Heather Wurtele, now a five-time Ironman champion and North American Ironman 70.3 champion, never actually aspired to be a professional athlete when she was growing up. She was certainly athletic, but more of a recreational 'jock' playing all kinds of sports and really just enjoying the outdoors. It wasn't until she was in university that the varsity rowing squad recruited her long body for hours of suffering before and after classes. Even once that physical suffering came to an end, the thought of being a professional athlete of any sort never entered her mind. It wasn't until she and her now husband, Trevor, took up triathlon that they both started to dream of winning the big races. At that early point, Trevor literally didn’t know how to swim, and Heather was a novice on a road bike. She helped him in the pool; he coached her on the bike. The rest, as they say, may be Ironman history.
Heather took to the sport quite quickly, winning an Ironman after only two years of hard training - while working a full time job. The year after that, both Heather and Trevor quit their jobs and gave their full attention to triathlon. They sold all of their possessions, bought a small RV and took to the road. After a rocky 2009, Heather managed to win again, on one of the toughest Ironman courses ever - Ironman St. George, Utah. In 2011 she repeated her win at Ironman St. George and also took the victory at Ironman Lake Placid, breaking the course record held by former Ironman World Champion Heather Fuhr. To top off a great 2011, she also brought home an 8th place finish in Kona, Hawaii at the Ironman World Championships, as the top North American finisher that year, and was awarded the Canadian Long Course Triathlete of the year. In both 2011 and 2012 she was also the top Canadian at 70.3 Worlds with a 7th and a 6th place finish, respectively.
In early 2013, she won the Latin American Professional championships at the Ironman 70.3 distance in Panama, distancing the field with a smoking-fast bike split. She finished 2013 ranked 2nd in the official Ironman 70.3 World Ranking. In 2014 things did not slow down one bit – Heather won Ironman Coeur D'Alene, Ironman 70.3 Monterrey, Ironman 70.3 Oceanside, Ironman 70.3 Eagleman, came third at the US Pro Championships at Ironman 70.3 St. George.
Now, in 2015, Heather has captured the title of Ironman 70.3 North American Champion by winning in St. George, Utah. The race is notorious for being one of the most difficult 70.3 distance races in the world and attracting a incredible field of competitors including the reigning Ironman World Champion. The win marks a breakthrough for Heather and makes her one-to-watch for the remainder of the 2015 season.
"I'd say I'm extremely happy with my life at the moment," says Heather. "Looking back at the path we took to get to this point, so many little things needed to fall into place. Yes, on one hand we made it happen and made the right choices, but there were many little chance events that could have changed so much. We are so lucky to actually be living our dream"