#MSCBracebridge: Post-race chatter and reports

Check out some of the post-race buzz from this past weekend at #MSCBracebridge

Media Reports

Athlete Race Reports


What a Blast! – Bracebridge Sprint Race Report

by Stevie Blankenship

Bracebridge was a blast. After taking a week off/very big recovery week I was back to work getting ready for Bracebridge. I knew I wouldn’t be at top form because of my week post nationals, but I was ready to race. After a good week of training I was a bit tired but that was okay since this was not a race to perform at my best. On Friday, Edge Teammates Sam, Mackenzie I left for Mackenzie’s Aunts and Uncles cottage that is located just north of the race site. It was a smooth drive and when we arrived I realized it was going to be a great weekend. The cottage was located on Skeleton Lake which is gorgeous! After changing up our bikes, we went for a short swim, bike and run to get ready for the next day.

Race morning was pretty early since we were up at 5 am. I got my breakfast into me and we were out the door at 5:50 so we could arrive at the race site for 6:15. It was an easy morning and everything just felt so relaxed. I went for a short bike and swim before the race. I decided to use my wetsuit despite the warm temperatures. I always use free speed if I can since I am fast at getting my wetsuit off.

Swim: 10:35
The swim this time was a time trial format which I do not mind. It helps to settle into pace quickly instead of a mad sprint at the beginning. Honestly in most of my races it hasn’t been a mad sprint for me since I have been settling into pace early on rather than trying to get away. This swim was the same. I didn’t really kick when I could have used my legs a bit more. This resulted in a pretty slow swim time. I probably should use my legs a bit more. I ended up with the fastest swim but it could have easily been 30 seconds faster with a little leg power.
Bike: 34:38
The bike course was awesome. There were a couple steep hills but the rest was rolling. I enjoyed that. After a fast transition I was off to the races. I don’t have my power meter (it broke) so I was racing by feel which I find is okay in a sprint. I passed a couple juniors who started ahead of me but never could see eventual 2nd place finisher Ryan. About 6km into the bike I was passed by Allan Fowler. I stuck with him as long as I could. When we got to the turn around I saw Ryan up about 1:00 on me (he started 1:55 ahead of me). I put some time on him but he must have put together a good ride on the way back and road the same split as me. Allan escaped me around 14km and I didn’t seem again till the run.

Run: 20:35
The run was pretty solid. I really enjoyed this course. Starting the run I was kind of nervous if my body was going to hold up (my hips) and I was worried about the steep hill going out of transition. I got up the hill and then realized it was going to be a good run. I has solid turn over, relaxed breathing, and just felt strong. I knew I could run faster but I was almost stuck at 10km effort off the bike. I just could not go faster for some reason, but I will take being strong over feeling like death which seems to happen a lot. Ryan was able to put some time on me during the run and Allan clipped some time into me also. I kicked the final 800m and it hurt but it felt awesome to have a successful run finally. I was greeted with a hand shake from the one and only John Salt and soon I had a chocolate milk in my hand to recover from the effort I put out on the course.

I ended up 4th overall sneaking in front of Allan. I like the time trial format but it is hard to see who is close and who isn’t. I also got my second age group win in the series I hope to build on that with the rest of the series.

After awards Mackenzie, Sam and I stuck around and volunteered at the finish line during the try a tri. It was a blast and a half. I have volunteered at water stations before but I never have done a finish line. To see the expressions from many different competitors is awesome. It could be a huge accomplishment, a gate way to the sport, or it can be a terrible day. But to see those expressions is awesome because I too feel those same emotions coming down that shoot. After a mass amount of food and a boat ride it was time to hit the hay to get ready for Sam’s big day on the course. While Same raced, Mackenzie and I volunteered by doing body marking and the finish line for the Olympic Distance and International Du. Again, it was a great day and lots of fun. Volunteering is the best way to give back to our wonderful sport. The best is when it’s actually fun! Mackenzie, Sam and I had a blast this weekend!

I’m proud of my fellow teammates this weekend. Mary-Ann was able to take home a 5th overall in the Sprint Du, while Mackenzie had an awesome sprint coming in 3rd in our 20-24 age group. Sam had a great day at his first Olympic Distance. He ended up 1st in the 20-24 age group. After a long weekend, it was time to head home back to reality. I’m back at work for 1 more week and then I’m off for a couple weeks to get ready for school.

