Duathlon News

Great White North & Gravenhurst Weekend Recap

What an exciting last month or so of the duathlon season! I want to start with the first two National Race Series events before getting to the rest. Lots to cover, so let’s get to it! You can check the results of each race by clicking on the bold heading:

GREAT WHITE NORTH DUATHLON (STANDARD DISTANCE)
This race was important not only because it was the first race of Triathlon Canada’s National Qualifying Race Series for the duathlon in Penticton next year (Triple Threat in Winnipeg notwithstanding…we’ll get to that later), but it is also where some important markers were set for the rest of the country in 2016. 2 new contenders each emerged as the winners of the men’s and women’s races, setting fastest times in Canada for the standard distance this year, and also faster than any other athletes in the country have recorded in 2016. Let’s start with the women; Melissa Paauwe simply rode away with this one. She came in 16 seconds behind the fastest runner (Dana Hansen, 41:36 to 41:52) then wiped it all out in transition and rode 5 minutes into her competition. Hansen brought back a minute by running a strong 20:11 last 5k, but the damage was done. For reference, 1:06:08 is fast, and would be the 6th fastest split OVERALL in the race. 2:11:33 has not been touched by a female duathlete on Canadian soil.

Melissa Paauwe

Melissa Paauwe, finishing up a stellar 2:11! Photo credit Ken Anderson Photography

The men’s race was a similar story, though the gaps are a tad bigger and the race was in doubt a tad longer. Luckily for you, I got a front row seat for this one by virtue of being the one wiped out. I ran off the front right away, and steadily opened a gap of ~1:00 by the 5k turnaround. But then…the gap stayed where it was (36:36 to 37:40) and was steadily wiped out over the first 20k of the bike with a fast tailwind. The hunter? Evan Bayer, who apparently is a pretty handy time trialist. He rode 58:00 to the finish, which is no joke on a fair GWN course with a steady wind from the south. Bayer then followed that up with a very solid 18:18 5k to cruise over the line in 1:56:05. This time has only been beaten once on Canadian soil so far this year. By Bayer. The next week. Myself (2:01:27) and reigning National bronze medallist Moritz Haager (2:02:00) made up the rest of the podium.

Evan Bayer

Evan Bayer, off hunting gold medals. Photo credit Ken Anderson Photography

GRAVENHURST DU-THE-DOUBLE CHALLENGE (SPRINT AND STANDARD)
Let’s start with the standard distance, shall we? Since it is the National Race Series Qualifier after all. There were 4 quite compelling races on this weekend, as Triathlon Ontario and Multisport Canada delivered on all the hype this race received. Elite masters runner Charles Bedley was the protagonist on the first run, taking it out in 34:16 on a tough hilly course. However, laying in wait was another strong runner (Sean Delanghe, 35:06), this one with a little better cycling pedigree. He took over the lead early on in the bike, only to give it up to a hard-charging Matt Straatman later on. Delanghe didn’t panic, and put in a race second best 17:28 5k run to come from behind for the win in a strong 1:59:05. Straatman just missed the 2:00 barrier in 2nd, while Andrew McLeod once again showed up at his best, using a race best 1:03:00 bike to claim 3rd. Bedley ran 16:54 to consolidate 6th.

Sean Delanghe

Sean Delanghe, taking the Ontario provincial standard distance title! Photo credit Zoomphoto.ca

The women’s race was a little less back and forth, but still compelling. It was a two horse race at the front, as Jessica Kuepfer used a slightly faster first run (40:55 to 41:03) to lead into T1 before defending Du-the-Double champion Jasmin Aggarwal stamped her claim on the race with a 1:13:11 bike. The second runs were pretty much a wash (20:01 for Jasmin to 20:09 for Jessica), and the win went to Jasmin Aggarwal in 2:15:47. Naomi Lynne Wolfson stormed through the bike to momentarily take 3rd on the back of a race-best 1:12:37, but couldn’t hold off Leslie McArthur’s stronger running legs as the latter took 3rd at the finish line.

Jasmin Aggarwal

Jasmin Aggarwal, defending her Ontario standard distance title just one week after racing hard at TTF! Photo credit Zoomphoto.ca

Back the next day on the tough Muskoka roads was Jasmin Aggarwal to once again contest the double. She was not originally entered due to an injury she has been struggling with, but decided to take a shot regardless. The decision paid off as she led wire-to-wire, recording race-best splits across all three legs to take a 4 minute win in 1:09:01. Karen Ugarte Bravo put in a strong bike ride to hold off 3rd place Kathryn Sherwood by the slimmest of margins (7.1 seconds) and 4th place Lindsay Miller by 21 seconds. Wow!

Karen Ugarte Bravo

Karen Ugarte Bravo, on her way to a silver medal in the sprint. Photo credit Zoomphoto.ca

The men’s race was hotly contested once again, as Matt Straatman was out to avenge his tight 2nd place finish of the day before. He kept the leaders close (again led by Charles Bedley in 16:55 with Delanghe 12 seconds adrift in 17:07) before unleashing a fantastic bike split (31:19 on this rolling course) to take a big enough lead to hold off a hard-charging Delanghe to take a 12 second win. The times (59:28 to 59:40) were truly exceptional to anyone who knows the Gravenhurst course. Defending Du-the-Double champ Brian Moore didn’t come into the weekend 100% and struggled on Saturday, but salvaged the weekend with a steady performance to round out the podium on Sunday.

