Bringing in the New Year with Robert Buren
EveryJanuary we recognize Canada’s strongest triathletes and stand out performances with our Triathete of the Year Awards. As the sport grows, it gets harder and harder to narrow that list but we know you’ll be inspired by our 2013 winners. There are many perks to this job, not the least of which is the exceptional athletes I encounter who may not be on the podium, but whose performances really shine. Meet 43-year- old father of two, Robert Buren.
Think disassembling your bike, packing it up, trekking it through the airport, while balancing your backpack, suitcase, snacks for the flight and searching for your boarding pass is tough? Try adding your seven-andpa-half-foot hand cycle, your race chair for the run, not one but two sets of race wheels and doing so in a wheelchair. This is what Buren, the Oakville, Ont.-based parathlete has to do. He gets a little help from his tough triathlete wife Sabrina. In August 2013 Buren became the first Canadian parathlete using a hand cycle and wheelchair to complete an Ironman, which he did in Louisville, Ky. in a blazing time of 12:32:54. If you were questioning your sanity, dedication and fitness in advance of your 2014 Ironman, try thinking about doing it all with your arms.
Accustomed to the demands and joys of sport, Buren was already considering triathlon before his accident in 2008. On a perfect mountain biking morning, Buren crashed and broke his back resulting in complete paraplegia. While still in the hospital he learned of a para-triathlete from Ottawa named Chris Bourne who showed him a whole new side of sport. “Doing what others think is impossible or crazy motivates me,” says Buren. “I love breaking down barriers and showing my kids that hard work and determination can accomplish anything.”
Ironman requires patience and pacing and like many of us, Buren doesn’t love holding back but it proved essential for success at Louisville. He hated staying in zone one during the bike portion and being passed by two of the para-triathletes that he had beaten out of the swim. But once he got to the run he felt strong and fresh. Buren can’t help but smile while recounting that run: “Passing those two wheelies to take back second place and to finish in less than 13 hours, to the roar of the crowds, was the best feeling ever.”
Up next for Buren are two different but equally compelling goals: qualify for Kona, or make it to the 2015 Pan Am Games. We will be following this go-getter as he follows his dreams.
With a little added motivation from Buren and our Triathletes of the Year, as well as a training plan from Ironman Champion and coach Jasper Blake, you’ll be ready your first or your best-yet Ironman in 2014. Overindulged this holiday season? Registered dietician and pro triathlete Brooke Brown offers tips to help balance the scales and LifeSport coach Dan Smith explains how to maximize power on the trainer this winter.
With your New Year’s resolutions made and Kevin Mackinnon’s profiles of the nation’s best in hand, you can officially start the countdown to race season. Happy New Year!