Category Archives: News

Editorial Musings – Why Not Try 5k/30k/5k?

PROLOGUE: The following editorial is mostly speculation with a sprinkling of fact. Many references and suggestions on where to go from there are made to rumours that are still unconfirmed being true. This is an idea that I came up with for Championship/qualification races only, to ease the burden on race directors who have already invested time and funds to be a qualifier, and possibly help participation. Local races, keep doing your thing…the more of you there are out there, getting people excited about duathlon, the better! I also don’t propose any changes to the draft legal development. It’s small but growing, and needs a chance to mature. All duathlon distances in this article are quoted as Run #1/Bike/Run#2.

Details have started to trickle out about the Triathlon Canada Multisport Qualifying Series over the past several days, with TriBC and Triathlon Quebec officially releasing their calendars and whispers popping up about other races. (NOTE: we have updated our Events page, and will attempt to keep our 2018 Schedule and Results page as updated as possible as more events are announced). It’s already shaping up to be an interesting year of racing, with some intriguing quirks…but I’ll leave that for a later post, once more events have been announced (namely Nationals). Of note, there are currently 3 sprint duathlon qualifying events during 2018 (all in Quebec), but none are draft legal.

Earlier this month we posted about the new qualifying criteria for 2019 Worlds, as well as the plan for qualifying beyond that. Thanks to Alberta Triathlon Association Executive Director Calli Stromner, duathletes were able to take a look at the exact bidding criteria for Nationals and World Qualification races. This year, the provinces had a chance to buy qualifying spots for $750 each (as opposed to $250 previously), with a maximum number available to be allocated based on percentage of national membership base) from Triathlon Canada. This is a stepping stone to a potential “domestic progression” (photo from Alberta Triathlon Association Newsletter, November 2017), where athletes would qualify for Nationals at provincial championships, and then qualify for Worlds at Nationals.

Even with qualification occurring one year in advance (ie. qualify in 2019 for Worlds in 2020), this domestic progression idea would require two standard distance races (at minimum) in a year. And that would mean going into Provincials cold, without a tune-up race, or committing two years to the task to work out the standard distance kinks the year before. Alternately, TriCan’s bidding criteria told me this little golden nugget of information:

Click to enlarge. Taken from “2018 Bidding and Hosting Fast Facts” (Triathlon Canada, 2018)

This got me thinking: why not make the championships distance a 5km run/30km bike/5km run format for non-draft racing? Maybe not for Nationals at first, but definitely for the smaller, locally operated provincial championships. We’ll get into three reasons why this might work, but first…

LET’S TALK DUATHLON HISTORY
Fitness expert Dr. Steve Jonas had some interesting tidbits on the history of duathlon in Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals. Among them was a reference to the original duathlon distances, in the US at least, being a 3 mile run/18 mile bike/3 mile run format (which equates approximately to 5k/30k/5k). The USAT stuck with this format at their National Championships until 2016.

Powerman International (the world’s premier duathlon brand) also builds its races around the 5k/30k/5k distance format, with the “classic” long distance being twice that (10k/60k/10k). While 10k/40k/5k and 5k/20k/2.5k align better with the ITU standard and sprint triathlon distances, ask any duathlete and they will tell you that the toll of 10k/40k/5k is exceptionally high…it’ll definitely bring you to your knees more often than not!

One of the fairest courses I know in Canada is the Bare Bones Duathlon in Penticton BC, which combines a flat and twisty 5km run with a difficult lakeside 32km bike course. It’s difficult enough to break you, but short enough that you can bounce back the next day (perhaps to race the Blossom 10 Miler?). In fact, it was Bare Bones that got me thinking about this. Here’s why I think this could work:

1) Emergence of Draft Legal Sprint Duathlon – Before the ITU switched to draft legal for the sprint distance, there was a need for two championship distances. However, the advent of draft legal has eliminated that. Draft legal race options are going to be sparse while it establishes its niche, and even the USAT hosts only a single National Championship. So if there can only be one non-draft option, why not make it a more marketable distance that can be raced and practiced more often? At least for smaller Provincial level races.

2) Accessibility for Wider Athlete Ranges – Why more marketable? Duathlon is often an entry sport to multisport. With championship sprint racing now presenting a bigger entry obstacle, ambitious novices now have no option but to set their sights on an event that is twice the distance. If domestic progression is indeed coming, then it stands to reason that the events progress as well to present newer athletes who aren’t lacking in ambition an opportunity to start smaller and move up in distance as they progress through the stages.

The established longer distances surely won’t disappear from the local scene for to use as race day training. And Nationals should probably stay aligned with the ITU distance unless waning participation dictates a change, as there should already be a draft legal sprint option. This would help newer duathletes, especially those unaccustomed to the training load, ease into the sport and develop an enjoyment for it over time, rather than getting discouraged off the hop by a poor performance at a HARD distance.

3) Centralized Participation and Competition – One single distance for championship racing centralizes the talent and participation into one race. Having it be 5k/30k/5k eliminates the choice of distance, and forms a great compromise between a fast-twitch sprint battle royale, and a grind-it-out endurance test. Sprint specialists move up a bit, long distance athletes move down a bit, everybody is put a bit out of their element, and we meet in the middle to find out who truly are the best athletes on that particular day. I’ll bet the added competition will help participation numbers and foster more of that atmosphere of camaraderie we know and love.

The other upside of this is for the organizers of the small local races who sacrifice so much so that we can have these races. This would eliminate the logistical challenge of holding two separate races and cut out little costs like extra signage, water and on-course nutrition, permits for extended stretches of road and trail, and police for traffic control (due to shorter races), which could be saved or shifted to create a richer athlete experience. The organizational effort could be much more streamlined with one event, right down to not having to ask “which event?” at registration. A definite win-win for both athletes and race directors alike!

