Coast-to-coast Cana­dian Mul­tisport

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It is go­ing to be quite a year for the sport here in Canada as we cel­e­brate our 150th year. We’re host­ing five dif­fer­ent world cham­pi­onships in Pen­tic­ton in Au­gust. We will have not one, but two World Triathlon Se­ries races (Ed­mon­ton and Mon­treal). Our na­tional cham­pi­onship stan­dard- and sprint- dis­tance races re­turn to Ot­tawa to help cel­e­brate the 150th an­niver­sary. There are six Iron­man and Iron­man 70.3 events across the coun­try, not to men­tion a pair of Rev 3 races in Ni­a­gara Falls, Ont. and St. Andrews, N.B. So, to help you plan your race sea­son this year, here’s our an­nual race guide.

Oliver Half Iron

June 4 Lo­cated in B.C.’S beau­ti­ful south­ern Okana­gan Val­ley, the Oliver Half Iron of­fers a stun­ning course in one of Canada’s most pic­turesque re­gions. The race fea­tures a swim in the calm Tuc- el-nuit Lake wa­ters in the heart of Oliver, a bike course fea­tur­ing parts of the fa­mous orig­i­nal Iron­man Canada course past local winer­ies and ends with a run through quiet res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hoods and along the banks of the Okana­gan River. Tak­ing place on June 4th, this is a great early-sea­son race boast­ing ideal tem­per­a­tures and pro­vid­ing plenty of time in the rest of the sea­son to tackle an ad­di­tional long- course race.

The race also of­fers an Aquabike op­tion which is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar for ath­letes who are ready to race but can’t do the run or sim­ply want a shorter, al­most-as­chal­leng­ing race.

Subaru Iron­man Canada

July 30 Iron­man Canada has been in­te­gral to the Iron­man brand for well over 30 years. The race, now sit­u­ated in Whistler, draws ath­letes from around the world to the rus­tic Western Canada ski re­sort. Now of­fer­ing a 70.3 race along­side the full dis­tance, Iron­man Canada has be­come an even larger race week­end on the Cana­dian triathlon scene.

Triath­letes re­turn to Iron­man Canada each year for a course that is as chal­leng­ing as it is beau­ti­ful. Af­ter a swim in the shal­low wa­ters of Alta Lake that’s tra­di­tion­ally wet­suit-le­gal, the bike course takes you on an as­cent into the Cal­laghan Val­ley, then down along the Sea to Sky High­way be­fore re­turn­ing to the town of Whistler. The run course takes place on a stun­ning trail pass­ing two local lakes and through the town be­fore lead­ing ath­letes to a fin­ish­ing chute by the Olympic plaza.


ITU World Triathlon Ed­mon­ton

July 28–29 With a deep triathlon his­tory dat­ing back nearly two decades, Ed­mon­ton has been wel­com­ing the world’s fastest triath­letes to Hawre­lak Park for years as a stop on the ITU WTS cir­cuit and also hosted the ITU Grand Fi­nal in re­cent years. The race also of­fers a wide range of events for age-groupers to choose from, too, mak­ing it a des­ti­na­tion race for Cana­di­ans across the coun­try.

TMC at­tended last year’s event, which played out as the ul­ti­mate triathlon fes­ti­val week­end with na­tional duathlon sprint cham­pi­onships, aquabike and aquathlon events and the op­por­tu­nity to qual­ify for the world champin­ships – all on the same course that the elites would race on later that week­end. The closed- off course runs through the park and of­fers a swim in a small and shal­low lake, a ride that heads out of the park for a short loop be­fore pass­ing by the grand­stands by the fin­ish line, fol­lowed by a run that’s spec­ta­tor-friendly, too. The race of­fers con­ve­nient trans­porta­tion for ath­letes to the park from Ed­mon­ton’s down­town area. This year the event takes place at the end of July, so the weather should be warmer than pre­vi­ous years when the race week­end has been in Septem­ber.

Great White North Triathlon

July 2 The or­ga­niz­ers of Chal­lenge Pen­tic­ton and this year’s ITU Mul­tisport World Cham­pi­onships also put on a suc­cess­ful halfdis­tance race in Stony Plain, Alta. ev­ery year. The Great White North (GWN) Triathlon has a long his­tory dat­ing back to 1991, which helps so­lid­ify it as one of Canada’s old­est triathlon races and the largest half- dis­tance race in Western Canada.

