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Victoria's McQuaid becomes first 50-plus athlete to qualify for Ironman Hawaii open division

Victoria endurance veteran placed as the third woman across in Ironman Coeur d’Alene in Idaho
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Melanie McQuaid is on her way to Hawaii. VIA MELANIE McQUAID

Fifty is nifty. Age is just a number. You’re only as old as you feel. Melanie McQuaid has been hearing all the oldies-but-goldies adages for the past week. And rightfully so.

The Victoria endurance veteran last weekend became the first 50-year-old or plus athlete to podium in the open pro category of an Ironman race when she placed as the third woman across in Ironman Coeur d’Alene in Idaho. With the top three women qualifying for the Ironman Hawaii world championship, McQuaid became the first ever 50-year-old or plus athlete to qualify for the main pro race of Ironman Hawaii. McQuaid will be racing in Kona in October, not in the masters category, but the open competition.

“This is validating. It shows what you can do at 50,” said the three-time former X-Terra world champion and two-time ITU cross-triathlon world champion.

“It’s about defying old expectations and creating new ones. Olympic marathoners are competing into their 40s.”

That outlook comes in handy in McQuaid’s occupation of coaching endurance athletes of all ages and abilities on the Island and off.

“I’m happy if I have helped people to expand their imaginations of what they could be capable of,” said McQuaid.

McQuaid started out in mountain biking and was part of the golden generation of Island endurance athletes and mountain bikers that included Olympic gold- and silver- medallist triathlete Simon Whitfield, Ironman Hawaii multiple-time world champions Peter Reid and Lori Bowden, three-time Olympic mountain-rider Geoff Kabush and three-time world champion and Olympic silver-medallist mountain biker Alison Sydor.

“I saw Alison [Sydor] and Leslie [Tomlinson] racing into their 40s, and so certainly had role models, and I continued on and ran with it,” said McQuaid.

“I am curious to see how good I can still get.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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