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McIlraith and Phipps show the way in Sudbury Fitness Challenge race

Sara McIlraith was in cruise control, but Neil Phipps was sweating it out, right through to his final stride of the very last event.

Regardless, the local couple were able to top the charts, laying claim to their respective Sudbury Fitness Challenge crowns as points were tallied up from the Turkey Gobbler, earlier this month, and added to the aggregate totals from the four previous events that were run in a year that was almost constantly challenged by the pandemic.

In finishing her SFC season with 4792 points, McIlraith easily outdistanced local triathlete Stacey Trottier (3402), with Donna Smrek (2687), Mariane Larose (2610) and Lo-Ellen Park senior Isabella Mastroianni (2567) rounding out the top five.

McIlraith would capture first place in both Sofie's Loppett (nordic skiing) and the Turkey Gobbler, while sharing the top-end 1000 point total in the Canoe Marathon with both Emily Marcolini and Tamara Flannigan.

Wanda Dewulf showed the way in the Walden MTB (mountain bike) Race, while Mastroianni maximized her results at the Island Swim.

McIlraith, Trottier, Smrek and Larose hold the distinction of being the only four women, of the 131 who participated in at least one of the five events, to actually race in each and every one of them.

Meanwhile, Phipps, who was locked in an ultra-right race with 2019 Mr Fit Sudbury Mike Banks for the SFC men's crown, leading by just six points heading into the Turkey Gobbler, rode a top ten finish in Naughton to a 4370-4321 victory in the aggregate standings.

Sliding into third place behind Phipps and Banks was Todd Withers (4117), with Colin Ward (4030) and Dan Whalen (3929) right on his heels.

Individual event winners on the men's side included Phipps (Canoe Marathon - shared with John/James Larmer), Matteo Reich (Sofie's Loppett), Paul Guenette (Walden MTB Race), James Bertrim (Island Swim) and Kendyn Mashinter (Turkey Gobbler).

A total of 167 men/boys completed at least one event, with Julian Luoma, Steffon Luoma, Mitch Trottier and Kaeden Ward joining the top five in the overall standings (Phipps, Banks, Withers, Ward, Whalen) in successfully navigating their way through the entire series.

Following are the Mr and Ms Fit Sudbury champions in each of the respective age categories:

Women's Divisions
Under 12 - Lucia Salmaso
13 - 19 - Isabella Mastroianni
20 - 29 - Marlee Clement
30 - 39 - Jessica Lonsdale
40 - 49 - Sara McIlraith
50 - 59 - Donna Smrek
60 - 69 - Mariane Larose
70 - 79 - Maureen Moustgaard

Men's Divisions
Under 12 - Julian Luoma
13 - 19 - Kaeden Ward
20 - 29 - Nick Vanderschoor
30 - 39 - Dan Whalen
40 - 49 - Mike Banks
50 - 59 - Neil Phipps
60 - 69 - Frank Battaion
70 - 79 - John Larmer

Organizers will now turn their attention to February 2021 and the season-opening Sofie Manarin Nickel Loppet to kick off another season of competition, with the hopes of re-integrating both the Sudbury Rocks!! Race and the Beaton Classic into the traditional seven legs to the SFC schedule next year.

Northern Ontario AAA Hockey League