My second triathlon race of the season was at Bracebridge, run by Multisport, on July 23, 2022. I opted for the Olympic (standard) distance: 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike, 10 km run which was held on Saturday. I decided to enjoy some “me time” and made a week-end out of it, staying at a nearby motel both Friday and Saturday night.
This was my first time racing Bracebridge, so I arrived Friday afternoon so I could scope out the venue and the bike and run courses. I was dismayed to see the state of the road for the bike course, which had potholes, broken shoulder, and construction cones. There was also a busy section with cars coming in and out of Santa’s Village. Another triathlete noticed the same thing, and we shared our concerns with the race organizer who happened to be on site when we were there. He told us to ride carefully, and wasn’t overly concerned. The run course was in better shape and very flat – that would have been way better for the bike course!
The pre-race vibe in transition was the friendliest I have ever experienced over several years of racing. I was having a great time meeting people and am still in touch with some of them 4 months later. As much as I enjoy the swim venue at Rose City, the “dock start” at Bracebridge was a great way to start a race. You line up in the water, with one hand on the dock, and inch your way forward until it is your turn. A swimmer leaves every 5 seconds, so you have space all to yourself at the beginning. Then the goal is to pass as many swimmers as you can!! The swim course was pretty good (I like narrow channels), but it was hard to spot the final buoy with the sun in our faces). My swim time was good, but not great, averaging 1:49/100 m which at least was faster than the swim at Rose City a month earlier.
The bike course was even worse than I expected, because the “speed bumps” in the park were tricky to navigate with 2-way bike traffic, and uphill and downhill sections. I was on the course pretty early, but I heard it got worse later in the race, and a rider apparently crashed going over one of the speed bumps (I heard they were OK). I knew where the potholes were from the night before, which helped, but I couldn’t avoid the traffic coming in and out of Santa’s Village. I nearly hit cars in two spots, even riding carefully, because they came onto the road without looking in both directions. With the braking, near crashes, u-turns, and steeper-than-they look hills, my bike pace was under 31 km/h.
I barely got off my bike before the faint dismount line (several racers had a 15 second penalty for crossing the line) and was happy to be in one piece. It was early enough that the full heat of the day hadn’t yet hit, but the weather forecaster had said “take it easy” which does not include running 10 km. The run starts on an uphill grassy section, then goes over a bridge before a very nice and flat side street. I knew there was a hill at the 9 km mark, but I was not expecting it to be as hard as it was! I was under a 5:10 pace for the first 9 km, but my last kilometre was 5:46, so my final average was 5:13 minutes/km. The heat definitely took a toll, and I was dizzy as I crossed the finish line and got tended to by the same first aider that helped my at Rose City. Mental note: my body does not like running in 35 degree weather.
I did finish first in my age group, which sounds impressive until I admit I was the only one in my age group. However, I was the 5th female out of 61, so I was happy with my overall result.
Overall, I met a lot of great people at Bracebridge, and for first timers who don’t ride 30 km/h, this is a great race, but until they change the bike route, I will not be signing up for this race again.