As I mentioned last week, Saturday was my first experience with the Winterlude Triathlon. And it was awesome!
The weather was absolutely gorgeous – just below freezing with hardly any wind, which is a rare thing on the Rideau Canal. The ice conditions were also fantastic, again a rare event. The race plan was to skate hard enough to keep the leaders in site, go full out in the ski, and then race it home with whatever was left in the run. It sort of worked out, but more importantly I had a great time and learned a lot about how to prepare for next year’s race.
The skate went out very fast, or at least it felt fast to me. I’m a bit nervous about skate blades – I fell on a goalie skate during a hockey game in grade 7 and cut myself deep enough that I could see my rib. Which, as a 12 year old boy, seemed like the coolest thing ever. But suffice it to say that being surrounded by skaters on rough natural ice moving at 15 mph takes a little getting used to. I averaged just over 2:30 per kilometer (~4:05 per mile) on the skate which I was very pleased with (the leaders averaged about 15 seconds faster per km) and came into the transition in 51st place. I should point out that just watching the lead pack skate by at turnarounds was incredibly impressive – it was a peleton of 20+ skaters flying down the ice in unison. Even the sound of that many skates sounds cool! (You can see the full results of all finishers, broken down by event, at Sportstats, and pictures of myself and all of the other participants can be found here)
The ski conditions were also surprisingly good, and I managed to move up a few spots. My former hockey coaches will be disappointed to know that I am apparently a better skier than I am a skater! But the ski course was 2 laps on a narrow trail, so by the second lap it was a bit of a traffic jam as we came up on other people who were just starting their first lap. This is where coming in early in the skate really pays off – the top athletes were able to finish both of their ski laps before many people were even done the skate, avoiding the congestion.
The run was on the ice, which made for a pretty interesting experience! I didn’t wear my Yak Trax, which was a very bad decision (if someone tells you that you won’t need Yak Trax for this race they are either a mountain goat or a pulling your leg). But the run was only about 3.5km, and I managed to make up a few more spots to finish in 35th overall out of 330.
I’m definitely planning on doing the race again next year, and I think my fiance Daun is going to join in as well. They have a relay division and I am trying to convince my family that they should join the fun too. If you live in or around Eastern Ontario/Western Quebec/Northern New York, it is definitely an awesome event that is worth checking out. And while there were some very impressive athletes at the front of the pack, I think most of the participants were just out for a fun time. And if you do want to be at the front of the pack, I strongly suggest that you focus on your skate technique (that’s my plan for next year!). I’ve embedded a video below which gives a bit of a feel for the what the skate looks like for those who are curious (I go by around the same time the camera tilts sideways).