Tom Evans won the 2008 Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene and was second in 2007, but he’s not quite sure what to expect when the 2010 event unfolds Sunday.
He knows he’ll have two more fans on hand, 9-month-old twin daughters Leah and Olivia. He knows he’ll high-five youngsters working at the aid stations and interact with the crowd because “I always have a lot of fun on race day.” He knows he’ll have a postrace beer, a beverage he gave up during training.
Other than that, he’ll play it by ear.
“I just have to race with what I’ve done in terms of training, and my training hasn’t been as good as it’s been in previous years,” said Evans, a dentist from Penticton, B.C. “I will have to race a little more conservatively early on just to make sure I have something left for the run. In previous years I didn’t mind taking some risks earlier in the race, but I won’t have that luxury this year.”
Evans hasn’t done an Ironman in over a year and his training schedule is just now finding some regularity. Most of the competitors tackling Sunday’s 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run didn’t take six months off in the last calendar year. Evans was preparing for last year’s World Championship in Hawaii when Leah and Olivia arrived two months before their due date.
“Life stopped for a few months because they spent two months in neonatal ICU,” Evans said. “I basically didn’t do anything triathlon related for six months. They were supposed to come a month after Hawaii, they came a month before. I dropped out of Hawaii and I didn’t get back into regular training until the end of April, but we have a bit more of a schedule going now and the girls are healthy.”
It’s definitely a busy schedule as the 41-year-old Evans tries to balance time devoted to family, work and training. Evans, a competitive swimmer until he was 20, has been a dentist for 16 years. His normal week consists of 25-30 hours at the office and 20 hours training.
He tried his first Ironman in 2000. Prior to that, his exercise of choice was whitewater kayaking.
“I was getting into some of the harder, grade-5 rivers, and even coming from competitive swimming there were two instances where I just about drowned,” Evans said. “I had to do something safer so I picked up triathlon.”
Evans described Andy Potts “as the class of the field. He’s been racing very well at all distances for quite a few years.” Michael Lovato, Chris McDonald and Luke Bell also figure to challenge for the title.
Evans estimates he’s competed in 15 Ironmans. He’s won four times, including a career-best time of 8 hours and 8 minutes at the 2008 Ironman Florida. He won in CdA in 8:34. He hopes to be in the 8:45 range Sunday and earn one of four qualifying spots for Hawaii.
“It’s been a rushed preparation, but even when you do a full preparation you don’t have a clue how the day will go until about halfway through the bike ride,” said Evans, who didn’t race in Coeur d’Alene last year. “Then you really start to know how you’re feeling and assess where you are relative to the other guys. I could be in 10th halfway through the bike but if I feel good I’m not worried. If I’m in first but I feel bad, then I’ll be worried.”
Sunday’s forecast: low of 57 degrees, high of 82. … Pro women’s contenders include Gina Crawford, Hillary Biscay, Desiree Ficker, Linsey Corbin, Bree Wee, Meredith Kessler and Spokane’s Haley Cooper-Scott, who has placed in the top five in Coeur d’Alene the last three years. … The 26 pro men and 17 pro women are competing for $50,000 in prize money. Men’s and women’s winners each receive $10,000. Last year’s champions Francisco Pontano (men) and Tyler Stewart (women) are not entered.