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Tucson triathlete excels in distance running

Citizen Staff Writer



When does a runner for life become something more?

When you’re so competitive you used to play youth hockey, you would sell out your training partner for a fun-run win and you discover “paradise” for training.

Christine Parks moved to Tucson from Ontario, Canada, a year ago to test the bounds of her tenacity as a triathlete.

Her best answer has come in distance running. In January, she finished fifth in the women’s division of the P.F. Chang Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon in an hour, 25 minutes, 19 seconds.

Last fall, she won the Arizona Distance Classic Half-Marathon in 1:27:44.

“I knew I was in shape but a little surprised,” she said of the effort. “It was 14,000 women so it says something, I guess.”

No surprise, really. In October in Hawaii, she placed fifth in the Ironman World Championship Triathlon in 10:12:53, and that came after placing second among amateurs in the April 2008 Ironman Arizona (10:28).

Parks, 31, describes herself as an “endurance athlete” and the tougher the event, the better. Her times in local 10Ks haven’t been the best but that’s because she does them “usually after a four-hour bike ride.”

Tucson is a nationwide training mecca for athletes because of the climate, especially for Canadians.

Parks decided if she was going to be a pro athlete, she needed to make the move.

She is a full-time oncology nurse at Northwest Medical Center, working night shifts and requiring the discipline to get a week’s daytime training in.

Although she is a pro, she has competed mostly as an amateur and placed second in the amateur division and 15th overall in last April’s Ironman Arizona. Another career highlight was fifth in her age group in the Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Hawaii in 2006.

“To compete as a pro, I have to have a lot of time,” she said. “It’s kind of a Catch-22. Girls who compete for a living don’t have to make that sacrifice. But I might give it a go sometime.”

That’s good and bad news for training partner Ryan McGuigan.

“She likes racing, training and pushing herself; she’s out to bury you,” said McGuigan, who competed in the Hawaii Championship but withdrew with an injury. “She likes to be pushed in big groups. In the same workout she’ll do her best to beat you, which all the time isn’t the best situation for me.”

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