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De Bruyn wins Ironman 70.3 Victoria

American Becca Kawaoka wins women’s race
The Ironman Victoria 70.3 took place at Elk Lake on Sunday. (DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST)

Tom De Bruyn of Belgium, the 2022 Ironman Hawaii 35-39 age-group world champion, continued his success across the Pacific by winning the 2023 Ironman 70.3 Victoria on Sunday.

De Bruyn was across in four hours, five minutes, 17 seconds. Maxim Mahoney of the U.S. was second in 4:08:42, Jaden Porte of Yorkton, Sask., third in 4:10:23, Jackson Konkin of Trail fourth in 4:11:01 and Mitchell Kirby of Harrowsmith, Ont., fifth in 4:14:58.

It was the 26th time dating to 1995 that competitors have swum Elk Lake, cycled the softly undulating roads of the Saanich Peninsula and run the loop course around Elk and Beaver lakes, the latter a unique feature of the race considering that most triathlon races end with the run portion contested on roads and pavement.

The event, originally known as the New Balance Half-Iron and attracting up to 2,200 competitors, has been interrupted only by the two years of the pandemic. It has been known since 2015 as Ironman 70.3 Victoria and operated by the famous Ironman brand. The corporation is based in Florida, so all Ironman events are calculated in imperial distances. The 70.3 designation, formerly known as Half-Iron, includes a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bicycle race and 13.1-mile run, totalling 70.3 miles.

Americans swept the top five women’s placings Sunday with defending 2022 champion Becca Kawaoka of Auburn, Washington, winning again in 4:28:08. Adele Likin was second in 4:34:17, Alina Hanschke Busch third at 4:35:00, Emma Daugherty fourth at 4:50:47 and Dominique Stasulli fifth in 4:53:49 with Andria Theron of South Africa sixth in 4:54:02. Claire Robinson of ­Vancouver was ninth and top Canadian in 4:56:31.

“Victoria has such an incredible history of high performance in triathlon and this is a big event for our community,” said veteran coach Lance Watson, citing Olympic multi-medallist Simon Whitfield and multi-time Ironman Hawaii world champions Peter Reid and Lori Bowden.

Watson, a Victoria Sports Hall of Fame inductee who coached Whitfield to Olympic gold at Sydney in 2000, had 21 of his racers competing Sunday.

“There are all kinds of volunteers who make this happen so that super-fit men and women can do what they do,” said Watson.

“And lots of kids watch, and so they might think if that 58-year-old woman or man can do it, maybe I can do it too and be the next Tyler Mislawchuk [Canada’s big hope for the 2024 Paris Olympics].”