Bring­ing in the New Year with Robert Buren

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Warm Up Editorial - Suzanne Ze­lazo Man­ag­ing Ed­i­tor

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!

Above Robert Buren at the fin­ish of the 2013 Iron­man Louisville in Ken­tucky.

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