Matt Straatman

Matt Straatman, on the hunt for that elusive provincial title. Photo credit Zoomphoto.ca

Now this post is getting a little bit long, so I will leave the highlights from the rest of Canada to a separate post tomorrow. Instead of full recaps, I’m just going to highlight some very notable performances from the other events with an eye on drawing your attention to some potential major contenders for future Triathlon Canada Series duathlon events later in the year. Our next one is none other than Standard Distance Nationals in Penticton, with 10 spots per AG available for the World Multisport Festival in 2017 (also in Penticton). If you are interested, the full list of results since Triple Threat in June are in my previous post!

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

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Triathlon Ontario “Du the Double” Provincial Championship Challenge 2016

Well, the first big month of the Canadian duathlon season has come and gone, and I can say objectively that it has been a good one. The Coupe du Quebec is absolutely smoking this year, and intriguing new contenders and huge races have popped up from the world of bike racing in B.C. and Alberta. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the races this past month (a longer update to come after this weekend):

2016 Belwood Podium

MSC Belwood Overall Podium (Photo Credit ZoomPhoto.ca)

I would say that Ontario better look out after some of these results, but many in the Great Lakes province have had their eyes firmly fixed all year on the Multisport Canada Gravenhurst race weekend. It is the Triathlon Ontario championships for both sprint and standard distances, and also hosts TO’s popular Du-the-Double Challenge. While only being a provincial championship, the duathlon community has embraced it as an annual event to look forward to, and it is typically one of the best-attended events in the country. As this moment there are 71 athletes registered in the standard and 65 in the sprint, with several more still deciding on their race distance and will likely register in the coming days. So what are my thoughts? (I will stick with just the standard for now).

STANDARD DISTANCE – WOMEN
Historically one of the toughest standard distance races in the country, the first 10k run course in Gravenhurst chews people up and spits them out. In the words of Darren Cooney last year, “I kept thinking is this the big hill everyone talks about? Is this one? Or is it this one?”. By the time you hit the bike in the rolling Muskoka hills, your legs are often thrashed. With this race representing the only qualifier for Worlds in Penticton in Ontario, for the standard distance at least, those two spots per AG are sure to be hotly contested. Jasmin Aggarwal is back to grab the title that eluded her last year where she finished 2nd in the standard distance race in Bracebridge (and won the sprint) on her way to the Du the Double prize. She is hot off excellent performances at the ITU World Duathlon Championships in Aviles, Spain (3rd in F20-24) and at the Toronto Triathlon Festival (in the triathlon). Competition for Jasmin will come from Julie Reiter, Worlds team member Tara McAninch McLaren and Renee Hartford, while some intriguing wild cards may make the racing even more interesting on Saturday. Jessica Kuepfer has some VERY strong run times to her name but is bouncing back from IM Muskoka 70.3 last weekend, and Carol Bedley has a relatively recent sub-3:00 marathon to her name. And might we have a Tammy Purdy (defending champion) sighting? If so, that will turn the race on its head. My money is still on Jasmin Aggarwal to take over the top of the podium this year. Of course this is the women’s race, so 4 completely off the radar athletes will show up and completely upset the dynamic.

2015 Bracebridge Podium

The podium from Bracebridge in 2015, featuring several 2016 contenders!

STANDARD DISTANCE – MEN
This seems to be the race that everyone is keyed up for, and for good reason. Ever since I raced in Ontario, the provincial championships have been a major focus for the men’s duathlon field. Last year, youngster Brian Moore doubled back from the sprint to win the standard distance as well, taking home the Du the Double prize. He will attempt the double again, as will last year’s runner-up Matt Straatman. The race will likely be missing last year’s bronze medallist Larry Bradley, who may opt for only the sprint, but may very well gain the talent that knocked Larry off the top of the podium in Welland (Sean Delanghe). Also of note is Charles Bedley entered in the Double; Charles is a hell of a runner (30:43 10k/2:16 marathon in his past) who has been cropping up on the Ontario duathlon scene regularly the past several years, so this is in no way new to him. When Charles is on the start line, he usually shows up ready to win. On a course with as tough a run as Gravenhurst I predict that really strong runners to have an edge on this day, and I would say these four are the most accomplished runners in the field. That’s not to say that Gravenhurst regular (and National 6th-placer) Andrew McLeod, long course specialist Daryl Flacks, and Garvin Moses (who is en feugo right now) won’t have something to say about that. Unfortunately, Jeremy Carter has been forced to pull out of the race due to injury. Other athletes to keep an eye on include Steve Beasley (who WON M60-64 at Worlds this year), Spencer Summerfield (accomplished MSC duathlete making his standard distance debut at this race), Mark Cullen (Boston Qualifier venturing into multisport this year), Mike Park and Kevin Gallagher (teammates who always present a fun battle to watch). Special shoutout to Bob Wild representing M75+ in yet another provincial championship! Now the hard part: (1) Brian Moore (2) Matt Straatman (3) Sean Delanghe (if he shows, Bedley if not). It’s hard to bet against Moore after last year, even if he hasn’t raced much at all as far as I can tell.

