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Top athlete Fauquier brings personal reason for competing in Ironman 70.3 Victoria

Race begins 6 a.m. on Sunday
Stephanie Fauquier is doing 10 triathlons in 10 provinces. COURTESY STEPHANIE FAUQUIER

Stephanie Fauquier will be swimming, cycling and running for a purpose well beyond sport Sunday morning in the Ironman 70.3 around Elk/Beaver lakes and the Saanich Peninsula.

The 26th Ironman 70.3 Victoria begins at 6 a.m. with more than 2,000 participants. It is a qualifying race for the Ironman 70.3 world championships Aug. 26-27 In Lahti, Finland. The Victoria event began as the New Balance Half-Iron and has been a regular race for over a ­quarter-century in a city well associated with triathlon and which has produced Olympic multi-medallist Simon Whitfield and multiple-time Ironman Hawaii world champions Peter Reid and Lori Bowden.

It is the first triathlon of 10 across 10 provinces in which Fauquier will compete this summer to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s disease. Fauquier’s mother, world-renowned surgeon and Order of Canada recipient Dr. Robin McLeod, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two years ago at age 69, so the quest is personal. The goal is to raise $250,000 to support Alzheimer’s research at the University of Toronto’s Tanz Centre for ­Neurodegenerative Diseases.

“I am bringing two things together and using my love of sports to celebrate my mother,” said Fauquier.

“Let’s shed the stigma of Alzheimer’s and let’s talk about this terrible disease while racing across the country. There’s something uniquely Canadian about racing across the country to raise awareness.”

That certainly evokes the spirit of Terry Fox and several other Canadians who have since made cross-country treks of various sorts for a variety of causes and issues.

“What’s more Canadian than racing across the country and uniting people in an important cause?” said Fauquier, 34, who away from swimming cycling and running, is the director of strategy at Telus Health.

The Ironman Victoria 70.3 is among two of the Half-Iron distances Fauquier will contest in her 10 races across 10 provinces this summer. The Victoria event is operated by the iconic Ironman brand. The corporation is based in Florida, so all Ironman races 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.

Of Fauquier’s other races this summer, six are sprint distance (750-metre swim, 20K bike, 5K run) and two are Olympic distance (1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run), so she will swim, pedal and run more than 500 kilometres from Sunday through September.

Sport has been a big part of life for Fauquier, whose boyfriend Luke Lynes was selected out of the OHL in the fourth round of the 2006 NHL draft by the Washington Capitals, and who won three national championships with the University of New Brunswick. A “lifetime avid athlete,” Fauquier played several sports coming up, from badminton to basketball. She is the sort of all-rounder that triathlon attracts. Fauquier has found a resonance in the sport.

“Triathlon is a reflection of the journey we all go through – it has many phases and many transition zones,” said the Toronto-based Fauquier.

“It requires persistence and stamina, and I feel like that’s my mom, and it’s worthy of her.”

According to the Tanz Centre director, professor Graham Collingridge, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia among Canadians is expected to double to 1.4 million cases by 2031. The combined direct and indirect costs of dementia in Canada is currently $33 billion per year and will escalate dramatically to $293 billion by 2040.

More information is at the website.

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