Whidbey triathletes to compete in Ironman 70.3 World Championships

Two South Whidbey women who have qualified to race in the Half Ironman World Championships are proof that athletes of any age are highly competitive.

Clinton resident Brenda Lovie, 60, and Langley resident Sandi Lusk, 74, recently secured their spots to race at the worldwide competition next year in Finland, with finish times of six hours and 10 minutes and seven hours and five minutes, respectively. They both placed at the top of their age groups at a Half Ironman race last month in Maple Valley, Washington.

Amazingly, the pair have only started training for Half Ironman races over the course of the last four years. They started locally with the Whidbey Island Triathlon in 2018 and worked their way up to the Half Ironman in 2019, which consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.

Both women spend about 10 to 12 hours per week preparing, which besides swimming, biking and running also includes strength training.

“Brenda and I both talked about if you don’t enjoy the training, there’s no point in doing it,” Lusk said.

Lusk has competed in six Half Ironman races, also referred to as Ironman 70.3 for the total distance covered during the event. She plans to fit in a few more before the big event in Finland in August 2023.

“I always did some exercise, so this has always been part of my life,” she said. “This is more focused because it’s training as opposed to exercise. You have to eat right, you have to get good sleep. Nutrition is really important.”

She finds that in her age group, there are fewer and fewer triathletes competing. Some, like the 92-year-old “Iron Nun” Madonna Buder, have become internationally famous.

“She’s my inspiration, because I was pretty old when I started,” Lusk said.

For Lovie, it’s about loving feeling fit and strong.

“I was a competitive figure skater. I’m born with a competitive mindset and I’ve always loved training,” she said. “It’s just kind of intrinsic. I love getting up and looking forward to training the next day.”

In 2021, Lovie was diagnosed with breast cancer and missed training for about nine months. After three surgeries, she’s since recovered and is back to competing in Ironman 70.3. In fact, she plans to participate in three more races before the world championships.

“It’s just going to be cool to go be with people all over the world and compete,” she said. “I’m really excited.”