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!

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Transitions

Well readers…yes it has been a little while, but don’t fret! I’m still alive and back in the game. A lot has happened since my last post…I mean it HAS been 8 months (oops). So let’s get to it!

NATIONALS AFTERMATH AND 2015 DEBRIEF

2015 was a banner year for me, capped off by my Canadian duathlon title. Winning that race was the culmination of 3 years of hard work and focus following a decent debut season in 2012. While I didn’t necessarily always get the results I wanted in 2013 and 2014, it was all worth it with what I was able to accomplish in 2015:

2016 Medal Haul

My haul from 2016!

Following Nationals, I stumbled upon this awesome series of cross country races on Wednesday nights called the Frank McNamara XC race series. Set in various places in the Edmonton river valley, I got my butt kicked by some serious trail runners every Wednesday night during some good old-fashioned foot races. It was a great way to finish off the season by going back to my cross country running roots in a fun, low pressure scenario.

LOOKING FORWARD TO 2016

With a positive end to a three year block of goal setting now in my rearview mirror, it is time to look forward to 2016 and beyond. My ultimate goal has always been to race with the elites at Worlds. Mixing it up with the best is truly the pinnacle for me, and seeing the performances that those men and women put together on the grandest stage of duathlon is incredibly inspiring.

While it would be equally amazing to make that debut at the recently (-ish) announced 2017 World Multisport Festival in Penticton, BC, Triathlon Canada’s new requirements for obtaining an International Competition Card (necessary for competing in the elite race at Worlds) will make that goal difficult. So while this does still remain a stretch goal, my focus has turned to the following progression:


2016
Double National Championship attempt (standard distance on August 24 in Penticton, sprint distance on September 4 at home in Edmonton)
2017
Double AG World Championship attempt in Penticton, BC. Use that performance to obtain my ICC from Triathlon Canada
2018
Represent my country and the Maple Leaf in the World Duathlon Championship elite race in Odense, Denmark

This ambitious set of goals is going to require committing to training and living like an ITU pro, which unfortunately is going to require changes to the set-up I became used to the past several years. I owe a lot of the credit for where I am today as an athlete to Tommy Ferris and Ignition Fitness. Becoming a national champion happened under Tommy’s watchful eye, and I doubt I would have gotten to this level without that valuable development time.

My team for 2016

My team for 2016!

My schedule for 2016 is posted under the tab above, with highlights being a trio of races in August and September where I will attempt to defend my standard distance Canadian title before taking on two National Race Series draft legal sprint duathlons in Edmonton and Montreal. Fitting in with these goals, this winter I was presented with the opportunity to join up with the Edmonton Triathlon Academy, an elite development training group in the city. With the ETA, I will have the opportunity to train with like-minded athletes in a team environment, working on duathlon skills just as much as on my fitness. The results have been positive so far, I would say; here are some brief recaps of my solid (if unspectacular) early season races to kick off this season of blogging!

APRIL 17 – ST. ALBERT ROAD RACE 10KM (1st OVERALL, 34:34)

My season officially kicked off with the St. Albert Road Race in mid-April, where I set my personal best for 10 miles last year. This year, my focus has been on running fast over the 5km and 10km distances, so I would be running the 10k in St. Albert this season. I was carrying some very good fitness into April this year, giving me high hopes of a record-eligible course PB. Unfortunately, I took a stupid but painful spill on some gravel during an early training ride that left me with a pretty deep bruise on my hip, ending my hopes of really running fast at this race. My goal became simply to win the race, and with a surge up a false flat 3km into the race, I accomplished just that (only after a lonely 7km around northern St. Albert). Final time – 34:34 for 1st place overall. Not bad for a rust buster.

