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!

The Lowest of Lows, The Highest of Highs

This post has been a long time coming, mostly because I have been trying to keep it simple lately and focus on the bare minimum: working and training. Someone once told me that sometimes you just have to get off the internet and put in the work, so that’s what I did for a little while. It was refreshing, but it’s time to get my thoughts down into a post for my loyal readers…

SPRING REFLECTIONS

This spring was essentially a season of coming up just a bit short of my goals. My focuses for the spring, St. Albert and Calgary, both ended up being less than a minute off my goals for those races. This is understandable given that a really rough winter left me with not much choice but to try to race myself into shape by May. Still, I was able to record some PBs for 10 miles and the half marathon, as well as sharing some unforgettable experiences and races with family that I have been away from for a long time. This year was a growth year, and I really enjoyed my spring experiences despite the results not being exactly what I wanted. And isn’t that the real goal here?

A RUST BUSTER AT FOOTSTOCK

I decided that the Footstock Duathlon would make an excellent rust buster for me. I’ve noticed results of this race the last couple years on Sportstats, and it always intrigued me. One of my favourite childhood memories is driving to Cochrane (the venue for Footstock) for the best ice cream around as a treat, so chalk up another experience for me in my growth year. As an added bonus the race has a 40k bike leg that I could use as preparation for Nationals.

Sailing into transition after the first run at Footstock. Before the “fun” started!

Unfortunately, the race wouldn’t turn out as I envisioned. The course climbs out of Cochrane from the start/finish to the transition zone, then continues to the turnaround on the bike. After a solid run and a good steady bike where I extended my lead to ~5 minutes, I learned a valuable lesson about racing in the mountains: be prepared for anything. Despite 6 degree temperatures and overcast skies threatening rain, I chose to race in just my Champion Systems skinsuit and no warm weather gear. I got caught in a freak rainstorm on the bike, and I had to call it a day at halfway. The official reason was hypothermia, and I spent the rest of the day in urgent care.

REDEMPTION AT THE COMFORTEC RED DEER DUATHLON
(CLICK HERE FOR FULL RESULTS)

After Footstock, I had a chance to re-assess my goals and finalize my race schedule for the summer. The sparse Alberta duathlon schedule limited my options, but I went back into my pain cave for a few weeks, had a breakthrough workout or two, and came out for the Comfortec Red Deer Duathlon with nothing more than getting some race miles in, maybe finally cracking 1:00 for a sprint duathlon, and perhaps finally putting up a respectable bike split.

The true goal on this day was to do my best to execute and then identify some areas to improve, so I could address them prior to Nationals. I picked out the Comfortec Red Deer Duathlon for a couple reasons: (1) I LOVE the idea of a duathlon only event in the summer…even for a start-up event it brings out the whole multisport community to experience a duathlon and increase the level of competition and (2) it uses the standard duathlon distances, a rare idea for Alberta duathlons, and utilized a relatively simple and flat out-and-back course that promised to be fast.

The organizers really went all out to give the race a pro-like feel.

The organizers really went all out to give the race a pro-like feel.

I had already set up my transition when the thought occurred to me that I didn’t take my bike out to spin through gears (not enough caffeine obviously), so I decided to forego it and just run through the gears while the bike was racked. I hung around transition and mingled a little bit with the people who stopped to oogle my bike on their way by before heading out for a warm-up on the deceptively tough run course. It was always either going slightly up or slightly down, making it a little bit tough to get into a rhythm and really roll, and probably 30-45 seconds slow.

RUN 1 (Strava file here)

I went off the front from the gun at a solid but controlled pace, but had some unexpected company in the form of one tough fella in my age group. He put himself on my shoulder and seemed determined to stay there; I would drop him on the uphills, but every time the road went down he dug deep and clawed his way back in. I got rid of him for good with about a mile to go, on the biggest uphill of the run, as I put in a big surge to get ahead.

Heading out on the first run, with some unexpected but welcomed company.

Heading out on the first run, with some unexpected but welcomed company.

BIKE – 29:27 (Strava file here)

I transitioned well, better than I expected, and was out on the bike feeling pretty sprightly. The bike course was flat, flat, flat. The pavement quality could have been a little better, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would come up with the results that I did. I’ve done a lot of work this winter and spring on my bike set-up and position in order to create the fastest and most aerodynamic option I could manage. I made upgrades to wheels, tires, tubes, saddle, and basebar, as well as cleaner cabling and a RETUL bike fit from Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop that is as fast as it is comfortable. A meticulously maintained drivetrain also makes a big difference!

