The Canadian triathlete offers smart and humorous insights on his second home and favorite race.
Few people know the Ironman 70.3 St. George course like Trevor Wurtele. Every year, the Canadian triathlete and his wife (fellow professional triathlete Heather) pack up their campervan and makes the pilgrimage to southern Utah for months of training in the red rocks. Their motivation is equal parts inspiring scenery and inspired torment—St. George, as Wurtele will share with a smile, is the place to suffer better.
His take on the place, the race, and what racers need to know for this weekend:
Triathlete.com: You and your wife, Heather, spend a significant amount of time in St. George every year for training. What is it about this place that speaks to you guys?
Trevor Wurtele: First and foremost I would say we simply train really well here. It’s not a ‘feel good’ place to train, but we always seem to get really fit when we train here. It’s kind of a no distractions, no interruptions kind of place to train. Plus it’s simply beautiful and generally pretty quiet, so that makes the daily grind a little easier to handle.
Triathlete.com: Ironman St. George is known for being one of the hardest races on the 70.3 circuit. Is that a deserved reputation, or is its difficulty over-exaggerated?
TW: I would not say that’s an over-exaggeration. It’s definitely the hardest 70.3 event, terrain wise, I’ve ever done. Mainly because the run is so difficult, after what is also a tough bike course. I think athletes, amateurs especially, who are doing this sport for a challenge should embrace these difficult races. There’s kind of a culture of “I want a fast time” in triathlon. It would be nice if it were more of an “I want to do the hardest race” mentality. Ultrarunners are a crazy bunch, but I do respect that they love doing incredibly hard races, and that’s what they brag about. That said, you’ve got to pick a race that you’re comfortable with and can perform your best. But man, St. George is just a beauty of a race course.
Triathlete.com: What’s your advice for first-timers at this race?
TW: Know the course and stay within yourself in the early hours. This is probably the easiest course to make huge pacing mistakes in the first 40 miles that will come back and hurt you halfway through the run.
Triathlete.com: This event actually started out as a full Ironman, but then was shortened—in part due to challenges getting people to sign up for a race that was “too hard.” If they brought back the full, would you do it again?
TW: Personally, I don’t like doing an Ironman before June or July. I really like focusing my early season on 70.3 events. This just simply allows me to race more and get some results on the board early in the year. I think the 70.3 in May is the perfect event for this area. That said, if it were a North American Championship Ironman race in early May, on this course, I’d probably make an exception and race it.
Triathlete.com: What’s your favorite memory related to this event?
TW: There are a lot of good memories from this race. I’ve watched Heather win the Ironman twice, and the 70.3 once. I’ve had some great races myself and always enjoyed racing here. Looking to the future, I’d guess the memory that will stick with us as we look back on our triathlon career will be camping in our RV at Sand Hollow State Park after having a great race. It’s super nice to chill out here after the work is done!
Triathlete.com: On that note, let’s play a little St. George word association game. What comes to mind when you hear…
Can’t miss: Zion National Park
Best coffee: River Rock Roasters
Good eats: Royal Thai
Bike shop: IBB Cyclery
Sand Hollow: Temperamental
Water temperatures: Meh
Snow Canyon: Look behind you
Descending: No problem
Red Hills Parkway: Wind change
Volunteers: Thank you!
Crowd support: Enthusiastic
Watch out for: Wind gusts
Race strategy: Max effort
KPR (Kona Points Ranking): Whatever
Underdog: Taylor Reid
Brent McMahon: ‘Everything is awesome’
Heather Wurtele: Champ
Victory beer: Only 3%???
Pro tip: Check the weather