Monday, February 17, 2014

30 Years of Fun!

2014 is a pivotal year for me - it's my 30th year of doing triathlons! I've done at least one tri in each of the last 30 years. That's a long time! Growing up my life revolved around hockey. I dedicated every day to working on my game, thinking about my game and playing the game. My Dad told me one year I played over 100 games - add practices to that and you get an idea on how busy it was. When I entered the junior hockey world it was more of the same. Every summer I would usually play shinny for 3-4 hours 4-5 days a week. Looking back on it I would have cut it back to 3-4 weekly and used the other days for strength training for power and to add muscle weight. With the schedule I kept it was always a struggle to keep some weight on - I was always in the low 150s when I needed to be in the mid 160s to offset the lopsided difference when playing against much heavier players. Anyway the point I'm trying to make is that a dedication to training has always been a part of my life and when my hockey career became more about beer leagues I looked for another pursuit to fill that void. That's where triathlon came in.

Like most people in the mid-80s my exposure to triathlon was courtesy of ABC Wide World of Sports and its coverage of the Hawaii Ironman. I ran a great deal as I grew up and rode my bike all over the place. I didn't learn to swim til I was 12 so I definitely would need work there but that was fine with me. In Ontario at that time triathlon was just starting out and, unlike today, there wasn't a surplus of races. My first triathlon, in 1984, was the Windsor Triathlon. It was an Olympic distance race and, along with my buddies Henry and Scott, I began my journey in endurance multisport. The winner that day was Richard Browne. He would later develop a triathlon-specific wetsuit with his name on it - I owned one for many years.

The other option for triathlon was courtesy of the visionary Graham Fraser. Graham, ever-energetic, saw something in triathlon that resonated with him and wanted to part of building it. He developed Ontario's first official series - the Royal Lepage Series (I wish I kept a race shirt from those days). The Royal Lepage series eventually became the Presidents Choice series then Subaru took over and remains in place to this day. Today we are absolutely spoiled in Ontario with the Subaru and Recharge with Milk series and numerous independent races. You can race every single weekend from mid-May to mid October - amazing.

Looking back on it there were some races that were a lot of fun but, for whatever reason, are not in existence today. The following is a "Where Are They Now" retrospective (I know there is no "now"):

1) Tapleytown Duathlon. Loved this race due to the fact it was a 10 minute drive from my parents house. It was a 10k run followed by a 40k bike. It was held at Tapleytown elementary school. It was significant for me personally cause I went just under 36:45 for the 10k run - a personal best for me.

2) Grimsby Triathlon. This was the original in the Royal Lepage series along with Milton shortly after. Milton is still is existence today and Grimsby, now called the Niagara Triathlon, came back after a number of years absence. I remember the one year I did that race and Greg Welch, future winner of the Hawaii Ironman, and the Puntous twins, both winners of Hawaii, won that race.

3) King City Triathlon. Was a popular race on the circuit and a tough hilly course. Not sure why it fell by the wayside but it was a legit course.

4) Orillia Half Ironman. Orillia is still in existence to this day but, back in the day, it was a tough hilly HIM. Add to the fact it was in mid August with the heat and this was one tough race. I remember in 1989 I did that race after biking 200 miles in the week leading up and running a couple of 10 milers. I suffered during the race and finished in 5:36. What's significant about this is that I did Ironman Canada 1989 the following weekend. Not exactly the proper taper for a big race but, honestly, at the time we really didn't know what the hell we were doing!

5) Mike Burwell Memorial Triathlon. This Welland staple was a fixture for many years. It disappeared and after some time resurfaced as the Welland Triathlon which is a signature race for the Recharge with Milk series.

6) Niagara Duathlon. This was held in Niagara-on-the-Lake and was flat and fast. It also marked the end of the multisport season. I always enjoyed that race and, hopefully, someday it will be brought back.

There you have it - a little walk down my memory lane. I hope to keep this journey going - hope you're enjoying yours!


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