GWN, which sells out each year, draws up­wards of 800 triath­letes from all over Alberta and B.C. each year and has hosted some leg­endary names – such as Heather Fuhr – on its fast course. A swim in the calm Hub­ble Lake is fol­lowed by a bike course along the rel­a­tively flat high­ways in the area. That’s all fol­lowed by a run through the town of Stony Plain and its trail sys­tem. The event of­fers the half dis­tance along with Olympic, re­lay and duathlon events. There are cash prizes for the top three men and women and bonuses for the fastest swim, bike and run per­for­mances of the day. The race also of­fers qual­i­fy­ing spots for the 2018 ITU World Cham­pi­onships.

Toronto Triathlon Fes­ti­val

July 23 Head­ing into its sixth year, the Toronto Triathlon Fes­ti­val (TTF) of­fers triath­letes the un­par­al­leled ex­pe­ri­ence of rac­ing their bikes down two ma­jor Toronto high­ways and run­ning along the city’s beau­ti­ful wa­ter­front. The event has at­tracted the sup­port of Cana­dian triathlon icon Simon Whit­field and draws an im­pres­sive crowd each year thanks to its fes­ti­val-like at­mos­phere, unique course and range of dis­tances for ath­letes of all abil­i­ties.

While the Olympic and sprint dis­tance races, as well as the re­lays, have been sta­ples at the TTF, new this year is a su­per-sprint re­lay and draft-le­gal op­tion – two race for­mats ris­ing in pop­u­lar­ity across the triathlon world. The TTF takes place on July 23, mak­ing it the per­fect mid- sum­mer A race or a great tune-up race for a late- sum­mer longdis­tance race.

TTF’S Gold Mem­ber Club of­fered each year is just one of the ways triath­letes can get the most out of this iconic Cana­dian race.

Rev3 Ni­a­gara Falls Rev3 Bar­rel­man

Sept. 17 The well- loved Ni­a­gara Falls Bar­rel­man has made an ex­cit­ing part­ner­ship with Rev3 this year in a move to at­tract more triath­letes from south of the bor­der to this stun­ning des­ti­na­tion race, the largest in­de­pen­dent half- dis­tance race in North Amer­ica. Bar­rel­man is a tar­get race for many triath­letes in On­tario and sur­round­ing re­gion for good rea­son – it’s ex­tremely well-run, of­fers a unique point-to-point course with stun­ning scenery such as views of Ni­a­gara Falls and wine coun­try, while the fast and flat course makes it the per­fect race to go af­ter a half- dis­tance PB. Another perk for this race is the fast swim course in the calm wa­ters of the Wel­land Flat­wa­ter Cen­tre.

There is plenty to do in the re­gion around the race so it’s a great op­por­tu­nity to turn the race week­end into a mini fam­ily va­ca­tion.

Mon­treal Esprit Triathlon

Sept. 9–10 One of the most spec­ta­tor-friendly triathlons in Canada, the Mon­treal Esprit Triathlon gives triath­letes the op­por­tu­nity to ride on the smooth and flat For­mula 1 cir­cuit just out­side the city’s down­town and tar­get a fast race time on a course that couldn’t of­fer bet­ter con­di­tions for a PB. The race is a sta­ple on the Que­bec triathlon scene and draws thou­sands of ath­letes from across Canada and around the world each year. The event of­fers an ex­cit­ing race week­end for triath­letes of all ages and abil­i­ties – new this year are try-a-tri, U13 and U15 races. As the host of the Cana­dian Long Dis­tance Cham­pi­onships this year, Esprit is of­fer­ing a mod­est prize purse for the top three men and women for the half-dis­tance race and will of­fer the stan­dard Olympic, sprint and duathlon dis­tances as well.

As a stop on the Que­bec Grand Prix se­ries this year, you can ex­pect some fast elites to show up to the race week­end, too. There’s al­ways some top Cana­dian tal­ent at this race ev­ery year which makes it an even more ex­cit­ing event for age-groupers.

The race takes place at the Olympic Basin on Ile Notre-dame, just a short metro ride away from the city’s down­town core and is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by car.

Iron­man Mont-trem­blant

Aug. 20 There’s a cer­tain en­ergy at Iron­man Mont-trem­blant that has to be ex­pe­ri­enced to be un­der­stood – but it’s what draws sold- out crowds to the French- Cana­dian ski town sum­mer af­ter sum­mer for one of Iron­man’s most suc­cess­ful full- dis­tance races.

