September 2006                                                  Box 17, St. Albert Post Office, 13 A Perron St., St. Albert, AB, T8N IN2

What’s Happening ??

All About STARRT

2006-2007 STARRT Calendar

Sept. & Oct.

Frank McNamara Cross Country Series

September 24

St. Albert Fall Challenge Half Marathon, 10K, 5K and Kids 1/2K

October 14

Banff Ekiden Relay

December 2

STARRT Christmas party

December 10

Christmas Card Run

January 1

New Year’s Day Run and Brunch


Order of Good Cheer

Fond Farewells…

At the end of July Allison Dennis, the evening swim coach, retired as our coach.  Allison has been the swim coach for the past 5 years and has made a great contribution to our club and our success. Please join me in thanking her for her dedication and wish her success in her future endeavors.

Glen Playfair, who coached our morning session, has also unfortunately had to leave us. Glen’s experience and technical expertise were instrumental in many of our athletes achieving personal bests in their races this year. Thanks Glen and good luck !

… & New Hellos

Liz Paton is joining us to coach the morning session. This group will definitely benefit from her triathlon experience and technical focus. Welcome Liz !

Greg Farrants is coaching the evening session until Lisa Graham starts in October. Lisa already has a plan developed so it should be a great year.

Christmas party – December 2

Mark your calendar ! The STARRT Christmas party will be held on December 2nd  in the hall of Holy Family Church on the corner of Sir Winston Churchill and Poirier. Cocktails at 6:30pm, followed by an simply scrumptious dinner.

Buy your tickets before November 15th and pay only $25. Price goes up to  $30 after that. Tickets can be purchased from Deb Digiuseppe, Cheryl Arcand-Kootenay or Liz Timleck.

Sturgeon Valley Half Marathon

The Sturgeon Valley Athletics Club is holding its St. Albert Fall Challenge Half Marathon, 10K, 5K and Kids 1/2K loop this Sunday, September 24, 2006 at Kingswood Park.

For more information check out their web site or you can enter online.

Sturgeon Valley has helped STARRT with many years of sponsorship, so if you can help them, they are also looking for volunteers !

Banff Ekiden: Saturday, October 14, 2006

Brett White is organizing teams for this year’s Ekiden Relay in Banff. So far, he has received limited interest and we need more runners.  So if you are interested – you can still register ! Please call Brett at 915-3824 or 732-8019.

If you don’t know about Ekiden, here is some more info or you can check out these websites - Banff Ski Runners & The Running Room  

A Unique Japanese-Style Relay

  • A paved and scenic 43-kilometre mountain course
  • Five relay legs, each starting and finishing at The Banff Centre. Leg lengths: 6.8 km, 12.8 km, 5 km, 5.7 km and 12.4 km
  • Great swag bags and draw prizes
  • Prizes in all six race categories
  • Great post-race Barbeque
  • Awards ceremony at The Banff Centre
  • Complimentary access for the day to the newly renovated Sally Borden recreational facility at The Banff Centre

Proceeds from The Ekiden 2006 support programming of the Banff Ski Runners, Banff's cross-country ski club.

Registration Deadline: Wednesday October 11th, 2006

Frank McNamara Cross Country Series

The Frank McNamara Cross Country Race Series are still on in the River Valley. Races start at 5:45pm and run every Wednesday night until October 25. Cost is $14 for the series or $2 drop-in fee for each race.


Sep 27

Whitemud Park - South of Fox Dr. under the Bridge




George Smith 25th Special - Kinsmen Park, West of LRT Bridge


Oct 11

McNally High-School - 84 St 103 Ave


Oct 18

 Keillor Road and Sask. Dr. (74 Ave on Sask. Dr.)


Oct 25

Hawerluk Park - Main Pavilion by the Lake



For more information check out Results Canada website

or call the TechShop AT 488-0854.

Our Mission

The St. Albert Roadrunners and Triathlon Club is a not-for-profit volunteer based organization whose belief that participation in running, swimming, biking and other athletic activities fosters a healthy lifestyle.

Our purpose is to promote this common interest in a supportive, social environment in St. Albert and surrounding area.

Our Meetings

STARRT meetings are be held on the last Monday of November (AGM), January, February, March, April, May, June & September.

Next Meeting

October 30, 2006 at 8pm

Economic Development Office

71 St. Albert Road

(First building on the east side of St. Albert Rd as you come in from Edmonton.  It is in the parking lot beside Superstore.)