St. Albert Road Race 10k

Charging to the finish in 1st at the St. Albert Road Race 10k

APRIL 17 – NORTHERN ALBERTA SPRING SERIES #1

Immediately after the St. Albert race, my team and I headed east towards Sherwood Park for the first race of the Spring Series bike races, a series jointly put on by several of the cycling clubs around Edmonton and aimed more at getting in training miles and developing skills than being a full-on bike race. This would be a fantastic opportunity for me to learn some skills on the fly, and to see firsthand how the dynamics of a draft legal bike race plays out. Considering my goals, this seemed like just the ticket despite having raced in the morning. I raced with the C group, which ended up being more like a “learn to race” group. I did manage a little solo break with 6km to go after a long pull into the headwind, which was very exhilerating. However, I was caught and finished with the group, exhausted but satisfied.

MOVING FORWARD

I did one more Spring Series race on May 1, but it was more of a training race than anything. I had planned to leave for Penticton 3 days later, and most of my teammates were racing around the city on the 1st. It was either the Spring Series race or a long solo ride, and I decided to headed to Ardrossan for some more skill development and camaraderie. I raced up a category in the B group, but just hung out near the back and watched the dynamics of the race play out. With the large group, it was difficult to move up without crossing the centre line…and that was just fine with me.

Penticton Road Trip

Some highlights from my Penticton Road Trip! Full report to come.

All of this training and racing has led to possibly my highest training load since I started this absurd sport, yet it has been done in a way that was not overwhelming to my body. Everything so far was aimed at a shot at redemption at the Bare Bones Duathlon in Penticton, where I finished a well beaten 5th last year. This year, I was able to dip under the course record time from last year and improve my finish to a well-beaten 2nd (by just over 2 minutes). I followed that up the next morning with my second road running win of the year, winning the Blossom 10 Mile in a solid (if unspectacular) 58:11. But you shall have to wait for that full report to hear more…

On a final note, I am planning on taking this site in a different direction. While you will still be seeing race reports from my season, I truly enjoy writing about the duathlon happenings around the country, as well as the odd post on training and equipment optimization. With such an exciting season coming up for duathlon, age group and elite alike, I’d like to make that the focus of this site. In retrospect, even my race reports often take the viewpoint of being a commentary on training methods, equipment choices and race dynamics. So…hope y’all are okay with that!

Apologies for the loooong update…it’s been long overdue. So until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Penticton Peach

Peace out! For now…

“Ultimate Redemption” – How the Canadian Duathlon Championships Was Won (At Esprit de Montreal)

14 months ago, almost to the day, my race at the Canadian Duathlon Championships in Toronto ended in bitter disappointment. I went right to the front on the first run and set a strong pace, only to watch it unravel into a mess of lost power and nutrition issues on the second half of the bike. I limped in for 3rd and was lucky to be that. When Nationals were announced for September 2015 in Montreal, I immediately put it on my calendar and Coach Tommy and I set to work building my entire season towards this race. This report will be in two posts, starting with the play-by-play here followed by my thoughts, reflections and shoutouts later.

Coach T and I

Debriefing after 2014 Nationals. Presumably planning an assault on redemption in 2015.

THE RACE
Duathlon and triathlon are much more than just the sum of their parts. It’s not just running, cycling, and in the case of triathlon, swimming…they are their own sports entirely. In 2012, I did my first big-time race. Sure, I had done (and won) duathlons prior to my first standard distance duathlon in Cobourg at the Ontario Duathlon Championships, but this one was different.

I was racing an athlete with multiple pro World Championship appearances on his resume, Kevin Smith. I finished 2nd that day, but Kevin didn’t beat me thanks to any one particularly dominant part of the race. Instead, he took bits and pieces of time from me over all 5 stages of the race (Run #1, T1, Bike, T2, Run #2) that added up to 57 seconds and the win by the end of the race. That day I learned a valuable lesson that I have remembered ever since: every little bit counts.

Mr. Smith showed me the way to win a championship duathlon in 2012.

Mr. Smith showed me the way to win a championship duathlon in 2012.

On Sunday, I put my year of hard training together with the racing knowledge I have gained since that race. Leading into the race, I was shocked at the field’s depth. Though it was missing a few big names due to injury, late season burnout or the dark side (triathlon), over 180 people were still due to race including many of the top names from all over Canada. I arrived on Wednesday to give myself plenty of time to adapt to the time change and humidity.