Ready for a ground-breaking bike

Ready for a ground-breaking bike

I started the bike with a mindset that somewhere around 31:00 for 20km would be a huge coup for me. My previous best during a duathlon was 32:59 at Toronto Island last year, but I immediately knew that time was going down in flames. Being solo off the front of the race with clear roads ahead of me and the lead moto to focus on definitely helped, and after turning out of the headwind section at the start of the course, I watched my average speed slowly creep up towards and eventually beyond levels that I had never seen before. I rarely watch my speed during races, instead focusing on maintaining a consistent wattage, but I couldn’t help sneaking a peek every now and then on this day. My power stayed in control, and my NP of 227W was actually significantly below my goal wattage of ~240W for 20km.

Channelling my inner Tony Martin on the bike - note the open mouth!

Channelling my inner Tony Martin on the bike – note the open mouth!

As approached the last turn and sat up to undo my shoes, the realization crept in that I was about to come in under 30 minutes for 20km. I couldn’t help but break out into a huge smile, because never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that this would have been the result. You can click the link above to see the file on Strava.

RUN 2 (Strava file here)

To be totally honest, this last run was just a procession of emotions. I would have had to blow up pretty bad to not break 1:00 for the race. I struggled pretty bad on the last 1.25km, but I had enough time in the bank to fly up the final hill with a big smile on my face. My pace was pretty close to the pace of my first run, which after that strong of a bike is quite a bonus, and I was able to come across the line in a course record and new PB of 57:28!

Full-on suffer mode

Full-on suffer mode

IMPRESSIONS AND REFLECTIONS

For 3 years now, I have been knocking on the door of the next level without quite being able to get there. Since 2012, I have been flirting with 1:00 sprint duathlons and 2:00 standard duathlons, winning a few races along the way but always feeling like I had been sitting on a plateau without a way out. On Saturday, I think I got to that next level: I won on the bike with a legitimate, big league split. The runs were not too shabby, but I started the bike with less than a minute lead, and finished it with over 4 minutes in hand; that is a big deal for me.

Trying to fathom the time on the clock

Trying to fathom the time on the clock

If my extensive research can be trusted, then this is the second fastest 5km/20km/2.5km sprint duathlon in Canada this year (as scientific as that analysis can be), behind only the esteemed Lionel Sanders. I am now buoyed with confidence going into Provincials next week and into Nationals in September as a legitimate contender, rather than the outside shot I considered myself before this weekend. There is a not insignificant amount of rain in the forecast for the weekend of Provincials, but I’ll be going into it looking for a good effort over the standard distance as preparation for the real thing in Montreal. Welcome to the big leagues, JB.

A huge thank you to all my supporters for their continued help this season. Coach Tommy of Ignition Fitness, that one was for you and your continued belief in me even when I was ready to quit. Chris and the guys at 3SIXTY5 Cycling, you guys have been nothing but great. Not only does my FAT60 set-up fly on the road, it gives me one of the best looking bikes in transition. And I continue to fall further in love with the Skechers Performance running shoe line; the GOMeb Speed 3 makes a great racing shoe, and the rest of the line covers all my bases for training. Next week is Provincials, so watch for my next update very soon! Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

1st place overall - 57:28

1st place overall – 57:28

One happy camper

One happy camper

Obligatory bib number shot...complete with my gold medal and brand new Oakley Fast Jackets courtesy of the race organizers for my overall win!

Obligatory bib number shot…complete with my gold medal and brand new Oakley Fast Jackets courtesy of the race organizers for my overall win!

Rose City Showdown – MultiSport Canada Race Preview

Next up in my Ontario duathlon preview series is the Rose City Duathlon in Welland…let’s start with a look at the course. Welland is flat. Dead flat. The run: flat. The bike: flat. The second run: again…flat. Note that I didn’t say easy, because it’s not. Flat courses mean you are on 100% of the race; there is no opportunity to recoup some energy, because there is no let-up. It’s fast, but the odds are very good that whoever wins on Saturday (and Sunday) will have to go very deep to do so. The course record here is held by Tommy Ferris (my coach), a 1:23:33 clocking set in 2010. My old rival Erik Box has the second fastest time at 1:24:04 in 2012, followed by my own 1:24:24 from last year and 1:24:34 from 2013. 1:25 should be considered a gold standard time for the men’s race.

THE CONTENDERS – MEN’S RACE

The men’s race has turned into quite a deep competition. Possibly deeper than this race has seen for a couple of years. The last two years have seen some intense 3-up battles where the finishing order was a complete reversal of what it was coming off the bike, and while that might not quite be the case this year (though it may very well be), the battle for the top 8 (and maybe even the top 10) should be intense. Let’s break it down:

THE FAVOURITE
Larry Bradley

Based on resumes alone, it’s hard to bet against this guy. If it wasn’t for a world champion freight train named David Frake, Bradley would have been the national champion at the international distance last year. A man with an always stellar bike split, word is that he is running better than he has ever been right now and that is bad news for the entire circuit. A fantastic ambassador for the sport, the only thing that should hold him back is his propensity to start seasons slow and needing a race or two to get into a groove. That and humidity :P.