 Please send agenda items by Wed, October 25,2006 to Bob Stoyand at bob.stoyand@shaw.ca or 458-7635

Our Executive

President:            Bob Stoyand


Vice President:    Coleen Bohning


Secretary:            Catherine Buhr


Treasurer:             Blake Bartlett  





Muffins Mornings

We get together for “Muffins” one Sunday a month, at about 11am. Bring a few treats, then sit back, relax, get to know each other, find training partners or just plain brag !


Oct. 22- Ian & Connie Ferguson,
                22 Leonard Drive
Nov. 19- Jan & Jerry Moran,
                2 Elm Point


Want to host? Let Bob Stoyand know or speak up at the next meeting. STARRT supplies a coffee urn, cups, coffee & sugar. We all bring goodies so you just put the coffee on!


Sunday Breakfast

Every Sunday between “Muffin Sundays”, come out for breakfast at Albert’s at Grandin Mall – we start arriving at about 11am.



Fall X-Country Quick Facts

Start Time: 5:45pm

Cost:          $ 2 per Race

Location: See schedule

Register:    Call Frank McNamara at 488-1786


                   Register at the Tech Shop 11419 - 104 Ave


                   Register at the race site 30min before start time.


The Results Issue !


This past season STARRT members have had amazing races all over Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and the world. Check out this results issue to see how they did.  (My apologies for any inadvertent omissions!)

To be a part of this elite group of Canadians that run, bike and swim is worth celebrating in itself – so congrats to all for a great season. You are AWESOME. High fives all around !!!!

First Times…

Congratulations to all who achieved significant “FIRSTS” this season.

First time doing a Half Ironman - all at Great White North - are Alison Zalasky, Andy Smith, Catherine Buhr, Cheryl Jereniuk, Ian Ferguson and Kathy King. WOW – what a feat !!

Christine Wronko ran her first marathon in Ottawa with Lorna Garratt. Lorna had some trouble and couldn’t finish but I am sure that won’t scare her away ! Helmi McHenry did her first marathon in Vancouver and then her first triathlon at Coronation. Anne Bradley had her first tri in VERY LONG TIME at the UofA Sprint in May. Ella Rokosh’s first was at the Summerside sprint were she placed 4th and Jennifer Gibbbens’ at our own St. Albert triathlon. Wendy Loar got her feet wet in the St. Albert Try-a-Tri along with Liz Timleck’s daughter Penelope.

Kevin Shopland finally broken his string of bad luck and injuries with an awesome day at Ironman Canada in Penticton. He completed the race in 11 hours and 9 minutes placing 7th in his age group ! Jane Ryziuk competed in her first Ironman in Couer d’Alene. Although a rough swim ended her race – I’m sure that won’t hold her back (next time ?).

Mike Kelly raced with the best the world had to offer for the first time at the world championships in Lausanne. (He was joined by John O’Kelly and Laurie Murray.)

… & First Places

STARRT athletes were racking up first place finishes all around the province and the world. Here’s how they faired….

Bob Burrows

Summerside Triathlon

Catherine Buhr

Summerside Triathlon

Catherine Roberts

Leduc Women's Only Triathlon

Cheryl Arcand-Kootenay

Edmonton ITU Sprint

Deborah Digiuseppe

UofA Sprint and Leduc Women's Only Sprint triathlons and Rotary Run for Life 10K

Frank Hayday

St. Albert Triathlon

Hugh Brown

Mountainview Sprint Triathlon in Hinton

Jeannette Atkinson

Cross Country Series-Rundle Park & Goldbar Park

Joe Garcia

Arbour Lake, Half Moon Lake, Edmonton ITU, Kelowna, Heritage Point & Lake Chaparral tri’s & Mother’s Day 10 K

Laurie Murray

Escape from Alcatraz, Edmonton ITU, Lake Chaparral, ITU World Championships in Lausanne

Lisa Graham

Summerside Triathlon

Liz Timleck

Coronation Triathlon

Mike Gerencser

Edmonton ITU

Orlagh O'Kelly

Mother’s Day 5 K

Rebecca Tocher

Women's Only Sprint in Leduc

Ryan Kohlenberg

First OVERALL at the Kelowna Apple Triathlon and 1st in his age group at St. Albert Triathlon

Wietske Eikelenboom

Half Moon Lake Tri, St. Albert Triathlon, Canada Day 15K Race and Moose is Loose Half Marathon

 More Podium Performances

We were on the podium again, and again and again…. Way to go !