Brian Moore

Brian Moore at Bracebridge in 2015

Matt Straatman

Matt Straatman at Bracebridge in 2015

I am going to leave it at this for now, because I’m sure many of you are ready to stop reading. If I can find a bit of time this weekend, I will try to put together a sprint race preview. At the very least, I will edit this one to include a Du the Double preview. Time is at a bit of a premium right now, and I race twice again this weekend…

BLOG UPDATE
If you are waiting for the race reports from Great White North (where I got my butt kicked by Evan Bayer and finished 2nd in a subpar time) and Alberta Provincials at the Comfortec Red Deer Duathlon (where I did everything good I can think of an won another provincial title), you’ll have to wait. This is by design! My big races this year happen in a span of 18 days from August 24 to September 10. This is a pretty WTS-style stretch of racing that I have never really put my body through, so I took the opportunity to simulate it in July when several races that I had my eye on happened to fall in a 14 day stretch. I raced GWN on July 3, Red Deer on July 9, and will race what is essentially a two-day duathlon on July 16/17 when I do the Alberta Road 5k Championships on Saturday and a 25km ITT on Sunday, and I want to evaluate them as a group rather than in isolation. So stay tuned :).

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

My Annual Canadian Duathlon Primer

It seems like every year I am saying that (whatever year it happens to be) is set to be a HUGE year for duathlon in Canada. So I love my sport…sue me. However, I do think we have some pretty wicked momentum going for duathlon in this country over the past several years. I started racing duathlons at what was apparently a low point for the sport in Canada. Elite nationals was a thing of the past, several high profile duathlon-only events were on their way out, and the Ironman bug had everyone convinced that the only real multisport was that one where you have to splash around in a lake or a pool before you get to do the fun part.

However, I am pretty excited about this little bit of an upward trend we have going on right now. We have a pretty vibrant community linked by social media that is starting to creep out nationally. Nationals was a pretty big deal last year, and new athletes are starting to think of duathlon as something more than just a multisport event that you try a time or two when the water is too cold or they are not quite ready to swim in open water yet. It’s been a pleasure to watch genuine new duathletes get integrated into our community and start loving this sport as I do. I love it!

So I want to kick off this new focus of my site by highlighting some of the fantastic events that are coming up for duathletes in 2016. 2012 was pretty bad because there was not a national championship for duathletes. In 2013, we got that back and it went pretty well as part of the Esprit Triathlon weekend in Montreal! 2014 started off great with a prime venue for Nationals at the Toronto Triathlon Festival, but with the accompanying sprint distance race being about as far south as it can get (Belle River) and only a week before, the fields were pretty watered down. Things looked up in 2015, as Esprit once again hosted an excellent Nationals and Triathlon Ontario stepped up with the fantastic Du the Double Challenge in Bracebridge that got quite a bit of hype.

It all set the stage for a pretty awesome announcement for the country: Penticton, BC was named the host of the World Duathlon Championships in 2017 (as part of the World Multisport Championships Festival), and that the organizers were tasked with hosting a Canadian Multisport Championships Festival in Penticton during 2016 as a test event for Worlds. How awesome is that?!?! That set off a chain of events that I’m pretty excited about, highlighted by the fact that with Challenge Penticton being the highlight of these two festivals the eyes of the world are going to be on Canada…and duathletes are going to be right in the middle of it. But let’s see what we have in store for us this year…

WORLD DUATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS IN AVILES, SPAIN

The first thing in store for us this year has already happened! I know, what’s wrong with me to be so far behind the times! Don’t worry, I’ve just been busy training hard. But seriously, 2016 was another year for an early Worlds. A decent sized Canadian contingent headed to Aviles in the beautiful Asturias to take on the world! Adding some flair to the event was the debut of age group draft legal racing at Worlds, which seemed to go over well despite some overwhelming displays of team tactics and a moderately technical course. One important takeaway: draft legal for AG sprint racing is here to stay, and if you plan on continuing to target the sprint race at Worlds then you need to do what you can to get yourself the skills to be successful! While I would love to run through all of the performances, click the link here for that while I limit myself to just the AG medallists in this space:

  • Jasmin Aggarwal (3rd, F20-24 Standard)
  • Lynda Gingras (3rd, F35-39 Standard)
  • Steve Beasley (1st, M60-64 Standard)
  • Dave Field (2nd, M60-64 Standard)
  • Sharryn Oleskiw (1st, F70-74 Standard)
  • Diane Eller (1st, F70-74 Sprint)

And seriously, a huge shoutout to all those names I see in the Worlds results year in and year out, the ageless ones. Mitch Davidson, Janis Milliken, Jane Armstrong, Ian Ross, Bruce Butcher, Lynda Lemon, Steve Beasley, Dave Field (1-2 in M60-64, like what?!), I could go on. You guys are awesome…if I end up like you guys, loving this sport like you do, I’m going to be one happy camper.

GREAT WHITE NORTH AND CHALLENGE PENTICTON STEP UP

I went to a town hall meeting with Michael Brown, the RD of the Great White North and Challenge Penticton long course triathlons. Apparently, they had been approached with this radical idea to bid for the first ITU World Multisport Festival in Penticton for 2017. They got the go-ahead from Triathlon Canada as long as they hosted a test event this year that would serve as Nationals for all four sports. The highlight of the festival will most definitely be Challenge Penticton, which doubles as the long course Canadian championship, but with the duathlon on Wednesday there will be an opportunity for the LC triathletes to try their hands at the duathlon. As an added bonus, their other event (Great White North) was awarded 5 qualifying spots per AG to put on a standard distance duathlon at the July event, allowing duathletes another opportunity to compete alongside the best in the world at a premier event for a chance to represent their country at the 2017 World Multisport Festival. I am currently registered for this race, where I will toe the line with last year’s National bronze medallist Moritz Haager, as well as pro triathlete Jon Bird.

