Huronia Race Report (July 2012)
Justin Beck (Team Running Free & Multisport Canada Recharge with Milk Mentor Team member)
(This is my first race report; I apologize if it is a touch long winded!)
This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to take part in the newest venue of the Multisport Canada Recharge with Milk Triathlon Series. It was the Huronia Olympic Distance race, and it took place in Penetanguishene
Ontario. Despite being a new race site I was confident that it would be held to the same standards as each MSC race site, and it did not disappoint!
I arrived early in order to decrease my pre-race stress level as much as possible, and therefore parking was not an issue. The majority of parking was located about 250m from the transition zone, which made for a short walk (especially for people like me who forget things and have to run back at least twice!). There was an issue pre race regarding a local farmers market requiring multiple cars to be moved, which was relayed many times very clearly to all participants in order to avoid tickets ( I am almost certain that MSC staff were completely unaware of this and will have the problem solved the next time around). Consistent with each of my races this season, it began to rain! At least I finished setting up transition before it started this time! Transition was very clearly labelled and there were ample racks for bike placement. After set up and during the rain, it was time to take in a gel and put on the wetsuit to keep warm before race start!
The swim was to take place in the harbour and was 1 loop of 1500m. Due to the storm clouds however, it was changed to a 2 loop swim in case a rapid exit from the water was necessary if lightning were seen. Luckily this was not the case and the race started on time! The changes to the swim course were explained over the speakers multiple times to ensure every athlete understood. The course was also marked with bright orange and green buoys that were very clear with the cloudy backdrop. As I waded into the water I realized that there were some very sharp rocks/logs and other debris scattered about. I kept this in mind upon exiting the swim. Also for those who fear seaweed and underwater plants, beware! The water near shore had tons of seaweed! Once you are out on the course it did not affect the swim as it was out of reach, but visible in the very clear water. In fact, I was surprised at how clear and warm the water was. It made it very easy to spot bubbles and flailing limbs around you to help avoid contact!
Out of the water and onto the bike! (still plenty of racked bikes which is always a good sign). I knew I would have be cautious out on the course due to the wet roads, and as an added touch athletes were given some last minute reminders from announcer Steve Fleck to help keep us safe. The OPP who were directing traffic/racers advised of one specific turn at the bottom of a hill that could be especially dangerous. They advised that multiple signs and warnings had been placed on this hill. I got into my shoes quickly as there is a short climb directly after the mount line. Unless you are extremely quick in doing up your bike shoes I suggest waiting until you reach the top and make the right turn, as there is a straight downhill that allows plenty of time to safely do up the shoes. Still raining and off I went. I was concerned with the bike course as we were told of the large climbs at the beginning and end, which can drain your legs before the run! I found that the most difficult climbs were in the first 10 or so km of the ride. The first was after a right turn near the start. This climb was slightly less steep but was quite long (or at least it seemed so at the time!). The second was a little further into the course and was much shorter and steeper. Following these there were ample downhill sections to build speed, some rollers and a few sharp turns. The course was mostly on cottage type roads, which meant that they were not always the smoothest. For the most part they were not full of potholes, and provided a relatively good ride (I suppose It depends on what you are used to!). I was dreading the climb near the end of the course, but was relieved when it was not as difficult as I had anticipated. It was a more gradual climb with some rolling sections though the conservation area. Beautiful bright green tree covered roads with limited traffic. I liked the fact that due to the turns and rollers you could not always be seen by your competitors. Upon exiting the park, the course returned toward transition. I was now back on slightly busier roads and vehicles became an issue nearing the end of the bike. The course treats you to a large downhill section prior to the short climb to transition and I was planning on using this to add some speed to my ride. This plan could not take effect due to vehicles turning from side streets and driving slower than many of the cyclists on the course. A km or so from transition OPP were directing traffic off the main road, which caused a backlog of vehicles, requiring riders to be extra vigilant when navigating through. I was not sure whether I was to turn or proceed straight, but luckily I could see two of my competitors in the distance up ahead! I chased them to transition and began the run.
My plan for the run was probably similar to many athletes (don’t go out to hard and blow up!) I made sure to stick to this, and off I went. Upon leaving transition I ran along the paved walking path that was very clearly marked with traffic cones. There were volunteers at a crossover directing racers (as well as letting you know how far the athlete was up in front of you!) They were very energetic for standing in the rain all morning! The run goes up a steep hill, followed by a gradual down slope, and then back up, slightly steeper downhill. This portion takes place on the roadway (keep these climbs in mind for the return trip!). The rest of the run is on gravel type paths that travel through a wooded area. This means a lot of shade during the run! Just prior to the tree covered shady section there is one road that we were required to cross. This was not controlled by police or volunteers, and required full attention when crossing. I was then met by the first of many steep declines, across a bridge, followed by a steep incline. These made the run quite challenging, but also made it more exciting than running in a straight line for 5km, turning, and running the same 5km back! There were at least 4 or 5 of these bridges, which means you hit them 8-10 times throughout the run. The aid stations were well stocked and the volunteers were very helpful and encouraging as always! One aspect that I really liked was that the aid station furthest out was placed about 50-75m from the 5km turnaround. This meant that you could hit it up twice, providing it wasn’t busy! On a hotter day, that would have been even more helpful! After the turnaround the run takes you back the way you came, and provides the first time where you can see the competition trying to run you down! The finish line is right by the lake, and like every MSC race, as you are approaching, your name is announced as you hear the relieving beep of the timing chip! Founder John Salt is then awaiting your hand shake, where he offers congratulations to each racer. Then of course it is time to eat! Hero Burgers, chocolate milk, fruit and water for post race meal! YUM!
I thoroughly enjoyed racing the Huronia Olympic distance race, and was once again very pleased by how the MSC race staff organize and run their races. They place importance on safety and go out of their way to make sure that every athlete is taken care of, problems solved, questions answered etc. I would like to thank all of the volunteers who stuck it out in the rain all morning when it would have been much more comfortable for them to be dry and at home in their beds at 6 am (probably even earlier). The race would not have been such a success without them!
Review of Course
Finding race site from out of town– Very easy to find. Only two turns after exiting the 400N
Parking– plenty of parking, very close to transition and race site (3-4 min walk)Transition– Good set up, slightly far from the mount line. John alluded to a possible change in the location of transition in the future.
Swim– very warm, clear water. Lots of seaweed and plants close to shore. Encounters with these would be less with the single 1500m swim loop as you would not have to pass by shore upon starting loop 2. (unfortunately the weather did not allow it this year)
Bike– this is an excellent bike course in my opinion. It has plenty of climbs, some steep and some more gradual. The down hills are the same. It includes sections of flat roads and the scenery is beautiful, particularly thought the conservation area. There are sections of this bike course that every cyclist, no matter their preference for terrain.
Run– Challenging and fun run!
Post Race Food/Activities– excellent!