Oman, so much to say about this race. For those that don't know the race is comprised of:
8km skate on the Rideau canal
6km ski in the Ottawa Arboretum
5km run along the canal
Had dreams of winning this race, and thought that I could do pretty well. Since it was my first time I knew that something was probably going to go wrong, so I'd asked many people what to expect. Thought that I had most things covered that could go wrong, but it turns out I missed just one....
Quite nervous about the skate. It turned out to be really easy. Not pushing hard whatsoever, just tried to stick behind John Torrance and stay out of trouble. Brian Graham was in the leading 'string' for pretty much the whole thing, I just sat back in the 'peleton'. There were a couple of falls but nothing crazy. With about 500m left the pace picked up a bit as we approached the transition, but ended it off right smack in the middle of the lead pack.
Got to my skis really quickly, and got onto to the trail without snow clumping in my boots. Moved into 5th here.
Moved into 2nd place pretty quickly. The guy that was in first was quite slow, but I didn't want to pass him and take the lead. Ended up skiing at a ridiculously slow pace for the first km. After 1km 'Luc' (A guy I knew to be a strong skier who finished off the skate right with me) came up behind and passed us and I went with him. We cruised around the first loop getting a nice lead on the rest of the racers. When we got to the start of the second loop I realized that another guy had stayed with us, although I never looked back to see who it was. It turned out to be a triathlete, 'Brent' who has won the race before. The second loop was pretty cruisy still, not pushing all that hard. It was a bit annoying because the track wasn't very wide and we were constantly yelling out 'track' for the people on their first loop. Finished off the ski right behind Luc, with Brent behind us. The next guy was over a minute behind.
Found my shoes with a bit of trouble. Got my left shoe on and started to tie the laces, looked up, and saw Brent running out of the transition zone. WTF! Shortly after, Luc ran out of the transition zone, at which point I still didn't even have my right shoe on! By the time I got my shoes on I figure I had lost at least 20s and over 100m to Brent and Luc. It turns out they had the quick elastic laces, and that they are used to transitions being triathletes.
Was confident that I could still chase them both down and win the race. A lot of the course ended up being right on the canal ice surface. I was lucky I wore my O shoes, but unfortunately I'd chosen the short-spiked inov 8s versus my longer spiked integrators. Therefore, while I wasn't slipping on the ice, I wasn't able to go as hard as normal or as hard as with longer spikes. Brent and Luc were wearing yak-tracs over top of racing flats.
After about 1km I had caught up with Luc and I was slowly gaining on Brent. By 2km I was getting a bit closer to Brent. After km 3 we descended back down onto the canal. I knew we had to go left and turn back towards the locks, but I saw Brent going straight across the ice towards the finish. At first I thought to myself, oh my he's gone the wrong way, I'm now in the lead! But then I started thinking, was the course changed? Does he know something I don't? I started yelling out to the people cheering on the sides, asking which way it was, but there was no marshal there, and they didn't know. I decided to just go the same way as Brent and not risk going the other way which I thought was right. Since I was getting tired it was a bit of a relief that the race was ending sooner than I thought, but with only 400m I had run out of space to catch Brent. Also, since the finishing stretch was on the ice, it was really hard to sprint since it was hard to get good traction, and I couldn't sprint past him. Ended up 5s behind.
Once finished, it was confirmed that Brent had gone the wrong way and that it ended up being ~3.5km rather than 5km. Luckily everyone followed and ended up doing the same distance. I was really mad because I was definitely catching him and if I had more room I think I could have won. I can't really blame him for the mistake since it was somewhat natural to run back towards the finish rather than make a turn away, and there was no marshal there to guide him. It's frustrating to think though that maybe if I had of turned left, he would have been DQd and I would have won.
In any case, I'm happy with the result but a bit annoyed that I definitely could have won. I guess being my first time though it could have gone even worse. I know for next time to put the quick laces in my shoes.
The first place prize was a pair of lazl dragonfly 100% carbon poles. I really could have used those for Sweden. :( Ended up getting a nice icebreaker shirt though.
Nice to see the OOC crowd out. It was a beautiful morning and I really enjoyed the race. The skate was a blast, definitely a unique experience to be racing on the canal. Felt like what a cycling race would be like.
Here are some pictures my mom took:
Here is one of the professional photos of me finishing:
Can you spot the 3 OOC members?