As the days get shorter in town, local Revelstokian Cindy Maloney prepares for one of her longest days of the year as she gets set to take on the grueling challenge of the Ironman World Championship triathlon in Kona, Hawaii on Saturday (Oct. 14).
Cindy Maloney has already competed in two Ironman triathlons in the past two years — three if you count the half-Ironman that she did about 16 years ago. In just two years, Maloney has accomplished what some Ironman triathletes try their entire athletic careers to do: compete in Kona. Maloney spoke from her accommodations in Hawaii about how she qualified for the race, how training in Revelstoke helped her, and what she’s expecting on the day of the competition.
While speaking to the Revelstoke Review, Maloney had already been in Kona for more than a week and had a chance to try the swim course.
“Definitely a little bit different than swimming in Williamson Lake,” she said with a laugh.
As athletes well know, sports come with a variety of levels and disciplines within them. For example, runners can be short distance sprinters, marathoners, and even ultra-marathoners. Triathlons are no different; there are a variety of distances depending on the level of a triathlon, but Ironman triathlons are considered the toughest of the tough. An Ironman triathlon is technically an ‘ultra-triathlon’, which is one more step towards the extreme in a sport that already forces its competitors to master three disciplines.
Qualifying for the Kona Ironman World Championship means that Maloney was not just a step above a standard triathlon, but also above some of the most athletic people in the country — and it only took her two tries to get there.
Maloney signed up for her first Ironman –the Ironman Canada in Penticton– in 2019, but the race was postponed for a couple of years during the COVID-19 pandemic. The added time gave Maloney the opportunity to continue her training, making sure she was even more prepared. When she finally got to dive in the water to start her Ironman career last August, Maloney ended up finishing better than she’d expected.
“I never thought I’d have a chance to get to Kona, but I came fourth in Ironman Canada,” said Maloney.
She explained that despite the near-podium finish, there were only two spots available to qualify for Kona. After having almost qualified for the world championships on her first try, Maloney was motivated to give it another go.
Maloney completed her second Ironman in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho on June 25 this summer, less than a year after her first competition, with a speedy time of 11:40:33. The time earned her a 178 overall finish and punched her ticket to the World Championships in Kona.
Getting to Kona might’ve only taken Maloney two tries, but the road to those two competitions was long. Despite the half-Ironman she did more than 15 years ago, Maloney was never a triathlete. Still, she had her sights set on a full Ironman.
“I always had a goal to do an Ironman, but I just couldn’t ever figure out how to get all the training in with kids.”
A mother of two teens, Maloney was able to find the time for training over the past couple of years as her children have grown up. Getting away for the five-hour bike rides that the Ironman training demanded became possible and Maloney was able to ramp up her training.
Maloney ran marathons in her 20s and has always enjoyed mountain biking, but the step up to the Ironman was still a challenge. The training equates to a second job that the athletes must balance with the rest of their lives. Maloney said she felt that training in Revelstoke helped her get ready for the competitions.
“I find, just because it is a small town, you don’t have to drive anywhere to do any activity.”
Working from downtown, Maloney walked to the aquatic centre to swim on her lunch break and she could bike and run from home. No matter what the training was, in Revelstoke Maloney had easy access to the space she needed to train. She highlighted the benefits of doing her cycling training in Revelstoke due to how ‘hill-y’ the terrain around the town is. She said the hills make Revelstoke cyclists stronger.
She also credited the help that her AI-powered training regimen provided.
“It’s called Athletica-AI, and it’s just made a huge difference with my training,” said Maloney.
A co-founder of Athletica, Paul Larsen, is also a Revelstoke local and an 18-time Ironman triathlete, himself.
With all her training complete, all that’s left for Maloney to do now is a 3.8-kilometre swim, a 180-kilometre bike ride, and a full (42-kilometre) marathon on Saturday.
Despite not having her family with her in Hawaii, Maloney is joined by more than 150 other, hyper-athletic Canadian women, including 11-time Ironman winner, Lisa Bentley. Bentley hosted a breakfast for all the Canadian athletes earlier in the week, equipping all of them with matching Canada t-shirts for the Parade of Nations ahead of the race.
Maloney continues to soak up the atmosphere in anticipation of Saturday’s race.
Come race day, Maloney plans to do what she’s already done twice before. Wake up early, have some breakfast and get ready for the long day ahead.
“I’ll probably be nervous, but I’m gonna just try and have positive energy,” she said.
Maloney set a goal for the race to enjoy her time on the course, appreciate where she was, and to try to finish in under 12 hours.
Qualifying for the World Championship race is a feat in its own. Before stepping foot in the water on Saturday, Maloney was already an inspiration.
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