Triathlon Magazine Canada - - MARKETPLACE - BY KEVIN MACKIN­NON

THE IDEA WAS that they’d head to Thanya­pura, the train­ing cen­tre on the is­land of Phuket in Thai­land, and train for six months. Sasha Ger­vais had done a few sprint events. Au­drey St. Lau­rent hadn’t. But some­how, the idea of train­ing for a triathlon at this won­der­ful cen­tre they’d heard about seemed re­ally ap­peal­ing. The two got rid of most of their pos­ses­sions, packed up their bikes, their dog and all the sport clothes they had and jumped on a plane to Asia. The first stop was to a train­ing camp be­fore the Bhutan marathon, where they both did their first 26.2-mile ef­fort – one month af­ter they’d started train­ing. Sasha fin­ished in 3:30, Au­drey in 4:02. From there they headed to Phuket. They found them­selves a house with a pool that was close to the Thanya­pura train­ing cen­tre and im­mersed them­selves in the world of triathlon. (The house costs less to rent than their tiny apart­ment in Mon­treal used to.) They’re sur­rounded by top-level ath­letes on a reg­u­lar ba­sis – many pros spend time at Thanya­pura, ei­ther be­cause they’re part of the elite team the cen­tre spon­sors, or be­cause they’re utiliz­ing the fa­cil­i­ties and the ex­treme con­di­tions as a hot-weather train­ing camp. There’s also daily coach­ing as part of the Thanya­pura triathlon pro­gram.

“There’s con­tin­u­ous in­spi­ra­tion and a re­ally good vibe here,” Ger­vais says. “The pros are so gen­er­ous with their time and are so will­ing to share their knowl­edge.”

Now 48, Ger­vais spent much of his life as an ac­tor and di­rec­tor. He spent nine years in New York. Even­tu­ally, though, his pas­sion for act­ing started to wane.

“Once I felt like I got to the core of it, I wanted to move on,” he says of that ca­reer.

St. Lau­rent, 25, has man­aged to pack a lot of liv­ing into her quar­ter cen­tury, tak­ing ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­rior de­sign at school and then spend­ing a few years in mar­ket­ing. The two met four and a half years ago through a mutual friend in Mon­treal. They were plan­ning on buy­ing a bed and break­fast in Nicaragua, but that deal fell through. So they fig­ured they’d head in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion.

The first re­ac­tion when they told most of their friends that they were head­ing to Thai­land was, typ­i­cally, “Are you sure?” Now those same friends are reach­ing out and won­der­ing if they might be able to use one of their spare rooms if they come over for a va­ca­tion this win­ter.

The six-month train­ing gig was sup­posed to have ended a while back, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be head­ing home any time soon. Au­drey, who de­spite play­ing soc­cer and a va­ri­ety of high school sports, never re­ally saw her­self as an ath­lete. She says she “didn’t re­ally un­der­stand what it was all about,” when she ar­rived in Phuket. Fast for­ward just un­der a year and she’s be­come “ad­dicted” to her triathlon train­ing. The two ex­ude such pos­i­tive en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm, both in their train­ing and in their ev­ery day de­meanor, that Thanya­pura has asked them to be am­bas­sadors for the re­sort.

And, while they miss their fam­ily here in Canada, they’re lov­ing their new­found home too much to think about leav­ing. I men­tion Iron­man Mont-trem­blant and Au­drey’s eyes light up. “That might be the only thing to get me back to Canada,” she says.

Hope­fully we will get these guys back this way, even if it’s just to race. Ev­ery­one should have a chance to en­joy their pos­i­tive en­ergy.

ABOVE Sasha Ger­vais and Au­drey St. Lau­rent at the Thanya­pura Re­sort in Thai­land

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