Silver Medallists

Andre Lema

Cross Country Series-Rundle Park & Goldbar Park

Catherine Buhr     

Half Moon Lake Triathlon

Curtis Demery      

St. Albert Triathlon

Deborah Digiuseppe 

Mountainview & St. Albert Triathlons

Doug Sadler        

Summerside Triathlon

Gary Steinke       

ITU Edmonton

Geoff Ulrich

Rotary Run for Life 10K

Jane Ryziuk        

Summerside Triathlon

Jennifer Windsor   

ITU Edmonton Sprint

Joanne Miller      

Leduc Women's Only Triathlon

John O'Kelly       

St. Albert Triathlon

Kassandra Sharren  

St. Albert Triathlon

Kathy King         

ITU Edmonton Sprint

Kevin Shopland     

Half Moon Lake Triathlon

Laurie Murray      

Coronation Triathlon

Mike Gerencser     

Summerside Triathlon

Ryan Kohlenberg    

Arbour Lake, ITU Edmonton & Summerside

Stephen Bourdeau   

ITU Edmonton Sprint

Thomas Brown       

St. Albert KOS

Wietske Eikelenboom

ITU Edmonton

Tri Girls Rock (J. Graham, Cheryl Arcand-Kootenay, Cheryl Zee)

Great White North

Bronze Medal Performances

Catherine Buhr     

UofA Sprint Triathlon

Cheryl Arcand-Kootenay

Summerside Sprint

Donald Fairweather

St. Albert 10 Mile Road Race

Christina Mackinnon

Summerside Triathlon

Gary Steinke       

Summerside Triathlon

Helmi McHenry      

Leduc Women's Only Triathlon

Jeannette Atkinson

St. Albert 10 Mile Road Race

Jennifer Windsor   

Leduc Women's Only Triathlon

Joanne Miller      

ITU Edmonton Sprint Triathlon

John O'KELLY       

UofA Sprint Triathlon

Kassandra Sharren  

St. Albert KOS

Lisa Graham

Run for Life 10K

Lynda Sandmoen     

St. Albert Triathlon

Mark Brown         

St. Albert KOS

Mike Kelly         

ITU Edmonton

Penelope Dixon     

Leduc Women's Only Triathlon

Richard Roberts    

St. Albert Triathlon

Wietske Eikelenboom

St. Albert 10 Mile Road Race

A Summer at the Races

Races entered: over 30

Participation:  over 80 Athletes & Over 200 Entries

Age Groups:      Almost Every one

Medals:              75

Golds:                32

Silvers:               25

Bronze:              18

Provinces:         Coast to Coast

Countries:         At least 3

Amazing Clubs: only 1– STARRT!


Notable Performances

We all deserve high fives for the races we do but these individuals really shone in their accomplishments this season. Some may be too humble to mention them, but I’m not!

Catherine Buhr had 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishes at Summerside, Half Moon & UofA plus her first ˝ Ironman.

Deborah Digiuseppe came away with 3 golds and 2 silvers and qualified for 2007 Worlds in Hamburg at the ITU in Cornerbrook, Nfld

Joe Garcia was Mr. Gold with first places in all 7 races he entered.

Ian Laxdal qualified for 2007 Worlds in Hamburg at Kelowna and won his first medal – a silver in Lac du Bonnet, Mb (in less than optimum race condition!)

The “Kelly gang” (John O’Kelly & Mike Kelly, that is) represented Canada well at Worlds in Lausanne.

Laurie Murray was looking great with her wins at Lake Chaparral, Alcatraz & ITU Edmonton and a silver at Coronation but nothing touches her GOLD in the ITU World Championships in  Lausanne – a full 11 min. ahead of her closest competitor – we are so proud of STARRT’s World Champion !

Ryan Kohlenberg was first overall at The Kelowna Apple Triathlon with a sizzling fast time of 2:03:40 in addition to his win in St. Albert and 3 silvers.

RKevin Shopland & Ellen Ainsley completed Ironman Canada in Penticton – there are few words to describe the enormity of this accomplishment !

Wietske Eikelenboom finished her season with a silver and 4 golds, including the first woman overall at both the Canada Day 15K AND the Moose is Loose Half Marathon!