This didn't last...

This didn’t last…

RUN #1 (9.9KM) – 35:23 (3:34/km, 1st overall)
It rained all night on Saturday but by some stroke of luck, as I was setting up transition the rain STOPPED for the duration of the race. I knew that the first run had a good chance of going out hard despite the choppy gravel stretch to start and I was prepared to follow. Everything went according to my expectations…until it didn’t. We went through the first aid station quickly as a group of 5, one athlete made a joke about Mo Farah swinging wide for water at Worlds in the 5000m, I followed him to grab a cup…and all of a sudden we were 2 off the front of the race. At this point I took control of the race with Garry Mathieu on my shoulder…foreshadowing the day.

Leading the first run like a sucker.

Leading the first run like a sucker.

At this point, the racing stopped and the mind games started. Garry and I started talking to each other…conversing at 3:30/km. It started off nice enough, as Garry offered me his water cup after he saw I had flubbed my own cup (what a nice dude). We went back and forth a bit, and I kept up the conversation throughout the second lap around the basin partially to gauge his effort level (and partially because he was one interesting dude). I got the distinct feeling Garry was doing the same. I was content to run in front, often throwing in small surges that were meant to stretch but not necessarily snap the elastic. Garry had run 13:38 in college…I wasn’t getting rid of him that easy, but I could try to soften up those legs.

Battling hard on my first run in my Skechers Performance GORun 4's

Battling hard on my first run in my Skechers Performance GORun 4’s (ZoomPhoto, 2015)

THE BIKE (39.5KM) – 1:00:58 (includes T1, 39.8kph, 4th overall)
We came into T1 stride for stride, and I dashed to my bike. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him reach down for his cycling shoes that were not clipped to his bike, and kicked it into overdrive. Knowing the run to the mount line was about 300m from our bikes, I booked it across transition, out to the mount line and onto my faithful Felt B16 shod in 3SIXTY5 carbon clinchers. I knew if I could get a gap going onto the bike I would put him in chase mode for the next little while. I only managed to get 5-10 seconds, but that 5-10 seconds took him almost 8 laps (out of 9) to close down. Don’t tell me transition isn’t as important as swim/bike/run.

Riding scared...very scared.

Riding scared…very scared. RETUL Bike fit courtesy of Sweet Petes Bike Shop.

The bike course was crowded, as advertised. Between squeezing through tight gaps while passing people trying to ride the tangents on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and weaving around people who inexplicably decided to ride on the right instead of the left as instructed (pre-race meetings are important, people!), I managed to have a pretty solid ride. There were some sketchy moments, most notably some nasty cramping in both calves early on, as well as some close calls on the slick and crowded hairpins and S-turns. But the games started again on lap #8…

…because at this point Garry took control of the race. I had been seeing his name pop up shortly after mine on the lap board, and he was very close behind every time I peeked during the hairpin turnaround, so I knew he was coming. Once he made the pass, it was decision time: I could keep going my pace and let him go, hoping to reel him back in on the run, or I could burn a match and ride at my limit to keep him within reach, hoping to come into transition a couple seconds behind. I chose the latter, afraid of him going out of sight and out of mind…and it paid off. He threw everything at me, including hard attacks up the small rises, but I managed to keep him within reach for the last lap, and got my legs ready for the run.

Making one of the many hairpin turns on my 3SIXTY5 FAT wheels.

Making one of the many hairpin turns on my 3SIXTY5 FAT wheels. (ZoomPhoto, 2015)

RUN #2 (5.1KM) – 20:12 (includes T2, 3:41/km, 3rd overall)
It was at the dismount that I saw a second opportunity: from about 2 seconds back I saw Garry pull up to the mount line, stop to unclip and dismount. Again I went into overdrive, completing the fastest flying dismount of my life (passing him) and sprinting to my rack spot (stopping only to slide on my Skechers GOMeb Speed 3’s) and then out of transition. This was my opening, and I put everything I had into taking it. I don’t have an exact time on my first mile, but since I saw 3:25 as my average pace for about that distance it was likely under 5:40. This was the decisive moment of the race. The next two miles were not pretty, but the damage was done.

