Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Muskoka 70.3 recap

Seemed simple. Head to Muskoka with some friends for the first ever Muskoka 70.3 tri. The rumour was that the bike course was hilly. Having never been to this part of the world I wondered how hilly it could really be?

We drove from the Center of the Universe (the mighty TO) to the race site near Huntsville, ON Friday afternoon. The scenery got better and the hills got hillier the further north we drove. Once we arrived at the host hotel to get our race packages we all remarked at how this race felt very Ironmany - everyone looked super prepared and focused on the race.

Race day morning didn't start too well. We woke up to the sound of rain falling; the good news was that the temp was already 20c at 5:30a.m. The first wave to start was the pro men. Pretty impressive line-up with Craig Alexander & Simon Lessing among others. My wave started 15 minutes after the pros with approximately 250 of my closest friends. The swim was pretty typical for me - get the crap pounded out of me for the first 200-400 meters, thank God when the pummelling stops, swim aimlessly between buoys and limp out of the water in an incredibly average time. The swim exit for Muskoka was pretty cool - a purpose built set of stairs brought you to the tee box on the 9th hole of the golf course that lines the resort. Strippers (wet suit strippers, not the other kind) lined up to help with wetsuit removal. I should have guessed that the rest of the race would be tough when we had a 400m uphill run to T1 - on Saturday I joked that there should be an aid station between swim exit & bike racks. On Sunday I was convinced they should put an aid station on that segment.

Rain continued as I got started on the bike. From driving the course the previous day I thought the first 10km would be twisty, turny, hilly and slow. Unfortunately I was right. Good news is that I discovered where all the really crappy bike handlers in triathlon come from! Wow have these people never taken a tight corner before?? We would do this section at the end of the bike getting back to T2 but some people decided it would be easier to walk up some of the steeper sections! The 74km in between was a series of relentless rolling hills. Nothing epic, just rolling enough so you couldn't get into a rhythm. Basically the bike course was sort of like doing hill repeats on the wall in Springbank for 94 km. Here is a profile of the bike course:

The run was sort of like the bike- nothing shattering or epic as far as long climbs, just nonstop terrain changes. Like being bitten to death by a gaggle of geese. The last 5km were through the golf course, passing right by the finish line at 18km mark. Sort of disheartening to have to run 3km away from the finish. Really disheartening when it is pouring rain...

In the end it was the hardest half I have done. Feeling pretty good about my result though - 3rd place in my old guy AG!

Awesome volunteers & crowds the whole way around which was surprising given the weather. Hopefully Calgary 70.3 next August will be this well supported.

If you are looking at a late season Half Ironman for next season you should give this one some serious thought. Just train for a ton of hills!!


Kyle Marcotte said...

Awesome job Paul! Did you get a spot for Florida?

Paul C said...


I went last year and didn't have any desire to do it again this year - unfortunately Clearwater is a draftfest that probably should not be considered a venue for a Championship race.

Leaha said...

Great job, Paul!

I travelled from Calgary to do this race as well. It was my first half and I've only done one Olympic beforehand. Adding to that, it was my first ever ride in the rain. :) However, I did not walk any hills, but i did have to stand to climb the last few. I'm glad to read that experienced triathletes found this course hard as well. :)

I'm hoping for a better race at the Calgary 70.3.


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