Long stride to Kona

70.3 champ Samantha McGlone uses St. Anthony's as a training step for her first full Ironman.

Published April 28, 2007

This is the year of the unknown, which is just fine with Samantha McGlone.

"It's new, " she said. "Exciting."

It begins, for all intents and purposes, Sunday at the St. Anthony's Triathlon, one of her first steps on the stairs to October's Ironman in Kona, Hawaii.

It's a transition from an Olympic distance 0.93-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike and 6.2-mile run to the full Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run) that few make within the same year.

So why, considering the dramatic changes required in training and nutrition and the fact McGlone has never competed in an Ironman before, did she decide to go for it in such a relatively short period of time?

"I feel like I've done a lot at the Olympic distance (including finished 27th racing for Canada in the 2004 Olympics), and I've always wondered what might be out there for me at the longer distances, " said McGlone, who is 27, about the age many start testing the longer distances. "I think my strength is with endurance as opposed to speed, so I think this might work out really well."

Her coach, U.S. national triathlon team coach Cliff English, said above and beyond everything McGlone has the "perfect mental makeup for an Ironman."

"She's the type who is never, ever, ever going to give in, " English said. "You will never hear her say she can't do something."

Hard to argue considering her resume, which includes a half-dozen victories in 2006 and November's Ironman World Championship 70.3 at Clearwater, a victory that earned her a free pass to Kona.

"Winning (at Clearwater) certainly was an impetus (to step up to the full Ironman), " McGlone said. "Now we're going to train hard and get as ready as possible."

The plan after St. Anthony's includes a 70.3 race May 6 in St. Croix; another 70.3 on June 3 in Honu, Hawaii; an Olympic distance race in the summer and a step up to 10 weeks of training for Kona.

"It will involve less racing than in past years, which will be a little strange for me because I really like to race a lot, " McGlone said. "The training will also be a little different, but not so much that it will be overwhelming."

In simple terms, the training will jump from about 25 hours a week to 30, and on a few occasions up to 35.

"We're all excited about the possibilities for Samantha, " English said. "Because of everything she has going for her, physically and mentally, I think she has the capability of doing something very special before this year is finished."