Archive for Sunday, May 18, 2008

Racer shows professional grit

Samantha McGlone competes during the Vineman Ironman 70.3, an event she won, in July 2007 in Sonoma County in California. McGlone, a 2004 Olympian, will highlight the women's professional field at the Ironman 70.3 Kansas on June 15 in Douglas County.

Samantha McGlone competes during the Vineman Ironman 70.3, an event she won, in July 2007 in Sonoma County in California. McGlone, a 2004 Olympian, will highlight the women's professional field at the Ironman 70.3 Kansas on June 15 in Douglas County.

May 18, 2008

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If a hail storm begins to pelt competitors at the June 15 Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Douglas County, Cliff English says Samantha McGlone will be prepared.

He's seen the 2006 world champion and Olympian do it before.

English might be biased because he's the Canadian athlete's coach and fiance, but ask around, he says. A few weeks ago, a friend in conversation brought up July 11, 2004, when McGlone came from behind in the running stage of the Edmonton World Cup race to qualify for the Canadian Olympic team.

"He said 'I still remember seeing Sam do that,'" English said.

That day a thunderstorm rolled onto the course during the middle of the bike stage. Strong winds and falling hail threw another obstacle at the competitors.

"It was absolutely brutal. People were running for cover," English said.

But McGlone, now 28, pressed on in the pressure-packed race, finished 11th and won a trip to Athens, Greece.

"She just has that ability to persevere," he said.

McGlone and five-time world champion Simon Lessing will highlight the professional field for the first Ironman 70.3 Kansas in the Lawrence area next month.

"It's close to Colorado. I figured, why not? It would be cool to check out a new place," said Montreal native McGlone, who trains in Colorado Springs, Colo.

McGlone also got some encouragement from her friend, Tom Ziebart, who is a Kansas race director.

When she heads to Lawrence, it will be her third weekend race in a row, after competing in Hawaii and the San Francisco area.

"I'll either be really, really fit or really tired," she said.

She credits English's training methods for helping her keep in shape and also stay relatively injury-free so far.

McGlone picked up the grueling sport in high school. She also trained for one year in Australia before going to McGill University in Montreal.

Originally, McGlone was a runner, and that's still her specialty.

"It was just fun going from sport to sport. It kept me interested, and I really enjoyed that," she said.

Qualifying for the Olympics was a career highlight. She finished 27th on a tough Athens course.

"I was a long shot, so it was just a thrill to make the team and go to the games," she said.

The Olympic-style race is shorter than the Ironman 140.6-mile and 70.3-mile races that have become her full-time job.

McGlone decided to stick mostly to the longer races after she won the 70.3 world championship in 2006 and finished second in Hawaii Ironman World Championships last year.

"I think I'm one of the most competitive people I know," she said. "A lot of the athletes are like that."

She's thrived on the lifestyle of training and meeting other athletes from across the world.

McGlone says she doesn't have any plans to slow down.

She knows other women athletes who compete regularly into their late 30s. She might not stay in the sport quite that long because McGlone also has aspirations to attend medical school.

English says one of McGlone's strengths is her ability to stay competitive in athletics but also be willing to pursue other goals and have fun when she's not training.

"You have to have that balance because you have so much demand and pressure put on yourself to perform," he said.

English also has seen what she can accomplish when her true grit comes out on the course.

McGlone calls it a privilege to race professionally.

"Nothing's better than crossing the finish line and knowing that you're completely spent," she said.

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