Starting to believe it

Starting to believe it (Parichit Bagga, 2015)

For two miles I struggled physically but fear fueled me to run as hard as I could. In the back of my mind I kept seeing Garry flying around my outside, leaving me in his dust. I refused to let belief creep in until it forced its way in, but when the finish line came into view I began to believe. A shot of adrenaline, an injection of pace, and as I passed the grandstand a wide smile as I heard my pops yelling hysterically. Running through a tunnel of noise, I saw the “Canadian Champion” tape stretched out in front of me and it got very real, very fast. I started pumping my fists like mad , high-fiving people, and I teared up behind my sunglasses.

FINAL RESULT – 1:56:35 (1ST OVERALL, CANADIAN CHAMPION)

FINALLY (Photo credit: ZoomPhoto)

FINALLY (ZoomPhoto, 2015)

As I broke the tape I stretched my arms out wide in celebration and all my emotions poured into one of the biggest smiles to have ever graced my face. I grabbed the tape and hoisted it over my head, looking up to the sky in absolute shock. 14 months after bitter disappointment in Toronto, I had done it: Canadian Duathlon Champion in Montreal. 14 months of painstaking work, long solo training sessions, and foregone outdoor workouts culminating in adding my name to a list that includes (most recently) Sanders, Tremblay and Frake. And it feels gooooooood.

HUGE shoutout to Garry Mathieu for doing his part to make this one hell of a battle. Seriously man, you are one tough dude. Stay tuned for part 2: The Reflection. Until then, keep Du’ing it!

Hoist that banner! (ZoomPhoto, 2015)

Hoist that banner! (ZoomPhoto, 2015)

“Did I just do that?” (ZoomPhoto, 2015)

Your top 3 overall (from left): Garry Mathieu, Jesse Bauer, Moritz Haager

Your top 3 overall (from left): Garry Mathieu, Jesse Bauer, Moritz Haager

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!

“Sweet Success” – Alberta Provincial Duathlon Championship Race Report

Time for a little history lesson. Let’s go back to 2012, my first year as a duathlete. I had circled MultiSport Canada‘s Cobourg stop on my schedule, to qualify for Worlds in Ottawa at the race that had been awarded the Ontario Championships. But let’s be honest…I wanted to win. I lost seconds on each leg and was beaten into 2nd by 57 seconds by Kevin Smith (in 1:59:35).

Duelling with Kevin Smith in Cobourg

Duelling with Kevin Smith in Cobourg

Fast forward to last May: I went to Iron Hawk (the Ontario Sprint Duathlon Championships) with vague designs on getting the provincial title I missed out on the previous two years (Belle River in 2013 didn’t fit into my schedule logistically)…yet on race day I was foiled by names such as Sanders, Bechtel, Forbes and Loewen. On July 18, 2015, however, I would not be denied…even if I was racing in a different province than previous years.

Chasing in vain at Iron Hawk 2014

Chasing in vain at Iron Hawk 2014

ALBERTA PROVINCIAL DUATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS RACE REPORT
I circled the Victory Duathlon a few months ago when I found out the ATA had named it the provincial championships, hoping I could take a shot at that elusive title. Originally, the format was to be a 5k/40k/10k…inverting the runs of the standard distance and making for a good but not perfect prep race for Nationals in September. So the late change that swapped the race distances and preserved the international standard distance was welcomed by me. Not to mention the fact that the massive rainstorm that was supposed to hit on race day came a day early!

Stepping away from the powermeters to get a calibration

The day started early enough, and happening upon a rollover accident, a convoluted construction detour and a freight train didn’t stop me from being at the race site before transition opened. Being the superstitious athlete that I am, I chose to forego my bike mechanical run-through on the road and give my bike a static check on the rack. Then off for my run warm-up on the course with a few race pace accelerations. Ritual, ritual, ritual.