The mid-au­gust race date makes Iron­man Mont-trem­blant many triath­letes’ A race and presents var­ied tem­per­a­tures from year to year – some­times mak­ing for ex­tremely warm race day con­di­tions. Triath­letes will en­joy the swim in the warm wa­ters of Lac Trem­blant, the chal­leng­ing bike course through the low-ly­ing moun­tains of the re­gion and the run that takes you through the beau­ti­ful Trem­blant Re­sort vil­lage and down a roar­ing fin­ish­ing chute lined with spec­ta­tors. For Cana­dian triath­letes, this is a true bucket-list race for those in­ter­ested in tack­ling the full-dis­tance in a Cana­dian triathlon mecca. MAY 20, 2017 Coupe du Québec Je­unesse Zé­clairs de Ni­co­let Ni­co­let DU, OTH lesze­clairs.com

MAY 20, 2017 Triathlon/duathlon Val­cartier CFB Val­cartier SP, DU, OTH gotikk.com/fr/even­e­ment/ triathlon-duathlon-val­cartier


The Hay­wire Heart: How too much ex­er­cise can kill you, and what you can do to pro­tect your heart Chris Case, John Man­drola, MD and Len­nard Zinn Velo­press 2017

When you saw this book ti­tle, maybe you thought, “That can’t hap­pen to me, I’m in re­ally good shape.” Well, not to scare you, but de­nial is a com­mon re­sponse from en­durance ath­letes who do, in fact, have heart prob­lems. So, par­tic­u­larly if you are over the age of 40, this could be a life- sav­ing book that tells you how to stay ac­tive, but not dam­age your heart.

The au­thors em­pha­size they are not alarmists and all were long- term en­durance ath­letes un­til two of them de­vel­oped heart ar­rhyth­mias. Dis­cov­er­ing there were many other ath­letes with the same dilemma, they be­gan ex­ten­sive re­search to learn why this was hap­pen­ing.

What is a hay­wire heart? Gen­er­ally hay­wire de­scribes some­thing er­ratic – here that means ar­rhyth­mia, a con­di­tion of faulty heart­beat tim­ing. Heart mus­cle cells func­tion through the smooth trans­mis­sion of elec­tri­cal sig­nals – like a wave of com­mu­ni­ca­tion that helps con­trol heart rhythm. Dam­age to the heart can dis­rupt this com­mu­ni­ca­tion process and then it won’t work prop­erly.

Keep in mind this book is not about “nor­mal” ex­er­cise lev­els but “a highly el­e­vated level of ex­er­cise that is not only ex­tremely in­tense but of­ten com­pet­i­tive and is per­formed for years, if not decades.” There is grow­ing ev­i­dence that en­durance ex­er­cise in­creases the risk of heart rhythm dis­or­ders and that re­duc­ing train­ing in­ten­sity and/or length of­ten fixes the prob­lem. Dam­age can oc­cur be­cause of ex­treme fluc­tu­a­tions be­tween very high and very low heart rates, in­flam­ma­tion, scar­ring and stretch­ing that fre­quently take place in the ath­letic heart.

De­tailed case stud­ies ex­plain that hav­ing an iden­tity as a high-per­for­mance ath­lete can make it dif­fi­cult to ac­cept that there might be a prob­lem. Au­thor John Man­drola is a car­diac elec­tro­phys­i­ol­o­gist who has seen ath­letes push through se­vere symp­toms of dis­ease.

“It’s re­mark­able what an ath­lete can ig­nore,” he says. “It’s im­pos­si­ble to quan­tify one’s pain thresh­old, but heart dis­ease can come on slowly. The stealthy creep of heart dis­ease can blend with sto­icism to mask im­por­tant symp­toms. Be mind­ful of this. It’s real.”

Mike Endi­cott com­pro­mised his health with a very busy life­style of work and com­pe­ti­tions that sud­denly took him out of a ski marathon. Feel­ing dizzy and drunk, he was hy­per­ven­ti­lat­ing and could hardly stand up. Yet the 50-year- old was ly­ing in a snow­bank, feel­ing frus­trated about his un­ex­pected change of plans: “I had work to do that af­ter­noon, phone calls to make. It just wasn’t on my list of things to do – to die on the ski trails.” It took months to find a med­i­cal treat­ment that helped and al­though he re­sisted for a long time, he fi­nally ac­cepted his sit­u­a­tion and adapted a health­ier life­style.

Heart prob­lems can in­volve many con­tribut­ing fac­tors and, over­whelm­ingly, th­ese au­thors be­lieve that phys­i­cal ex­er­cise is a pos­i­tive thing. How­ever, from the per­spec­tive of their per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge, they urge ath­letes to be re­al­is­tic about the dan­ger of push­ing the lim­its of your heart.— HE­LEN POW­ERS

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