Larry Bradley

Larry Bradley

THE CONTENDERS
Spencer Summerfield
Andrew McLeod

If Larry falters, one of these two will be ready to pounce. Summerfield is coming off the emotional high of his first duathlon win. He has consistently shown a strong bike, but has only attempted this 5k/30k/5k distance once last year in Belwood. Momentum is a valuable thing to have, however. McLeod has proven to be an exceptionally consistent racer, racing sparingly but never showing up in anything less than top form. The battle between these two will be one of strength vs. speed, and it could push them right to the brink of turning this into that three horse race with Bradley. Barring something unexpected, this should be your men’s podium.

Spencer Summerfield

Spencer Summerfield

THE OUTSIDE SHOTS
Jeremy Carter
Howie Walker
Garvin Moses
Aaron Putman
Andrew Duquesnay

While not necessarily as strong as the above three, these five have all shown flashes of brilliance and will be in the mix for the top 5 at least, and likely all have the podium on their minds. Carter has the momentum of the 5, narrowly missing the podium in Woodstock before winning in Milton the next day. Walker has the pedigree of a legend of the sport (in my mind at least), but is coming off a year off racing for his health. Moses, Putman and Duquesnay also have all shown flashes that tell me that on their days they could crack this very tough top 5.

Jeremy Carter

Jeremy Carter

THE WILD CARD
Mike Park

His name is on the registration list for a “duathlon” and he raced here last year, so this youngster may once again make an appearance here. Loaded with potential, last year Park front-ran his way to a 16:38 opening split before struggling with the winds on the bike. A year of experience and riding that bike would make him a legitimate threat here…but that’s a big question mark. What we do know is if he races, he will try to put his stamp on the run.

PREDICTIONS
Hmmm…how will this one play out? Bradley should win if he trusts the fitness that I know he has and doesn’t do anything brash. If Park is there, Larry can pace off him then unleash a strong bike on his way to a comfortable win. Summerfield and McLeod will battle for 2nd, and I think it will go wire to wire. It is hard to make this comparison but McLeod did go 1:04 for 40k to Summerfield’s 32:59 for 20k at Lakeside last year, so if Mcleod can get a jump on the bike he may stay away for 2nd given his strength at longer distances. Momentum is a killer though, and Summerfield has that on his side. Carter also has the momentum right now, and Mr. Walker always finds his way into the mix. So I’ll go with this:

1. Bradley 2. Summerfield 3. McLeod 4. Carter 5. Walker

Duathlon Central Boys

1-2 at Welland 2014 (because I love this shot)

THE WOMEN’S RACE

Though not nearly as deep as the men’s race, there will be a pretty decent battle on the women’s side, health permitting for some of the contenders. Let’s have a quick look:

THE CONTENDERS
Jade Carrington
Bethany Timmerman
Garima Takyar

None of these three have raced each other recently. In fact, only one of these three has raced this year, and Bethany raced twice last weekend. Jade is the two time defending champion here, so she knows the course and always rides strong. If Jade can put together the race here that she did last year, she should make it three in a row. The other two are pretty tightly matched. Extensive results trolling showed me two very similar and consistent athletes. The battle for 2nd SHOULD come down to whoever runs the best off the bike, and I’ll give the nod to Bethany here, on the strength of a slightly stronger recent run result at the Yonge Street 10k. But it could go either way here. Of course, as with most women’s races someone that I am not familiar with will come out the woodwork on race day and break up the party, it’s just a matter of where they slot in…

1. Carrington 2. Timmerman 3. Takyar

Bethany Timmerman

Bethany Timmerman

THE BIKE/RUN

Before I sign off, a quick word about the bike/run. There was not much information out there that I could find, but I do know long distance specialist Daryl Flacks will be racing on Sunday, and there is a good chance defending champion Tammy Purdy will be racing as well. If the latter is true, look for these two to take convincing wins in the race, likely on the strength of a strong bike split (Daryl) or a stellar run split (Tammy).

My only regret is not being able to be there for this race. Even if just to spectate. Oh who am I kidding…I want in on this action! It will be fun to follow along.