WTS EDMONTON ADDS A DUATHLON, AND IT’S NATIONALS

One of the unfortunate things about the Challenge Penticton Canadian Championship Festival is the lack of a sprint duathlon. This is not for a lack of trying! The reality is that with the ITU’s new mandate for draft legal sprint distance races, Triathlon Canada has followed suit and required all qualifiers for sprint distance races to be draft legal as well. While this isn’t really a huge deal for triathlons (which will probably draw a large field), it really is for duathlon. Draft legal races are hugely expensive to put on due to the requirement for closed roads. Without the near-guarantee of a huge field, draft legal duathlons are hard to justify. Luckily, there is a huge event in Edmonton on Labour Day weekend that already has closed roads and a fantastic course for draft legal racing. After the logistics fell through for a draft legal sprint duathlon in Penticton, WTS Edmonton stepped up to host the National Championships. With both championships in the East last year, it will be very interesting to see how many from the East will come test out some truly spectacular racing in the West (ie. y’all should come race me). The standard distance duathlon will also have 3 qualifying spots per AG for Penticton.

THE ESPRIT TRIATHLON ORGANIZERS ARE AWESOME…AGAIN

Despite not getting a repeat shot at hosting the Canadian championships in 2016 after a fantastic event in 2015, the organizers of the Esprit Triathlon proved once again that they are willing to do what it takes for duathletes. The 2016 event will most likely serve as the de facto Eastern Canadian Championships this year. As much as I hope that the West “will rise again”, the bulk of the duathlon community is in the East. More specifically, in Quebec. The standard distance Esprit duathlon will once again serve as part of the Canadian Multisport Qualifying Series, with 5 qualifying spots per AG once again. The real exciting part is the move of the sprint duathlon to a draft legal format, creating a second qualifier for the sprint du in Penticton. If you haven’t raced the Esprit event…you should. The bike course is on the F1 circuit, and the ~4.5km lap is perfectly suited for a draft legal race. It’s not overly technical, with only one real hairpin, and the pavement quality is fantastic (obviously). This year’s event is on September 10/11, and I will be in attendance for the draft legal sprint duathlon to close out my season.

TRIATHLON ONTARIO AND MULTISPORT CANADA TEAM UP AGAIN

I feel safe in saying that last year’s Ontario Provincial Du the Double Challenge at Multisport Canada’s Bracebridge weekend was a great success. I mean, I could hear the amount of buzz around the event all the way in Edmonton! Registrations for both events were up by huge percentages, and by all reports it was an exceptional organizational job (as usual) by Multisport Canada. As a result of that success Triathlon Ontario will do it again in 2016, this time at Multisport Canada’s Gravenhurst weekend. The events are flipped, with the more difficult event scheduled for Saturday, but it won’t make the weekend any less difficult. The sprint distance race will not be a qualfier for Worlds (as it is not draft legal), but the standard distance race will be the 4th qualifying event on the calendar with 2 spots per AG. There will be three spots per AG at the race and with it being on the Saturday this year, there will be plenty of opportunity for AGers to punch their ticket to Penticton on fresh legs before tackling the sprint race the next day *hint hint*. Seriously, this is a great event to support and though racing twice in two days is certainly no joke, we’re all duathletes and that means we’re tough as hell by definition!

AN INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT AT IRONMAN 70.3 MUSKOKA

As a final note to wrap up this piece, I’d like to highlight an interesting development that cropped up on the Ironman 70.3 Muskoka website: the 2016 event will feature a 5k/94k/21.1k duathlon. Though this is not the first long course duathlon in this country, it is the first in a little while that has a run to start (ie. not a bike/run). Sorry, Belle River is the first, with Muskoka to follow. The point is, they are a rare breed. Do I believe that an announcement for this event coming so late is going to lead to a flood of registrations? Nope. Do I foresee this race going off with 12-22 people on the start line? Yup. Do I hope they realize this fact and run the race so that we can get some good reviews down and increase registration five-fold or ten-fold in 2017? I definitely do. Muskoka is a tough and rewarding course, and I think it will make an amazing long course duathlon. In 2017. When people have the time to plan for it and train for it.

I would include another highlight reel of some results from certain races in the past month, but I’m already at 1800 words and the Welland World Championships are this weekend. So I will save it and some previews of big July races for another day, presumably sometime next week.

So until next time…keep Du’ing it!

A Road Trip to Penticton and a Recap of Some Duathlon Racing Across Canada

My major focus in the early season, and indeed my first major test of fitness, was to be a return trip to Penticton, BC. While the structure of the weekend is definitely unusual and likely sub-optimal, racing the perennially super-fast Bare Bones Duathlon on Saturday followed by the Blossom 10 Miler on Sunday morning represented a challenge that I really wanted to undertake. Click on the race names for the results page, and read on for some recaps!

