Just the Facts
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
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