Just the Facts

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same field as Olympians and world cham­pi­ons from sev­eral dis­ci­plines. Within a few min­utes, it was our turn to start, and the pace of the twoloop snow­shoe leg was a fast one. The course it­self was hilly, and among the age groupers, there were many words of en­cour­age­ment from both com­peti­tors and spec­ta­tors, par­tic­u­larly as we laboured up the hills.

The lay­out of the course was per­fect for spec­ta­tors, as both the snow­shoe loops and the ski loops pass through a cen­tral zone only steps away from the skat­ing oval. It was pos­si­ble for our daugh­ter to cheer us on while at the same time keep­ing an eye on the Elites as they sped through all three legs.

Be­fore we knew it, we were head­ing into tran­si­tion for T1 and on to the skat­ing oval. Most com­peti­tors were us­ing blades that clip on to skate-ski boots, although we did see a few in reg­u­lar skates. I had been con­cerned about keep­ing track of the 30 laps of the oval that would be re­quired to to­tal 11 kilo­me­tres, but needn't have wor­ried be­cause there is a large dis­play that shows each com­peti­tor's name and bib num­ber ev­ery five laps and then counts ev­ery lap start­ing at lap 25.

I learned the hard way that my train­ing on a long, flat sur­face (the Rideau Canal in Ot­tawa) had not pre­pared me for all of the left turns on the oval, and un­for­tu­nately an old an­kle in­jury flared up dur­ing the skate. I was done for the day, but I was able to cheer on Pe­dro dur­ing the ski.

Most com­peti­tors chose to use skate skis, how­ever ei­ther Clas­sic or freestyle is al­lowed dur­ing the ski leg. The three loops on the Plains of Abra­ham in­clude stun­ning views and a num­ber of hills that were tax­ing for the fi­nal leg of the Triathlon. As I watched the age-group ath­letes fin­ish­ing, it was clear that they all shared a deep feel­ing of ac­com­plish­ment in com­plet­ing this chal­leng­ing course.

I spoke to sev­eral ath­letes af­ter the race, ask­ing them what the ap­peal of this event is for them. Many com­peti­tors were sum­mer triath­letes, in­clud­ing con­tin­gents from sev­eral Que­bec-based triathlon clubs. For them, hav­ing a tough mid-win­ter event keeps them train­ing hard and sets them up for suc­cess in sum­mer triathlons. One com­peti­tor told me that he en­joys the group train­ing, and that he and his friends seek out frozen lakes to skate on and en­joy head­ing out for train­ing runs on snow­shoes and ski out­ings on the week­ends.

Other com­peti­tors are de­voted ath­letes in one win­ter dis­ci­pline who en­joy the ben­e­fits of cross-train­ing in the other two dis­ci­plines. Some even used the Que­bec ITU Win­ter Triathlon as a warm-up for the Pen­tathlon des Neiges race the fol­low­ing week­end, which adds run­ning and cy­cling to the mix.

What­ever the mo­ti­va­tion for par­tic­i­pat­ing, the Que­bec ITU Win­ter Triathlon is a world­class event with great ap­peal for both Elite and am­a­teur ath­letes. The 2018 event will be held on Feb. 25 and is well worth adding to your bucket list.

Just the Facts

High Peaks Cy­clery, 2733 Main St., Lake Placid, NY 12946 518-523-3764; brian@high­peakscy­clery.com; www.high­peakscy­clery.com

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