BARE BONES DUATHLON
My primary focus for this weekend in Penticton was a return to the Bare Bones Duathlon, organized by the Penticton Triathlon Club. This was my favourite race last year, next to the Comfortec Red Deer Duathlon (which incidentally, has been named as the Alberta Provincial Championships for 2016), and the grassroots, no frills atmosphere is the perfect place to lay it all out there and just worry about racing. The course keeps you honest, with flat but technical and exposed 5km (2 lap) runs sandwiched around a tough out-and-back 33km bike that travels along an exposed lakeside road then takes in two long and steady climbs (and the corresponding descents). It is as much a test of personal strength as it is a race.

Leading the way

Leading out the first run, with 2nd place hot on my heels

I came into the race knowing that the major competition would be two-time defending champion Nathan Champness, and that the race in previous years had had one of the deepest and most competitive fields in the country. Nathan had won last year in a course record of a shade over 1:27, while I had finished 5th in 1:31:04. The first run went out as fast as it did last year, but this year I was able to take control (or so I would lead myself to believe) of the race halfway through the first lap. Despite that I was not able to shake Nathan throughout the first run, and though I was able to split 16:11 for the first 5k I had only about 10-15 seconds on him heading onto the bikes.
Heading in from the bikes

2 minutes down coming off the bike it 2 too many

I was able to ride strong, though issues with my Garmin had me riding blind and a little more sporadically than I would have liked. The long downhills allowed for some recovery after riding the hills harder than I would have liked, and I still was able to ride 51:55 for the 33km (37.8km/h and 4 minutes faster than last year). Nathan had passed me 4km into the bike, and had a 2 minute lead on me by T2, so I just focused on running strong and consistent enough to solidify my 2nd place finish. My final time was 1:26:43, inside the course record from last year but well-beaten into 2nd place. Nathan Champness was just too strong on this day…kudos my friend!

BLOSSOM 10 MILER
Though my legs were TRASHED following Bare Bones I was able to get in some decent recovery Saturday evening, doing some rolling and then kicking my feet up in preparation for my longest test of the season. The Blossom 10 Miler was more of a “might as well do it since I am here” race, but I am glad I did it. The race is point to point, starting in the middle of a rural road 1 mile north of Naramata and heading along some picturesque lakeside roads (complete with an absolutely stunning view) and then onto the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. The last mile turns into Penticton, heading along Lakeshore Drive and finishing at the SS Sicamous. The course is almost entirely downhill save for some rollers in the first mile, and the strong wind from the north from the day before continued, giving us a solid tailwind for almost the entire race.

Chillin

Double races in one weekend is hard


Like Saturday, Jeremy Hopwood went straight to the front of the race and I followed him to a small gap on the rest of the field straight off the bat. I was able to get a gap on him on one of the downhills, and from there I used the twists and turns of the course to inject some pace and increase my gap once out of sight. In time, he faded out of contention while eventual podium finishers Hector Carlos and Josh Heinrich made their way up. I kept running strong trying to maintain my pace (~3:38/km) before trying to drop the hammer at the exit of the KVR Trail. In the last mile I had some hopes that I could dip under the 58:00 mark, but I ran out of gas in the last 500m (about 2 mile later than I expected to) to finish in 58:11 for the overall win. It was a solid effort at another fantastic local grassroots event. I will most definitely be back next year!
Got the win!

…but managed to get the win on day 2!


A WORD ABOUT SOME DUATHLONS FROM ACROSS CANADA
Keeping with the new theme of this site, I’d like to recap some of the great duathlon action from around the country. With the World Championships for age groupers being in Aviles, Spain in early June this year, many duathletes are coming out of the woodwork this spring further along with their fitness than in previous years. Lets dive into a few:

UBC DUATHLON
Typically the first Canadian duathlon test, this one usually draws some pretty strong athletes to Vancouver. Nick Patenaude won the 5km/20km/5km race overall, but the real story was Cat 2 female cyclist Morgan Cabot winning the women’s race and placing 2nd overall thanks to a far and away race-best 31:04 bike. That’s fast as HELL, though I guess we should have expected that out of the reigning B.C. provincial TT champion. She beat 2014 Canadian duathlon champion Sara Massie by 5:13. Hopefully we see her in more duathlons this year.

FLOWER CITY CHALLENGE DUATHLON (ROCHESTER, NY)
There was some high placed Canadian content at the Flower City Challenge duathlon in Rochester NY, and it looked like a tactical battle that led to a 1-2 Canadian invasion of the podium. Guelph’s Josh LeBlanc sizzled the first 5k (in 15:52) before Toronto’s Darren Cooney methodically closed the gap en route to a race-best 54:54 for a 30km bike before starting the games. Back and forth they went until Darren took the lead late in the bike and didn’t look back. He took the win in 1:34:38 to LeBlanc’s 1:36:11 despite Josh’s race-best 19:36 second 5k.

IRON HAWK DUATHLON
One of the highlights of the duathlon season, the Iron Hawk duathlon has likely only been matched for depth and competitiveness by the Bare Bones Duathlon that it shares a weekend with. This year, Kirstie Kniaziew once again did her thing by coming 5th overall and winning the women’s race by…a lot, but the big story was a wide open men’s race that was without superstar (understatement of the year) Lionel Sanders for the first time. Liyang Wang took an overwhelming win by running a race best 17:31 for the first 5k and not looking back. He rode a race best 29:55 followed by a race fastest 9:11 (for 2.5km) to beat Brad Reiter and Spencer Summerfield into 2nd and 3rd respectively. 57:41 would have had him rank in the top 5 for duathlons in the past 3 years. Dude looks ready for Worlds, I’d say.