IS IT THE ANSWER TO RACE DILUTION IN CANADA?
I’m not sure, but I’d sure love to find out. Duathlon is small enough that 5k/30k/5k provincial championships could qualify for both standard and sprint distances (unless TriCan goes the open registration route like the USAT does for duathlon), giving athletes the choice at Nationals if the events are the same weekend, or the chance to double up if they are held separately.

Some of the most competitive races I have ever been in were 5k/30k/5k. They were the perfect blend of speed and endurances, and in that small sample size they always seemed to bring out the best in athletes. Plus, they were fun to watch! Don’t agree? I’d love to hear about it. Hit us up on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments!

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

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“Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes” – Revamped Championship Qualifying Criteria from Triathlon Canada

We know that you’ve been patiently waiting for our Overdrive recap. With the results just being finalized in recent days we were waiting to post it. You’ll just have to bear with us a little while longer.

NOTE: The Boucherville recap was made possible by the availability of splits for the individual disciplines of the race. Unfortunately, due to the inclement weather and the lack of timing mats on course, we were not able to do the same analysis for Overdrive…instead it will be a more qualitative analysis.

BUT LET’S TALK ABOUT OVERDRIVE FOR A MOMENT

Before we dive into the fun, we’d be remiss not to talk about what a spectacular day it was at Overdrive. The forecast looked dreadful the whole week leading up to the event, and the day started off challenging for the sprint athletes. They were asked to exceed the demands of the average competition by an already challenging run course, a stunning but demanding bike course with 8 slick corners per lap, and difficult conditions…all while navigating the complex tactical world of draft legal racing.

Overdrive Duathlon
Slippery when wet
Standard distance athletes, we can’t give you enough kudos. One lap of the bike course was demanding enough, and you had to navigate it 12 times (twice on the first run, 10 times on the bike). Temperatures that started the day around 12 for the sprint dropped to single digits in the afternoon, and the rain just kept coming down harder. It got to a point where the temperature was so cold that the officials started pulling athletes from the bike course, and athletes ended up completely various numbers of laps.

Because of that, the results and qualification information took time to finalize. Regardless, you are all incredible athletes just for showing up on the day, knowing what was probably to come…Duathlon Central Seals of Awesomeness for everyone! Results and congratulations to come with the full recap.

Reminder: General registration for Worlds in Fyn starts at 10am PST on November 15. If you secured an automatic spot for the race at a qualifier and plan to go, make sure you claim it by November 14 using the unique qualifier code in the email you should have received. If you wait, you run the risk of your spot disappearing to the general registration crowd even though you auto-qualified. If you missed a qualifier, November 15 is your last chance to be a part of the ITU World Multisport Championships Festival through general registration (albeit with a higher team management fee).

Happy Faces
Candid…ish (Photo: Overdrive Race and Relay Series/Triathlon Ontario)
WAIT, WHAT? SPEAKING OF QUALIFICATION…

Triathlon Canada released their new qualification criteria for the Age Group World Championships, and there were some interesting tidbits in the new policy. You can check it out here. There are some good pieces in here, and some interesting ones. Here’s the skinny:

Triathlon Canada is going to a “Qualifier Only” model for the Age Group World Championships starting in 2018 for the 2019 championships, essentially eliminating rolldown qualification and general registration. In fact, it looks like rolldown is going the way of the dodo immediately, as the auto qualifier window closes on November 14 with general registration opening on the 15th and no mention of the “Stage 2” qualification that was administered last year. This means that if a race has a certain number of qualifying spots, the only WC spots awarded will be to those who finish in those places in their age group and no further.

The last vestiges of general registration survive in the 35 charity slots available for purchase 1 month after the last qualifier, with proceeds going to support the National Development team and Kids in Triathlon Canada. Why those causes? Because Triathlon Canada gets their funding from Sport Canada and Own The Podium, who put a high premium on Olympic events and medals. Oversimplified, the more success a National Sport Organization can put forward (ie. Olympic and World Championship medals), the better positioned to receive funding that NSO is. Additional funding from other sources helps bridge the gap and identify that one extra athlete who might just develop and mature at the right time to snag that Olympic medal in 2020 that bumps us up a funding bracket.

The system was built on feedback from the member surveys sent out to Age Group Team Canada after Penticton and Rotterdam. Just over half of athletes answering that particular question voiced a desire for a “Qualifier Only” system that preserves the prestige of competing at (and possibly travelling to) a qualifying event. Feedback given to us echoed that sentiment (small sample size alert). What’s REALLY interesting is this little tidbit that went out in the Alberta Triathlon Association newsletter this week, hinting that this is only a transitional step:

ATA Newsletter
ATA Newsletter hinting at details about future changes to World Championship qualification. 2 spots being allocated to Alberta would mean that Alberta races may only be allocated up to two spots per age group. Alberta athletes would be welcome to race Nationals or qualifiers in other provinces to obtain other opportunities to qualify.
If true and applied across all multisports, this is BIG. Even the USAT with its large membership base sticks to open registration for all events other than sprint and standard distance triathlon, though the triathlon numbers are so high that qualifying for Nationals has become almost as prestigious as qualifying for Worlds.

They also offer a secondary option to get into Worlds, through the USAT Rankings. This doesn’t seem to leave any alternatives to showing up and qualifying…which may or may not be a bad thing for athletes and the races themselves (see editorial below).

SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

Foremost, it means that racing at Nationals is about to become REAL important. Without rolldown, the days of showing up to a duathlon qualifier and probably punching your ticket (or giving yourself a pretty good chance at a rolldown) are numbered. If they stick to the past framework during the transition year, Nationals will have the most available spots in each age group.

Nationals definitely becomes more important in future years, where it sounds like athletes will have to attend a provincial event to qualify for Nationals, that you then have to attend to try to qualify for Worlds. As a reminder, racing at Nationals is also the only option in North America for a Canadian interested in racing as an elite to score ITU points and obtain a ranking if Worlds are abroad.

