Race Previews

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!

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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!

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!

2015 IRON HAWK DUATHLON PREVIEW (MENS RACE)

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
Lionel Sanders

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
Thierry Guertin
Prakash Pandya

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
Ryan Allison
Robert DeMarco

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
Daryl Flacks
Shayne Dumouchelle
Brad Reiter

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
Spencer Summerfield
Chris Marentette

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):

  1. Sanders
  2. Guertin
  3. Pandya
  4. Allison
  5. Flacks

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!

A Border City Battle – Tecumseh Duathlon Preview

I spend a lot of time with my finger on the pulse of duathlon in Ontario. My role writing race previews and recaps for Ontario Duathlon Central has me trolling results every weekend, and digging through registration lists during the week. One of my favourite races on the Ontario calendar is the Windsor (now Tecumseh) Duathlon in Tecumseh, Ontario. It was my first duathlon in 2009, and I returned two years ago where I was first off the bike on my way to the overall win and a course record on the current race course (1:23:43). Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it again this year (not for lack of trying), but with several excellent athletes planning on attending, there could be quite the battle taking aim at my mark. Here is what each of those contenders may need to do to win (in no particular order).

Author’s Note – The following preview is all in good fun, and will likely be entirely wrong (as I have often been in the past). Much like I did for Welland, I highlight the contenders in the men’s race and how each MIGHT win the race. This is an unofficial preview, and the opinions reflected on the potential outcome of the race, as well as the traits of each athlete, are my own. Take it with a grain of salt as I am not, and do not pretend to be, an authority of any kind other than what I can glean and guess from looking at results and chatting with athletes. So without further ado…enjoy!

SCOTT FINCH (2014 results: 1st at Niagara – 1:21:08)

SCOTT FINCH

Photo Credit – Chyla’s Race Photos, 2013

Strength – Experience. Scott knows how to win duathlons, and has been doing it for years. There are no real holes in his game, as he has done it with the run, on the bike, and with his head. He takes care of the low-hanging fruit and doesn’t leave things to chance. A true winner is a rare commodity, and Scott is just that. And this race will require its winner to be 100% on, gun to tape.

Wild Card – Race fitness. Scott is smart, and he proved his fitness two weekends ago in winning Niagara. However, he has very few races under his belt in the last 12 months, and this will be his deepest test in Lakeside last year. There is really no substitute for racing, and when the chips are down just knowing if and how you will respond to the race can be valuable.

How Scott wins on Sunday – Use his matches wisely. Scott has always had the bike split necessary to lead off the bike, and the running legs to hang on for the win. Race savvy can go a long way, and knowing when to burn matches and when to save them is crucial. A smart racer knows the bullets they have, and uses them judiciously.

DARYL FLACKS (2014 results: 16th at Iron Hawk – 1:03:59, 1st at Leamington – 1:02:03, 3rd at Guelph Lake I – 1:55:39, 2nd at Sprint Nationals (Belle River) – 1:02:31, 6th at Nationals (TTF) – 2:04:23)

DARYL FLACKS

Photo Credit – Chyla’s Race Photos, 2014

Strength – Take your pick. Strong bike, mentally tough, plenty of race experience. Daryl comes in to Tecumseh with more du’s this season than anyone else in this preview combined. His bike is always in the top tier of racers, and he shows up to every race willing to win or die trying. These guys are always a factor, especially with a weapon like Daryl’s bike. Don’t ever count him out.

Wild Card – The run. If there is anything, it is that Daryl’s short course run lacks the bite that it sometimes takes on the last run to seal it. Daryl gets better as the distance goes up and has excellent chops at 10k or longer. But with only 9km of running and a strong short course runner in the field, a winning move on the bike will have to be decisive and final.

How Daryl wins on Sunday – Crush the bike and hang on. Apart from Scott in top form, no one in the field can out-ride Daryl. He nearly executed this strategy to perfection in Belle River, coming up just short (27 seconds) to a very talented CIS varsity runner and elite U23 triathlete, Chris Moyer. Redemption is sweet, and no one there on Sunday has a run quite like Moyer.

RYAN ALLISON (2014 results: 12th at Iron Hawk – 1:02:24)

RYAN ALLISON

Strength – The run. Likely the strongest runner in the field, Ryan has put together an impressive list of running results this season. So far this year, he has recorded a 16:26 5k and a 34:09 10k, results that no more than a handful of Ontario duathletes can match. This race may come down to getting as far away from Ryan as possible on the bike before the second 6km run.

Wild Card – Bike fitness. Apart from Iron Hawk, Ryan has not raced any duathlons this year, focusing instead on running. He has been very open about the lack of time he has spent on a bike. Of course…he said that before Iron Hawk too, then proceeded to outsplit me. The bike is a wild card, and may make it difficult to put a dent into whatever lead he may have off the first run.

How Ryan wins on Sunday – Bike for show, run for dough. This race can be won on the run. With a 3km run to start and a flat bike to come, there is enough time to gap the field early and get lost among the triathletes on the course while keeping the foot on the gas. Being first off the bike may just seal it, but watch out Ryan…the horses will be coming for you to ensure that doesn’t happen.

SHAYNE DUMOUCHELLE (2014 results: 5th at Sprint Nationals (Belle River) – 1:03:52, 2nd at Niagara – 1:22:35)

SHAYNE DUMOUCHELLE

Strength – Tenacity. One chat with this guy and I already know that he just wants to win races. He says he doesn’t plan on being crowded on the bike course, which I could only assume means he has nothing short of victory on his mind. His first two du’s have been a top 5 finish at Sprint Nationals and a narrow 2nd place at Niagara. Improvement curves usually goes up quickly.

