Another duathlon season is upon us, and it kicks off this weekend (in Ontario at least) with a favourite on the circuit, the Iron Hawk Duathlon in Harrow, ON. Last year, the race was also the Ontario Sprint Duathlon Championships and carried some prize money, and drew a stellar field as a result. This year the prize money and the provincial championship designation are no more, yet the field still promises to be one of the more competitive ones of the season. Add in the flat course and the incredible crowd support you can usually count on from the Windsor/Essex County multisport community and we’re in business. Let’s take a look at the competitors:
THE TWO YOU’D HAVE TO BE STUPID TO BET AGAINST
IM Texas next week notwithstanding, Lionel’s resume speaks for itself. No one is on his level in Canada. The people in the WORLD on his level are world champions of various flavours. Kudos to Lionel for supporting a local race that’s close to his heart when he clearly has bigger fish to fry next weekend.
THE PODIUM FAVOURITES
After Lionel it gets a little more muddled, but these two are my bets. Thierry is a beast on the bike, and would likely be the odds on favourite in any other race. Course record holder on the local TT courses, Thierry should be able to run just well enough and ride his way onto the podium. Prakash spent most of last year injured, but he has the pedigree for a strong run when healthy, and recent TT results seem to indicate that his bike is coming along as well.
THE WILD CARDS
These two are more unknown when it comes to form, but are genuine podium threats on their best day ready to pounce if anyone has a bad day. Ryan’s exploits are pretty well known in the duathlon world, as he dominated in Tecumseh and Chatham after spending the year honing his run form. When healthy (which has been an issue this winter), he can run with anyone in this field. DeMarco had a strong performance at last year’s Iron Hawk and is actually the highest finishing returner not named Lionel.
THE LOCAL CONTENDERS
These three mainstays on the circuit are all be strong enough to challenge the top 5 on a good day. But betting against Daryl Flacks despite being a long course specialist just revs him up to prove you wrong, so he’s probably going to be the one to find his way into the top 5. Brad and Shayne are cut from opposite sides of the cloth, with Brad being a slightly stronger runner and Shayne a tad stronger on the bike. The local knowledge these three have of riding and handling a bike in the Essex crosswinds could mean significant seconds gained.
THE BALANCE POINT BOYS
It will be interesting to see how these two young talents stick it out with the veterans above, as their improvements in their weaker disciplines are a real wild card here. Spencer is pretty handy at riding a TT bike, and Chris usually runs with the front group and was a very solid high school track/XC runner. The question with these two is will they be able to limit their losses. From what I’ve heard, the BP crew has had them working hard so with a little luck and a lot of suffering, these two could surprise on Saturday.
So how will this race play out?
This being Essex County, the wind will ALWAYS be a factor, so the order of finish will depend on who handles the wind the best. Lionel will win by, like, a lot. Him, Prakash and Allison will likely be out in front early, dragging Marentette, Reiter and DeMarco along, and then Lionel will be gone forever and the rest will have to fend off Guertin, Flacks, Dumouchelle and Summerfield, who will be charging hard on the bike. From there, it’s who can suffer the most for 10 minutes. I’ll take this for my top 5 (with a slight nod to Prak to round out the podium in a battle with Allison based on recent results):
Top Female – Juliette Barrette
Podium Wild Card – Ryan Allison (if his form is better than he claims, as I suspect is true, then he could run his way as high as second)
Breakthrough Performer – Brad Reiter (who will surprise everyone and run his way to a huge 6th place finish)
I apologize for the lack of pictures, or a women’s preview. This was wrapped up in the car on my iPad on my way to Penticton, and I was not able to find pictures or enough information to do a women’s preview. Just remember, this is all in good fun. I have a ton of opinions, and most will be wrong. Feel free to prove me wrong on race day :). All I’ll know is that it will be fun to follow. Someone PLEASE snap a picture of the results and tweet them out to me (@duitjessebauer) so I can catch up after my own race. And have fun!
Until next time, keep Du’ing it!