As every race report should include… I’d like to thank the people who makes my racing happen. Without them, I wouldn’t be doing this. My parents have been awesome to me and have been my major support other the last 6 years. Erin is also another big key in my racing. Mackenzie’s family was amazing to us this weekend. Without them, it would be a very expensive weekend. Their hospitality was above and beyond. I’d also like to thank my awesome teammates for the support all weekend. It was an amazing weekend I can look back on. And of course I would like to thank Rudy Project, Xterra Wetsuits and finally John Salt and the Recharge with Milk MultiSport Canada Triathlon series. Without these key people and sponsors, I am sure my racing would be a lot different. As of right now Toronto Island will be up next for me!


Bracebridge in August

By TJ Flynn

Down by the river, Steve Fleck, with that sweet and soothing voice of his, was beginning to come across the tannoy on Sunday morning. Unusually, I was straining to hear what he was saying before he continued his introduction, making things clear.

“We’ve got a lot of cottagers across the river,” he explained “and it’s high season here in Bracebridge, so we’re going to keep the volume level a little lower this morning.”

Nice touch, I thought, and it made a lot of sense to me.

Two years ago, Bracebridge was the first sprint triathlon I’d taken part in. I’d dipped my torso in the water the summer before with a 70.3, and was taken aback by the all around high-intensity of that event.

All weekend, there were athletes everywhere I looked. I spent over 40 minutes registering the day before the race, and another 40 minutes travelling by bus to reach the venue from a designated parking lot. It was a big, brash event, probably not suited to a first-timer like myself. But I was green, and wasn’t properly prepared, but that’s what you do when you know little else.

In Bracebridge, things were different. The calm, relaxed atmosphere reeled me in two years ago, settled me down. Nobody seemed to be in a rush on race morning. Fittingly, the day had a vacation aura to it and I reckoned I’d be back.

Since then, for one reason or another, groups of us have travelled back and forth to Bracebridge from time-to-time purely on the back of that first visit and it’s unlikely I’d have discovered the town so early on during my life in Ontario were it not for that sprint triathlon.

Hopefully, municipalities and businesses can appreciate the long-term exposure a two-day triathlon event can bring to their part of the world – particularly considering the efforts MultiSport makes in ensuring there’s no unnecessary impact to everyday life, as evidenced by Steve’s announcement at the weekend.

So this was my third trip to Bracebridge for a race, making it the most familiar venue in my own head.

The whole race is pleasing to me. The swim is never intimidating up there. The time-trial start works perfectly for anybody with question marks over their swim, the river bank is never too far away and it’s unlikely you’ll steer too far off course.

Typically, I’ll have reservations before the swim but for the first time, this wasn’t the case on Sunday morning.

The day moved along and without too much fuss I was out of the water and on the bike, drifting past the smell of holiday-makers’ cooking sausages along Santa’s Village Road. (Along with Butter and Egg Road further along the Bracebridge bike course, these are the most uniquely named thoroughfares you’ll ride your bike on.)

I’d been looking forward to the ten K run as a chance to push things a little, to see where the legs are after a couple of solid months of training. I was clawing to a 4.10/kilometre pace for most of the run, navigating over little rises that kept things interesting. I was pleased with the run and more pleased when I turned left for the little grassy decline towards the finish.

When things were done, John Salt popped out of nowhere, put his hand out, as he always does, and slapped my back. I was gasping for air and could barely string a reply together, the sign of a decent race.

Next year will make it four in a row in Bracebridge for me, and clearly, there’s no place I’d rather be in early August.

Bracebridge – More Than Just A Race

This weekend MultiSport Canada’s Recharge With Milk Triathlon Series traveled to Bracebridge, ON. I was registered for the International Duathlon on Sunday but for this event Dianne and I chose to make the road trip up early and volunteer on Saturday. This article is not exactly a race recap, but rather one that attempts to capture the essence that is MultiSport.

This was our 3rd weekend in the Muskokas in a little over a month. As a MultiSport Canada Ambassador from Windsor, travel is inevitable. It’s why I shake my head when I hear those who are unwilling to travel for competition. I’m not afraid to say that Duathletes are a finicky bunch when it comes to travel. I may be in the minority but I train long, compete frequently and am willing to travel for competition. I’m also lucky enough to have a wife who is both supportive and willing to actively participate wherever she can.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when I say it was Dianne who suggested we make the nearly 6 hour drive on Friday, following a full day of work to volunteer on Saturday. Dianne and my son Dakota had both volunteered in Gravenhurst and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We left Windsor by 5 pm and arrived somewhere closer to midnight. We parked the vehicle behind a school and obtained some much needed sleep. 5 am arrived early, as it often does and by 6am we were on site receiving direction for our day’s activities.