Editorial opinion? We’re reading a story with no ending right now. Whether this is a good or bad system can’t really be determined until we see the distribution of qualifying events, which will be released in early December. The transition year system actually sounds like a pretty good system in itself, allocating the bulk of the spots to Nationals and giving PSO’s an opportunity to add a number of spots to provincial races based on membership base. I’ll reserve judgment on that aspect until the qualifier details are announced.

What’s “interesting” is the all or nothing aspect of this. Without rolldown, if it’s another year like this year (particularly in the sprint duathlon) then there is a really good chance of ~25% of the spots going to athletes who have no intention of claiming them. While maintaining a rankings system may not be feasible in a small organization, I would have loved to see at least a capped rolldown by percentage of AG winner’s time (ie. qualification rolls down X places as long as they are within Y% of the AG winner’s time).

If that’s not feasible, then maybe another idea taken from USA Triathlon: everyone lines up after results are official and puts down $50 to claim their spot or it rolls down to the next person in line. “Day of race” rolldown ensures that you at least eliminate the athletes who race a qualifier but have no intention to claim a spot on Age Group Team Canada. That would likely go a long way to ease some of the dissonance already popping up on social media, so hopefully more details are coming.

Discussion in the comments, on Twitter or on our Facebook page. As always with a policy, if you feel passionate about the new criteria, I encourage you to provide that feedback to Triathlon Canada in whatever way you feel comfortable.

Until next time (hopefully with more information)…keep Du’ing it!

An In-Depth Analysis of Age Group Draft Legal Racing in Canada

ITU Draft Legal Racing
(Photo Credit: Bradley Reiter)

UPDATE: Registration for Overdrive has been extended until this Wednesday October 25 at 6pm ET. There will be no race day registration. Don’t miss out on your last chance to qualify for a fantastic experience on Fyn, Denmark!!

Many of us know the story draft legal racing from seeing it on TV or on TriathlonLive: swim (or run) your butt off on the first leg to get yourself into the best group possible, fly through transition so as not to lose said group while you’re switching into bike mode, and then respond to the bike/run portion of the race as necessary while doing your best to stay sheltered in the pack on the bike. Obviously, some adjustments are made for the relative strengths and weaknesses of athletes in a particular group (or in the case of the Brownlees, the sad realization that unless it’s 40C outside then you are kind of hooped), but in general the basic principles remain.

However, starting last year the ITU threw us a curveball: Age Group draft legal racing. The specifics have been discussed at length on this site, but we haven’t had a chance to look at the dynamics of a draft legal race featuring age groupers. One of the defining characteristics of elite draft legal racing is the razor-thin differences in ability between athletes in the race (as well as separate races for men and women). This is made possible by the limited field size of elite ITU racing. But with age group racing the numbers are simply too large for separate races to be feasible, and the wide range of ability levels further compound the structure of the race.

ITU Draft Legal Racing Again
(Photo Credit: Bradley Reiter)

Races try several strategies to combat this. Since the institution of AG draft legal racing, Canadian athletes have had access to 6 races with drafting. Two races stuck with what they had and offered non-draft races as well, which kept registration down (Esprit 2016 and Boucherville 2017), two used difficult bike courses to break up the packs (Penticton 2017 and Overdrive 2017), and two used long laps with technical portions or hills (Aviles 2016 and Edmonton 2016) to keep the groups separated. These races were all characterized by closed roads to increase space on the course, and wave starts. Let’s take a look at each of them:

2016 ITU World Championships (Aviles, Spain)
This was the first chance for Canadian athletes to experience draft legal racing. The sprint course took place on 1.5 laps of a pretty technical course, with a few ups and downs but no big climbs. In true Canadian fashion, many athletes reported wanting to work with other athletes, only to be blocked by the larger team tactics of the more experienced European athletes waiting for the run (especially closer to the front of the race). Karri Beck of Ontario reported the most positive experience in Aviles, working cohesively with a group of 6 other women (including 3 passengers) on her way to a strong result. In the absence out big hills to separate groups, the single lap course kept overlapping to a minimum.

WTS Edmonton AG Duathlon (2016)
The AG duathlon portion of the popular WTS Edmonton triathlon weekend also doubled as the sprint duathlon Canadian Championships. Over 70 athletes traveled in to take on a challenging 10km bike course including a steep test up past Emily Murphy Park, a climb popularized in this year’s edition of WTS Edmonton.

WTS Edmonton
WTS Edmonton

Carrie Allen of B.C. had some excellent thoughts from the second wave of the race, as she used the tough first half of the course to overcome a poor first transition in frigid conditions and ride up to Erin Linton and Lisa Evered. The trio linked up with two athletes from the previous wave completing their second lap to pick up time on athletes further back in their wave, and lost Evered during the back half of the first lap. The gap they gained on the second lap enabled Linton (who transitioned well to the run) and Allen to hold off Evered in the Masters race.

Montreal Esprit Sprint Duathlon (2016)
Just 6 days after Edmonton, Triathlon Canada’s second draft legal qualifier for Worlds in Penticton took place on Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal. The race took place on the existing course, a wide but flat 4.5km circuit.

Montreal Esprit Duathlon
Montreal Esprit Duathlon (http://www.zoomphoto.ca/viewphoto/19913-110-27917646/1/)

The flat nature of the course exposed riders who found themselves isolated, and Karri Beck once again provided some excellent insight on the race. Finding herself solo after dispatching a slightly weaker rider early on, she latched on to a freight train containing Natalie Wright and Sylvie Charest, using her run to then move up a couple spots further than she would have finished had she not latched on to that small but cohesive group on the bike.

