal conditions on Banff Avenue, taking second place overall.
The Calgary-based Mensink competed for The Netherlands in triathlon at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but broke her arm attempting to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. The Banff race represented her return to form and should catapult her back onto the world circuit.
“This was the first time since then I felt 100 per cent,” Mensink said. “I definitely lost my technique and some power after the accident.”
Her plan was to put forth a big effort in Banff to prepare for her next half Iron Man.
Mensink was first out of the water, exiting the chilly waters of Two Jack Lake in a blistering time of 20:25. On the bike, she caught the men’s field, found her rhythm and finished the 38-kilometre course in 1:01.33. She said she was too busy taking in the scenery to notice the speed.
On the run, she was aware the overall title was within reach as she chased down eventual winner Eddie Smith of Vancouver. However, he ran the final 10 km in 35 minutes, which was too much for Mensink, who completed the run in 38:22.
She was elated with the course.
“This is very similar to Kitzbuehl on the World Cup. It’s definitely my favourite course,” Mensink said.
While Mensink was the talk of the day, Smith was no slouch. He crossed the finish line with a time of 2:01:12
“This was an inspiring course, and I wanted to finish the season strong,” said Smith, who’s been competing in half Iron Man races for much of the year. “It was a good, challenging course and I just got stronger as it went on.”
The West Coast native kept a consistent pace throughout the race and was never ranked slower than sixth.
“The water temperature was fine, but I noticed the altitude,” Smith said.
Brendan MacKenzie of Regina finished second in the men’s category (2:06:32), followed by Jonathan Gendron of Victoria.
Lisa Graham was the second place female, finishing with a time of 2:14:28. This was her second time competing in the Subaru Banff Triathlon.
“This was a solid race for me. I had a good bike that was two minutes faster than my personal best. I was second out of the water and had a personal best on the run. I wanted to go hard on the swim and use it as the warmup. I felt crappy on the bike, but as soon as I started to run, I felt good.” Graham said.
Sarah MacArthur won the women’s sprint race for the second year in a row, finishing the 500 metre swim, 25 km bike and 5 km run in a time of 1:13:48. Blood pouring out of her nose, MacArthur looked ready to pass out on Banff Avenue.
“There were a couple of stronger girls in the race this year. The water was freezing, but the bike was so much fun with that huge downhill. The biggest hills on the run were over the bridge. It was pancake flat.”
Kevin Masters won the men’s sprint in a time of 1:06:43. He tried to pace himself with the relay group to keep going.
“This is my first time at the venue and it’s tough not to get distracted by the view,” he said.
Several Bow Valley competitors performed well. John Monk was second in his age group and finished 12th overall with a time of 2:15:55.
Other local finishers included Rebecca Mottram, David Frick, Olivia Driedger, Marie Dubois, Laura Newsome, Brad Skinner, Lana Hettinga and Laura Newsome.
Banff athletes did use their homefield advantage in the team event, where the Collins Barrow team of Rob MacNamara, Ben Berci and Brad Dixon took top spot. The team formed a mere week before the event, but gelled well for the win.
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