Everyone’s favourite Formula One drag rac—I mean duathlon went down this past weekend in Montreal. For the weekend, multisport athletes took over the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on Île Notre Dame in the St. Lawrence River. This year’s festivities essentially included a full afternoon of duathlon races, as following Saturday morning’s Demi-Esprit were the standard distance duathlon, a non-drafting sprint distance race and a draft legal sprint distance race. We’ll focus on the qualifier races (the standard and the draft legal sprint) here. Special thanks to Zoom Photo and Laurence St-Cyr for the photos!
This race is a fun one to compete in, simply because of the venue. The highlight is the bike course, where you complete 4 (sprint) or 9 (standard) laps of the fastest pavement in North America. Sandwiched on either side is a deceptively tough run, starting off with a long 2km stretch of gravel and finishing with the longest straightaway you will even run in a duathlon, over a mile of running towards a red speck in the distance that is the finishing arch. Complicating matters this year was a strong wind gusting from the west, making the outward portions of the run and the bike a tad more difficult that originally thought.
STANDARD DISTANCE – MEN
This one was interesting. Francois Marceau (last year’s sprint distance winner) was in the field, and he paced the first run 10km run. However, he had rookie Cameron Mitchell of Ontario for company as the two of them led the way into T1. However, there was a strong group coming from behind led by Mathieu Paquet and also including Scott Johnson and Serge LaForge.
Marceau would take the lead on the bike with the 3rd-fastest bike split as the race shuffled, and the order entering T2 would be Marceau, Johnson (who moved up big on the bike), Paquet, Mitchell, LaForge. It has been a long road back for Marceau, however, and he faded to 8th on the second 5km run as Johnson took charge of the race and held off a late charge from Mitchell to take a 10 second win. LaForge ran through Paquet to grab the final podium spot.
- Scott Johnson – 2:00:43
- Cameron Mitchell – 2:00:53
- Serge LaForge – 2:01:50
STANDARD DISTANCE – WOMEN
This race was a bit more of a runaway than the men’s race. Defending champion and top 10 finisher (overall) at Worlds, Lynda Gingras, took the race by the scruff of the neck on the first run (40:40) and didn’t really look back. Her run splits were tops in the race and her bike split was second only to eventual runner-up Angela Goran, who took back time on the bike but not nearly enough to overhaul Gingras. Her 2:10:14 is unofficially the best women’s performance in Canada this year, in a year of many excellent ones.
Behind Lynda the race stayed pretty much status quo most of the way, as Goran and eventual 3rd place finisher Josiane Daigneault were the first 3 into T1, T2 and across the line. Edith Bessette made a late bid for the podium, but came up just a touch short and ended up 35 seconds back in 4th.
- Lynda Gingras – 2:10:14
- Angela Goran – 2:15:11
- Josiane Daigneault – 2:23:30
DRAFT LEGAL SPRINT DISTANCE – MEN
Just 6 days after 70 athletes raced a draft legal showdown at the National Championships, Canada’s eastern athletes descended on Esprit to claim their qualifying spots for the draft legal sprint Worlds in Penticton next year. Runner-up in Edmonton Jesse Bauer defaulted into the lead into a steady headwind on the first run, and slowly opened up a small gap (22 seconds) into T1 on a group of pursuers led by Alexandre Badeau and Mathieu Despatie. The group quickly became those two who set off after the sole leader.
Badeau and Despatie slowly closed that gap over the 4 laps and slightly more than 18km of bike course, working well together to make the catch at the very end of the very last headwind section of the bike before initiating a series of attacks designed to dislodge the apparently stronger runner from the group. Bauer held tough, moved past Despatie before the mount line and moved into the lead on the way out of T2. From there it was more of a formality at the end of a long Coupe du Quebec season for the other two, as the gap just grew until the end the race. Bauer wound up with the win by 1:38 over Despatie, with Badeau rounding out the podium.
- Jesse Bauer – 1:07:23
- Mathieu Despatie – 1:09:01
- Alexandre Badeau – 1:10:08
DRAFT LEGAL SPRINT DISTANCE – WOMEN
On the women’s side, the race played out similarly to the race in Edmonton. There were some smaller draft packs further back in the field, mostly between athletes who had some draft legal racing (we’ll explore this in a separate post next week), but hopefully the largely solo runs at the front of the race will phase out as registration numbers increase. This was a race between a super-runner (Sabrina St-Gelais) and an uber-biker (Rachel Quirion-Arguin).
St-Gelais took off with the men on the first run, opening up a gap of over a minute on the rest of the women. Quirion-Arguin led the charge and then sling-shotted her way to the front of the race (and more), leaving T2 with a 1:28 lead on St-Gelais. This set up a thrilling footrace, with St-Gelais’ collegiate running chops eventually paying off with a 6 second win at the finish line. While it was an exciting race, one wonders how it would have been different with a few more athletes of similar abilities to athletes who ended up going solo.
- Sabrina St-Gelais – 1:16:01
- Rachel Quirion-Arguin – 1:16:07
- Nathalie Larin – 1:21:20
There was some exciting racing on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve this weekend, though one wonders how different it would have been if there had not been a trio of popular races in Ontario on the same weekend. Aside from the races for the overall titles there were some intriguing battles within the age groups at Esprit, as well as an interesting F40-44 age group in Edmonton. We will be devoting a separate post to these age group battles later this week. With Esprit in the rear-view mirror and all the automatic qualifying opportunities going with it, our attention now turns to the roll-down selections for Penticton 2017. Keep an eye on this page for more!
Until next time…keep Du’ing it!