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2005 Winterlude Triathlon Report
By:  wayne   (2005/02/05)


The Winterlude Triathlon is one of those events that I would always like to do, but usually conflicts with a ski race, so I don't get to do it. The first time I did it was 2 years ago, which gave me some idea of what to expect this year (my second time). The event is an 8 km skate on the canal, a 4.5 km ski, and a 5 km run.

The Plan

I had the following plan, based on the event from 2 years ago (when I finished 5th) .

  • In the skate, stay with the lead pack, and draft as much as possible. Try to pass as many people as possible at the end and through the transition, so I wouldn't have to get around people in the ski.
  • In the ski, go as hard as possible. The only way for me to win is to have a big lead after the ski, since the top guys like John Westdal (3 time defending champion) are much faster runners. I figure I would need at least a 1 minute lead going into the run.
  • In the run, just run a steady pace, and see what happens.


The morning brought perfect weather, -8 and sunny. I got to Dow's lake around 7:30, where I met my brother and Sheila. We got a good spot in the transition zone, and went out for a ski. The course was well groomed, wide, hard packed, and fairly fast. Unfortunately this meant that it would be short (time wise), and hard to put too much time on anyone. I skied the course twice, then switched to my skates. I skated for about 15 min. The ice was great, but the nice weather had brought out lots of skaters, which we would have to go around. It could be interesting.

The Race

Skate: The start was fast and furious. I got a good start, and stayed on the right side of the pack so I could get around any crashes. After the first couple of minutes the pace slowed down, and the pace was quite easy the rest of the way. The lead pack was huge, maybe 50 people. There were lots of crashes, at least 5 that I saw, but I was able to steer clear. There were many recreational skaters scurrying to get out of the way of the pack, and a few who got passed on both sides, which must have been surprising to them. Near the end of the skate (from Bank St to Dows Lake) I got boxed in, around 20-30th place. Just before the end I found some room and was able to move up to around 15th, had a good transition so I crossed the timing mat in 4th. The skate was very easy this year, my heart rate was only in zone 1 and zone 2 (140-160). My GPS said 7.9 km.

Ski: I was the first one to get my skis on and start skiing, so I didn't actually have to pass anyone. I started hard to drop John, and felt that I skied a good race. It was short and uneventful, I had put some time on John but I wasn't sure how much. The transition went smooth, and I was off running. My heart rates were 174-181, and the GPS said 4.2 km for the ski.

Run: The run was on the side of canal, and on the bike path which was fairly icy. Thanks to Sheila, who sent me this link about putting screws in your shoes (http://www.skyrunner.com/screwshoe.htm), I had great grip on the whole course. The first km was hard to get into running, my legs felt heavy from the ski. At the start of the run someone said I had a 100m lead, which I figured probably wasn't enough of a lead. Sure enough, around the 1 km mark John went flying by. I tried to run with him, but there was no way. By 2 km I was feeling better, and shortly thereafter was a turn around to an out and back section, so I could see how far it was to the next runner. It looked like it was about a minute, and I was feeling good, so I figured I had 2nd place wrapped up. I had one team pass me just before the finish. My heart rates were 170-176, and the GPS said 5.1 km for the run.

Overall I was happy with the race, the weather was perfect, the organization was great, and when I do it 2 years from now I'll be more prepared for the run. (Next year I plan to be in Italy for the World Masters).

Interesting Reading. . .
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