2017 ITU World Multisport Championships (Penticton, B.C.)
The next opportunity for draft legal racing didn’t come until August 2017, at the very event that Edmonton and Esprit were qualifiers for. The course was more along the lines of Edmonton than Esprit, with a short but very steep climb followed by a rolling 10km lap and a screaming descent back to transition. Our editor got a first-hand look at elite draft legal racing (link above), and the age-groupers faced a stiff test as well.

The front groups were able to work well together, though Jeremy Hopwood‘s account described a course that was either too demanding or too flat to really break up similar athletes. The front groups maintained some pretty strong packs, while further back the groups got smaller. The gradients of Vancouver Avenue (not to mention the descent just 8km later) was just too demanding and divisive to allow MOPers to form cohesive groups so soon after a hard 5.2km run.

Duathlon de Boucherville
Chase Pack at Duathlon de Boucherville

Duathlon de Boucherville (2017)
Which brings us to our most recent event, Duathlon de Boucherville. Our last article was a detailed account of this race, which was the culmination of all of the learning athletes have been able to avail themselves of during the four races above. It was a thrilling watch, and was the race that most closely resembled the races we mentioned in the first paragraph. This all occurred despite a tight course with little challenge to break up the pack. It was a great sign for draft legal racing in Canada, as were the smiles all over the course!

So What’s Next? Overdrive Duathlon in Ontario
Ontario hosts its first ever draft legal duathlon this coming weekend, on the Canadian Tire Motorsports Track. The course features a difficult elevation profile and technical elements as well as a closed course on an excellent surface, combining the best features of all of the courses above. Racers sort themselves out over the first two corners, before diving down a fast descent to the bottom of the track into a tight hairpin. The “slower half” of the course rises at an average 2% grade, but contains sections with much steeper pitches. The tree-lined course also offers terrific shelter from the elements. The community seems to be rallying behind the event, causing registration numbers to double within 5 days last week.

Overdrive Duathlon
Looks fun…doesn’t it?!

The race promises to be fast and furious fun, as a strong age group contingent will likely be joined by several elites in the draft legal event. The standard distance will also see a return to racing by AG World Champion Matt Straatman as he looks for a provincial title over the longer distance. It all adds up to an exciting day of racing, one that you won’t want to miss. The registration deadline was extended to Monday, October 23rd Wednesday, October 25 at 6:00pm ET, so get online and get your registration in before it’s too late!

We’ll have more on the race after it’s run, in the same fashion as our Boucherville report. We’ll see you at the races, so until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Race Recap – Duathlon de Boucherville, Quebec Championships and Coupe du Quebec Finale

As the summer turns to fall, the duathlon season continues in Canada. The races are starting to be more and more spaced out, but they’re still delivering a punch when they are being held!

This weekend, I travelled to Boucherville, Quebec to take in my first “triple whammy”: Triathlon Canada qualifying race for the 2018 World Championships in Fyn, Denmark, the 1200 point finale of the Coupe du Quebec series, and the Triathlon Quebec provincial championships for the sprint distance (draft legal). The course was a suburban one that lent itself well to draft legal racing. It was a narrow one, so the cap on athletes at 52 was probably a good thing…even solo riders were finding themselves caught up behind groups of the course’s 4 corners and one 180 degree turnaround on the narrow city streets.

It was flat and fast, with a quaint circuit around a small lake done twice on the first run and once in the final leg. The bike was 4 laps of a long, flat out and back section, with a small technical city block section near transition that served to break groups up and put athletes on the limit. The run loop was a little short of 2.5km, even with an out and back at the top of the loop added to increase the distance. Despite that, the loop was quiet and the choice of course helped to minimize the effect of a long day of racing on the local neighbourhood.

I had the opportunity to watch closely from the front, and what I saw was super exciting. What was the best part about the race in Boucherville? Seeing 51 people starting to get the hang of this draft legal thing. There were several groups working together on the road, and very few solo riders not really taking an interest in getting themselves in a group. It’s been a hard adjustment for athletes to learn the inner workings of a draft legal race, but the progress sure was exciting this weekend. Let’s recap!

THE MEN

Boucherville Men
L to R – Mathieu Despatie, Jesse Bauer, Serge LaForge (Photo: Triathlon Quebec/Coupe Du Quebec via Facebook)

Let’s start here, and we’re going to focus on the provincial championship portion of the race (and ignore the Albertan making an appearance in the results). This race was without National Champion and Coupe du Quebec leader Mathieu Paquet, but did feature #2 (Serge LaForge) and #3 (Mathieu Despatie) in the standings. It also featured the newly crowned Valleyfield sprint duathlon champion (Dorian Baysset) and two tough masters competitors (Jean-Luc Mejane and Mauricio Gomez).

The early pace went out hot, but the 5 above chose to let the early leader go and maintain a steady pace in a tight group of 5. They would finish the run slightly strung out (an 8 second spread) led by Baysset and Despatie. Behind, some distinct groups had formed. Strong riding Guillaume Simoneau paired up with Donald Lebeau 1 minute in arrears, just ahead of Antoine Simard and Victor and Bruno Marchand. Another 10 seconds back out of T1 was a group of 5, with a 6th just losing contact in transition and unable to get back on terms with the group.

The group of 4 up front worked well together on the first lap, keeping the pace high and shelling Baysset right away after he allowed 12 seconds to open up in transition. After a strong first lap where they solidified their lead on the chase behind, the games began in the technical section with athletes throwing attacks at each other out of every corner before regrouping on the straightaway. Simoneau worked hard to get back onto terms, riding through Baysset but taking a heavy blow when groupmate Lebeau removed himself from the race. The group behind shelled two athletes but picked up the Marchand’s and Baysset to swell to a group of 7. They brought some quick runners back into the race and Simoneau (now riding solo) to within 11 seconds.

