Bob Knuckey wins 75-79 age category at Ironman World Championships in France

October 5, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Zachary Roman

A Caledon man has completed a truly impressive athletic feat.

At the age of 75, Bob Knuckey won his age group at the Ironman World Championships in Nice, France on Sept. 10.

An Ironman race consists of a 3.9-kilometre swim, 180.2-kilometre bike ride, and 42.2-kilometre run — all done back-to-back.

The course in Nice was so challenging that Knuckey was the only person in the 75-79 age category to complete it. This herculean effort earned him a standing ovation from athletes across all age categories at the post-race Ironman awards ceremony.

The course was especially challenging because of its biking section. In fact, Knuckey says he suspects that Nice was chosen for the race specifically to challenge athletes with arduous hill climbs.

“It just kept going up and up and up, with not much down,” said Knuckey. “I’m positive they picked the hardest bike course they could.”

Even when athletes were given brief reprieve by a downward slope, Knuckey said it was still challenging. Hairpin turns and deadly cliffs meant athletes couldn’t lose their focus for a second.

Some might have used this fact as an excuse to go a bit slower. Knuckey used it as a way to save time.

“I was flying down the hills,” said Knuckey. “It was like, wild abandonment… I did use the speed going down.”

When Knuckey completed the bike section of the race, he said his legs felt completely dead. He walked for a little while, before remembering who he was dedicating his race to and beginning to run.

Barrie Shepley of the C3 Canadian Cross Training Club is Knuckey’s coach. Shepley’s wife Caron is currently battling cancer.

“I thought about Caron… and that kept me going as she’s going through a lot worse than what I’m going through,” said Knuckey.

Knuckley completed his swim in about an hour and 20 minutes, putting him ahead of anyone over the age of 70. It took him just over eight hours to complete the bike ride, and around five and a half to complete the run.

Knuckey’s finishing time was 14 hours, 57 minutes and 40 seconds.

Upon finishing, Knuckey collected his thoughts before meeting with all the supporters who came to see his race. He said he was sore for three days after the race, but was able to get some sightseeing in while still in France.

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