Once again, Subaru Canada proved its dedication to the support and growth of triathlon by staging the third Muskoka Chase. The format has the professional women start a pre-determined time ahead of the professional men and the first person across the line is the champion. Each year, this 2 km – 55 km – 15 km event has become more competitive with this year being the best competition by far. Now, professional Olympic distance athletes are coming to Muskoka as a tune-up for the Lifetime Fitness race held in July each year. The big guns on the start line this year were Canadian Simon Whitfield and Aussie Craig Alexander for the men and American Karen Smyers, Canadian Samantha McGlone, the 2005 winner, Aussie Pip Taylor and Tereza Macel, the winner from 2004. The time difference was 18 minutes – last year, it was 19:41. Ouch – this one is going to hurt. And so, at 7:42 a.m., the professional women began while the professional men watched! I had a pretty good swim getting out about 2:45 down on Tereza and Pip and about 1 minute down on Sam and 30 seconds to Karen. I worked hard on the bike to stay close to the women and stay ahead of the men. I caught Natasha Filliol, Marie Danais and Pip Taylor on the bike, but I couldn’t bridge the gap to Karen who was my next target. Karen and I have had some great races together this year. In St. Croix, I had the bike of my life and caught her on the bike. In Disney, I had the swim of my life, got on the bike ahead of Karen, then lost over 3 minutes to her throughout the ride, but managed to catch her on the run. But here we were at an even shorter distance and her fast twitch muscles were trumping my little slow twitchers!
Meanwhile, Tereza was having the race of her life. She built up a huge lead on the bike – out biking all of the women and only biking 4 minutes slower than the men – the professional men – men like Simon Whitfield. She was amazing!!! She got off the bike 10 minutes ahead of me. Samantha was next off the bike 5-6 minutes ahead of me and then Karen was about 2:30 ahead of me. I ran as fast as I could right from the start of the 15 km run, not only to catch the women, but to stay ahead of the men! At about 2 km, Simon caught me and then, Craig Alexander. I just kept running as fast as I could with a solid self belief that I would catch as many people as possible and hold off those men!!! But then, at 8 km, Kelly Guest caught me and passed me. At this point, I was 70 seconds behind Karen Smyers with 7 km to go. Simple – 10 sec per kilometer! That is 10 seconds per kilometer on a former Olympic Distance World Champion and Hawaii Ironman Champion! I just ran as hard as I could and I gradually started to pull Karen back to me. With 500 meters to go, I caught her and then I could see that I was gaining on Kelly Guest who had passed me at 8 km. I ran as hard as I could but I ran out of real estate. I crossed the line in 6th place overall and 3rd female behind Tereza Macel and Sam McGlone. Tereza managed to hold off Simon for the overall victory! Tereza was amazing and won one for the girls. Apparently, the finish was amazing – Tereza was crossing the line, with Simon within camera shot and Sam just behind him. Craig Alexander was 4th, Kelly Guest was 5th, I was 6th and Karen Smyers was 7th!
Honestly, that race was so much harder than an Ironman! But the good news is that I truly had a great race – I swam and biked faster than in 2005 and I was closer to the leaders than ever before. And I got to race at home in Canada with all of my friends. Congratulations to everyone that raced in Muskoka and qualified for either Subaru Ironman Canada, IM Lake Placid, IM Wisconsin or IM Florida! For race photos, please visit www.tridubai.com. Our dedicated Tri Dubai team leader, Franko, made the trek to Muskoka to support Craig and I and to take some photos.
Now it is back to the good stuff – training for Subaru Ironman Canada!