The second stop on the Multisport Canada Series is in beautiful Gravenhurst, Ontario. Although it is one of the most challenging races of the year, it is one of my favorites because of the scenery. The long course and sprint Triathlons, almost always sell out, as you start your race on the Muskoka Steamship and jump into the water to begin the swim portion, leaving a memorable impression on all who takes part. The race site and transition area are located in the Gravenhurst Wharf Sports Field, about 75m from the water and host the start/finish of the Duathlon, the vendor village and the pre and post race festivities. Surrounded by sunshine and the lake Muskoka atmosphere, it really doesn’t get any better!
My wife, 8-month-old son and I had made the trip up from Niagara Region at noon on Saturday. After a quick check in to the hotel, I grabbed my bike and went for a ride down to the race site. In our hustle and bustle, I had forgot my pump and needed a top up. The MSC staff were just wrapping up the day after having the long course Triathlon and Olympic Duathlon that morning. They came to the rescue and I continued on my ride back to the hotel. We headed down to the Wharf for a picnic dinner on the water and then called it a night. Eight hours of sleep the night before a race has always eluded me, but I had somehow pulled it off this time around.
I woke up at 6am and packed up our room. Our race start was extended to 10am this year, allowing the Give-It-A Tri participants to race before us. Even though it was refreshing to be a bit more awake than normal before the start, I knew it was going to be a lot busier on the roads and much hotter than our other races had been. I rode down to the race site with my transition bag hanging off me and went through the routine of race bib pick up, body marking, timing chip (thank you to all of the Volunteers!), set up my transition area and then went and made the rounds to say hi to all of the staff, participants and my sponsors. The weather was overcast when I arrived, but as we waited around, the clouds disappeared and the inevitable sunshine started the scorcher fest that would be our day.
9:50am we lined up at the start/finish area for instructions to our race. The proposed bike course was changed due to some unavoidable construction and we would be heading in the opposite direction up the Muskoka highway, adding some rolling hills to our challenge. 10 am the horn blew and we were off on the first run down a small stretch of grass, over a short bridge and onto the dirt path that would take us out on to the rollercoaster of a country road. The first 5km run of our Duathlon is a tough one and will leave your legs burning, coming into transition 1. I quickly dropped back 37th coming in from the first run and was having trouble cooling down. A quick transition and a stop by the water station and I headed out onto the bike course.
The first 100m of the bike was through a traffic coned section, where you ride single file until out onto the Muskoka highway. Its tough to pass anyone until your about 800m out. The shift in time of day for us, brought some complications for all. The vehicle traffic had picked up and as I made my way through the field of athletes ahead, I had to be extremely cautious of what was coming from behind me. Fortunately, the drivers were respectful of our safety, with only one near mishap by someone who was just tired of waiting for us. Thank you to the oncoming vehicle that honked at me to warn of the danger that was coming. Mr. Porsche Cayenne, thanks for the attempted shave on my elbow, but I had already taken care of that the night before lol. I managed to pass 15 other Duathletes on the course before getting caught up in a single file line for the last 3 km’s to transition 2. I hopped off the bike and ran into transition in 22nd overall. It felt like it was about 40 degrees Celsius at this point, I was on fire and I made a stop by the water station once again, pouring 2 cups of water on my head and headed back out onto the final run…
The last 2.5km of the race, was a death march. I could barely lift my legs off the ground and the athletes I had passed were reeling me in, one after one. I was pouring glass after glass of water on myself and was just feeling hotter lol. I managed to hold off 7 Duathletes that I had passed on the bike, as I came into the finishing chute, but out of nowhere a female duathlete ran passed me like I was standing still. I tried to find another gear, but there was nothing left in the tank. I crossed the finish line in 31st overall out of 78 athletes, 6th in the 30-39 age group and 4th in the 30-34 age group. Second race of the season, with a 3rd place at Welland and 4th place here in Gravenhurst this year. A great start to the race season!
The post race festivities were in full force and as we waited in line for our food, the MSC staff were rushing drinks to everyone in line to cool us off as we all roasted in the sun. They are the BEST race staff in the business who profoundly focus on the participants experience and the reason I’m proud to be an MSC ambassador every year! We stayed until the very end, as all the athletes accepted their awards and I even won a slick pair of Hincapie compression socks from the prize draw!! I missed the Beer draw by two names… lol. Next time!
Thank you to all of my Sponsors; Multisport Canada, Sport Chek, F2C Nutrition, BLADE Carbon Wheels, County Cycle and My wife, Daughter and Son who make the greatest sacrifices, I couldn’t make it to these races without all of you! Next up is the Grimsby Tri and then on to the third stop on the MSC series at Toronto Island. Get up, get out and get active!