MONTREAL TO PHUKET
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