Mettle tested in Iron Man 0
Captain Eve Boyce of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment powers through to the finish of her third Ironman competition, held Friday at CFB/ASU Petawawa. She was the top female in a time of 6:18:08. For more community photos, please visit our website photo gallery at www.thedailyobserver.ca
CFB/ASU PETAWAWA – Soldiers from the base and across the province put themselves to the test Friday during the annual Ironman competition.
Long before the sun rose, 225 participants took to the gruelling 50-kilometre course which started with a 32-kilometre forced march while carrying a 40-pound rucksack, followed by a four-kilometre canoe portage, eight-kilometre paddle on the Ottawa River and six-kilometre forced march which finished at Dundonald Hall in front of family, friends and other military members. This marked the 29th 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Ironman held at CFB/ASU Petawawa.
Private Liam Abraham of the 1st battalion the Royal Canadian Regiment was the first competitor to cross the finish line, completing the course in a time of 5:43:09, a drop of about 20 minutes from his first Ironman competition last year, in which he finished 12th overall.
He credits the result on having more time to train, a better training plan and the fact he really set his mind to winning this time around.
For Pte. Abraham the easiest part of the day was arriving on time, he said which a chuckle, while the toughest part was the portage.
“There is nothing nice about putting that thing on (your back) after 32 kilometres,” he said after celebrating with family and friends and catching his breath.
Throughout the race, his plan was to go as hard as he could because he didn’t want to give anyone an advantage. The main reason he completed in the Ironman was for the mental and physical challenge.
“I think everyone should have to do it to find their limits and push past them,” Pte. Abraham said.
Close behind Pte. Abraham in second was Captain Cory McRobbie of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) who crossed the finish line less than a minute behind with a time of 5:44:04. Corporal Wesley Kennedy, also of CSOR, was the third male with a time of 5:48:22.
Taking the honour of top female finisher was Captain Eve Boyce of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment (2 CER), who crossed the line with a time of 6:18:08, which was good enough for ninth overall. This marked her third consecutive Ironman with first and second place finishes in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
Although her time was slower than she’d hoped, Capt. Boyce was happy to finish one more time.
The reason she has tackled three is because of the challenge and regimental pride.
“It’s an addiction because you want to try and beat your time every year, but I think this will be my last,” she said.
The most challenging part of the course for her was the canoe because the finish never seemed to get closer and she was passed by a few competitors on the water. The easiest portion was the early portion of the march when there were still people around to talk to. Once the crowd thinned out, she got into her own rhythm listening to her music and setting small goals along the way.
She was able to push herself across the line thanks to the cheering crowd in the home stretch, including her friend who ran alongside her with the engineers’ flag.
The second place female was Major Melanie Lake of 2 CER, who had a time of 7:22:42, and the third female was Captain Joanna Hardwick, also of 2 CER, with a time of 7:41:10.
The first master male was Major Tim Partello of the 3rd battalion the Royal Canadian Regiment, followed by Bombardier Daniel Mara of 2 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery with a time of 6:50:21 and Pte. James Dewert of 2 CER with a time of 6:56:53.
Aside from the personal achievements of the competitors, this year’s Ironman also served as a larger community project raising more than $25,000 for the Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation to help send children to summer camp.
Sherri Johnston, the foundation’s special events and volunteer co-ordinator, was on hand Friday to witness the Ironman first hand and accept a cheque during the awards ceremony.
Prior to forming this partnership with CFB/ASU Petawawa , Ms. Johnston had never heard of the Ironman and experiencing the determination of the competitors is something she won’t soon forget. She had an opportunity to visit various stations thanks to a trip out on a Zodiac boat so she could witness the canoes being put in the water after the portage as well as the first few competitors to finish the paddle.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” Ms. Johnston said. “I’m blown away by the skill and determination of the competitors. It is inspiring for us to see these soldiers, just as the children are an inspiration for the soldiers.”
She also made her way to the finish line, where she was filled with a sense of pride as the competitors achieved their goals of completing the gruelling course.
She hopes this will be the beginning of an ongoing partnership between the military and the foundation, which could see members of the military visit children at summer camp to learn about their experiences. The details of this are still being worked out.
Tina Peplinskie is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist