This Sunday, defending champion Melanie McQuaid, last year’s runner-up Tyler Stewart and podium finishers Paul Ambrose (2nd) and Luke Bell (3rd) return to Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens outside Seattle, Washington, to vie for the title.

This Sunday, defending champion Melanie McQuaid, last year’s runner-up Tyler Stewart and podium finishers Paul Ambrose (2nd) and Luke Bell (3rd) return to Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens outside Seattle, Washington, to vie for the title.

Photo: Susan McManus

Athletes will start their day with a 1.2-mile swim in Lake Stevens before taking on a challenging 56-mile bike course through Snohomish County. The 13.1-mile run course will lead athletes through the downtown area and along the lake.

Last year’s race was Tyler Stewart’s first time at Lake Stevens 70.3, and she finished second to McQuaid by twenty seconds. This year, she’s treating the race as a training day for Kona.

“Kona is right around the corner, so it’s a short training day for me so I can just see where I’m at,” says Stewart, winner of the 2009 IM Coeur d’Alene, runner-up at last year’s IM Cozumel, and third-place female at last month’s IM Lake Placid. “My coach [Craig Upton of Performance Training] isn’t letting me taper. It’s going to be an interesting time. Because of how the Kona point system works, we’ve all been having to race a lot.”

This is Tyler’s third season racing for the Luna Chix Pro Team. Though Kona is her main focus this year, she isn’t backing down from Sunday’s competition: “I’m going to try to win for sure, but my legs might be a little tired. I’m feeling really strong and having a great training block right now. I feel better now that I’ve done the race before.”

How will she change up her tactics in hopes for a different ending this year? “My coach is trying to get me to mellow out on the bike and see what I can do on the run,” says Stewart, known for her cycling strength. “I’m going to try to gun it on the run this year.”

Her comments and takeaway advice for age-groupers racing this year’s Lake Stevens 70.3:

THE SWIM
The swim is great for less strong swimmers like me. It’s almost like Lake Placid because there’s a rowing line underneath.

THE BIKE
Last year I was sent off course on the bike; it can be confusing because it’s a loop course. Check out the second loop so you know exactly where you’re going. The bike is a bit bumpy—it’s that chip-seal, so be careful. I always try to go harder on the second loop.

THE RUN
The run is pretty exposed, so it can get hot. Be prepared for the heat.

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PRO LIST:

Men
1 Paul Ambrose
2 Luke Bell
4 Philippe Kozub
6 Gavin Anderson
8 Shanon Stallard
9 Graham O’Grady
11 Justin Park
13 Lewis Elliot
14 Nicholas Thompson
15 Tom Evans
16 Dantley Young
17 Josh Hadway
18 Chris Boudreaux
19 James Duff
20 Jeff Symonds
21 Matt Lieto
22 Brendan Halpin
23 Joe Umphenour
24 Stephen Kilshaw
25 Ynuk Bosse
26 Nathan Killam
27 Guy Crawford
28 Chris Ganter
29 Jason Shortis

Women
35 Melanie McQuaid
37 Tyler Stewart
38 Mackenzie Madison
39 Christine Fletcher
42 Jennifer Luebke
43 Haley Cooper-Scott
44 Rachel McBride
45 Mandy McLane
46 Jennifer Tetrick
[sig:JuliaPolloreno]