This race was first held in 2012. I was there and it was a top-notch event. Ten year’s latter it is still one of the best, if not the best 70.3 event on the circuit. In 2012 the Snowbirds did a fly over before the swim start. They have not been back, but every year there has been a fly over of some type. It is one of the many small extras that make this event special.
We made a weekend of it and drove up on Friday afternoon. We checked into our hotel Hotel AUBERGE MOUNTAIN VIEW IN. We have been staying there since 2012 Andres who owns the hotel knows us by name, always knows how my race went when we return to the hotel, and he has deer and racoons that stop by for breakfast. It’s not fancy but we like it.
This year you had to book at time to pick-up your race kit. I choose Friday night because I thought it would be quiet and I like getting it over with early. It turned out to be a bad plan. There is a 5150 and a sprint on Saturday before the 70.3 on Sunday. I waited in line, in the heat, for well over an hour to get my bib. This year the bib numbers were not pre-assigned. They were given out when you picked up your race kit. Not a great start to the weekend! Others who went on Saturday said the line was shorter.
We checked out the expo and Ironman store. We did not buy anything, but Athletic Brewing Company was giving out free non-alcoholic beer. It was cold and quite good!
We found Henry and his lovely wife Louise. On Saturday we had a lazy breakfast and then headed back to the village to check in my bike and attend the mandatory pre-race briefing. As with most 70.3 events, you have to check your bike in the night before. I am not very tall and my bike it not very big. The bike racks at Ironman events are designed for bigger people with bigger bikes. As a result, I have to fill water bottles and use them to weigh my bike down so it does not swing on the rack overnight.
I did get lucky with my spot. It turned out I was right at the end of a row. Good because you get a bit of extra space and it’s easier to find your bike after the swim.
The mandatory pre-race briefing included all the usual info. If you have not done this event before it is very important to be there. This race has a couple of “no-pass” zones on the bike and they actually have officials on bikes to prevent drafting. This is a big surprise to many riders who draft anyway and assume they will be able to hear the usual motorcycles coming. I don’t draft so I think the Tremblant bike police are great! It was hot on Saturday and forecast to be as hot if not hotter on race day. We were warned to hydrate and promised lots of ice.
Race morning we left the hotel bright and early after a breakfast of champions (instant apple cinnamon oatmeal). The downside to not staying in the Village is that you need to drive to the start and find parking. We were there early and were able to get a great parking spot for the day.
I went to the T-zone to check on my bike, put air in the tires and leave my other stuff in the T-zone. As it was going to be hot I went low on the tire pressure only inflating to 90 PSI. I always start with my own sports drink on the bike so I also added powder to the water bottles I had left on overnight. A few granola bars and an energy bar broken into bite size pieces in a baggie left in my bike shoe so I would not forget them, and I was good to go.
I wandered down to the beach with lots of time to spare. When you reach the beach at Tremblant there is a line of cheering volunteers to greet you. I put on my wetsuit passed my dry clothes to the volunteers to be taken to the finish and found Zac, Henry and Kanako all before the gun went off.
Tremblant is now a rolling start. The pros go. Then everyone else goes, 4 swimmers at a time, every few seconds. They have a traffic light system to let you know when to go. You self-seed in the start. I had some shoulder issues earlier in the year and I had missed a lot of time in the pool so I started further back than I usually do.
As soon as I hit the water I knew I had made a mistake. I was swimming over and around people everywhere. The first leg of the swim was really rough. I got kicked in the face a few times which really hurts! Although, I was less damaged than Lionel Sanders. he had a tooth kicked out during the swim, got two flat tires and still won the race! I hope he won enough money to pay the dentist bill!
When we made the first turn we were going directly into the sun and it was almost impossible to sight! Once we made the final turn I was sick of getting banged around so I swam wide and alone. I looked at the clock when I got out of the water, but I did not know what time I started so it was not that helpful. I use a Garmin for racing but I don’t turn it on until after the swim as it’s under my wetsuit.
There are usually wetsuit peelers at this event but due to COVID we had to take our own wetsuits off! I joked that it would add 10 minutes to my time and there are days when it does, but this time my wetsuit was not too hard to get off. I did spot Harold on my way from the swim to the bike.
The bike course starts out with a minor climb up Monte Ryan. The first year this race was held they repaved the roads for it. They had been patched this year, but the road was definitely rougher than I remember it being in other years. They were water bottles, gels, tire irons and tubes flying everywhere! I have never seen so much stuff flying off bikes! My personal favorite are the bottle cages which go behind your saddle I refer to those as “bottle launchers”.
From there you turn onto the highway which is closed to traffic and do an out and back. It’s relatively flat with one longer climb on the way back. I don’t know if it was the road or the heat but there were people with flats everywhere! Even the usually vigilant bike refs were on the side of the road helping people change flat tires! It was hot and you could feel it. I picked up water bottles at the aid stations and poured water over my head and arms but I was still hot.
The final section of the bike course takes you back down Monte Ryan almost past the T-zone. Then you do an out and back of about 18km on Duplessis. It’s a beautiful part of the course but most people don’t notice that because it’s also the most difficult part of the course. Lots of turns and some short steep hills. There have been some bad crashes on this section over the years. So bad that one of the downhills is now a no passing zone.
I knew it was hot and I have done this before, so I was careful not to push too hard on Duplessis. I knew I still had a half marathon to do in the heat. My bike split was the slowest I have had on that course but not by a lot.
The run is my strength in triathlons. I don’t generally lose places on the run and I often pick up one or two. Ironman has given up body marking and the numbers were assigned in order of arrival so I had no way of knowing if I was passing women in my age group. I also had no idea what place I was in going into the run. I just ran. It was hot so I took advantage of all the ice I could get stuffing it into my bra which works very well but makes a very funny sound! I just kept going and did not worry too much about the result. I saw a few people I know on the out and back part of the course including Tina Kinder who I have been racing against at this event for 10 years. I was surprized to see she was behind me by about 1 km. This was the point where I started to think I might make the podium. Tina always makes the podium and even if she started behind me and was actually ahead of me because of the rolling start if she was that close, we would probably both make the top 5. It did not change what I was doing. I just kept running.
I crossed the finish line in 5.38 not my fastest time but it was a very hot day. Tina finished not far behind and told me I had won the age group. I was pleasantly surprised and I did not actually believe it until I got a phone and looked it up.
Harold was volunteering so he tracked me down in recovery where they serve all kinds of food but as always I was only up for a chocolate milk.
We headed for the Tri Club Zone where we had a tent and cheered on Kanako, Henry, Kyla and Zac. Successful finishes by all despite the heat!
The awards were at 4 so Kanako and Face kindly let me shower at their hotel. Harold and I also had a decision to make. Because I won, I automatically qualified for the World Championships in Utah at the end of October. I had not expected to win so I had not given much thought to it. If you want to take the qualifying spot you have to commit to and pay for it at the awards ceremony! Being the very supportive husband that he is Harold was on board, Utah is a cool spot, so I took the spot and we will be doing it all again in October!
Congratulations to all on a solid day of racing in the heat.