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Welland Podium

Welland Duathlon 2014 Overall Podium

Spring Racing, Canadian Half Marathon Championships and More…

This year has been a year of experiences. This weekend I capped off my spring season in Calgary at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships, my first national championships for running since cross country in 2008. In the past several weeks, I’ve taken in some races and venues that I’ll never forget, and most importantly I have been able to share this thing that I do with some family members that have never been able to see me race. It’s been incredibly rewarding to have such amazing support from all corners of the country, and I believe these last few months have made me a stronger athlete and person. So let’s recap!

WOODY’S RV WORLD MARATHON WEEKEND (10KM) – 2ND PLACE (36:01)

A week after the Bare Bones Duathlon, I wanted to do a 10km tune-up before Calgary. While I may have benefited from using the weekend for one last long run or tempo workout, but I had heard great things about the Woody’s RV World Marathon and wanted to take part. It didn’t hurt that there was a pretty decent prize purse on the line for all of the races. It was…an experience. Kieran McDonald showed up to race his hometown race, so I knew the win was likely going up the road as he put 4 minutes into me in St. Albert. I was coming into this one pretty hot at the end of my last big half marathon block, so my focus was to put in a solid effort, and maybe put up a decent time. However, after a solid pace for 4k those plans were scuttled by Mother Nature. A family of geese decided that it would be a good time to cross the course just as I was about to run by. As some of you know, I am TERRIFIED of geese. Petrified. I did what anyone would do in my situation…I stopped and waited for them to cross or someone to come to my rescue! Eventually a lead bike came back to scare them away, but not before Mama Goose and I had the stand-off of the century. I ended up cruising in for 2nd in 36:01, though my moving time was slightly closer to my half marathon pace (~34:55). At least I’ll have a story now!

Starting the Woody's RV World Red Deer 10k - 2nd place overall (36:01)

Starting the Woody’s RV World Red Deer 10k

CANADIAN HALF MARATHON CHAMPIONSHIPS – 21ST PLACE (1:15:51)

After Red Deer, it was half marathon time. The excitement slowly built while my training slowly tapered off, due to Calgary representing my spring focus. Though my #1 goal this season is a good performance at the National Duathlon Championships, it has helped to have a goal to strive towards this spring, with a bit of rest to look forward to afterwards. I love championship racing, and the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Calgary fit the bill perfectly as something that I could get revved up for. It would also serve a dual purpose of providing an excuse for building up a ton of volume base in the spring before scaling back and sharpening up my speed during the summer. It would also give me a chance to spend some time with my youngest cousins in Calgary, and as I would later find out, to race the event with my Uncle!

I took the weekend off of work so that we would go down Saturday morning to the expo and pick up my race kit. I also squeezed in a quick race prep workout to scout out the start/finish of the race. With the Stampede Grounds getting a retro-fit for the weekend to create finish line right in front of the grandstand, it promised to be a heck of a finish! Race morning dawned EARLY due to the 6:30am start time. Like ungodly early. Good thing I slept a lot Friday night and Saturday afternoon, because 3:30am comes ridiculously fast. I am thankful for the early start though, because we woke up to perfect conditions (slightly overcast, 9 degrees, and calm wind conditions). The morning cool was a perfect calm before the storm, as I got in a good warm-up and was in a great headspace leading into the race. The race itself was a tale of two halfs: the first 7 miles, and the final 10k to the finish.

Working hard through 7km

Working hard through 7km

THE RACE

During the first half, I was feeling GREAT. Maybe it was adrenaline, or maybe I was just experiencing a perfect collision of peak physical fitness and a great headspace. After an initial surge the first 400m, I settled into a solid pace just under 5:40/mile (~1:14:30 pace). I was passed by the lead women’s pack (who started a bit more sensibly than I did) at about 5k, but from there I had a steady stream of casualties of the hot early pace up the road to drive me forwards. I also had the eventual bronze medalist in the women’s race, old university friend Dayna Pidhoresky, to push me and provide some motivation to keep the pace high for much of the race. I reached the 10km split in 35:24, and focused on the second half of the race.

It was around this point that I noticed two things: (1) that my legs were starting to rebel against me and (2) that I was struggling to get as much oxygen to my muscles as I am accustomed to. I expected the first, but glossed over the second in my preparations. I was still on my pace goals, but I knew that I was probably short a long run or two that would have made my preparations perfect. So I knew that the second half would be tough. What I didn’t account for was the altitude. Hamilton and Windsor are at sea level, while Edmonton is at ~2000′ and Calgary is at ~3500′. I’m still trying to adapt to training in a location higher than sea level, and racing in Calgary with the extra altitude and accompanying dry air was a bit of a struggle. I had wondered why results and records in Calgary were typically a tad slower than I knew those runners were capable of, and this is likely the answer. Browsing the results afterwards confirmed that it was indeed a tough day.