The decisive move in the front group came with 2km to go, on the downside of the overpass. Despatie pulled off the front and LaForge pulled through hard, opening a gap to the rest of the group. Despatie sprinted to get back on terms, and the pair opened a small lead heading into transition. LaForge came in having sustained a calf injury earlier in the week, and needed the gap to solidify his spot in the standings. Despatie’s alertness allowed him to stay on terms and put himself in position to win.

Boucherville Men
Screenshot of the men’s results from the Duathlon de Boucherville, with columns for cumulative time after the respective legs added, as well as colour coding to represent groups on the road (follow the rainbow for the order of the groups). Currently sorted by fastest time out of T2. For complete sortable results, click the photo!

The four arrived strung out, and Despatie’s race best 31 second T2 gave him the lead onto the second run. LaForge held 6 seconds on Mejane, a gap that Jean-Luc was not able to close, with Gomez another 6 seconds in arrears that left him in 4th, on the outside looking in. Despatie extended his lead with a race 2nd best 7:36 second run to take the crown as provincial champion. Baysset ran himself past Simoneau to secure a very solid 6th place finish with a 3rd best 7:37 second run.

  1. Mathieu DESPATIE – 57:01 (R1 15:17 B 33:05 R2 7:36)
  2. Serge LAFORGE – 57:21 (R1 15:23 B 32:55 R2 7:49)
  3. Jean-Luc MEJANE – 57:24 (R1 15:21 B 32:56 R2 7:48)

In the Master’s classification, making the front group did the trick, and breakthrough efforts from Mejane and Gomez (58:18 – R1 15:21/B 33:04/R2 8:35) got them into a group whose lead swelled enough to dispatch competitors behind, and allow them to join LaForge on the Masters Men podium.

THE WOMEN

Boucherville Women
L to R – Beatrice Gilbert, Sandrine Veillette, Catherine Vaillancourt (Photo: Triathlon Quebec/Coupe Du Quebec via Facebook)

While the men’s race followed a script that’s generally accepted to be normal in draft legal racing (one small group breaking away off the front, one larger chase group swelling in size trying to catch the break), the women’s race was actually more fascinating from the perspective of the development of draft legal racing in Canada…with lots of lessons learned (hopefully) by athletes.

The start went much the same as in the men’s race, with an athlete known for her running prowess (Sabrina St-Gelais) jetting to the front. However, this time she was joined by Sandrine Veillette, whose ability has been mentioned in this space several times over. A group of 4 gathered 30 seconds in arrears including Beatrice Gilbert and Catherine Vaillancourt, as well as Clara Emond and Mathilde St-Maurice. From here, Veillette would dispatch St-Gelais in transition, drop the 13th fastest bike split and 6th fastest second run split (overall, including the men) to cruise to the win in 59:52.

Behind Veillette, teammates Gilbert and Vaillancourt cut the gap to St-Gelais from ~40 seconds off the run to ~15 seconds coming out of T1. They quickly caught and dispatched the star runner and rode together as a pair for the rest of the bike. They arrived in T2 together, transitioned together and headed out onto the run course to duke it out. Vaillancourt’s 8:34 second run got the best of Gilbert, and they rounded out the podium 20 seconds apart.

  1. Sandrine VEILLETTE – 59:52 (R1 16:13 B 34:36 R2 – 8:01)
  2. Catherine VAILLANCOURT – 1:03:26 (R1 16:48 B 36:56 R2 8:34)
  3. Beatrice GILBERT – 1:03:47 (R1 16:44 B 37:01 R2 8:54)

Boucherville Women's Results
Screenshot of the women’s results from the Duathlon de Boucherville, with columns for cumulative time after the respective legs added, as well as colour coding to represent groups on the road (follow the rainbow for the order of the groups). Currently sorted by fastest time out of T2. For complete sortable results, click the photo!

MASTERS WOMEN
Behind the overall podium T1 played a pivotal part of the rest of the race, including the masters women’s race. The second chase absorbed Katherine Patry and opened 20 seconds on Karri Beck, before Patry linked up with Natalie Wright and stomped on the gas. The pair left the group behind, rode through Joanna Szymczyk and picked Frederique Perusse out of no-woman’s land. They would put 2 minutes into the next group on the road in the process, riding through Emond and St-Gelais. That ride put the two strong runners in chase mode, and sewed up finishes of 4th (Patry), 6th (Perusse) and 8th (Wright) for the members of the group.

Behind, there was a general regrouping, as a group of three who were about one minute off the pace out of T1 picked up three solo riders up the road and swelled their numbers to 6. However, the group was not able to get any closer. Genevieve Beliveau benefited from the strength of the group to finish 2nd masters while Beck held on for 3rd, but Wright was rewarded for her heads up racing to catch the train and take the top prize.

  1. Natalie WRIGHT – 1:06:47 (R1 18:47 B 36:37 R2 9:37)
  2. Genevieve BELIVEAU – 1:07:55 (R1 20:02 B 36:53, R2 9:07)
  3. Karri BECK – 1:08:19 (R1 18:39 B 38:00 R2 9:32)

Boucherville Masters Women
Screenshot of the masters women’s results from the Duathlon de Boucherville, with columns for cumulative time after the respective legs added, as well as colour coding to represent groups on the road (follow the rainbow for the order of the groups). Currently sorted by fastest time out of T2. For complete sortable results, click the photo!

Boucherville was fun, we look forward to more of the same come October 28 at the Overdrive Race!

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Catching Up With 2017

So, some stuff happened in 2017…let’s recap! All results can be found on our 2017 Results tab above.

