By : Peggy Reid
What a great day! This race is short, and full of variety with a pretty Moon River swim, an out and back bike on a beautifully smooth and rolling Muskoka Rd and a challenging hilly run. To top the day we got to see Lionel Saunders, set a course record.
There was a strong contingent of C3 athletes - Luis Lopez, Craig and Eric, Jim and Peggy, Andrea, Sadie Holmes, Micheal Drake, John Mahood and long time supporters Sandra Bowden and Dirk and Anna Davenport. All the athletes appreciated the enthusiastic support from Patricia Lopez and Susan Anderson.
The night before was full of thunderstorms so we were not sure what the day would bring. As it turned out it was an ideal day for racing. The morning was cool and wet with a light drizzle of rain. However, the rain ended early on the bike segment and stayed cool during the run. In contrast to the Gravenhurst race two weeks earlier which had a brutally hot run.
The swim was a wave a start from a sandy beach on the shore of Moon River in the quaint town of Bala. The pros went off at 8:30 and because I was in the last wave I got to watch the top pros come out of the water. It was exciting to be able to cheer Lionel on as sprinted towards his bike.
Our wave began at 8:45 and I was excited to see how I would compare to my race from last year. Unfortunately I had a headache which didn't improve in the first 100m and I had to work through it to keep going. I kept in mind Sean's advice to take easy strokes when I felt panicky or winded. To my delight I was able to swim steadily to the exit. I knew my beloved arch-rival Jim was just up ahead. For the first time ever Jim and I were in the same wave. Knowing this I felt there might a good chance I could catch him on the bike or run especially since he is known for dawdling through transition.
Once on the bike I knew I had to have a flawless ride to catch him. This was not to be. My front derailer was being stubborn and I had ride most of it in my big ring. I would have benefited from using the small ring on a few of the hills. Once settled into the bike it was thrilling to see Lionel hammering past on the return with his nearest competitor about a kilometre behind. One by one I was able to give a shout out to other C3 athletes as we past each other on the course. As I approached the bike turn around I spotted Jim on his way back and my confidence leapt as I saw how the gap between us "had shrunk. I was feeling confident that I could catch him on the run. But more derailer problems were yet to come.
On the way out from T2 I negotiated the puddle soaked grass and settled into the hard grind up the first hill. It was then I passed by Sadie and Luis as they sped down the home stretch. It was so wonderful to see Patricia and Susan cheering and taking photos. It really makes your day to have that support. The run follows the same road as the bike course but with two side extension onto interesting cottage roads where local cottagers were cheering the racers on. Most welcome were the aid stations positioned at the corners of each of the side roads. Many thanks to all the wonderful volunteers who cheerfully handed out water.
Each of these side roads are out and back which gives you a chance to keep tabs on your competition. It was here that I spotted Jim. He was not far ahead on the first turn around and by the time we reached the second the gap had closed noticeably. I was confident that there was a chance I would catch him especially judging by the beads of nervous sweat I glimpsed on his forehead as we passed each other.
Once back out on the main road there were several long hills yet to overcome. On the first hill I passed Anna Davenport who pointed out that Jim was just ahead and I could probable catch him. (As it turned out Jim had been running beside Anna and had confessed to her his fear of being chicked by me.) Jim's fear was so great that he did not even allow himself the small comfort of slowing down through the final aid station.
As I rounded the final turn I saw John Mahood, Andrea, Michael Drake, then Jim and Craig. I knew I could never catch John, Andrea or Michael but Craig and Jim were potential prey. On the second last long hill I passed Craig but it seemed Jim had found another gear, perhaps his fear of being chicked was propelling him forward.
Cheering crowds greated us as we approached the finish line. It is so nice to race where participants, family and friends and volunteers enthusiastically encourage you over the finish line.