As I’m sure any Race Director can tell you, a crucial part of any event are the volunteers. I was assigned to the first aid station and it became quickly apparent that volunteers were in short supply. I was alone initially but it was here I met Kristen – a teacher by trade and a MultiSport Canada employee in the summer. She had recently qualified for Kona and her passion for the sport unquestionable. I also met a young lad who couldn’t be much older than my son (14 years old). This was his first job and his work ethic and positive energy simply outstanding. I was extremely impressed with his desire to ensure each and every athlete was hydrated. With only two of us and an on slot of participants coming at us from both directions, we often struggled to stay ahead. At times we were unable to keep up but he always managed to fill his cups, catch up to the athletes and ensure they were not missed.

The Sprint Duathletes were first on the scene with local sensations Brian and David Moore leading the field. I had an opportunity post-race to congratulate them on their performances. They finished 1 and 2 respectively and as talented as they are, they are both extremely humble. Mrs. Moore was present and the pride she exuded was clearly evident. Her boys had made her proud, it was how it was supposed to play out and no one could argue differently.

Then there was Melanie McPherson, the Para-Duathlete. Melanie wheeled on by with focus and determination. Sometime had passed, when I realized she had not returned. The medical support cycled out to the turnaround but she was nowhere to be seen. Melanie had gone too far and with the lack of volunteers she had unknowingly continued on her way. Of all the competitors, the lack of volunteer support effected Melanie most of all. I admired her fortitude and positive attitude through it all. I spoke to Melanie at the completion of her race, not a single mention of the incident or ill word spoken.

The highlight of my day though was the Give-It-A-Tri. I had the pleasure of meeting Lynda Watkins the final finisher of the day. I travelled the last 1.25 km with Lynda who was completing her first event. Lynda was 65 years old, she’d had a knee replacement but that didn’t stop her. Her children were all about possibilities she stated. She had called them Friday evening to tell them she was going to do it. She shared with me how her daughter had just qualified for her 3rd Kona and how proud she was of her. If her daughter could finish an Ironman she could complete a Triathlon. As she approached the final descent accompanied also by Adam Eikenberry (official) and the young bicycle medic, I joked with Lynda that we were setting the bar pretty high with her own escort to the finish line. Lynda’s response, “next time I won’t need you guys, I’ll be faster.” Yes, they’ll be a next time and great news for the sport. As she crossed the finish line, I heard Lynda yell, “thanks Ambassador.”

Saturday evening as we relaxed, Dianne and I had the pleasure of meeting TJ Flynn and Shane Wickham – you won’t find two nicer individuals in the sport. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that TJ actually reads my reports. I’ve admired TJ’s journalistic abilities and followed Shane’s results as a fellow Duathlete but this was the first time we’ve had the opportunity to officially meet. We shared some stories and laughs and there’s something about an Irish accent that puts one at ease. It was a great way to end an eventful day.

Sunday was race day and for Dianne a second day of volunteering. The course was as difficult and as challenging as I had remembered. I managed a 2nd place finish overall behind the ever consistent Andrew McLeod! It wasn’t the race though that had the most profound effect on me. It was the woman who approached me at the end of the day while I was preparing to leave transition. She had read my article Battling Depression – My Strongest Competitor. She noted that she doesn’t spend much time on the computer in the evenings, but she had taken the time to read my article. Her sister suffers from depression and for the first time she understood what her sister could not express. She thanked me for helping her understand and for that I was thankful.

I travelled to Bracebridge this weekend to race and came away with so much more. Volunteering is vital for the success of any event and something each and every athlete should experience. I challenge my fellow competitors to give back to the sport. MultiSport Canada offers all its volunteers $35.00 off a future race as an incentive.

I’d like to take a moment to thank those who support me – Dr. Todd Small & Spencer Jean @ Community Health and Integrated Care, MultiSport Canada Triathlon Series, Recharge with Milk, Skechers Performance Canada, 3Sixty5 Cycling, Cycle Culture, Skratch Labs / Raceday Fuel.

Social Media Buzz

You can share your experiences on your favourite social media outlets. Use the hashtag #MSCBracebridge

Photos are available at Zoomphoto, and results at our Results Page. If you have any issues or corrections with the results, please contact Sportstats.

Our own Post-race Report will be published in a few days, stay tuned.