Race Preview: Victoria 70.3

There are ups and downs in a race season. You win some, you lose some. While I’d  all like to win all the time, sometimes things just do not workout. When the race is said and done, all you can do is try to walk away at least somewhat wiser than you were when you went in win or lose.

My race season has started off in a little bit of a valley. When that happens, you try to haul yourself out of it. Sometimes I rocket right up back up to the top. Sometimes I have to work at it a little bit more to get to where you want to be. I always want to think you could push for even just a little more.

Training also can have the some rollercoaster effect on you through the eyear. You kick training into high gear when you are far enough away from a race, then back off on the throttle before the race. The race is a big effort. Then you relax into a slightly slower pace before ramping up again. Training periods can be relatively sedate, even if they’re difficult. Races are much more important, so the effort associated with them is that more intense.

Now that I have put in some really good work at home I’m looking forward to my next race: Victoria 70.3.

Familiar Territory

Victoria is familiar territory for me. This will be my third consecutive year returning to this amazing race. In 2016, I won the race, taking the win on the bike. Last year, I finished second behind Marko Albert.

 2016

2016

Victoria is also familiar because I spent some time training in Victoria in 2012 with Simon Whitfield when he was preparing for the Olympics. I still have a number of contacts who live in and around Victoria and it is great to feel so connected to the area.

As I mentioned in my St. Anthony’s race report, there’s something comforting in returning to a familiar race. While a new race location can be exciting, a race where you’re already familiar with the course or the terrain can help me feel more confident leading up to the race. While it doesn’t necessarily offer an advantage, it can certainly help ground me in a positive mindset as I approach the race.

Of course, the only way to make a race “familiar” is by going through the excitement and nervousness of having it be a new race. It’s something like the “first day of school” jitters. I’ve been in plenty of races before, and I know exactly how it works. But that first day is always a “new” experience. Then, once that’s over, I can begin to settle into a routine.

Beautiful BC

I have spent some time training in BC when I was younger, and I also have raced the Victoria 70.3 twice now.

BC is a stunning province, which is probably one of the draws for me. The course really takes advantage of the natural surroundings. While many races present new and challenging terrain, there’s something about the Victoria race that just jives with an overall sense of BC as one of Canada’s most awesome natural landscapes.

Maybe it’s the mountains in the background or the Pacific Ocean or the dense Forest that make it so amazing. For me, there’s probably a lot to do with the fact the run course heads through the forest, offering up trails and forest we rarely get to experience during an Ironman event.

At home, I love doing trail running. Whenever I can, I try to find forests and trees, to get into the woods. I grew up in Caledon, which is fairly rural. I grew up running through the trees and swamp as a kid. I also spent time in Muskoka, surrounded by the lakes and trees.

Returning to the forest is important to me, probably because of these childhood experiences. Nature has always made me happy, so having the opportunity to get away from busy roads and manmade paths of asphalt and concrete is something I’m quite thankful for.

Canadiana

There’s also something intrinsically “Canadian” about the woods. If you close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine “Canada,” what stereotypes come to mind? If you say lumberjacks and deep woods, you wouldn’t be alone.

We’re definitely not the only country with boreal forest or deep woods, but we do heavily identify with it and nature. Quebec and Ontario have boreal forest in the north, and more deciduous forests in the south. New Brunswick has plenty of forest cover as well, and BC is home to a temperate rainforest and some enormous trees. In a country as diverse as Canada, it says something that the forest is the landscape so many of us conjure.

 2016

2016

It may be one reason I feel such an affinity for the Victoria 70.3. In some ways, it’s a race that embodies this sort of Canadiana I love.

Obviously, there’s another factor that makes the race feel particularly “Canadian”: the people who attend the race. While the race certainly draws competitors from all over the world, many of the pros on the start list are indeed Canadian. This year, you have myself, Cody Beals, Jeff Simons, Brent McMahn and more all on the start list. In past years, we had a great Canadian showdown between myself and Trevor Wurtele. And that is just some of the men! The list goes on and on.

There’s also the spectators. Canadian spectators are different in many ways from European spectators, from Australian spectators, even from American spectators. And, in Canada, I know many people are on my “home team,” my Canada-wide support network, are going to do their best to turn out or tune in to this race. In Victoria, I’ll likely be meeting up with an old university friend. I’ll also get to spend some time with my brother and many other friends.

Choosing to Race in Canada

Victoria 70.3 also kicks off a set of Canadian races for me. After this, I’ll be heading to Mont-Tremblant 70.3, across the country in Quebec, about three weeks later. Later in the season, I plan to run races in Penticton, BC, and then closer to home in Niagara Falls, ON. There may be another Canadian race or two on the docket as well.

Why choose to race in Canada? Triathlon in a sport that can take you to all corners of the globe, so some people might wonder why I choose as many races on Canadian soil as possible. The answer is simple: I’m a Canadian athlete and I love this country. I want to support events being held here, support Canadian fans who maybe can’t make it out to races in more far-flung locales. I want to show people there’s an avid Canadian fandom for triathlon. We’re maybe not as enthusiastic as the Germans or as large as the United States, but those of us who do love triathlon really love it.

 2016

2016

There are other considerations, of course: travel, costs, time, familiarity. Globetrotting can become wearisome and frustrating. Racing at home in Canada, where you know people, where you know you have support, is such a great feeling. It’s amazing to be able to travel around the world and represent Canada on the world stage, but it’s also nice to spend time here.

A Tough Race

Warm and fuzzy feeling aside, Victoria’s also stacking up to be a tough race. While it started off small, it’s been attracting more high-level competition in the last few years. I fully expect this year to be tougher than last year even. That’s a great thing in so many ways. Mont-Tremblant has grown to become a world-class event. BC’s Whistler Ironman is a long-running, world-renowned event. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have yet another world-class event on Canadian soil?

I think that would certainly say something about the level of enthusiasm Canadians have for triathlon. The talent level on the start line also showcases just how deep Canada’s triathlon talent goes. That’s why I’m looking forward to an even tougher race this year. As the race grows, it attracts more and more amazing athletes, which gives Canadian athletes like myself a chance to face off against the best of the best on our home turf. It’s one reason Mont-Tremblant is always so much fun. I’d love to see Victoria evolve into the equivalent of that—another event where Canadian talent can be proud to compete at home.

That said, a race is still a race, no matter where it takes place. I have to keep my head on straight and focus. I’m excited to see what I can do come Sunday morning.

 2017

2017