ITU WORLD DUATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS
The biggest news that swept across many duathletes’ minds in 2017 was the looming spectre of the 2017 ITU World Duathlon Champinoships, hosted right here at home in spectacular Penticton, British Columbia. Sprint distance athletes took on a difficult and technical bike course, consisting of two trips up the steep slope of Vancouver Avenue, while standard distance athletes contested a picturesque but wind-battered highway course along the shores of Lake Okanagan. Canadian athletes took home 27 medals in the duathlon competition, including 12 golds! Desirae Ridenour (2nd Overall, Junior Women), Melissa Paauwe (1st F30-34 in 2:04:47, 2nd Overall), Matt Straatman (1st M20-24 in 1:52:54, 3rd Overall) and Jeremy Hopwood (1st M35-39 in 1:53:48, 4th Overall) led the charge of for Canada (as follows):

Laurence St-Cyr (3rd F20-24 Sprint)

Jennifer Souter (3rd F30-34 Sprint)

Dennis Colburn (3rd M50-54 Sprint & 2nd M50-54)

Diane Eller (2nd F70-74 Sprint)

Maureen Teixeira (1st F75-79 Sprint)

Brian Parkinson (1st M75-79 Sprint)

Bob Wild (1st M85-89 Sprint & 1st M85-89)

Samuel Seshadri (3rd M18-19)

Jasmin Aggarwal (1st F20-24)

Morgan Cabot (3rd F25-29)

Lynda Gingras (3rd F35-39)

Andrew McLeod (3rd M40-44)

Kim McMullen (2nd F45-49)

Martin Vaillancourt (3rd M45-49)

Paul Huyer (1st M55-59)

Sean O’Mahony (2nd M55-59)

David Field (1st M60-64)

Allan Mccallister (1st M65-69)

Murray Macpherson (2nd M65-69)

Sharryn Oleskiw (1st F70-74)

Bruce Butcher (3rd M80-84)

CANADIAN DUATHLON CHAMPIONSHIP DRAMA IN MAGOG

This year’s Canadian Championships for the standard distance were hosted in Magog, QC on July 15. With no sprint distance championships on the schedule this year, this one took on special significance as it was the only chance to secure a Canadian championship. The men’s race came down to the wire, as Reinier Paauwe‘s storming bike on the difficult course (500m+ of climbing over 40k) came up 7.5 seconds short of overhauling Mathieu Paquet‘s strong running, as Paquet secured that elusive title.

That 7.5 seconds was the only thing stopping a power couple championship sweep, as Melissa Paauwe‘s stunning course record allowed her to run away with the women’s race. It would be a sign of things to come as Worlds approached (see above). Josiane Daigneault once again made her way into an article, crossing the line as the fastest 40+.

WIDE OPEN COUPE DU QUEBEC IMPRESSES ONCE AGAIN

We shouldn’t speak to soon, with one leg of the series still to come, but we’ve enjoyed following the Quebec Cup so far this year. Mathieu Paquet has been enjoying a stellar season, wrapping up maximum points at 3 other series races on top of his win in Magog. Adding a 2nd place at the season opener at Valcartier, and a 4th place at the uber-competitive Drummondville race has him sitting comfortably on top of the rankings. However, Serge LaForge is ready to pounce during the 1200 point season finale in Boucherville.

The women’s classification has been equally fun, with consistent performance from the top 2 currently outpacing defending champion Sandrine Veillette‘s top performances in Valcartier, Nicolet and Drummondville. Alana Bonner leads the classification narrowly over Sonia Larche, with the outcome likely to be decided by the extra points on offer in Boucherville.

TRIATHLON ONTARIO DU THE DOUBLE CHALLENGE

Triathlon Ontario’s Du the Double Challenge celebrated another year, this year held separately from the Provincial Championships (which will be held at the Overdrive Race in October). We love this move because it created not one but TWO weekends aimed at duathletes. We also love the selection of Bracebridge as the host, because although it created a conflict with Worlds, the alternative would have created a conflict with Nationals…an open race that does not require qualification. It also helped avoid conflicting qualifying events, which is a situation where nobody wins.

The proximity to Worlds did mean that attendance suffered, but the top end brought their A game anyways. Sean Delanghe took the double outright despite strong challenges from young gun Sam Bell, newcomer to duathlon Peter Schindler, and former Double winner Brian Moore, while Gillian Willard kept it in the H&P family by claiming the women’s prize. Keep it up, Triathlon Ontario! We hope to see Sean and Gillian out at Overdrive in October, to try to back up their Doubles with Provincial Championships.

PROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP

The four provinces to host provincial championships this year all do so in unique and creative ways to drive participation:

  • British Columbia held their championship at the Bares Bones Duathlon this May. BC holds their championship over a single distance, an intermediate 5k-32k-5k distance that splits the sprint and standard. It’s also held in May (“shoulder” season), which leads to some pretty stellar fields of two- and three-sport stars. This year, local stud Dallas Cain took the race overall, holding off women’s champ Jen Annett.
  • Likewise, Alberta hosted their championship at a duathlon-only event, held over 2 distances at the Comfortec Red Deer Duathlon. Unlike the other three, this race is held in July and competes directly with mid-summer triathlons. Rio silver medalist Stefan Daniel made a surprise appearance to take the standard distance title, joining Kristen Spady on top of the podium. Ted Girouard and Alexandra McGowan took the honours in the sprint distance race.
  • Ontario took another step in really creating a great space for duathletes, by splitting their Du the Double Challenge (recap above) from the provincial championships. Triathlon Ontario has made a very real effort to create a great space for duathletes, and the move of the provincials to shoulder season is another great idea to draw more athletes. The choice of race (held on the Canadian Tire MoSports Track) is another great step!
  • Quebec also held separate provincial championships, and aligned them with their already separate Quebec Cup schedule. Triathlon Quebec has created a great atmosphere for triathletes to compete in both series and compete alongside duathletes. This year, provincials were held in conjunction with Nationals (standard distance, recap above) and the draft legal Worlds qualifier (also held in shoulder season, see below).