Wild Card – Experience. Shayne has the least duathlon experience of anyone listed here…which could very well mean absolutely nothing. Multisport racing has some technical element, and seconds can be had in areas that aren’t governed by mental and physical toughness. This race could very well come down to those seconds…or not.

How Shayne wins on Sunday – Be the last man standing. Shayne is back for a rematch with Scott, and gets some duathlon veterans coming along for the ride. I could tell he was smarting from the tight 2nd place in Niagara, and I gather he badly wants the W in Tecumseh. The skills are there to push the other three right to the line, as is the hunger. Watch your backs boys.

This race could play out any number of ways, and will be exceptionally fun to follow. If I had to guess, I would say Ryan leads the field into T1, with about a minute gap on the group containing the other three. From there, it depends on how he rides. If he rides like he has in the past, Ryan will be tough to beat. By his own admission though, that’s not likely. More likely, he rides around how he did at Iron Hawk, and likely gets caught somewhere on the second bike lap. Me, I’m hoping for Scott, Daryl and Shayne to come into T2 together with a minute or two on Ryan, creating a wild 3-way footrace for the line with a pair of fleet feet chasing hard from behind. THAT would make for some good TV.

Until next time, keep Du’ing it!

The Battle of Rose City – Welland Preview

Every year since I started duathlon, the Rose City Duathlon (formerly Welland) of the Multisport Canada/Recharge With Milk Triathlon Series has been a favourite on the circuit. Uber-biker Erik Box won it in my first season is a blazing fast 1:24:04 time, and I was able to take the win last season after executing one of my best ever races in a time of 1:24:34 on a very hot day. The flat and fast course lends itself incredibly well to a drag race. It is a fantastic last tune-up prior to the big races of July in Ontario. On another interesting note, as far as I can tell the course record is held by my coach Tommy Ferris, in a quick 1:23:33 time.

I will be returning to Welland this upcoming weekend with what I hope is an improved bike split. After a relatively slow start to the Ontario duathlon scene where the close finish has been a rarity, the early confirmation list promises an interesting and competitive race. The overall winners at Woodstock (myself), Milton (Grahame Rivers), and Binbrook (Larry Bradley) will all be in attendance, and who knows what wild card will reveal itself on race morning? Here is what each of the contenders will need to do to win the Battle of Rose City (please excuse me writing about myself in the 3rd person below…it just sounds better in this context!)…

LARRY BRADLEY (2014 results: 1st at Binbrook)

Larry

2014 Mike Cheliak – My Sports Shooter

Strength: A complete racer. Larry is the most experienced contender, and that shows in his solid bike and run over the years. Larry will always consistently have close to the fastest splits in both disciplines. Larry continued that trend of running a complete race in Binbrook this past weekend.

Weakness: The second run. If Larry has a weakness, it is a wild card on the second run. Though Larry is generally strong all the way through the race, he has occasionally had hiccups running off the bike if he is forced to dig too deep on the bike, which can cost any duathlete a race.

How Larry wins on Saturday: Strong second run. If Larry is to win on Saturday, he will have to keep up a steady performance from start to finish line. With strong runners coming from behind, Larry will have to stave off the heat and dead legs from 2 weekends of racing to come out on top.

GRAHAME RIVERS (2014 results: 4th at Woodstock, 1st at Milton)

Grahame

2014 Mike Cheliak – My Sports Shooter

Strength: The bike. What race is complete without the stud cyclist? Grahame is new to the sport, but has stepped in nicely as the guy everyone looks over their shoulder for after T1. A reigning provincial ITT champion, Grahame is always good for a smoking bike split.

Weakness: The run. As a pure cyclist before this year, Grahame has had a steep learning curve. Some race experience surely helped him turn a 4th in Woodstock into a win in Milton. Hopefully Grahame can carry over his cycling fitness to take his run up another notch on Saturday.

How Grahame wins on Saturday: Crush the bike. Even a consistent 4:00/km pace on the run means Grahame may be starting the bike 3 minutes behind, needing a 3 minute lead out of T2 to hang on. Can Grahame knock a further 3 minutes off his bike split from Milton and scare 40:00 on Saturday before hanging on for the win?

JESSE BAUER (2014 results: 7th at Iron Hawk, 1st at Woodstock)

Jesse

2014 Mike Cheliak – My Sports Shooter

Strength: The run. Over his short career, Jesse has become well-known for his foot speed. That is his ace in the hole, as he regularly post the top run splits in races. The question on Saturday is whether or not his bike is strong enough to keep him close enough to unleash that second run.

Weakness: The bike. As a classic former track runner, Jesse is still learning how to get the most out of his cycling. A strong bike leg still leaves him with minutes to make up on the second run. He has improved over the past year, but will that continue on June 14? We shall see…

How Jesse wins on Saturday: Minimize losses on the bike. Last year he was able to come out with a win in Welland because he was able to keep Erik and Larry close on the second half of the bike. Will a similar strategy work this weekend in his title defense?

THE WILD CARDS

The great yet terrifying thing about duathlon in Ontario is that you just don’t know who you will be racing until you get to the start line. Will Erik Box emerge from the abyss to take another shot at the course record, adding another uber-biker to the field? Will Bruce Raymer attempt to follow up his great duathlon debut with a second in Welland, adding another rabbit to the start line? Will Richard Eyram decide to dust off his P3 and running shoes, joining Larry as another solid and complete racer that just cannot be ignored? Is there another unknown out there who is planning on crashing the party with a big debut? Still so many questions, ones that will hopefully be answered before we all toe the line, but many that will be up in the air until the dust settles. All we can be sure of is that we are in for a heck of a race!