The stretch from 7 to 10 miles was a physical struggle. I just kept telling myself to keep the pace as steady as I could until 10 miles, and then anyone can suffer through the last 5km. I just put my eyes on whoever was up the road and focused on reeling them in, before moving on to the next athlete. Just before 10 miles, I turned to Dayna and huffed out “Let’s just get to 10 miles, and then there’s only 5k left”, which I think we both needed to hear at that point of the race! My 10 mile split was 56:54, a full 23 seconds faster than my time in St. Albert, but I was in a world of hurt. All I could do was grit my teeth and focus on getting to the line as fast as I could. That last 5km were a blur as I poured everything I had into it, and before I knew it I was re-entering Stampede Park and the last stretch. There were still two half marathoners just ahead of me as I entered the last corner, so I launched my final sprint and crossed the line in 1:15:51…a new PB which would be good for 21st overall at the National Championships!

Gutting it out to the finish in Calgary

Gutting it out to the finish in Calgary

FINAL THOUGHTS

I unexpectedly made a few appearances on the Athletics Canada live stream of the race, which you can view here. You can see me in all my glory at 10:55, and from 32:55 to 34:25. I also uploaded this race to Strava, so that you can check out my progress mile-by-mile.

While this result did come short of my goals, my philosophy is that you can never complain about a PB. I cam here to run fast, and I ran faster than I have ever done before in my life. Sounds like mission accomplished to me! Reflecting back on my spring season, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have a few days off to reflect and recover and this post is already getting super long, so expect a reflection post with my thoughts in the next week or two. I would like to thank all of my amazing supporters from all corners of the country, including my amazing team at Ignition Fitness, Skechers Performance Canada, and 3SIXTY5 Cycling. But right now I want to talk about an issue that popped up this weekend that is very important to me:

GETTING “CHICKED”

Honestly, ^^this^^ is likely the only time you’ll ever hear me use this phrase, which often comes out when a male is beaten by a female in a race…because I hate it. I think it’s something that we as endurance athletes need to exorcise from our vernacular, because it creates a stigma where there really shouldn’t be one. The thing I love about this sport is that it is 100% black and white. Regardless of our differences, all runners can be boiled down and compared via a series of numbers, and those numbers are simple and pure. Let’s look at some personal bests:

  • Runner A – 31:46 (10,000m)/31:49 (10km)/1:10:47 (HM)/2:28:00 (Marathon)
  • Runner B – 31:41 (10,000m)/31:59 (10km)/1:11:20 (HM)/2:35:16 (Marathon)
  • Runner C – 15:11 (5km)/31:35 (10km)/1:16:24 (HM)

Based on those numbers on paper, how would you expect those three runners to finish in a half marathon? If you guessed the order they are listed, then you would probably be right. And here’s the kicker…on Sunday you would have been: Runner A is Lanni Marchant, Runner B is Natasha Wodak, and Runner C is myself. I finished 21st overall behind these two ladies in Calgary…and there is no reason to believe anything else would have happened. In fact, without having Dayna (another incredibly talented athlete who is also faster than me on most days) to push me for most of the race, I likely would have finished even further behind. The fact of the matter is that I finished 21st at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships, behind 20 truly speedy Canadians. Nothing more, nothing less. So let’s remove this phrase and the attached stigma from our language, and appreciate these strong, talented and occasionally world class ladies for what they are: some seriously fast runners who work just as hard as you do, and who may beat you on one day or another. And there is not an ounce in shame in that :).

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Thrilled to be able to share this one with my Uncle Dennis, Aunt Jean, and cousins Karl and Jakob.

Thrilled to be able to share this one with my Uncle Dennis, Aunt Jean, and cousins Karl and Jakob.

The Final Piece Of The World Duathlon Puzzle, And Why It’s Important To Duathletes

After a wave of announcements that rolled out from the International Triathlon Union last week, the final piece of the puzzle for duathletes has finally fallen into place: the location of the 2016 World Duathlon Championships. Strangely, the location of the 2017 event actually came out first, during the first wave of announcements. As part of a new ITU initiative, a World Multisport Festival that combines duathlon, aquathlon, cross triathlon and long distance triathlon, the 2017 event will be a part of a week long festival in Penticton, BC. I don’t think I need to say that this is GREAT NEWS FOR CANADIAN MULTISPORT ATHLETES, including duathletes. Having just spent several days in Penticton and doing a race there, I can say that it is a fantastic location for an event like this. And I am sure the thousands of athletes who have participated in the old Ironman Canada and its successor Challenge Penticton will echo my sentiments.

