The Season in a Nutshell
It seems like the start of this year’s Sketcher’s Performance MultiSport Canada Triathlon Series was only yesterday. I still remember, quite vividly, the level of anticipation that I had in the beginning of the season prior to racing my first duathlon this year in Welland. Faced with a jam-packed summer of duathlons as a first year MultiSport Canada Ambassador, I felt a different kind of motivation and drive that I’ve never felt before. I felt stronger, prouder, and certainly more ambitious as I prepared to compete in multiple back-to-back races, tackling new distances, and gearing up my mental game to prime my body for the onslaught that it’s about to go through.
More than anything however, I felt a certain level of urgency for this sport. As much as this season was all about reaching new heights in my athletic journey, it’s also more importantly about the impact that I can make as an ambassador for other people. I hosted a running clinic with the Running Room as part of my ambassadorship, got involved as a volunteer in several races (my experience in Gravenhurst being my most memorable one), connected with Try-A-Tri athletes about their first MultiSport experience, and “pulling in” a committed group of friends into the sport that keeps me going. Everyone, meet the “Empire”.
You may recognize them as the loudest and the most entertaining group of spectators at MultiSport races. Since the beginning of my duathlon career, they’ve cheered me on at every one of my race including the ITU MultiSport World Championships in Penticton, BC. In fact, they have become EVERYONE’s biggest supporters. They’ve cheered on every athlete wherever they go, providing them with much needed energy, positivity, and encouragement. I am extremely grateful and proud to have a loving group of friends who has provided me with unwavering support throughout my athletic journey.
The First of Many Firsts
This past weekend was MultiSport Canada’s last race of the series. As expected, it proved to be a very memorable one. Lakeside as a venue was scenic, intimate, and charming. It also happened to be the site of Kevin’s and Jazz’s very first duathlon! To make it even more special, two more of our friends, Ari and Kirill, participated in their first duathlons as well! Jordan, Trevor and myself, as current MultiSport athletes, really made sure that our four friends are well-supported (from nutrition to transition tips) for their first MultiSport race.
Indeed, the tables have turned. This time, we were their loudest cheerleaders.
We were all there on Saturday for the sprint duathlon to see the four of them race. Naturally, there were nervous moments but surely, there were plenty of excitement from our first timers. Prior to the start of their race, we walked them through setting up their transition areas and helped them through the registration steps. May I mention that there were many laughs as they were being body-marked for the first time!
Moments before the race start, we reviewed the race rules and I took them through a gentle warm up. Before we knew it, they were off!
We cheered so much that we forgot to take more pictures of their race! It’s a great thing that MultiSport Canada provides race pictures for free to commemorate every athlete’s race experience. Our first timers were all smiles at the end of their races and as someone who has had a positive influence on their experience, I felt a great sense of pride in their accomplishment.
Ari shared his thoughts on his first duathlon experience with MultiSport Canada:
“I am a long time road cyclist and quite comfortable with riding long distances. However, there is something about doing a run before and after a bike ride that creates a physical challenge far greater than doing any one activity on its own. On top of the physical challenge, there are the transitions from running to cycling, and then from cycling to running. Based on these challenges, I was a little nervous going into my first event. Fortunately, I received amazing support from my participant friends and experienced duathletes who calmed my nerves and made my experience fun and exciting. Thanks to positive encouragement and coaching from Dempsey, I was inspired to take part in this event and challenge myself in a way I never would have. This experience has motivated me to add running to my exercise mix so that I can excel at both activities. Based on this memorable experience, I look forward to doing my next duathlon.”
Kirill was thrilled after having completed his race and shared these very genuine words with me:
“My MultiSport race experience was amazing! It had a community feel, staff and volunteers made me feel very welcomed. It was very well organized and email instructions were super clear. My personal MultiSport ambassador, Dempsey, shared a lot useful tips on pre and post race nutrition and hydration. He lead a pre race warm up and advised on how to set up my equipment in the transition zone in the most efficient way. All of his advise lead to a very successful race for me. Dempsey and his cheer squad supported me all throughout the race, and gave that much needed moral support.”
Kevin also shared his great race experience on social media despite having a challenging bike. I truly believe we will see more of him in the future races!
“Multisport event”, “Duathlete”, “transition area setup” are all words and concepts that seemed so foreign to someone who never saw himself as anything but a spectator. Fast forward to this past weekend and I’m staring the start line down thinking, “what did I do?!” and before I can answer that question we’re all off, racing ourselves to the finish line with encouraging voices cheering me on from the sidelines. The same voices that cheered on my registration and then my training. One of the loudest voices came from a Multisport Ambassador, Dempsey Cruz, whose wise words of advice were always well timed (so as not to overwhelm me) and much needed. Having a friendly face with a passion for the event encourage me along the way made the whole experience less intimidating. Now it’s done. And on to the next duathlon!”
Last but certainly not least, our friend Jazz promises that he’ll be back with vengeance next year:
“So today marks another first for me. Today I took part in my first sprint duathlon; 5k run 20k bike 2.5k run. What an amazing experience! Set the bar to beat for next year and my 5k was a PB! Shout outs to @kev_ponte who also ran his first dü, @cruzdemp for amazing coaching and inspiring to try the sport, and @jordytown @karigbell @hoppystar for spectator duty!”
It was truly humbling to read their kind words and see how grateful they all were for the support they received during their first duathlon. MultiSport Canada Race Series always seem to have this effect on first time participants. It is a true testament to all the hard work and commitment that John Salt, Jason Vurma, the MultiSport Canada team, and the volunteers put out to create a welcoming, positive race experience for both first- time and returning athletes. I’m overwhelmed with so much joy that our friends experienced first hand the reasons why I keep racing with MultiSport Canada, and that they will all likely be back to race next season!
Mind Over Matter
The next day, the gang was back to cheer me on for my race. This was my last duathlon of the season before I compete next week at Barrelman in Niagara Falls, my final A-race of the year. Since returning from Penticton, I’ve found it challenging to get back to training and find my stride. I head into this race feeling pretty anxious, unprepared, and untrained. Thankfully, I had the best supporters to negate any form of self-doubt that I had on my mind. As suspected, the competition was fierce but I gave it my all.
The first run was fast and furious. I tried to keep up with the lead group of runners but I could only keep up a sub-4:00 pace for a few kilometres until my fatigue got the better of me. I was the 4th duathlete into T1 after three fierce athletes, Garvin, Scott and Ricardo. The bike course was scenic with rolling hills. Despite losing two places on the 40km course, I maintained composure, stay focused, and just enjoyed the sights. I made sure to hydrate and re-fuel with my F2C Glyco-Durance on the bike. This set me up nicely for the last 5km of the race. I managed to hold my place on the last run, finishing 7th overall and 1st in my age group. Special thanks to Ryan Dockman and Darren Cooney, fellow ambassadors, who volunteered this weekend in Lakeside despite not racing.
Many thanks to my supporters this season:
- MultiSport Canada Triathlon Race Series for the Ambassador opportunity. I hope to be back next year to bring on more first time multisport athletes!
- BLADE Carbon Wheels for giving me some serious fighting power this season. I’m proud to be an ambassador and on the BLADE race team. I can’t stop talking about how PERFECT my wheels are!
- F2C Nutrition for truly revitalizing my training and race day nutrition. I’m thankful to see your tent at every race!
- My blog readers and followers. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and share my race experiences with me on my blog site.
- My friends and family. You all keep me going. Thank you for the ongoing love and support.
Next stop: Barrelman!