Wasaga Beach is always a special race for my wife, daughter and I, as we get to turn it into a vacation weekend! We pulled into town on Friday at 3pm, checked into our motel that was right on the beach next to the race site (we lucked out huge thanks to booking.com) and got ourselves settled in. After a beautiful evening on the beach with my girls, I had Saturday morning to volunteer for day 1 of the Multisport Canada Wasaga Beach Tri/Du weekend. I walked around the corner to the race site and had a chance to say Hello to John Salt and the rest of the race crew, who were hard at work, as they always are race after race, before finding out where I would be needed for the day ahead. Robert from BLADE carbon wheels, who is one of my biggest supporters and a sponsor of our race series was also there setting up his booth. We had a chance to chat about life and he had brought the carbon five star and full disc wheel set to throw on the Garneau for my race Sunday morning. If your looking for a chance to rent a set of carbon wheels before you buy your own or looking to purchase a set please visit the website at http://www.bladecarbonwheels.com and use promo code MarkLawDuit for additional savings!
I was needed at the race kit pickup tent for the first few hours of the morning, which for me was a great experience, being a first impression for the athletes as they arrived at the venue. This has always been an important part of my own experience and it is nice to be able to pay it forward. Just before the start of the swim I was pulled away to head down to marshal the first turn of the bike course, which is a crucial part of the safety of our races being the main intersection that both athletes heading out onto the course and the faster athletes on their return will cross paths. The entire section ran smoothly with only a few athletes ending up on the sidewalk as they approached the turn lol. In the heat of a race our brains can become fuzzy at times. After my 6 hour shift at the race site it was time for some rest and relaxation with my family before my own race in the morning. Traveling with a daughter that is 1 and a 1/2 years old can be a challenge with a foreign atmosphere, but after one sleepless Friday night she was absolutely wiped from our busy day together and Mommy,Daddy and Fiona got a full night sleep! (Insert touchdown dance here)
6am rolled around and it was race day. I had taken the Garneau out just before dinner the night before, with similar winds that I would face the next day and it was all systems go and coming off my personal best race the weekend before in Toronto, I felt great! I jumped in the shower then ate breakfast with my daughter before poking my head out the door to see what the weather had in store for us. Weather man was very, very wrong in his predictions and it turned out to be a beautiful day with a bit of wind. We packed up all of our stuff so that we could make the late check out after the race and proceeded down to the race site with all my race gear in tow. I had already picked up my bib and race kit the night before to avoid adding myself into the congestion that the volunteers have to welcome the morning of. I made my way into the transition area to set up my gear and posed for some photos for my wife before meeting up with fellow Duathlete and ambassador team mate Spencer Summerfield and heading over to where John Salt was directing the racer meeting before our start. The transition was packed full of serious athletes and there was going to be some fierce competition in both our Sprint Du and the Sprint Tri. Spencer was looking to defend his overall win from the prior year and as an athlete who I look up to and aspire to get closer to race after race, I had no doubt he would pull it off again!
Wasaga beach is by far my favourite race in our series, because of the fantastic run course that has us loop along the boardwalk on both the out and back, giving the spectators and our cheer squads an up close and personal view of all the action, right up in to the finish line. The Duathlon would start directly at the start/finish line again this year with a wider area for us to line up. We all took to the line and the horn blew and we were off. Sticking to my plan from the last race I ran at my target pace of 4:30/km for the first 15 minutes, trying not to give up too many positions, but shortly after the second aid station my good ol’ friend mr. Cramps hit me again and my pace dropped slightly as I pushed through to the transition running in at 23:24 just shy of my personal best 5k run of 23:13 and I was in 26th out of 93 overall with a lot of work to do on the bike. I made my way through the Duathlon entrance to our area and made a decent transition onto the bike, running out about 10 meters further then the mount line to avoid the other racers and leaped onto my bike.
I had cleared the no passing zone and put my head down, tucked into my aero position and started to hammer away chomping on athletes while I passed shouting “on the left” more times then I can count, which always leads to a raspy voice post race and what I can only imagine is a garbled mess of words coming out during the return of the ride lol. I must have passed 50 athletes in the first 8km’s from both the Triathlon and Duathlon and held a 39/km average. There was a slight climb on the way out though that I had to get out of the saddle to keep my speed as I continued weaving through the athletes in front of me and I had a hard time recovering my speed as I hit the crest. I could feel my legs starting to tighten up again and knew it was going to take a fast return to keep myself on track to hit another Personal best on both the bike, as well as smash my all time personal best race finish I had set the week before. As I started to see the turnaround in the distance I noticed Spencer pass by me in the opposite direction and after looking at the time on my watch I could tell he was flying and in great shape to defend his title once again. I hit the turnaround and kept passing as many people as I could all the way to the transition. I had passed 12 Duathletes on the bike with a personal best bike time of 32:53 at 36.49km/h average and put myself back into 14th coming out of transition onto the final run.
I ran down the hill to the boardwalk and as I passed by the start/finish line I could hear the race announcer mention Spencer had just hit the boardwalk on the final stretch to the finish and was shoulder checking, with a young athlete named Cameron hot on his heels about 30 seconds back. I tried to keep my 4:30 pace but as I hit the turn off the boardwalk and into the main streets the cramps were back and my knees were starting to scream. Spencer had hit the finish in 1st place and remained the Wasaga Beach Sprint Duathlon champion. I had only given up a 5 positions on the run out and just held it together for the final stretch to the finish, looking down at my watch to see my heart rate in excess of 195 Bpm and hit the line with a stellar 1:13:40 New Personal Best, chipping another 2 mins 32 seconds off my personal best the weekend before and I was 10 minutes faster than my race at Wasaga in 2015! I had another great race finishing 3rd in the 30-34 age group, 4th in the 30-39, 15th overall Men and 19th overall out of 93 athletes! I may have missed the podium yet again this year, but I am more then happy with my results and with the points I’ve collected for my main focus, the Duathlon series points championship. John Salt was also kind in bringing us ambassadors up for a picture and to introduce us all to crowd, given they have any questions or concerns at any races they can always approach us to answer them to the best of our abilities.
This has been a great year for me so far and with only one more Multisport race, a few more road races planned for me and two more Multisport Canada races until the series points standings are finalized I am sitting in a great spot to hopefully finish on the podium again this year. My next race is at Lakeside just outside of Woodstock on sept.10th, where I’ll be on the hunt to finish with another PB or two! Stay tuned and thanks again to all of my family and my supporters, Sport Chek, BLADE carbon wheels, County Cycle, Multisport Canada, Recharge with milk, 2XU and First Endurance. Without you all I wouldn’t be the athlete I am today!