Now, strangely absent from this impressive list of announcements of last week was the location of the 2016 World Championship event. We had a location for the 2017 and 2018 World Multisport Festivals, the 2018 Grand Final, the 2016 World Cross Triathlon Championships, and a new addition to the World Triathlon Series (Leeds). But no 2016 World Duathlon Championships. I could fill a separate blog post with speculation on why exactly this was, but that’s beside the point today. The point is that we now have a location for the 2016 event: Aviles, Spain.

Aviles is an…interesting choice. It’s a town in the north a Spain, a short 25 minute jaunt from Gijon (who hosted the 2011 event). It is also a 3 hour drive from Pontevedra (who hosted the 2014 Worlds) and a 4 hour drive from Segovia (who won the bid for the 2013 event before retracting their bid, forcing Ottawa to step in in the final hours). That’s right…4 times in the past 6 years, a city or town in Spain has won the bid for the World Duathlon Championships. If it wasn’t for Ottawa stepping in for 2013, it would have been pretty slim pickings for North Americans since Corner Brook, with 2012 being in France and 2015 in Australia. A release by USA Triathlon (of which a screenshot is pasted below), the finalist for the 2016 was Oklahoma City…which makes this news sting a little bit more for North American duathletes.

USAT

This throws a little bit of a wrinkle into the decision making process of North American duathletes. Thankfully, in Canada we are not so hard off as our friends to the south, many of whom have likely paid for flights and accommodations in St. Paul in anticipation of perhaps qualifying for Worlds in Oklahoma City in 2016, only to find out that they will be heading back to Spain. Luckily, up here we have until August and September to make our decisions. Spain is a trek and many who make the trip annually have been there before, so some may opt just to put all of their eggs into qualifying in 2016 in order to race in 2017 (myself included, I’ll admit it).

Another thing throwing a wrench into this is the fact that the 2016 sprint event will be DRAFT LEGAL, without a non-draft race for those sprint athletes who don’t own or want to own a road bike, or who prefer to test themselves against the clock (which would not have been the case in OKC). So draft legal is here, and yes there will be bugs. Triathlon Canada is sending athletes to the draft legal event in Aviles without a draft legal qualifier, and is putting the onus on the athletes to ensure they are prepared for the race. Who knows how many other federations are doing the same thing? (Good on the USAT for hosting a separate, draft legal qualifier for their athletes, y’all take good care of your athletes.) Some athletes may very well choose to use that as another reason to skip the race in 2016. Let the kinks get worked out in Spain and then race it hard in Penticton. All of this is completely valid. I’m with you. My next Worlds appearance won’t be until at least 2017, for all of the reasons I expanded on above. But here’s the thing:

Regardless of where Worlds is in 2016, the 2015 qualifiers still need our support.

Racing for a championship is an incredible experience, and an honour to participate in (at least for me), but let’s say you decide to take the year to build into it, and not race the qualifiers. You decide to try to qualify next year (2016) for the race in Penticton. You’re making an assumption there: that there will be qualifiers for you to race. If those events get the same kind of support that they did last year, then the work needed to secure them could all be for naught, and our supporters may not be so inclined to fight for these events going forward. Because three groups have worked incredibly hard to ensure that duathletes have a full slate of races in 2015:

ESPRIT TRIATHLON ORGANIZING COMMITTEE

This group has always supported duathlon in Canada. Always. It seems like every time someone is needed to step up and host Nationals, Esprit is there to do it. The numbers are always great, and it is in an excellent location to draw the best of the best that duathlon in Canada has to offer. Despite the course being a tad slow, the horses always show up and the times are always fast. They’ve never really had issues with numbers, and there is no reason to think they should this year. But in a time when groups that support duathletes are so few and far between, and where races are disappearing like crazy, don’t those that do deserve our support? I think so. I’ll be there in September, and though I can understand that Montreal is a tough ask for many of you with families and careers, I hope you will find a way to join me in “la belle province”.

TRIATHLON ONTARIO

Remember back a month ago? When you were waiting for an announcement on where the Ontario Championships would be? It was a bit frustrating, but lo and behold Triathlon Ontario came through. In a BIG way. From what I have gathered, most provinces and races were just not interested in paying what Triathlon Canada were asking for World Championship spots (espcially for duathlon), and were content to go forward with provincial championships without qualifying spots. So be it. Triathlon Ontario could have done the same…but they didn’t. They kept forcing the issue with Triathlon Canada, and wouldn’t make any announcements until they had their spots, or at least until they were sure that there was no way they could be offered. And guess what? They came through. Bracebridge will have not one but TWO qualifying spots for Worlds in Aviles. That’s a hard work and dedication to athletes that needs to be repaid with the kind of turnout at provincials that will make our governing body proud.