RUN #1 – 35:01 (~9.8km, 3:34/km STRAVA FILE)
I went off strong, but under control. 10km is a long way to go, and I didn’t want to go about biting off more than I could chew by ripping a 3:07 first kilometer. I had some welcome help the first lap of the two lap run course, as a few of the athletes from the sprint race paced off me which helped me to keep the pace steady at ~3:33-3:34/km. Other than that, the run was pretty uneventful as I just tried to hold my pace, focusing on smooth running form, hydration and nutrition. There is still some room for improvement on my running.

Out for my second lap

BIKE – 1:01:30 (T1 + ~39km + T2, 38.7kph STRAVA FILE)
I have to give kudos to the organizers here; they could have given us a course full of long, single loop out-and-back sections, but instead they chose to give the athletes a true Worlds-like feel for this Worlds qualifier by creating a very spectator friendly, looped course that featured a two lap first run, four 10km laps on the bike, followed by a one lap final run. Because of this, my grandparents and my aunt were able to come out to the race, and see me compete throughout the day instead of sitting out in the wind for two hours just for a few sightings!

Starting my ride

On the flip side, this did make for a bike course that was a tad slow. Add to that the fact that the way out featured a net downhill and a hard tailwind, with an uphill drag into a headwind back to transition, and it made for an uneven ride. My average speed would spike above 40kph on the fast section before dropping back to the 38’s by the time I completed each lap! I put in a very consistent ride, coming in with lap times that were very close to the same on each lap, and came into T2 after putting my stamp on the race with another very solid bike split.

Out for another lap!

RUN – 18:23 (5km, 3:42/km STRAVA FILE)
Now, over the course of the bike leg I couldn’t help but notice a figure in black I recognized from the duathlon start line who seemed to be making headway on me on each lap of the bike. This motivated me to push on the bike, and starting the 4th lap it dawned on me that there was a good chance I would stay away for the win (barring a major blow-up on the run). Not knowing my competition very well, however, gave me some impetus to work hard on the second run to secure my first major championship.

Time to suffer

Simply stated…I was a bit of a mess on the second run. To be fair 5 seconds/km slower than the first run is a pretty solid day at the office for me, as I am usually 10+ seconds/km off my first run pace after a strong ride. So to run that close to my first run pace after such a strong ride is encouraging. The second run was a mixture of emotions and pushing through the effort left in my legs from the bike. Coming to the finish felt like a dream, and as I crossed the line I pumped both fists and broke down a little bit. A huge smile was plastered on my face.

A barrel of emotions

FINAL RESULTS – 1ST PLACE OVERALL (1:54:52)

This one was a long time coming, but I did have to earn it. The figure in black I kept seeing on the bike was Moritz Haager, a former triathlete (and blog reader!) who turned to duathlons this year and recorded a VERY solid 1:59:13 finish. This is a name to file away in your memory banks folks, as he put in a very steady all around race. Also of note in 3rd place was Liyang Wang finishing in 2:03. Liyang is from Ajax but is out here in Alberta doing an internship…a name to watch for my Ontario readers. Very solid performances you two!

Sharing the podium with Moritz and Liyang

This was a very big day for me. In a race that was meant to be an international distance tune-up for Esprit, I was able to put together a very solid start to finish performance…can’t ask for more than that! Thank you to the race organizers and Alberta Triathlon who put on a very solid event with a Worlds like feel, an awesome development for a Worlds qualifier such as this. And as always, my equipment and support crew put me in the best possible position to succeed: my 3SIXTY5 Cycling FAT 60 once again helped me deliver the top bike split on the day (across all disciplines)…if you are looking for a good set of race wheels, check them out (and use discount code “jesse-2015” to receive $50 off)! My Skechers Performance GOMeb Speed 3’s have quickly become my favourite racing shoe. And of course, I am proud to represent Ignition Fitness at venues across Canada. Tommy really has helped me reach another level.

Provincial Champion

I’ll be heading back to the Bat Cave for the next 6 weeks to prepare for my next challenges…looking forward to the journey. So until next time…keep Du’ing it!

"I am going to drink so much New Belgium Fat Tire out of this..."

“I am going to drink so much New Belgium Fat Tire out of this…”

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!