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XTC Off Road Triathlon and Duathlon

Jill Off Road Triathlon            Kalon Off Road Duathlon
1000m swim                        5km trail run
26km mountain bike             26km mountain bike
10km trail run                      10km trail run

Location: McIvor Lake, Campbell River B.C.
Date: August 13, 2006

Pre Race Training
What luck, a family reunion in BC is to take place a week after the XTC Campbell River Off-Road Triathlon! After planning to do the Guelph XTC race, which was cancelled, we decided to head out to BC early. Three days straight in our small car with two kids and a large dog we were ready to hit the Victoria trails to prepare our legs for the altitude and climbs we knew would be a part of the XTC fun!

Over training would definitely be easy for us to do in Victoria. The trails are breathtaking, challenging, plentiful, and so easily accessed (course we used to live here so we know the area) that we definitely didn’t taper before this race. Our old favorite climb of Mount Douglas (300m) from sea level was our first stop. The ups and downs of the maze of trails around this mountain reintroduced our feet to B.C.’s sharp rocks, gravel, soft forest floor, slippery flat rock faces, not to mention the roots from 50-100m tall trees, Burn baby burn was what our legs screamed after this first training run. But the 360-degree view of the ocean, coastal islands, and surrounding forests was the best recovery anyone could ask for. Our other favorite run was along the coastal trail of East Sooke Park (see pictures). Again footing varied as much as the terrain. The view of the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island was so spectacular a “short run” turned in to a sunset dash for the car. Our bike training was spent riding around Victoria with the kids behind us on their trail-a-bikes. Victoria’s multiple bike routes were awesome, however, nothing like the nasty-gnarly trails on the XTC menu. Swimming? Well we went to Long Beach on the west coast. Great waves, but there’s a reason sharks don’t live in the Pacific Ocean- wetsuit mandatory!

The Race

Campbell River is located approximately 300km north of Victoria on the east coast of Vancouver Island. It is known for its fishing, forestry, and as the gateway for Strathcona Provincial Park. Just outside of town was the location of the race- McIvor Lake Park.

We arrived the day before to preride the course and take a swim. Good move! The bike course, which consisted of four 6plus km loops, was more technical than anything we had ridden before. As part of the bike course was also part of the run course, we knew this was going to be a technical, lactic acid burning, wicked fun race! Both of us were excited, but nervous.

First Leg
Jill’s Swim

After suffering a partial tear to my pectoral muscle and four bruised ribs from a mountain bike crash in June, I had given up swimming till the day before this race. My prerace swim the day before was hopeful, until I got the dizzies getting out of the water. Whether it was the altitude or the lack of training, I knew I would have to take the 1000m swim easy. As luck would have it the swim was two 500m loops with a 20m beach run in between. I started at the back so not to get caught up with the pack. The lake was the best I have ever raced in. It was cool, clean, clear, and calm. I swam straighter than my usual zig-zag and actually enjoyed the first loop. Getting out to run along the beach I saw I was about mid pack. I reminded myself I was here to push myself but have a good time doing so. I exited the water at 20 minutes and felt strong. Unfortunately my transition sucked! I was just leaving the transition when Kalon was coming in from his run. Ah motivation to be quick on the bike- how long could I stay in front of him?

Kalon’s first run

My training through June and July was sporadic at best due to my heavy workload so we could afford to spend August in BC.  I decided that I would just have fun and do my best.  The race started with a 5 km trail run which was a little longer than I was used to but I thought it would be good because it would give me a chance to warm up.  The run was amazing and I lost myself in the beautiful forest surrounding me.  We followed the bike course for the first 2k up a couple of tough climbs then veered off into a very steep technical descent, which I am very glad we didn’t do on the bike.  We then went back onto the bike route for a short twisty technical section then up a large climb into the powerlines and down into transition.  I was feeling good and had finished the run in 22 minutes, which I was very happy with considering my training.  I cheered Jill on as I saw her heading out on her bike.