The start of the 2014 Ontario Duathlon Championships at the Lakeside Resort.

The start of the 2014 Ontario Duathlon Championships at the Lakeside Resort.

MULTISPORT CANADA

And last but certainly not least is a group that has NEVER stopped supporting duathletes. Ever. Last year the National Duathlon Championships at the Toronto Triathlon Festival drew 97 athletes. So they packed up their toys and went home, and are not even hosting a duathlon this year. The Ontario Duathlon Championships at Lakeside, hosted by MultiSport Canada, drew just over 40 people. So this year they bid with a race a little bit earlier in the season for athletes, and will be hosting both the sprint and standard race. If that’s not enough support, they also worked with Triathlon Ontario to come up with the “Du the Double” challenge, offering a cash prize to the best of those brace enough to race the sprint on Saturday and the standard distance on Sunday. So if chasing a provincial championships isn’t a draw for you to head to Bracebridge and race, I hope that the incredible support that MultiSport Canada continues to offer to duathletes will be. If airfare didn’t cost as much as I make in a month, I would be there in a heartbeat!

SO…WILL YOU BE THERE?

There you have it: three groups who have proven time and time again that they go to great lengths to ensure that duathlon is well supported and able to survive. Without them…we may very well not have much of a sport. It definitely wouldn’t be as lively as it is now. Yes, Aviles is a long way to go…but Penticton is going to be a hot ticket for Canadians. Maybe not as hot for Ontario athletes as Ottawa was, but I’m sure it will be close. Penticton really is a beautiful place for a race. And it would sure be a shame if a poor turnout this year is the last straw for these groups who support us so well. Nothing is guaranteed in this world. So please, support those groups that support us and do your best to attend these events so that we can keep going to them for years to come. I’ll be racing the Alberta Championships in July and then flying to Montreal for Nationals in September, and I hope you will too!

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Being a provincial or national champion is pretty neat too. Don't miss your chance!

Being a provincial or national champion is pretty neat too. Don’t miss your chance!

Road Trip To Penticton…And A Race! My Bare Bones Duathlon Race Report

This weekend my family and I made the pilgrimage from the Prairie flatland that is Edmonton, down through the foothills near Calgary, into and out of the Rocky Mountains, and finally into the vineyards and hills of inland B.C. and Penticton. All for 90 minutes of racing. Yes, I dragged my parents 2 days and 13 hours total of driving, one way, so I could run and ride my bike around Penticton for an hour and a half. On Mother’s Day weekend. Aren’t I a great son? That said, it was a fantastic experience that was a great way to start my duathlon season.

I knew going in that I was going to be pretty tired. I would also have been in the car for 7 hours on day 1 and 6 hours on day 2 before racing on day 3, which led to some tired legs on the morning of the race. I was not overly concerned however, because (a) I have ridden only 2 times a week on the trainer for the past 7 weeks and (b) this race was more about the experience than it was about anything else. The road trip alone was worth it. It was, in a word, stunning…I think I am smitten with the town of Golden, BC. The road up to Banff, through Golden and into Penticton was punctuated by way too many “Holy crap”‘s and “Oh wow”‘s from my seat.

In awe of Golden, BC

In awe of Golden, BC. Mom was just glad I didn’t get eaten by a real bear while I was out for a run.

Upon arriving, I pulled out my race set-up and went to recon the course. This was the first time I have ridden my TT bike outdoors since Lakeside last year. Note to self: if your first ride outdoors is on a twisty course, feet from a drop-off into a lake which then turns and climbs up a big ass hill with a corresponding sketchy descent, then you’re going to have a bad time. After riding the course, I was a tad terrified of what Saturday would bring. And by “a tad” I mean quaking in fear. It turned out that ride was just what I needed, because I was MUCH more confident riding the course in my aerobars on Saturday having done that on Friday.

Set up and ready to rock McLean Creek Road!

Set up and ready to rock McLean Creek Road. Pro tip: Always pre-ride the course if you can! Aluminum brake tracks and a shallow front rim were a confidence booster for me on this day.

Saturday dawned after a surprisingly good sleep and a very smooth lead-up to the race. I was the first one at the race site, as usual, and was set up with plenty of time to spare. After my recon ride, I decided that I would be undergeared with an 11-23 on the rear, so I had put on my 11-25 the night before. I was still under-geared…so I bought an 11-28. As it turns out this little grassroots race draws a pretty good field, with some of the local long course and ITU pros making their way out for a shot at the prize purse. Wandering around the transition area, I saw plenty of fast set-ups and evidence of sponsored athletes, so I knew that I would be in for some tough competition in my first du of 2015!

