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Local Virginia Race Earns A Global Reputation in Endurance Triathlons

Lake Anna’s Double and Triple IRON Competitions Set the Bar High for Athletes

By Alix Shutello

I’ve competed or volunteered in many foot races, but I’ve only been to two triathlons, one as crew and one where I competed in as part of a team. I’ve watched the Hawaiian Ironman numerous times on television, but in October 2011, I was fortunate enough to live close enough to a real live ultra-distance triathlon, the Lake Anna Double and Triple IRON competitions, which have taken place at this location since 2001.

What are Double and Triple IRON competitions? Exactly what they sound like, double distance and triple distance Ironman races that occur over a 2-3-day period.  The triple IRON is a 7.2-mile swim, a 336-mile bike ride and a 78.6-mile run — essentially 9 consecutive marathons done without stopping or sleeping.  The double IRON is also grueling and consists of 4.8 miles of swimming, 224 miles of cycling and 52.4 miles of running, also completed sans any rest for the 2-day event.

Double and Triple IRON races occur globally, but only a handful occur in the United States, and one of them is the Lake Anna double and triple IRON competition which takes place in Lake Anna, Virginia.  Most of the other races included in the International Ultra Triathlon Association (IUTA) are mainly held in Europe with the big year end finale in Monterrey Mexico with the Quintuple, Deca and Double Deca Iron triathlons.

I was personally invited by race director, Steve Kirby. He and I had met by phone when a mutual friend of ours, Wayne Kurtz, was competing in the Tampa double IRON in March 2011. I promised I’d drive down to watch the race. I came down both on Saturday and Sunday to watch competitors.

The Triple IRON competition began on Friday October 8, 2011 and the Double IRON athletes began on Sat. October 9, 2011.  All athletes had to swim in the chilly waters of Lake Anna, back and forth on a looped course.   The race course, because of the repetitive loops for all stages of the race is considered one of the most difficult on the IUTA world cup circuit with it’s gradual multiple climbs on the bike and one climb per loop on the run.  And as I witnessed, the course took its toll as one competitor dropped out due to nausea and 2 others, including veteran Kathy Roche-Wallace, slowed to a walk and eventually pulled out.

There is a real familiar atmosphere among the athletes, crews, friends who come from around the world to compete. It wasn’t uncommon to hear a bunch of languages spoken at between that and the competitors’ tents, each baring their country’s flag, the event seemed more like an international carnival.

Race Statistics:

Triple IRON

Andy Weinberg (Vermont, USA) broke his swim record of 2:56 by finishing in 2:54
Ghislain Marechal (France) set a new bike record by 1 hour and 14 minutes
Kamil Suran (Czech Republic) broke the course record by 2 hours and had the 3rd fastest bike and the 2nd fastest run time
8 competitors finished under 50 hours, which is a record for this course

Double IRON

Deb Battaglia set the new woman’s swim course record with 2:12 and the woman’s bike course record with 14:13.

According to what I’ve read about these races in online reviews, “If you want a challenge beyond the Ironman, this race is a must!”

Congrat’s to all the athletes who participated and achieved their personal goals.  The results can be found on the website:  www.usaultratri.com where you can check out the awesome photos of the athletes.

Photos from the race at:http://ultratrilakeannastatepark.shutterfly.com. Meet the athletes at http://www.usaultratri.com/ath_va_2011.htm.

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