Second Leg:
Jill’s Bike

Ok, I’ll admit, I was very nervous about the technical parts of this course. Even though I have really worked on my technical skills and confidence the past two years, I was not strong on the pre-ride and wondered if I my race adrenaline would be enough to allow me a fast bike. The course started with a long loose sand and rock, I won’t call it double track because the bushes were so thick and stuck out on the course, climb. I knew Kalon would behind me, so I pushed a bit see just how long I could hold him off. After the initial climb, we descended to a gravel logging road. A long 400m descent along this road lead to a killer four minute climb up to the powerlines. I got off my bike about 20m from the top, thinking, “I have to climb this thing 4 times on my bike then run up it twice! Are they crazy!”. I did however pass several riders up this hill during my four climbs of it (course most of those riders caught me in the following technical section). Past the powerlines was the first BC technical challenge and where Kalon caught me. A very narrow single track section filled with big logs and sharp rocks. I let my bike hit things and tried my best not to break too much on the descents. A great rocky descent at the end of this section was a fan favorite place to watch, and surprisingly my favorite part of the course. Every time I came down I felt like I was hanging off the back of my bike, but I loved it. I played back and forth with one woman the first three loops of the course. Seeing her reminded me I was racing, as there were so few bikers around me through out the race. Course I did crash big on my first loop with a rider on my tail- embarrassing! My third lap was the hardest as I was feeling the effects of the technical trails of my arms. I have never ached so much in my upper body as I did during this race. No trails are flat, every thing is tilted, so balancing with your upper body was critical. The second killer climb up to the powerlines again was just too much. I hoped I would ride it to the top at least once, but was unable to do so (course I didn’t see anyone else ride it either). I was actually passed at the beginning of my fourth lap by the first place elite female racer. I was on my bike, she was running! When I caught her back on the downhill I felt a bit better (wow could she motor). By the end of the fourth loop I felt strong again and was really proud of my bike. This was a killer course. The three technical killer climbs, not to mention all the Ontario sized climbs, and the rocky, rooty descents, done four times each, was a wicked race alone without the swim and 10km trail run that was to follow. Entering T2 I just hoped I had gas left in the tank for what I knew was going to be a hard run. 26kms of BC fun- 2hours 10min.

Kalon’s Bike

I won’t go into the details of the course because Jill has already done it.  Leaving T1 I felt really good and was looking forward to the tough bike course.  I felt strong on the climbs for the first 2 laps and held on for dear life on the technical descents.  I was very glad that I had done the Ontario Cup Mountain Bike race at Buckwallow as it gave me a taste of riding on rocks.  On the 3rd lap the wheels came off though.  About halfway through the lap I had my worst bonk ever.  I lost all the power in my legs and started to question if I would even be able to finish.  I headed out on the 4th lap happy that I was almost done the bike but not sure if I had enough left for the run.  I was able to finish all the climbs except for the one with the rock face heading up to the powerlines (which I didn’t see anyone do) but almost coasted through the rest of the course.  I entered T2 totally spent and hoping I would just be able to finish the run.

Third Leg
Jill’s Run

My T2 transition rocked. I was fast! I knew I had a woman behind me, that I really wanted to keep behind me, but I started the run cautiously. After biking the first part of the run course four times, I knew if I pushed too hard at the beginning I was a goner. This strategy worked really well although I must admit, being a good hill runner, it was mentally hard to walk some of the steeper climbs. A gel at the beginning of the run really helped to ease the lead feeling in my legs but did nothing for my stomach troubles. My stomach was sick. I mean green nausea sick. I knew if I stopped I was done for, so I listened to what I tell my runner’s at school all time, and “ran it out” (it lasted till the end of the race and then some). After the run course veered from the bike course, a new technical challenge- a steep, mossy rock, narrow decent. I hated this part. My knees ached (especially the one I landed on during my bike crash). I slowed to a walk here and couldn’t help to think I was wasting time. Course I past no one on the run, and no one past me. The water station people, wonderful volunteers, and the crowd at the transition area were the only people I saw during the 10kms. This was strange, but great. I was in my own little world, enjoying the trail, yet still pushing myself to race well. My second lap was AMAZING! I wish I could feel that way all the time. I was tired, sore, and hot- but so incredibly happy. I was having fun and that’s what it should be all about. If it’s not fun than what’s the point. For the first time in a while I forgot about my positioning, and really just had fun. When I crossed the line I was smiling. I didn’t even look at the results when they were posted. When Kalon told me I was first in my age category and third women (excluding the elites) overall, I will admit my smile grew. Honestly this race was hard, but man was it FUN!

Kalon’s Run

I didn’t feel any better coming out of T2.  The run course was 2 loops of the course I ran for the first run.  As I plodded along the first big climb on the course my stomach tightened into a small ball of pain to go along with the pain I was feeling in my legs and arms.  I tried to block everything out and just enjoy the scenery and move as fast as I could (which wasn’t very fast).  The first lap was misery.  I questioned whether I would be able to finish the entire way and was almost surprised to find myself moving through the transition area on my way out to the second lap.  The volunteers at this race where amazing and provided some extra motivation for me.  My body didn’t feel any better on the second lap, but I knew I would be able to finish and tried to not embarrass myself too much.  This was the worst I have felt at a race since I began racing 3 years ago, but amazingly I had a blast.  The course was very hard, but that is why we do it.

Post Race

A huge thank you to Terry and Grey Taylor for their welcoming and support as well as for putting on a great race. Giving back to the sport is so important to us. The volunteers at this race were so incredible we just had to join them and helped with the always-inspiring kids race and the clean up. Most of the volunteers were part of the Campbell River Triathlon Club who extended to us an invitation for a recovery dinner at a local pub. It was a great ending to a wonderful day.
P.S. This report was written after our “recovery” run to the top of Mount Douglas looking out at the Pacific Ocean. It doesn’t get better than this!

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