Leading up to Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant, I knew it was my chance to prove that I belong among Canada's 70.3 Elites. I spent 6 days prior to the race at a nice home stay with Bob Gilmour who was kind enough to put up with me for the whole week. I had plenty of time to get to know the course which is ideal given that I hadn't previously done the race. Lionel Sanders was of course the pre-race favourite and defending champion. Cody Beals and Taylor Reid were expected to round out the podium. Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches was the local favourite, and I expected his swim speed to play a factor in the outcome of the race. I knew I was as strong as Cody and Taylor on the swim and bike, and hoped I would have the endurance to hang with them on the run.
The swim start went pretty well. I had a bad reaction time but I quickly moved towards the front of the race in the first 50 meters. I got on Antoine's feet which was perfect. Eventually another athlete decided to battle with me for Antoine's feet and slowed both of us down. I decided to move over and find someone else to draft off of, in doing so I got my goggles knocked off. I was able to quickly fix them and follow bubbles through blurry goggles for the rest of the swim. I've been very happy with my open water swimming this year, and getting out only 17 seconds behind the leader was another great outcome, especially given that not everything went smoothly during the swim.
It was a long run from the swim to transition. Taylor Reid was about 5 seconds ahead of me, and he was running hard. I had no choice but to run hard to, and after a good transition I got on the bike just a couple seconds behind him.
I was in third to start the bike, behind Antoine and Taylor. I passed Taylor quickly and went to work on catching Antoine. By about 6km, I was in the lead with Taylor and Antoine right behind me. From 6km to about 45km, Taylor, Antoine, and Myself all stayed together. Lionel went storming past us at about 30-35km, and fortunately nobody tried to go with him.
I felt I was the strongest in this group of 3 and had spent the most time at the front, so on a long climb around 45km I pushed the pace to try to get some separation. This worked as I dropped Antoine, but Taylor stayed in touch. I remained in second for the rest of the bike, with Taylor a few seconds back. I knew Taylor was "using me" for a slight legal drafting benefit, but I had to keep pushing to stay ahead of Cody. I was able to gain some separation from Taylor on the hilly section between 70km and 80km, but he was only 10 seconds behind coming in to transition. Lionel was at least 5 minutes ahead, and Cody was in 4th about a minute behind.
After a bad transition, I started the run about 10 meters behind Taylor. I quickly caught up and stayed right behind him. The pace was tough through the initial hilly section. After about 1km, I decided to pass him and set the pace. This was a big mistake. I was feeling good and pushed the pace too hard. Taylor dropped me after 5km as I started to fatigue, and I knew right then that I had made tactical error by pushing the pace early. I still felt like my pace was strong from 5-10km, and at the turn around I estimated that Cody was 1:05 behind me. I tried to keep the pace strong, but my legs were failing, and Cody caught me at 15km. I tried to go with him, but there was just no way I was going to be able to hang on for 6.1 more kilometers, so away he went along with my chances for a podium finish. From that point on my pace kept slowing as my legs turned into lead. For the last 3km, I was legitimately worried that Antoine might catch me, but I hung on for 4th place. It was a Canadian 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 finish, (Lionel, Taylor, Cody, Me, Antoine, Jordan Monnink), and it was really cool to be a part of this Canadian domination!
In summary, I had a great swim bike, and a decent run despite a tactical mistake. I had hoped to be able to run with Taylor and Cody, but I guess I just need more time and mileage in my legs to build that endurance. The next phase of my season will focus on 70.3 World Championships, and my run mileage will be at the highest of the season. My next race will be the New York City Triathlon, where I'll be going for the podium.
Thanks for reading!