Hot on the heels of the leaders.

Hot on the heels of the leaders, in my Skechers GOMeb Speed 3‘s and Nineteen race number belt.

Fast forward to the start, the pace went out pretty hard. Not absurdly hard, but there were a few junior development athletes in the race who took the pace out pretty hard before turning a bit earlier than the full distance racers. I tucked in to the back of the lead pack of about 8, right on the shoulder of a dude in a Mexican ITU suit with Lesser printed on it. Apparently the dude is pretty good. Not to mention that Nathan Champness, Justin Birks and Chris Young were all waiting in the weeds, ready to pounce on a demanding bike course that they knew very well…

Heading out, terrified, onto the hilly and demanding bike course.

Heading out, terrified, onto the hilly and demanding bike course. A slippery looking front end on my B16, GOMeb 3’s awaiting my return to transition…

I entered T1 in 2nd place after averaging under my goal first run pace of 3:20/km on the twisting two lap run course. My intention on the first run was to get myself onto a clean course on the bike, and not have to worry about weaving in and out of traffic while I got some fluids in and got comfortable on my aerobars. After a solitary ride along the lakeshore, Champness passed me at the start of the climb, and Birks came past near the top. To be honest, after starting the climb it became a battle between me and the course. It was a tough grind, but I felt like I went 12 rounds with it and came out only slightly bruised and bloodied.. I was passed twice more during the ride, coming into T2 6th and in a decent spot to run my way into the top 5. Which would be a solid finish considering the pro field that turned up for the race!

Done! Time to run!

Done, time to run! Similar speeds to 2014 on a tougher course and lower watts. A testament to how slippery my new fit courtesy of Taylor at Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop is. Just need some 3SIXTY5 wheels to cap off my set-up!

Starting the run, I was about 30-40 seconds behind the 5th place athlete (the top 4 were pretty much long gone). I guess knowing the course like the back of your hand has some value (as well as being able to ride 40kph+). I focused myself on bearing down on 5th place, ready to call it a hard-fought battle if I could make the pass. The gap closed slowly (he was one tough dude) but I would not being denied. I eventually made the pass at the turnaround on the second lap, then kept the pressure on the rest of the way. I ended up finishing the race in over 1:31, with the extra climb on this year’s bike course likely adding 3-4 minutes compared to previous year’s results.

5th place, 1:31:04 for the 5k/33k/5k course.

5th place, 1:31:04 for the 5k/33k/5k course.

I can’t in good faith publish this report without a glowing report about the Penticton Triathlon Club and the organizers and volunteers at the race. It was a small race, a grassroots race, but it seemed like it was as much a part of the community as Challenge Penticton. I saw them out working hard to mark the course the night before, and I found out later that the local pros who raced also helped to design and mark the course. After I finished the race, the guy who won (Nathan Champness) sought me out and thanked me for making the trip to come race. I didn’t know I was such a well-known oddity at this race! At the awards they seemed to have more draw prizes than people at the race, so at the end the RD walked around and picked people at the bar to go up and grab a draw prize. He made a special effort to seek me out before I left and have me go and grab a draw prize. Then he made a point to talk to me for a little while, and complement me on my race that morning…even though he was in the middle of giving out awards!

Completely spent

Completely spent. Both myself and my gear.

The course was incredible scenic, and once I got over my fear of toppling into the lake it really was quite beautiful to ride along the shore for the first and last 7k. The hill part was BRUTAL, but the experience was something that I cannot get in any other place that I have raced. And the feeling of community was incredibly refreshing. Even the people just enjoying a day at the beach who made a point to stop and cheer us on while we suffered in the heat made it a great experience. If I have a chance to go back, I definitely will. I might have to go back just so I can get in the money! All in all, a great duathlon debut for 2015, and diversion from my heavy half marathon build. Thank you to everyone near and far who supports me in this journey, including my wonderful supporters Ignition Fitness, Skechers Performance and 3SIXTY5 Cycling (who have been amazingly supportive and patient as I chase after these foolish running goals during the spring). I was especially happy that my Papa was able to finally see me race a duathlon. Hope you enjoyed it! I’m in action again…tomorrow! In Red Deer for a quick 10k tune-up before starting my taper for the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Calgary.

So until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Great to share this race with my Papa, who took a road trip of his own to support me!

Great to share this race with my Papa, who took a road trip of his own to support me!

Oh, and we stopped in Canmore on the way home so I could do a long run at 4600 at the Olympic Nordic Skiing Centre. Where it rained.

Oh, and we stopped in Canmore on the way home so I could do a long run at 4600 at the Olympic Nordic Skiing Centre. It rained.

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!