Suzy Serpico of the United States was all smiles as she headed out on the first bike ridge of the Ultra520K endurance race Saturday. Mark Brett/Western News

Okanagan athlete smashes Ultra520K endurance triathlon record

Penticton athlete was front-runner on each day of three-day competition

Five hundred and 20 kilometres and not a step further.

That was an exhausted Dave Matheson’s reaction after the 47-year-old Penticton endurance athlete won the Ultra520K race Monday in another record setting time, beating his old record by over 10 minutes.

“I don’t think I could have run another kilometre,” said Matheson who pulled himself across the Summerland finish line following 21 hours, 37 minutes and 27 seconds of racing which began Saturday morning on the north shore of Skaha Lake.

It was his second victory in the event in as many tries, having won the 2013 race 21:47:47, the fastest time until Monday.

For him it was the final day (and the gruelling 84.4-kilometre, running hilly back country road from Princeton to Summerland that he managed in 6:55:17) that was the most difficult.

“You’ve got the accumulated fatigue,” said Matheson who credited his support workers, including wife Tina, as the driving force behind his victory.

“It’s not possible to do this without a team — and I had the best team possible.”

Leading the 32-competitor field for much of the race, day one got off to a good start as he exited the 10 km swim portion of the race first in a time of 2:34:15, just ahead of female racer Suzy Serpico of the United States who was hot on his heels.

In the 149.8 km bike portion on the first day, he finished with a time of 4:19:23, just seconds slower than eventual runner up, Arnaud Selukov, 50, of France, who completed the first day cycling with a time of 4:19:06.

The Saturday cycle route began in Okanagan Falls, crossed Richter Pass and returned to Okanagan Falls.

On Sunday, participants cycled 274.2 km, beginning and ending in Princeton.

Once again Matheson took the lead with a time of 7:48:32.

Selukov’s second place time was 22:56:10.

Third place went to another Penticton athlete, the 38-year-old transplanted New Zealander Tony Buckingham who came in at 24:25:39.

The Saturday cycle route began in Okanagan Falls, crossed Richter Pass and returned to Okanagan Falls.

“We believe this is going to be the race within the race,” race director Steve Brown said of the competition between Matheson and Selukov. “These are two guys that can go fast and hold the pace for all three days.”

First female and sixth overall was Katie Welton of the United Kingdom in a time of 26:32:06.

Right behind her, the second female and seventh overall was Serpico.

Of the 32 racers – 20 men and 12 women – only two did not finish, Canadian Curtis Mahoney, 55, and Australian Nick Mallett.

At one point during Saturday’s swim event officials were scrambling to change the bike course after word that the fires burning in the Similkameen near Highway 3 had forced a road closure however that closure was lifted in time to make the change unnecessary.

The 18th running of the Ultra520K this year was dedicated to the memory of Bruce Schoenne of Penticton who recently passed away recently after a battle with liver cancer.

He twice participated in the race and was a big supporter and part of the videography crew for the last few years.

— With files from John Arendt/Summerland Review

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Penticton’s Dave Matheson exits the waters of Skaha Lake in first place after the swim event. Mark Brett/Western News

Dave Matheson of Penticton exits the water in first place following the swim portion of the race. Mark Brett/Western News

Penticton’s Dave Matheson sheds the wetsuit following his swim of Skaha Lake. Mark Brett/Western News

Suzy Serpico of the United States runs for her bike following the swim Saturday on Skaha Lake. Mark Brett/Western News

Tony Buckingham of Canada is attended to by crew at the bike transition area following the swim on Saturday. Mark Brett/Western News

Canadian Tony Buckingham bears down as he prepares to start the first bike ride Saturday. Mark Brett/Western News

American Andrew Brooks, 43, gears up in the bike transition zone following the swim of Skaha Lake Saturday. Mark Brett/Western News

Jorge Nadal, 39, of Costa Rico heads out on the second leg of the Ultra520K Saturday in Okanagan Falls. Mark Brett/Western News

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