DUATHLON SOREL-TRACY
Last but certainly not least is the defacto “opener” of an incredibly competitive Quebec duathlon circuit. Sorel-Tracy is a 5km/33km/2.5km (approximately) duathlon that usually brings out the best of Quebec multisport athletes. This year, Bathurst triathlete Lee Roy took one step up to the top step, winning this year after finishing 2nd last year on the heels of a 16:02 5k/49:06 bike. The women’s race was taken convincingly by last year’s Montreal Demi-Esprit runner-up Annie Gervais thanks to some strong running. Browsing the results shows many of the big names in Quebec racing, falling right in with the trend of athletes being super fit for Worlds in June.

Let’s hope that continues right through to national championships season in August/September!

I’m heading to Jasper this weekend for a training camp to kick off the second half of the season. So until next time…keep Du’ing it!
Peace out yo!

Can The Double Be Done? Ontario Duathlon Championship Preview, Part 2

All year, the question has been on everyone’s mind: can the double be done? Triathlon Ontario and Multisport Canada’s Du the Double challenge has definitely raised the stakes for the entire duathlon community. Now, the official challenge is based on age group placings and is reserved for Triathlon Ontario members only…but it prompted the question in my mind: is the true double (winning both races outright) possible? I will admit it to be a tantalizing thought to me…

SUNDAY STANDARD DUATHLON – WOMEN
Sunday’s standard duathlon looks like it will continue the trend of excellent races this weekend, though I think the star power may actually shift over to the women’s side between Saturday and Sunday. That’s not to say the men’s race won’t have its fair share of wicked performances (because it will) but the women’s race includes two fantastic elite runners in the field that are going to shake up the landscape in a big way.

The Favourites
Tammy Purdy
Meggan Franks

Tammy Purdy will make another foray into the duathlon world, bringing her 1:25 half marathon PB and a resume that includes the win at the Rose City Bike/Run this June. She will face some very tough competition this time around, however, in the form of Meggan Franks. Meggan’s accomplishments are too numerous to list here (though her 1:19 half and 2:49 marathon speak volumes), and since injuries struck earlier this year she’s been piling on the miles on the bike. It’s always tough to bet against Purdy, but I think this one might be a runaway for Franks.

Tammy Purdy - Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

Tammy Purdy – Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

The Race for 3rd
Paula Lockyer
Karen Bravo

Paula Lockyer brings a ton of experience and several top 10 AG finishes at Worlds with her to Bracebridge, and should be a solid bet to round out the podium despite her recent struggles with injuries. Karen Bravo will keep her honest while attempting the Double, but as many can attest the standard distance is a vastly different beast than the sprint, especially for a young athlete. Still though, the potential is there to push for the podium despite having the sprint in her legs.

Paula Lockyer - Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

Paula Lockyer – Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

Looming
Angela Gervase
Alexandra Bade
Barb Pollard

These three ladies have all proven to be strong an consistent athletes and will fight it out for the last top 5 spot or two. This in itself could be an intriguing race, and if Paula Lockyer’s hamstring holds her back or the fatigue gets to Karen Bravo, a breakthrough race could be the podium for any one of these three!

1. Franks 2. Purdy 3. Lockyer 4. Bravo 5. Gervase

SUNDAY STANDARD RACE – MEN’S
Which leads us to the men’s standard distance race (the one I most dearly wish I could be a part of). This one is interesting to me because it is the deepest men’s standard distance duathlon I have seen since starting to compete! As many as 15 registered athletes would have a good chance at slipping under 2:10 on a true course. This will be tougher on Saturday with the extra 2km on the bike, but the sentiment remains.

Chasing History
Larry Bradley
Brian Moore
Matt Straatman

These three athletes doing the Double are strong contenders in this race that I already talked about in my sprint distance preview. Over the standard distance no one can match a recent result as good as Larry Bradley’s race at Nationals last year, and he is on phenomenal form right now. Moore is an excellent name for the future. As far as I can tell this race will be his road 10k debut just to start the beastly standard distance race, but after a stellar race to win the sprint he looks like a very real threat here. Straatman wasn’t originally in this group, but after a HUGE breakthrough to crack the podium in the sprint race I would be remiss not to include him here!

Brian Moore - Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

Brian Moore – Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

Racing on Fresh Legs
Brendan Howard
Jason Lemire
Andrew McLeod
Daryl Flacks
Darren Cooney
Jeremy Carter
Kevin Gallagher

What differentiates this group from the next is that they will be fresh. I think the top three have a SLIGHT edge on the next 4, but it’s very, very slight. Howard is an Elite AG triathlete with solid run chops and lots of experience to last a tough day. Lemire has recorded top 10 finishes at the most competitive duathlon in Canada the past two years, at Esprit. And McLeod seems to be on the form of his life and likely knows this course better than almost anyone in this field. Flacks, Cooney, Carter and Gallagher always put together excellent and consistent performances, and will be hungry to pounce and crack the top 5! What depth we are seeing at this race…

Andrew McLeod - Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

Andrew McLeod – Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

Pulling Double Duty
Dave Field
Shayne Dumouchelle
Howie Walker
Dany Malley (if racing)
Garvin Moses

This group is similar to the one above, except for the fresh legs. They will have to dig deep for a result on Saturday and may be feeling it on Sunday. Led by Dave Field and his multiple World AG gold medals, these guys will be out looking for some fast performance, big PB’s and top placings. Dany Malley is included here after a race day sign-up for the sprint this morning. Again, a big race from one of these five could displace a faltering “favourite”; I have been proven wrong by this group before. It just might be a little tougher here with a race already in the legs.