ESPRIT DUATHLON (MONTREAL)

The final qualifying event for the standard distance was also this past weekend at everyone’s favourite race, the Esprit Duathlon. Conditions looked great, and Dany Malley was able to turn that into Canada’s 10th sub-2:00 performance (after 6 in Penticton and 3 at the Red Deer Duathlon), recording a 1:58:57 clocking. Lynda Gingras was not to be outdone, slashing her way to a 2:06:23 and following up her fantastic Worlds performance with a qualifier for Fyn. Once again, the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve delivers on the hype!

SO WHAT’S NEXT?

With Esprit and the Ontario seasons (MSC and Subaru) wrapped up, the focus shifts to shoulder season and some draft legal action. An intriguing small-town duathlon takes place this weekend in Bragg Creek, AB, an event that features two separate trail runs (7k and 3k) sandwiched around a 20k road bike. The Blitz Duathlon sells out every year, and offers a unique challenge to athletes coming off a tough triathlon season.

After that, we flip over to October – draft legal qualifier month. Previews are to come for both races, but the Boucherville Duathlon starts the month off with a flat and fast course just outside of Montreal before the month wraps up with the Overdrive Duathlon. Boucherville is also the last leg of the Quebec Cup and the provincial championships, so should draw a strong field. Overdrive adds a duathlon day to its unique “multisport” day, with both a standard distance and sprint distance qualifier race on a completely closed course. Hosting the race on a motorsports track adds some ups and downs to the usual flat draft legal offerings, which creates an interesting wrinkle to the race dynamic.

Last season offered us an interesting look at what draft legal has to offer. With many more being exposed to draft legal racing through spectating and general registration at Worlds, we’re looking for another step forward for this exciting format. Keep an eye on this page for more about these two exciting offerings!

Some Frequently Asked Questions About The 2017 World Multisport Championship Festival In Penticton

We’ve been on a little “offseason” hiatus for the last little while, but don’t fret! We’ve just been planning out the next year on Canadian Duathlon Central.

Ever since the rash of September qualifying races for the World Multisport Festival in Penticton next August, we’ve been getting all sorts of different questions about Worlds. At the time these questions were asked a lot was still up in the air, so we’ve waited until more information came to light before putting anything in writing. At this point, enough has come out for a post, not to mention the deadline for automatic qualifier registration is this Saturday October 15, so…enjoy!

1. I heard the World Sprint Duathlon Championships is now draft legal. What does this mean? Have there been any draft legal races in Canada this year? How did they go?

Draft legal racing essentially means that the rules governing keeping a minimum distance between you and the bikes in front of and behind you, not to mention when passing, are eliminated. Think about the Olympic triathlon rather than Kona. There have been several age group draft legal races in Canada this year, including four duathlons that were also qualifiers for Penticton. You can read our reports for the well-attended ones here (Edmonton) and here (Montreal). We will also have a special feature on race dynamics coming out shortly (we didn’t forget!), highlighting some fascinating age group races from Edmonton and Montreal.

Draft Legal Dynamics
Draft legal action in Montreal (http://www.zoomphoto.ca/viewphoto/19913-110-27917646/1/)

Draft legal racing was generally well received with many athletes crossing the finish line with wide, enthusiastic eyes, though there have been several concerns raised by athletes. These included the challenge of learning a new format, lack of races, added steps of finding a cycling club to train, learn and race with, the inherent safety concerns associated with pack-riding, and the cost of buying a road bike if an athlete does not already own one.

2. Wait…what do you mean buying a new bike? I understand the other challenges, but why do I need a new bike? Can’t I ride my triathlon bike for draft legal races?

No, you cannot…unless your existing bike is a standard road bike already. This infographic from Triathlon Canada sums up the equipment rules for draft legal racing pretty succinctly. If you have a standard road bike with clip-on aerobars, then it is an easy fix (just take off those aerobars and that disc wheel). If you only own a full time trial bike (as is the case with many athletes), you will unfortunately have to find some way of getting a standard road bike before you try draft legal racing. That said, a road bike is a great training resource for triathletes if it fits your budget! As a side note, at this time disc brakes are not allowed in ITU competition or for World Championship qualification purposes.

Road Bike
Road bikes are fun!

3. Okay, I’m in…I’ll be looking for road bike deals so I can try this out. Is it possible to race both events at the Worlds in Penticton?

Yes. There was a new draft of the tentative event schedule released recently that makes this possible. The sprint distance race is on Saturday, August 19, while the standard distance race is 48 hours later on Monday, August 21. This satisfies the ITU’s requirement for 36 hours between races where one is of standard distance or longer. So duathletes can have the best of both worlds and race both a draft legal sprint distance and a standard distance event! The easiest path to doing so is having automatically qualified for both events during 2016, though there are other ways.

4. How necessary is it to have two bikes for the two races? Can I make do with only having a road bike?

Of course! If all you have is a road bike, you are going to be just fine. Just slap some clip-on aerobars on that thing and maybe think about a Wheelbuilder Aerojacket disc cover to go with your race wheels (if you have some). As mentioned earlier, if your only bike is a TT bike then you will need a road bike to race the sprint. That leaves the case where you have both bikes; what should you do?

Sweet venue for a TT bike!
Sweet venue for a TT bike (Photo credit: ITU Multisport World Championships)!

Our advice: if you have podium aspirations then bring your TT bike. The bike course is likely to be incredibly flat and fast, with the potential for wind as well. Also, you’re going to have cars passing you on one side the whole way, creating a slipstream effect. The lower and more aerodynamic you can get, the better. A road bike with clip-ons and every other aerodynamic aid you can think of is still going to be just a compromise.

5. Say I did not qualify for both events in Penticton, as I had only planned on competing in one event…what other options do I have for racing both events?

Unfortunately, qualifiers did not exist in all provinces or regions for each of the events. Fear not! Triathlon Canada has two more phases of registration for athletes to take advantage of, so if you raced at a Triathlon Canada Qualifying Series duathlon but didn’t automatically qualify, then you are eligible during stage two for any spots that are available, based on the priority of the event you raced. This is open from October 15 to 31. However, a quick perusal of the results from the sprint qualifiers reveals that (a) the number of athletes who did not auto qualify is in the single digits and (b) there are quite a few of the 25 qualifying spots allotted to Canada as a host nation that are going to go unclaimed in stage 2.

