Iron Hawk/Ontario Sprint Duathlon Championships Recap

The Ontario duathlon season officially kicked off this past Saturday in the small Essex County community of Harrow, Ontario with the Iron Hawk Sprint Duathlon. The race doubled as the Ontario Sprint Duathlon Championships, and the $3,000 prize purse brought in studs from all over the province. The start list promised a blazing fast race, and the results did not disappoint. Though not all of the names rumoured to be making the trip were there, it would still end up being quite a competitive race in both the men’s and women’s races. The day broke with fantastic weather, sunny with warm temperatures and a wind that thankfully stayed (relatively) civil. The races were all delayed a tad because of the sheer number of late registrations. In the end, there would be 80 finishers in the race, an absolutely fantastic number for an early May duathlon in Ontario!

The action didn’t take long to develop, as elite triathletes Austen and Taylor Forbes of Dundas set a hot early pace. Other contenders Connor Darlington and Andrew Beardsall (C3), Sjaan Gerth and Harrow’s own Lionel Sanders followed an early pace that hovered near 3:00/km, with a chase pack containing Paul Kolb and Colin Lavigne (Tri-Hart), Jesse Bauer (Ignition Fitness), Robert Demarco, Sean Bechtel and Rui Xu (C3) following closely behind. The Forbes twins continued to establish themselves at the front throughout the first two lap run of approximately 5.25km, coming through the 5k mark in close to 15:00 flat before heading to the bikes. They were followed closely over the next 90 seconds by Sanders, Gerth, Darlington, Beardsall, Kolb, Demarco, Bauer, Lavigne, Xu and Loewen, all tightly bunched heading into transition. Definitely one of the fastest first runs in an Ontario duathlon in a little while!

The bike was on an open and exposed 20km course, composed of two 10km loops bookended by 180 degree turns. The wind was such that the beginning of each leg of the course was a section of headwind, before competitors turned into a crosswind and then finally a tailwind section heading into each 180 degree turn. Strong cyclists Sanders and Bechtel used this leg to establish themselves at the front of the race, with Lionel stamping his claim on the leader’s position and Bechtel moving quickly through the field into 2nd place and staying there for the remainder of the race. Beardsall’s day unfortunately ended at the 5k mark due to a mechanical, while Gerth and the Forbes’ held strong in the 3rd to 5th positions top 6. Apart from Bechtel, the big mover in the race was LPC’s Garrick Loewen, moving from well back after the first run to knock on the door of the top 5 after the bike, recording the 4th fastest bike split of the day to start the run in 6th 5th place. The chase group of Kolb, Lavigne and Bauer traded positions over the 20k bike to round out the major contenders.

The 2.5km run was not much more than a formality with regards to the top 10, as the top 6 of Sanders, Bechtel, Gerth, Taylor and Austen Forbes, and Loewen did not move much through to the finish. Bauer and Lavigne engaged in a brief battle for 7th place, with Bauer coming out on top by 6 seconds. Connor Darlington was the biggest mover in the top 10, moving up to 9th place with the fastest second run on the day, and was followed by Paul Kolb to round out the top 10. The elite field did not disappoint as the top 5 all broke the 1 hour barrier, with another 6 all under 1:02. Leading the way was Lionel Sanders in 56 minutes flat to bring home the big prize.

Iron Hawk Top 15
Detailed splits for the top 15 overall finishers (click to enlarge)

The women’s race brought another local winner to Iron Hawk, as Leamington’s Kristie Kniaziew defeated C3’s Kirsten Vergara and Sadie Holmes on the strength of an excellent 35:54 bike split. She was able to keep pace with Vergara’s strong run splits, staying within 50 seconds after the first run and backing up her bike split by nearly matching Vergara’s closing run. Holmes rounded out the women’s top 3 with an equally strong 35:58 bike split, and was followed in the overall standings by Toronto’s Lauren Tucker and Brampton’s Jade Carrington. Kniaziew’s result was good enough for 20th in the overall race, as well as top honours in the women’s 40+ division.

Iron Hawk Females
Top 5 overall females at Iron Hawk (click to enlarge)

The men’s 40+ division featured quite the battle between Toronto’s Ming-Chang Tsai and Windsor’s own Daryl Flacks. Tsai lead the way through the first run, posting an excellent 19:02 5k split with Flacks following 10 seconds behind. Tsai gained a further 7 seconds in T1, but that was all neutralized by a race 7th fastest 33:17 bike split by Flacks. Tsai used another strong transition to gain another 7 seconds on Flacks in T2, heading out onto the closing run only 5 seconds in arrears. A 9:51 performance on the final 2.5km run sealed the race for Tsai, as he secured a 30 second victory in the men’s 40+ division despite a strong fight from Flacks.

Iron Hawk 40+ Division
Top 3 40+ males at Iron Hawk (click to enlarge)

The crowd support was phenomenal, as people lined the roads around transition and gave every last competitor the support that they needed. Windsor and Essex County sure can support their multisport community, and it showed on Saturday. With the announcement that the Beller River Sprint Duathlon will serve as the Canadian Sprint Duathlon Championships this year (more later, stay tuned!), we look forward to continued support from the underrated yet passionate group of multisport athletes and supporters from Windsor and Essex County. Huge thanks to the Iron Hawk organizing committee, the community of Harrow and Essex County for hosting Ontario’s duathletes in an impressive display of hospitality. You can find the full results by heading over to our Schedule and Results page. Congratulation to our Ontario Spring Duathlon Provincial Champions, Lionel Sanders and Kristie Knaiziew. And welcome to duathlon season, Ontario duathletes!

UPDATE 5/15 9:59PM Jack Laundry pointed out on Twitter that it was indeed LaSalle’s Garrick Loewen who came off the bike in 5th place. These are the tiny details that one misses while participating in the race! Sorry Garrick, congratulations on the strong performance. And thanks to Jack for pointing that out!

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