Executing a near-perfect Ironman race is a rare and extraordinary feat—but it’s something that Canadian pro Heather Wurtele says she can now add to her already impressive resume.
Taking her seventh full Ironman title on home soil with a performance she says she’s “extremely proud of” made it all the better. Her finish time of 9:20.41 gave her a seven-minute winning margin over the rest of the field in Whistler, in what was the final edition of the race there. Fellow Canadian Jen Annett took second in 9:27.43, while Kelsey Withrow (USA) rounded out the podium in 9:38.28. Wurtele declined her Kona spot, which meant Annett and Withrow both qualified for the world championships in October. Triathlete.com caught up with Wurtele as she kickstarted her post-race recovery.
Triathlete: How were you feeling going into this race? What were your goals/aspirations?
Heather Wurtele: I was feeling confident and ready. I was really keen to win my seventh Ironman title, and my first full Ironman on home soil in BC. The added motivation was that it was the last edition of the epic race here in Whistler, and my husband Trevor won the first one. I’m glad it worked out!
T: Best part of the race for you?
HW: I swam 53 minutes which I was pretty stoked with, but the best part was probably feeling stronger throughout the bike and having a really strong first loop on the run.
T: Worst part?
HW: The second loop of the run!
T: How were the conditions, anything you struggled with?
HW: It was a pretty perfect race day. Calm, clear, gorgeous. A bit cold to start with, with some shivering early on the bike and difficulty squeezing bottles, but it warmed up.
T: At what point did you realize you were going to win?
HW: With the time gaps on the second loop of the run I knew I could win if I just kept it together and took care of myself well. Still, you never really know until you’re in the finish chute! Fans were yelling stuff like “this is your win!” at the start of the run and, while I appreciate the enthusiasm, you always feel a bit like, “let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.”
T: Which part of the race did you execute best?
HW: All of it?! This may sound super arrogant, but really, I was very happy with my all-around execution. I felt strong, I was patient when I needed to be, I fueled and made good in-race decisions, and laid down a performance I feel proud of.
T: Anything you wish you’d done better?
HW: As professional athletes I think we are always striving to do all of the things faster and better, but no, there are no glaring “If only I’d have…” feelings from this one.
T: Post-race food? Any beer/cookies/favorite foods?! Tell us all your secrets!
HW: Beer! Potato chips! Salty, fatty, savory things! I usually don’t feel like anything sweet for several days after an Ironman.
T: First words your coach, Paulo Sousa, said to you?
HW: “Please update your RPE sheet.” It’s an inside joke. He has been a big part of my long and successful career as a triathlete since we started working together in late 2010.
T: How sore are you post-race, on a scale of 1-10?
HW: I’d say it’s a 6/10.
T: Any blisters, any chafing?
HW: Only a small blister on my toe and nothing that made me jump in agony in the shower post-race. Always a win!
T: First thoughts when you hit the finish chute?
HW: You did it!
T: Mantra or words that got you through the race?
HW: Drink more water!
T: Pre-race brekkie?
HW: Coffee, oatmeal with blueberries, and Ultragen (my favorite recovery drink from First Endurance).
T: What (and when) will your first workout be post-race?
HW: I did an easy swim the day after the race and a short spin (on my gravel bike). They weren’t really workouts, just some active recovery. I always feel so much better after.
T: What does your training look like this week?
HW: Nothing structured. We’re actually going on a mountain biking and alpine hiking trip up in Revelstoke, BC, which I’m really looking forward to.
T: What’s next on your racing calendar?
HW: I’ve actually signed up for Xterra Portland just to have a mental refresh and do something different.
T: What does the rest of your racing schedule look like this year?
HW: It’s still a little bit to be decided, honestly. I didn’t take the Kona spot because I’ve done that race enough for this lifetime. The future is wide open.
T: Tell us who all of your sponsors are…
HW: First Endurance, Endura, ENVE Composites, Parlee Cycles, Rotor bike components, Aquasphere, and Theragun.
T: Best post-race recovery tip for age groupers?
HW: Hydrate. Sleep. Eat a lot. Stop dwelling on all the little things that may have gone wrong and appreciate all that you’ve accomplished.