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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…

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“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!

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!