What an incredible day it was for me at Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant. The whole experience is something I will never ever forget. Winning is always exciting, but winning in Mont Tremblant is a whole new level. Here’s how the whole thing went down.
The lead up to the race went as well as I could have hoped. I had a 5 week gap between Chattanooga and Mont Tremblant, so I had a good chance to build up fitness. I made some changes to my bike position shortly after Chattanooga. Firstly, I raised my hands higher to get a bit more aero as determined by the STAC virtual wind tunnel. Also, I moved my seat forward and a bit lower in an attempt to gain more comfort in my lower back later in the race. These changes showed promise in this training block, I had some of my best bike workouts ever for power and also in terms of speed. The swim and run training also went well, though there was nothing unusual to report there.
Travel and prep for the race went perfectly. Montana and I did the drive over 2 days, stopping overnight in Belleville to visit my mom and step dad. This really made the trip relaxing and fun on the way there. We settled in at our home stay with Bob, and Montana helped with a lot of preparations before the race to make it as stress free as possible. I’m always much more at ease with her company and help at races. This allowed me to get to the start line calm and focused on the task at hand.
The swim was a bit different than most years because there was actually a bit of chop on the water. Nothing crazy, but I knew it would make it tougher for me to get in that lead group as I did the last 2 years. Unfortunately the start didn’t go well for me at all, the race announcer decided that the crowd should count down from 10. Of course, everyone counts way too fast and got to 0 about 2 seconds before the official start horn. Most of the guys started early so I lost a few steps there. After that it went fine, but I just missed a faster group in front. I settled onto some feet and used it as an opportunity to expend a bit less effort than usual in the swim. This worked quite well as I got out of the water with a relatively low heart rate, right behind Taylor Reid. He and I seem to swim together every time! Coach James was standing at the fence right beside my bike as I did my transition, he said “90 seconds down from Lagerstrom, 70 seconds from McMahon and a few others”. I was ready to crank the bike, expecting to have to work very hard to get to the front.
As soon as I got on and got my feet in my shoes, I knew I would have a good ride. The power and speed just came easily. It was a bit more windy than usual for Mont Tremblant, I figured that would make the bike tougher which I could use to my advantage. I went to work and it didn’t take long before I could see the leaders ahead. Taylor Reid was hanging out behind me but I didn’t want to burn a match trying to drop him while I still had so much racing left to do. At 20k I was getting close enough to see a group of 4 riders and 1 off the front, and I saw that Reid had fallen off the pace behind me. I could tell it was Yoder ahead, McMahon, Lagerstrom, Lussi and 1 other behind. Around the 25k mark, I went by the group of 4 and instead of putting in a big surge, I just rode solid at near FTP for a few minutes, until I caught Yoder. I looked back and the group of 4 were gone. At the 33km turn around, Yoder and I had 20 ish seconds on the rest. I settled in to an even time trial pace and at the 62km turn around, our lead was up to around 90 seconds. Coming through town at 72km, I got a nice boost from the cheering crowds, this race has amazing spectators! I also got a time split from James again, “1:50!”, along with some other muffled noise. At the last turn at 81km, Yoder was still right there, and the rest were over 2 minutes back. In the last 9km mostly downhill section I kept it solid, but also was able to recover a bit on the downhills, I knew I would still need a good run with the guys charging from behind. I didn’t know the exact gap when I dismounted, but I figured it was around 2:15 to 2:30, turns out that was a perfect guess. I rode 2:06:31.
I had a good transition, just a few seconds slower than the other top guys which is great for me, I choose to wear socks and most other pros don’t. Onto the run I felt strong and smooth, I focused on staying smooth and relaxed, not going out too hard. I saw James within the first 300 meters or so, this time he didn’t have a split, he just said “uhhhhh…amazing!”. Turns out the other guys weren’t off the bike yet. I saw Montana about 1km into the run, she said “This is your race!!!”. I didn’t want to get too excited yet, though that was a big confidence boost for me. I love running from the front because I have the luxury of choosing my own pace. I was happy when I got past the first 4.5km which is quite hilly, the middle part is flat paved trail, great for finding your rhythm. I did just that, settling in to my pace, probably around 3:25/km on the flat section. At the half way turn around, I counted to see what the lead was, as always, its about 1 second for 3 steps (for me) so its easy to count. It was 65 steps back to Yoder so about 2:10, and 75 steps back to McMahon and Lagerstrom, so about 2:30. This was a big positive moment for me because now I knew I just had to keep it together for the win! My legs started really feeling heavy with 5km to go. Those last 5km are really hilly, but I just kept pushing through the pain. Everyone on course was cheering as I went by. which is a huge boost especially as it gets really hard! I never once eased off until the last 800 meters so or when I could see nobody behind.
The last minute or so was the most fun I’ve ever had in a race. I tried to hit as many high 5’s as possible and really soak it in! There’s nothing like the adrenaline rush of winning a race especially with fireworks and so many people cheering!
I immediately went over to Montana after I crossed the line and gave her a big sweaty hug, and took a few seconds to let all the emotions out (yes that means crying!). So much hard work, dedication and focus goes into these races and when it all pays off like that after such a hard effort, its pretty overwhelming.
I had to quickly get it together for the finish line interview, and to congratulate my competitors who made me work so hard for the win. Brent came across 2nd, this was the first time I’ve ever beat him, he’s an incredible Canadian athlete and one of my idols in the sport! Eric was 3rd, he has also kicked my ass many times and is a crazy fast guy when he’s on point, good to see him back on the podium after a rough start to the season. Andrew came 4th also on his way back to the top the past couple years. Taylor was visibly disappointed in 5th, though I was glad to see he had a great run to make up several places, that guy is a fighter and he will have more podiums and wins soon! Big congrats to all the pro men for the great battle, and the pro women for putting on a show in such a start studded line up. Congrats to all the age groupers who took part in such an awesome race!
The awards ceremony was really awesome, it featured a huge trophy and me butchering Lionel’s name as I attempted to call him out to try to take the title back from me next year. BRING IT LIONEL :D:D.
The amount of people who have reached out to me since the race is amazing, I appreciate every single like, comment, congrats, or words of any kind! Thank you to everyone who follows along, it means a lot to me. Especially big thanks go out to Montana who is always by my side! Also to Jamesy boy for being the best coach in the world. Bob Gilmour, thanks a million for being such a gracious host to Montana and I! Thanks also to the people who supported me since day one, my parents and entire family! To my training buddies (LPC, Hurdle Project, Sharratt Squad, GTP) thanks for being awesome training partners and pushing me along the way. Thanks to all my sponsors who help me to live this dream every day. Everyone who has helped me along the way in any way at all, THANK YOU!
Next up for me is ironman 70.3 Coeur d’Alene this weekend. It looks like a really competitive field and I am so excited to go a duke it out with some really strong guys!