Good day, ActiveFriends! Another week, another race report to fill you in on. This time, I take you to the 29th annual Winterlude Triathlon. An event I’ve done several times now, and still look forward to it each year. This, to me, is pretty much ‘the’ quintessential winter race that conincides with Ottawa’s winter festival, Winterlude every year. As with the past two years, we were lucky enough with the weather to actually have a full skate, ski, and run course laid out. This is pretty key to note, as for several years, they kept having weather issues forcing either no ski, or no skate, or only run, etc. Seeing as I was covering the event for Get Out There Magazine, it was great to be able to highlight the whole triathlon. Since I was doing full coverage this time, I can once again share lots of media with you all, starting with the folder of pictures on flick, as well as additional goodies found below. Click on through to read the full story, which I’ll try to keep brief again!
For starters, I’m happy to say the weather was perfect on race day. We had a great sunny day, with temperatures cold, but not unbearably so. As the race starts at 8am, we are obviously out in the colder part of the day, but the fact that the sun was shining makes all the difference in how you feel. For the race set-up, they had chosen to create 2 different transition zones. In effect your running stuff was separate from your ski stuff, but all it really meant was that your skis were located 50 feet or so from the rest of your gear. Speaking of skis, I was pretty excited with the ski portion, as this would be my first official race using skate skis instead of classic skis. In past years, I felt that the skis held me back in the standings. Not that I was going to win, but it’s nice to go faster 🙂
The race itself is fairly straightforward. The order of events consists of skating, skiing, and running. The skate, as you might imagine, is along the canal, heading first from Dow’s lake south to Hartwell Locks, then out towards Pretoria Bridge, turning before the bridge, and returning to Dow’s like. This year’s total was about 9km. For the ski, the Arboretum is groomed the night before to take advantage of whatever natural snow features exist. When all was said and done this year, the double loop through the arboretum extended about 7km. Finally, the run portion is mainly along the canal as well. This is along packed snow for much of the way, again south to Hartwell Locks, up to the path for a while along the parkway, back onto the ice, back to the locks, and finally back to the Pavilion area. Run total was a fast 5k. That brought the grand total on my GPS to about 21km. A great distance for an early winter morning race.
Deanna and I arrived early enough for me to have a chance to set up my T-Zone, grab some footage, and even do a warm-up skate. The ice surface near the pavilion was quite rough, but workable. When the race finally got underway, I tried to position myself with my fellow long-bladers close to the front, but my speed was hurt by my inexperience on the poor ice at the start. I finally fell into a decent rhythm, but unfortunately was caught out alone, with no one to draft off. I was still pretty happy with my average speed of just a touch under 20km/hr and final time of 24 minutes. I got a few good shots out there, and managed not to fall 🙂
Next up was the ski. After stumbling through the snow / ice with my blades on, I finally managed to grab skis and poles and jog up the hill to the start area. Got the skis and poles on uneventfully and took off. My decision to have camera strapped to wrist was a bad one, and shortly after, I had to stop, undo everything, and stash the camera in my pocket. Probably lost a minute there! Yuck! On the plus side, the snow/ice was FAST. I felt like a total rank amateur, as my technique was horrible. I was trying to move fast rather than smoothly, and I’m sure you could see it. I had a hard time settling into any sort of groove in the snow. That being said, I’d say I held my own out there. Was passed by a few people, but also manage to pass a number of other skate skiers, which gave me some hope. I’d love to say I didn’t fall, but unfortunately, at the 98% mark, my tip caught some ice and down I went! And this in full view of my ‘fans’, Deanna and Jess. How embarrassing. I made up for it by getting up in lightening time and heading to the transition. I wrapped that up in 29 minutes.
Finally, the run! I’d made the very wise decision to slap the YakTrax on my shoes before heading out the door in the morning. Seeing as we were mainly on the canal, it was the right call. I wasted no time transitioning, and headed out into the blazing sun all smiles. This was my strongest leg of the race and I managed 11th in my category there. I passed quite a few people and felt good the whole way. Made a friend in the last 2 or so km who helped drag me forward, and ultimately, I reciprocated by giving her some motivation at the finish by leading us in strong to the finish banner. Once again, I managed to get some good shots, and had some fun moments like high-fiving the winner of the race as I passed him in the opposite direction. Nice to see our gap (It was pretty big!).
Post-race, I grabbed some delicious hot chocolate which was on offer. There was also hot soup, bagels and bananas for all the racers. Awards were sort of given out ad-hoc as there were still people on course, but no one really felt like standing around in the cold in the transition zone for an hour. Looking back on past years, it’s hard to say how whether I improved or not. With differences in the courses, distances, and equipment, it’s a lot like comparing oranges to pineapples. However, I certainly had a great time and felt like I had a strong race. I don’t have a single regret on the day, and hope I’ll get to do it again next year, especially since RD Rick Hellard confessed he’s hoping to make the skate a point-to-point for the 30th anniversary! Well, time to go for me. Lots to prep and lots to rest to get ready for the Canadian Ski Marathon next weekend! Keep your eyes on this site for the story that will unfold from that event. 160km of skiing in 2 days?? Yup, I’m nuts!