The next step is open registration. This basically means that after stage 2 is closed, a whole bunch of spots are going to be up for grabs on a first come, first serve basis, especially for the sprint duathlon (fewer spots will likely survive rolldown in the standard). This is mostly good news for those people who wanted to race both events yet only qualified for one. Pretty much the only pitfalls that we can see are that (a) if you did not race a Triathlon Canada Qualifying Series event but you had one in your province, an additional $150 charge is incurred and (b) you must have raced in at least one event of equal or greater distance in the previous calendar year, meaning that you sprint athletes who did not do a standard distance in 2016 are out of luck, unfortunately.

Challenge Penticton Hill
All registered? Good…now start hill training!

So how do you register for both events? Simple…just hop on the link that was sent in your auto qualifier email (or that will be posted on Triathlon Canada’s website for Stage 2 qualifiers), and complete the first registration as presented. When you get to the confirmation screen, put your code into the promo code space, and a discount will be applied to your cart save for $150. For the second registration, there is a question that asks if you have already registered for an event in Penticton. Choose “YES” and an additional discount will apply, leaving you with around $30 to pay for the second registration. Of note, this is for automatic qualifiers only.

We hope this helps! Don’t forget, the automatic qualifier deadline is tomorrow! So if you automatically qualified, make sure you get on to register before your spot rolls down! If you have any other questions, please feel free to connect with us on Facebook (Canadian Duathlon Enthusiasts), Twitter (@du_enthusiasts) or email (duathloncentral@gmail.com). Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Nationals Course Preview, Part 2 – Edmonton Triathlon Festival

After all of the excitement in Penticton last week, it’s hard to imagine that we are only 2 days away from another Canadian Duathlon Championship this year. This time, the sprint distance will be contested in the new draft legal format as part of the Edmonton Triathlon Festival at Hawrelak Park in Edmonton. The festivities go on all weekend, with a Youth/Junior Mixed Relay and Aquathlon to be contested on Friday, the standard distance events (including a duathlon) to run alongside the Junior Series race on Sautrday, and the Canadian Sprint Duathlon Championships to be one of the sprint distance events preceding the elite WTS races on Sunday. And just to make it more of an event, the Tour of Alberta rolls through after the elite races, with the Stage 4 12.1km time trial set to start at 5pm on Sunday. It truly is Race Week in Edmonton!

IMG_4323

Held on Labour Day weekend in September, the weather at this race can often be a crapshoot. For the Grand Final in 2014, Mother Nature was kind. In 2015 the swims for many events had to be cancelled due to cold rain and freezing water temperatures. Rain is in the forecast for much of the weekend, including Saturday for the standard distance duathletes. That said, this is Alberta…forecasts mean nothing until you wake up in the morning.

And what about the race course, you ask? The Edmonton Triathlon is based in the North Saskatchewan river valley, and is anything but an easy course. There is a bit of something for everyone.

RUN COURSE
This run course is definitely a PB course. Flat and fast, the 1.5 lap run is done on the road inside the park and features a “back-and-out-and-back” format. Starting around the park from the race site, athletes will run to a turnaround just before transition, back to a second turnaround at the start line, and then straight back into transition running alongside the finish line blue carpet. The second run will exit transition the same way the first run entered and will go out to a different turnaround about 600m from the start line and back, finishing in front of the grandstand on the blue carpet. Spectators rejoice, because you can basically stand at one place in the middle of the park and see a lot of the run course.

ITU Edmonton Sprint
Sprint Distance First Run Course

Standard distance athletes will have a slightly different start line (closer to transition), but will complete 3.5 laps going back and forth from the start line to the turnaround just before transition 3 times before heading into transition halfway through the 4th lap. The second run is simply 2 laps of the sprint run #2 course. There is a timing mat at each turnaround that you must cross each time.

ITU Edmonton Standard
Standard distance run course

BIKE COURSE
If you like fun bike courses with a bit of something for everyone, then you’ll love this one. If you like flat courses where you can tuck low on your bike and just turn off your brain…well, maybe you should check out a different race. The 10km lap start by going up Emily Murphy hill right off the bat, climbing ~400m at an average grade of around 8%. The climb ends with a tight hairpin onto Saskatchewan Drive, where the slight downhill false flat is a good place to get some speed back as you fly through the residential section. A right turn at the traffic take you to the Groat Road Bomb; our only piece of advice here is simply to “choose your line carefully”.

Emily Murphy
Emily Murphy Hill

Back into the valley, athletes will cruise under the Groat Road bridge before the climbing starts again, this time a 1.5km km grind of the twisting asphalt of Groat Road North. At the top, the grade kicks up as you take the off-ramp at 107th Ave, where athletes will turn around by crossing over to the on-ramp before bombing back down Groat Road to the bridge. Make sure you stay on Groat Road and go across the bridge before bearing slightly right back into Hawrelak Park. The turnaround in the park swings left around the median separating the main road from the parking lot and then back out onto the main road before passing the transition zone. Watch for athletes exiting transition as you head out on your next lap!

Bike Turnaround
Turn around this median at the end of each lap before heading out again!

SUMMARY
An exciting course that is made only more exciting by the unpredictable September weather in Edmonton. The forecast seems to be changing daily, with the only constant being single digit temperatures and high winds. Adding another wrinkle is the fast that this will be the first draft legal national championships for AGers (heat sheets can be found here). Regardless of the outcomes, the atmosphere and environment of competing alongside the best in the world at WTS Edmonton is sure to light a fire under some people. It should be a ton of fun, rain or shine!

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Triathletes in Training