Matt Straatman - Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

Matt Straatman…what a performance on Saturday! – Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

This is a tough one, but gun to my head I’ll take Larry Bradley for some redemption. It won’t be the double after Moore’s win this morning, but I think LB will be looking for that elusive provincial title and has the resume to back it up. Moore will make him work and be right there, but I think debuting at the longer distance will be just a bit too much for him. Someone will have a breakthrough race and make me look foolish (just like Straatman did to me today). But barring an appearance by a man named Frake, here’s my call:

1. Bradley 2. Moore 3. Howard 4. Straatman 5. McLeod

I’m pretty confident about the women’s race. The men’s race I am not. I fully expect to be completely wrong, and I would be incredibly excited for that to be the case. It just makes for good bulletin board material for me over the next month :). The work is done everyone…time to go out an execute. The training is the hard part, the race is just the icing on the cake.

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Update August 8 9:03am – After some HUGE breakthroughs in the sprint race, the men’s preview was rejigged a little bit. Yes, this is kind of cheating…but it’s my preview and I’ll do what I please with it :).

Who Will Emerge? Ontario Duathlon Championship Preview, Part 1

This upcoming weekend is a much-anticipated event on the Ontario duathlon calendar: the Provincial Championships hosted by Multisport Canada at the Bracebridge Triathlon/Duathlon weekend. It’s a weekend full of intrigue, because not only is it a provincial championship on a difficult course that is as sure to throw a wrench into your plans as your competitors are, Triathlon Ontario has added a bit of sparkle with the Du the Double Challenge. No doubt this will be a wild card in the races as several will be attempting to brave a tough standard distance course just one day after a wire-to-wire 60 minute thrill ride on Saturday.

SATURDAY SPRINT DUATHLON – MEN
When I first started thinking about this preview (ie. before I found the Sportstats “Preview Athletes” function), I thought it was going to be a two horse race between the latest sub-1:00 duathlete in Ontario (Brian Moore) and Larry Bradley with Spencer Summerfield lurking and ready to pounce. I was wrong. It’s not. Far from it in fact. Here are some names I found who are racing (you can see the start list here):

  • Brian Moore (59:42 sprint duathlon)
  • Liam Donnelly (Runner-up Ontario Junior Championships)
  • Spencer Summerfield (Woodstock/Welland winner, 1:01 sprint du)
  • Kyle Smith (This dude making his duathlon debut)
  • David Field (Multiple World AG wins)
  • Larry Bradley (Belwood winner, 2nd place 2014 Canadian Championships)
Spencer Summerfield - Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

Spencer Summerfield – Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

Throw in steady performers Shayne Dumouchelle, Matt Straatman, Garvin Moses and the immeasurable Howie Walker, and you have yourself one heck of a race! Smith has the best running chops in this race, though his bike is an unknown. He coaches with the Toronto Triathlon Club though, so he might very well surprise. I see him and Donnelly (16:25 5k this year) taking the run out hard on the mostly flat course, with Moore (a varsity high school runner) trying to go with them. Stronger cyclists (Bradley, Field, Summerfield) must toe a delicate balance here to save legs for the bike while not sleeping on these guys, as 20km is not a very long distance to make up minutes (unless your name is Frake). Especially with Moore, a junior elite cyclist.

I’ll still take my man LB in this one, but it’s going to be close and he’s going to have to dig deep to do it. Moore and Smith are going to be right on his heels creating a massive battle for the podium spots. Donnelly will be right there too if his TT skills are up to snuff, while Field and Summerfield can’t be underestimated either. Any one could win on their day and I wouldn’t be surprised…but I think it’s going to take one heck of a breakthrough race to do so. And Dumouchelle, Straatman, Moses and Walker will be waiting to pounce on a top 5 spot if anyone falters. Is it possible that a sub-1:00 doesn’t crack the top 5 on Saturday? Ooh boy…

My pick to win...in a barn burner - Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

My pick to win…in a barn burner – Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

SATURDAY SPRINT DUATHLON – WOMEN
The women’s race is usually an enigma with me, because I usually don’t have quite enough information for a decent preview. This race is a little different, so I am going to give it a shot. The start list has quite a few athletes who I see have gone ~1:18-1:20 in sprint duathlons, with a few a cut above the rest. Anna Fiorito and Michelle Sheehy have both recorded sprints under 1:15, while Karen Bravo is a strong athlete from Team LPC. Bravo has been strong across three disciplines this year, and if I had to make a call (and that’s kind of the point) I would tip her for the win as the stronger of the three.

I think it will be a back and forth battle all race between these three and likely 1-2 others for the leader on the road position, however. If any of the three falter, then some combination of Karri Beck, Tara Mcaninch Mclaren, Annie Renaud, Christine Elliott or Chelsea Lye will be ready to pounce. All have recorded solid sprint duathlon times this year and could very well be poised for a breakout race. I will take Canadian duathlon supporter Karri Beck to be the best of the rest behind the three above, with junior Lucy Panko the dark horse to sneak into the top 5.

It should be noted that last year’s winner and Canadian Championship bronze medalist Isabelle Sauve lives 90 minutes up the road and is usually a gametime decision for races, so there is a decent chance of her making appearance on one or both days. She would be a serious favourite if she chooses to race!

