2022 Brockville Sprint Triathlon Race Report by Zac Ramsay

Event Name : Brockville Sprint Triathlon

Event Date : August 15th

Event Location : Brockville, ON

Synopsis – what was memorable at this event? (1-2 lines).: While the swim and bike course were nothing special, the run course was by far the best I’ve ever raced on. If you’re looking to PB a 5 or 10k, this is the place to do it.

Overall Venue Rating: : 3 – Good

Please rate the course: 3 – Good

Briefly describe the overall venue & course (1-5 lines).: A swim in the Saint Lawrence around buoys that were very approximately placed. Most swims were much too long as the buoys drifted. The poor Olympic tri athletes swam 2.5k! The 20k bike was a 10k out and back along the Highway 2 not closed to traffic on a bumpy, pothole riddled, and shoulderless. Run course was a gorgeous twice by 2.5k through the Brockville railway tunnel and along the river. We were treated to a music and light show as we ran through the tunnel that was thankfully closed to pedestrians. Finish was at the top of steep hill, oy!

Please rate the aid stations: 4 – Great

What was provided at the aid stations?: Water and Gatorade at the aid stations and standard snacks at the end of the race. The one aid station was strategically placed at the crossover point of two 2.5k loops, so it was passed four times as we ran.

How was the weather? : The weather was about as good as it gets. Warm, but not too hot and a slight breeze that couldn’t be noticed on the bike. Wind cooled me down on the run but had no impact on the race. Absolutely perfect for a day of racing.

My Race Experience: The race began with a swim in the Saint Lawrence, which was fairly chilly, so a wetsuit was definitely the right choice. However, my fiancée swam without one and was more than fine, so the water wasn’t that cold. I started right at the front and was 5th into the water. I got off to an okay start and I ended up about 15 seconds off the front pack of seven swimmers and was 8th overall coming out of the water.

I then proceeded to absolutely bungle the transition to the bike and lost 10-20 seconds, which nearly cost me a position. In taking off my wetsuit, my timing chip came undone, and I had to reattach it. Normally this isn’t a big deal, but I pride myself in being excellent in sprint transitions, and when vying for the podium every second counts!

I was then off on the bike, knowing I had some time to make up. Even then, I didn’t peddle enough before putting on my shoes, so I lost some time there as I rolled slowly slipping into my bike shoes. After that though, I was cooking with gas. This is where I put the rest of the field to shame and seriously kicked some butt. The bike course was just terrible. Entirely downhill on the way out, so the turnaround meant uphill the entire way back. What was worse was that the course was not closed to traffic on a fairly busy country highway and the righthand side of the road had no shoulder and was filled with potholes. However, I stayed in aero and decided that the cars would just have to avoid me (I only had one close call, so it was fine!). I passed four of the seven people ahead of me on the 10k out and made up serious time on the 3rd place person. I averaged 38.5km/h on the way out and 32.5km/h on the way back to give you an idea of how the course was. Still, it was my best bike I’ve ever done and was good enough to be the 3rd fastest bike overall on the day.

After the bike, I was 4th overall and 3rd male, but I knew my 5k was pretty good so I wasn’t about to give up top spot even though I was 5 minutes back on first and 2 minutes behind 3rd overall.

I then once again proceeded to totally fail my transition, costing me more time. I took off my shoes too early, so I had to peddle awkwardly on top of my shoes before doing a perfect flying dismount. In T2, something happened to my race belt and it was loosened all the way, so much so that I couldn’t tighten it. I foolishly wasted time trying to fix it, slowing me significantly as I jogged out of transition. Another 10s I could have gained.

What I was lucky to avoid, which many could not, was the disorganization of T2. They had many races running at the same time, so people coming back from the Olympic distance put their bikes in other people’s spots, leaving some people without a spot to put their bike. Infuriating to watch people having to run around looking for a place to put their bike. I’ve never seen that happen before and I’ve raced quite a bit.

The run course was outstanding. It was through the old Brockville railway tunnel that had to be constantly flushed with water for some reason that I forget. It was like running through a rainstorm and it was always shaded, so it was freezing cold, which is perfect conditions for me. Through the tunnel we were treated to a light show with club-like music, which was pretty rad and distracted me from how hard I was pushing desperately trying to catch up to the leaders.

The rest of the course was by the river with a beautiful breeze. The tunnel messed with my GPS and lost the back half of the tunnel, so my watch thought I had only run a total of 4.3k. The entire course my watch was giving me splits of 4:30/km, which in a race for me is much too slow, so I kept increasing my effort every time I looked at my watch. Before I knew it, the run was over and I finished with an absurdly good time of 18:57 for the 5k, or 3:47/km.

Unfortunately, the amazing conditions and faulty GPS readings must have also spurred my competition as two of three people ahead of me gained time. I also only ended up gaining four seconds on the second place person, not even close to enough.

At the end of the day, I was 3rd male, so I got a special lanyard and picture on the podium! My last sprint tri I missed the podium by 30s due to a sports stats error, so it was really nice to get it this time. Looking back at the results, I only beat the 4th male by 14 seconds, so the bad transitions nearly cost me, but thankfully my bike was good enough to make up for it. Normally, I’m the fastest out of transitions (even when racing against pros!) so I’m not worried about it moving forward, just an off day.

Overall time was 1:10:19, just shy of my goal to get sub 1:10. In examining this race and the elites (who I would eventually like to join), my bike is not nearly fast enough as most pros average in the 40km/h range and I was sitting at about 35km/h, so I have some work to do there. Swim is competitive enough as well with the run. Hopefully with some serious bike work I can really stack up with some of the fastest and eventually get a W and a spot on an elite squad. For now, it’s back to the grindstone.

Would you do this event again? Why? : I doubt I would do this race again. The primary reason I did it was for my fiancée who wanted to do her first later in the summer. While the run course was amazing, the bike course is enough of a deterrent to keep me from coming back. I’m not particularly fond of travelling, so spending the additional money for accommodation isn’t something I would want to do for such a poor bike set up, especially when the T2 was so poorly mismanaged. However, if they decide to close the route to traffic, I would do the race again in a heartbeat as I could bike on the well paved pieces of the road.

Would you recommend this event? Why? : If you’re looking for a low pressure, small scale event, to do a first triathlon, I would recommend this event. If you’re a serious biker and want to PB, I would not recommend it. However, the run course is so nice that it would be worth checking out at least once despite the horrid bike conditions.

Closing thoughts. Any hints for others planning to do this race? Where to stay? Things to bring? What to wear? : This is a nice place to do a quiet race. Accommodation was really easy to find only a few weeks out as most racers were local. Every restaurant and hotel are in the same part of the town that is right next to the event location. Plus, Brockville is only about a 45 minute drive away, so you could arrive morning of if you were determined. Worst case, you can make a lovely weekend out of it as the cruises in the area are fun and there’s lots of great trails and cool things to see.

One bit of advice would be to make sure your bike is in a low gear when you set up. The bike leg starts with a very steep uphill section, so you don’t want to be caught grinding as you’re trying to put on your shoes.

Finally, if you will do this race, use your bag/towel/etc. to very clearly mark your spot. It may be bad etiquette to take too much space, but the last thing you want is to come back to find someone else’s bike in your spot!

Published by judyapiel

Runner, triathlete and coach. Owner of RunK2J, Community Events at Bushtukah. Always looking for a new travel adventure.

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