Next up in my Ontario duathlon preview series is the Rose City Duathlon in Welland…let’s start with a look at the course. Welland is flat. Dead flat. The run: flat. The bike: flat. The second run: again…flat. Note that I didn’t say easy, because it’s not. Flat courses mean you are on 100% of the race; there is no opportunity to recoup some energy, because there is no let-up. It’s fast, but the odds are very good that whoever wins on Saturday (and Sunday) will have to go very deep to do so. The course record here is held by Tommy Ferris (my coach), a 1:23:33 clocking set in 2010. My old rival Erik Box has the second fastest time at 1:24:04 in 2012, followed by my own 1:24:24 from last year and 1:24:34 from 2013. 1:25 should be considered a gold standard time for the men’s race.
THE CONTENDERS – MEN’S RACE
The men’s race has turned into quite a deep competition. Possibly deeper than this race has seen for a couple of years. The last two years have seen some intense 3-up battles where the finishing order was a complete reversal of what it was coming off the bike, and while that might not quite be the case this year (though it may very well be), the battle for the top 8 (and maybe even the top 10) should be intense. Let’s break it down:
Based on resumes alone, it’s hard to bet against this guy. If it wasn’t for a world champion freight train named David Frake, Bradley would have been the national champion at the international distance last year. A man with an always stellar bike split, word is that he is running better than he has ever been right now and that is bad news for the entire circuit. A fantastic ambassador for the sport, the only thing that should hold him back is his propensity to start seasons slow and needing a race or two to get into a groove. That and humidity :P.
If Larry falters, one of these two will be ready to pounce. Summerfield is coming off the emotional high of his first duathlon win. He has consistently shown a strong bike, but has only attempted this 5k/30k/5k distance once last year in Belwood. Momentum is a valuable thing to have, however. McLeod has proven to be an exceptionally consistent racer, racing sparingly but never showing up in anything less than top form. The battle between these two will be one of strength vs. speed, and it could push them right to the brink of turning this into that three horse race with Bradley. Barring something unexpected, this should be your men’s podium.
THE OUTSIDE SHOTS
While not necessarily as strong as the above three, these five have all shown flashes of brilliance and will be in the mix for the top 5 at least, and likely all have the podium on their minds. Carter has the momentum of the 5, narrowly missing the podium in Woodstock before winning in Milton the next day. Walker has the pedigree of a legend of the sport (in my mind at least), but is coming off a year off racing for his health. Moses, Putman and Duquesnay also have all shown flashes that tell me that on their days they could crack this very tough top 5.
THE WILD CARD
His name is on the registration list for a “duathlon” and he raced here last year, so this youngster may once again make an appearance here. Loaded with potential, last year Park front-ran his way to a 16:38 opening split before struggling with the winds on the bike. A year of experience and riding that bike would make him a legitimate threat here…but that’s a big question mark. What we do know is if he races, he will try to put his stamp on the run.
Hmmm…how will this one play out? Bradley should win if he trusts the fitness that I know he has and doesn’t do anything brash. If Park is there, Larry can pace off him then unleash a strong bike on his way to a comfortable win. Summerfield and McLeod will battle for 2nd, and I think it will go wire to wire. It is hard to make this comparison but McLeod did go 1:04 for 40k to Summerfield’s 32:59 for 20k at Lakeside last year, so if Mcleod can get a jump on the bike he may stay away for 2nd given his strength at longer distances. Momentum is a killer though, and Summerfield has that on his side. Carter also has the momentum right now, and Mr. Walker always finds his way into the mix. So I’ll go with this:
1. Bradley 2. Summerfield 3. McLeod 4. Carter 5. Walker
THE WOMEN’S RACE
Though not nearly as deep as the men’s race, there will be a pretty decent battle on the women’s side, health permitting for some of the contenders. Let’s have a quick look:
None of these three have raced each other recently. In fact, only one of these three has raced this year, and Bethany raced twice last weekend. Jade is the two time defending champion here, so she knows the course and always rides strong. If Jade can put together the race here that she did last year, she should make it three in a row. The other two are pretty tightly matched. Extensive results trolling showed me two very similar and consistent athletes. The battle for 2nd SHOULD come down to whoever runs the best off the bike, and I’ll give the nod to Bethany here, on the strength of a slightly stronger recent run result at the Yonge Street 10k. But it could go either way here. Of course, as with most women’s races someone that I am not familiar with will come out the woodwork on race day and break up the party, it’s just a matter of where they slot in…
1. Carrington 2. Timmerman 3. Takyar
Before I sign off, a quick word about the bike/run. There was not much information out there that I could find, but I do know long distance specialist Daryl Flacks will be racing on Sunday, and there is a good chance defending champion Tammy Purdy will be racing as well. If the latter is true, look for these two to take convincing wins in the race, likely on the strength of a strong bike split (Daryl) or a stellar run split (Tammy).
My only regret is not being able to be there for this race. Even if just to spectate. Oh who am I kidding…I want in on this action! It will be fun to follow along.
Until next time…keep Du’ing it!