Coloradans Wendy Wyskiel and Rebecca Ball take on Ultra520K Canada

By Khem Suthiwan

The heart of the Okanagan Valley of eastern British Columbia, the sport of triathlon has its roots in the history of the area. From the famous IRONMAN Canada that will be returning to Penticton in 2020 and original home of the Ultra520K Canada, triathletes from all over the world flock to this hidden gem located about 41 miles north of the US-Canadian border.

Tomorrow on August 3rd, two athletes from the Centennial State of Colorado will embark on a 3-day triathlon journey through the “OK” Valley, Wendy Wyskiel (57) of Longmont and Rebecca Ball (41) of Highlands Ranch. To get here they had to submit applications to the race organization, “qualify” with full-ironman distance race finish times under 14.5 hours, and be invited by the race director. Registrations are usually capped to around 35 athletes, and the application process begins approximately 2 years in advance.

Rebecca Ball & Wendy Wyskiel

Over the course of three days, Wyskiel and Ball, along with 22 other athletes representing 8 countries will cover a total of 520km of swimming, biking, and running broken down as shown in the picture above. Each day athletes will have exactly 12 hours to cross the finish line. Athletes also have to provide their own support crew, which will serve as their “mobile” aid station throughout their entire race.

Personally I’ve had the honor of coaching Wyskiel the last 10 months and will be serving as her support crew captain and kayaker during the swim portion of the race. Previous to that I was also the support crew captain and kayaker for local triathlon coach Mary Carey who finished the race in 2018. Carey has also returned to Penticton as a crew member for Ball.

2019 Ultra520K Canada Athletes

The vibe here is unlike any other. Amped up egos and talks of PRs or time goals, you won’t find it anywhere. To show up to start line healthy and finish the race in its entirety is enough for these tough souls. Three days of racing, anything can happen.

Stay tuned here at 303Triathlon.com to see how the rest of the weekend unfolds!

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