CAPE BRETON’S IRONMAN CHAMP
FOR SOME ATHLETES, the motivation to compete in triathlon is fitness or overall health. For others it’s pure curiosity. For Corey Deveaux of Sydney, Cape Breton, his friends provided the impetus. “Many of the people I swam with and looked up to had just returned from doing an Ironman in Germany,” says Deveaux, 32. “They inspired me to do it.” Deveaux started running in 2011. That fall he completed his first half marathon at the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Run and then, within a month, he finished a full marathon in P.E.I. Soon after, he started swimming with the Cape Breton Barbarians, the triathlon club in Sydney, which is made up of more than a hundred athletes who compete at all levels. Some ease into the sport with a sprint or a tri-a-tri, but the thrill of the Ironman challenge lured him in. “The distance is so big, it really stood out as something I wanted to try,” says Deveaux. “The endurance aspect of it.” He hadn’t competed in any triathlons at the time when he signed up for his first Ironman. “I felt pure excitement,” says Deveaux of when he signed up for Mont-tremblant, Que. in 2012.
With a natural aptitude for the water, love of the bike and respect for the art of running, it made sense for the junior high school teacher to be tempted by the sport. With MontTremblant set for that August, Deveaux cut his chops in June at the Ingonish Triathlon race in the Olympic distance. At times his cycling training regime included repeats of North Mountain at the tip of Cape Breton Island, a 445-m climb along the iconic twisty, turny Cabot Trail. Added to that were many open water swims in Bras d’or Lake and pounding the pavement all over the island.
The hard work paid off. Deveaux surprised and pleased himself by placing fourth in Quebec and qualifying for Kona, Hawaii for the Ironman World Championship.
It was a big jump for a guy whose only organized sports as a kid consisted of road hockey and a bit of tennis. “Nothing competitive,” he laughs.
Since 2012, Deveaux’s competed in several other Ironman distance races. Then, last summer, less than five years since his first triathlon, he won Ironman Lake Placid.
“I was just in awe, it was very surreal. Did this just happen? Am I dreaming?” he laughs, saying it didn’t set in until the next couple of days.
His success attracted athletic sponsorship first from a Halifax bicycle shop called Cyclesmith. And, for the 2016 season, he’s part of Team Zoot Canada.
Plans for this season include the Boston Marathon and several half Ironman distance races, along with other events around Cape Breton including Ingonish and Port Hood, along with a recently added duathlon in Baddeck.
Deveaux is definitely not finished with longer distances, though, nor is competing twice in Hawaii at the world championship enough. He’s set his sights on qualifying for Kona in 2017.
“I have goals of doing better in Hawaii,” says Deveaux modestly. “I haven’t felt I’ve reached my limit yet.” His favourite of the three sports? “Biking, because of the variations in speed. You get to go fast and the terrain changes, whereas with running you try to maintain the same speed. The swim, well, you have to just get through it.”
His passion for the sport continues to flourish.
“I enjoy the training, but I love the racing,” says Deveaux with a smile. “I’m competitive, but also I love how much fun everyone has during a race. The camaraderie, even during a race – and then afterwards when everyone talks about it and swaps stories – I just love the whole experience.”
Norma Jean Macphee is freelance journalist from Nova Scotia.
Deveaux crossing the finish like at Ironman Lake Placid in 2015