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While names like Blummenfelt, Iden, Charles-Barclay, and Duffy may be generating most of the pre-race buzz in St. George, there are plenty of headline-worthy narratives in the age-group races, too. From reigning champs to a Guinness World Record holder, here’s a look at some of those stories.
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Colleen De Reuck: 58 and Fierce
Longtime running fans will remember De Reuck as a four-time Olympian who represented both her native South Africa and the U.S. on the world’s stage—and broke the tape as the champion of the 1996 Berlin Marathon, where she posted a lifetime best of 2:26:35. De Reuck, who resides in Boulder, Colo. with her husband, Derrick (also a top age-group triathlete) and their two daughters, took up triathlon in 2012 after retiring from professional running and has since topped age-group podiums in both Ironman and 70.3 World Championships. Now 58, De Reuck returns to St. George aiming to repeat her title in the women’s 55-59 age-group, which she won by more than 22 minutes last year in 5:10:33, aided in part by a 1:34:23 run split—the 38th-fastest run time among all non-professional women in the race.
Leslie Knibb: One Fast Mother
Someone who may give De Reuck a run for the women’s 55-59 title? 59-year-old Leslie Knibb. If the Knibb name sounds familiar, that’s because she’s Taylor Knibb’s mom. Yes, that Taylor Knibb, who just so happens to be one of the favorites in the women’s pro race. Friday will mark the first time the mother-daughter duo has shared an Ironman 70.3 World Championship course, but they’ve been racing together since Taylor was 12. And as impressive as the younger Knibb’s resume may be, mom is no slouch in the accomplishment arena: Leslie, who lives in Washington, D.C. and began competing in the 1990s, has finished as high as third in her age-group at the Ironman World Championships, and in September placed second in her age-group at Ironman Maryland in 11:17:05.
Rajesh Durbal: The Fighter
12 years ago, Durbal, 44, inked his name in triathlon history as the first triple amputee to compete in the Ironman World Championships. Born with congenital birth defects that lead to the amputation of both legs and the partial development of his right arm, Durbal, who lives in Florida, has made it his mission to live that “anything is possible” dream, whether it’s competing in Ironmans, marathons, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, creating his own foundation, or patenting a design for prosthetic components to improve mobility among other amputees. “I think deep down inside, I’m a savage. Pain and suffering…that fuels me. It’s ingrained in my DNA,” said Durbal, who revealed that he suffered from depression in his 20s and eventually used triathlon as a vehicle to a healthier, happier lifestyle. “This is who I want to be. This is what I’ve fought for since birth.” On Saturday, Durbal, who is also a real estate agent and home renovator, will compete in the Physically Challenged division.
David Haywood: The Uber Biker
56 miles on the bike should be nothing for Great Britain’s David Haywood, who spent his gap year between university and Medical School clicking off up to 90 miles a day in a mission to cycle around the world. In 2018, the now 26-year-old covered 21,000 miles—including 33 countries—in 349 days, all solo. His efforts resulted in a Guinness World Record for the most countries visited by bike in seven days (he tallied 13, from Belgium to Slovakia). Today, Haywood is still a super cyclist, but he’s added swimming and running to the mix. A 2:40:28 marathoner, Haywood qualified for the World Championships at Finland 70.3 in July, where he finished fifth in the 25-29 age-group, in 4:32:48.
Diane Tracy: The Local Legend
When Tracy charged to the finish line of the 2021 Ironman 70.3 World Champs last September, she may have had the most fans out of everyone cheering her on. After all, the 71-year-old calls St. George home—and is a fixture on the local tri scene as a coach, exercise scientist, and pioneer in endurance sports. An athlete since childhood, Tracy ran her first marathon in 1977 (she was just one of women to toe the line), but didn’t get into triathlon until she turned 60. And she never really looked back: Tracy has since qualified for the Ironman World Champs every year since 2016, most recently finishing 4th in her age-group in Kona a few weeks ago after winning an Ironman world title in St. George in May. As the reigning world champ at the 70.3 distance, Tracy lines up as the favorite; last year, she finished nearly an hour ahead of her closest competitor.
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