Karri Beck - Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

Karri Beck – Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

What I LOVE is the 61 athletes signed up for the international distance and the 81 signed up for the sprint. Those numbers are sure to bump up on race day as well. Great work supporting your provincial championships Ontario! Check back later today for that standard distance preview. Until then…keep Du’ing it!

Clash on the Muskoka Wharf – Gravenhurst Men’s International Duathlon Preview

I was not originally going to do this preview, planning to opt for Belwood instead. But after my Belwood preview fell through and I got wind of a fresh field shaping up for the Gravenhurst International Duathlon, I decided to make it up to y’all by doing a preview. What makes it more intriguing is the fact that Gravenhurst is going to be the first really big duathlon of the season in Canada, and will be followed in close succession by Magog and Charlevoix on July 25/26 (not to mention the Victory Duathlon in Leduc this weekend, where I will be racing). The sprint distance is relatively well developed this year, with 10 sub-1:00 performances already this year, and with a late date for Nationals July is a perfect time for those who fancy themselves contenders to show their faces at the longer distance. Currently, our own Daryl Flacks has the best recorded time in a sanctioned 10k/40k/5k race, with his 2:04:25 at Belle River, though that will surely change over the next two weekends. First, a little bit about the course.

COURSE PREVIEW
Gravenhurst is a tough course, especially for the international distance. The run is a tough out and back full of nasty little pitches and no relief from the sun and heat. The forecast is calling for ~20 degrees and not much wind, but on an exposed course (even moreso with the new bike course, or so I am told) the sun can have a dramatic effect. The new bike course is a wild card, but it looks to be similarly rolling to the old course, it not a little flatter overall. Times will likely be faster this year, due to the bike course and the stiffer competition. It is most definitely a course that favours strong athletes, and the day will tell us who has been eating their Wheaties!

THE FAVOURITES
Daryl Flacks
Andrew McLeod

These two get a bit of a bump over the rest of the field, due either to performance or uncertainty. Flacks actually currently holds the fastest sanctioned international distance time in Canada right now, at 2:04:25, and he can groove pretty well over the longer distance. McLeod is a veteran of this course who knows the roads well, and even with the new bike route he will have the benefit of experience. The last time these two raced the gap was less than 90 seconds, and both are strong athletes built for a long haul…perfect for a course like this.

Daryl Flacks

Daryl Flacks

Andrew McLeod

Andrew McLeod

THE WILY VETERANS
Howie Walker
Kevin Gallagher

These two will make it interesting for each of the top 5 positions, two athletes defined by steadiness. Walker continues his successful comeback from a year off racing due to heart issues this year, with his lethal bike (on perhaps the cleanest set-up in Ontario) slowly coming back. Look for Walker to use his strength to push Flacks and McLeod hard. Gallagher is trying to race himself into duathlon shape after a spring of marathon racing, though his legs weathered by several years of Cabot Trail Relay racing will be well suited to this undulating run course.

Kevin Gallagher

Kevin Gallagher

HOWIE BRING BACK THIS HELMET! It broke my heart a little to see you in a Rudy Project at Belwood...

HOWIE BRING BACK THIS HELMET! It broke my heart a little to see you in a Rudy Project at Belwood…

THE BREAKOUT ATHLETE OF 2015
Darren Cooney

I think Darren will be the one to shake up the standings this weekend, as he really has become a model of consistency. Since Lakeside last year (and maybe before), Darren has proven to be the one to pick up the pieces. A late bloomer in the sport, Darren is coming off the high of his first overall win in Guelph last month. Steady as can be, Darren will likely upset the finishing order of the top 5 come the finish on Saturday.

Darren, I am expecting a smile just like this in the finish line photos this weekend!

Darren, I am expecting a smile just like this in the finish line photos this weekend!

CONCLUSIONS
A dark horse could come out of the weeds for sure, but I don’t see all that many more making the trip to Gravenhurst with one to Bracebridge on tap next month. Many of these athletes sure to be present on Saturday have either raced light race schedules this year or are named Flacks/Walker (ie. bulletproof to racing every weekend). The heat and exposure could play a big factor in how the front of this race plays out, but I think recent history puts Flacks in the driver’s seat for this one. McLeod will be less than a minute back and ready to pounce if Daryl doesn’t figure out the hydration issues that plagued him in Belle River and suffers in the heat.

The battle for third will be interesting as well, though I don’t think the other three will be quite in the same ballpark as the front two. My bet is on Walker to take advantage of the tamer bike course to be the best of the rest as he continues his comeback, with Cooney moving past Gallagher and nearly reeling in Walker on the run. A resilient race might even see Darren crack the podium, but I’ll lean to Walker’s pedigree and experience here. These 3 could easily finish in any order on this course, so I don’t feel very confident in these predictions…

As for times, I can’t see them being earth-shattering…the course is too much of a bear. I would lean towards a war of attrition here. 2:07-2:08 should win, with 2:08-2:09 good for second and 2:10’s to round out the top 5. Those times are likely worth 3-4 minutes faster on a more favourable course. Guys, pay attention to the little things like core temperature and getting enough electrolytes in. Gravenhurst isn’t a course to be tough on!

1. Flacks 2. McLeod 3. Walker 4. Cooney 5. Gallagher

Let’s see how these go! I’ll be watching with interest. Until next time, keep Du’ing it!