STARRT Sweeps ITU Sprint & Summerside Olympic

Our athletes were out in full force in triathlons across the province, We took away 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th place finishes in the Women’s  40-49 sprint at Edmonton ITU and the top 3 spots in Men’s 50-59 at Summerside.

Congratulations to Cheryl Arcand-Kootenay, Kathy King, Joanne Miller

Cheryl Jereniuk, Bob Burrows, Doug Sadler and Gary Steinke.


We also took away 13 medals at Edmonton ITU, 10 at Summerside Triathlon, 9 at our own St. Albert Tri ands the STARRT women ruled at the Leduc Women’s Only with 7 medals !


Gators on the Rise

Mark and Thomas Brown, the Gator kids of Hugh Brown now have 3 Junior Elite races under their belts. They raced Junior Elite in Edmonton & Kelowna and placed 3rd & 4th at Alberta Summer Games. Curtis Demery joined them in Kelowna and Kassandra Sharren raced Junior Elite at Edmonton ITU. Thomas, Mark and Kassandra also placed 2nd, 3rd and 2nd respectively at St. Albert KOS.


Anyone Missing ?


My apologies if I missed anyone’s achievements this summer. If I did, please let me know and we will make sure we sing your praises next time – don’t be shy !


 Kananaskis 2006K-100

From: Dave Wilson

Once again for the most part we had beautiful weather for the K100 Relay this year. Ian Ferguson, Cheryl Arcand-Kootenay & myself experienced perfect temperatures on the first 3 legs & came very close to our projected times. I had underestimated the hill factor on leg 3 but managed to survive. Man, the scenery on that leg is unbelievable! Trudy Cooper who had been camping at Longview made her debut by tackling leg 4, one of the tougher legs in extreme heat. Trudy, a newer runner in the club was right on her time & looked great at the finish. Bob Burrows completed leg 5 in amazing time despite running the toughest leg in the relentless heat. Val had a great run on leg 6 shaving off time from her previous runs on that leg. The leg is straight down & extremely punishing on the knees but didn't seem to faze Val! Donna Goergen made leg 7 look easy & would have happily run leg 8 as well. It was obvious Donna was totally enjoying herself despite the hills & heat, smiling through out. Her enthusiasm was catching! Liz Timleck who is becoming a regular participant in our relays did a super job on leg 8. She was a little disappointed with her time but shouldn't have been given the extreme temperatures. Laurie & Andy fought through legs 9 & 10 which are, with leg 5, the toughest legs on the course. The cross country trails inundated with hills didn't stop these 2 although Andy found that the course lived up to it's reputation. I knew he would appreciate the beer waiting for him at the end.

All in all everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves! Andy's bagpipes are always a big hit with all runners lucky enough to be passing by while he performs. Nothing buoys up a tired runner like the sounds emanating from the pipes!

Those of us who partied with the Mill Creek runners the night before the race were amazed by the number of teams they had entered. We had a great time swapping stories with them. With the number of runners in our club I'm hoping we can field more teams next year. There's no rivaling the camaraderie & scenery experienced in the Kananaskis!


From: Ian Ferguson

After gathering and spending Friday night in High River the team headed west for an early start in Longview. I was running Leg one. Since our team was a “fun team” we got the joy of the 6AM first wave start. This meant getting up before the sunrise - and the sun gets up early in June. After arriving into Longview with about 10 minutes till start time I didn't have much time to get nervous. It was very cool at the start, only just above freezing with the sun still behind the hills surrounding Longview. The start horn went off and about 100 of us started the first wave of the 2006 edition of the Kananaskis relay. As I raced westward there was only the slightest breath of a headwind. I know from past years some competitors have faced strong headwinds on the first half of the relay. It's always an awe inspiring run to run into the mountains on a beautiful crisp clear Alberta morning. Stage 1 is fairly flat with only one real rise, but fairly long at over 18km. I had a most enjoyable early morning run and tagged of with Cheryl after a little more than 1˝ hours. As often happens at Kananaskis, the day turned out to be hot and sunny and some of the later runners really suffered in the heat. Andy provided musical inspiration to most of the team with his bagpipe playing.  Running in these relays means you will get outstanding support form the rest of your team, thank you to my support. I'm always impressed by our stage 5 runner who has to face the climb up Highwood pass, thanks Bob. Some of the team spent Saturday night in Canmore before returning home on Sunday. My thanks also goes to Captain Dave Wilson who always organizes a great team.


K-100 Team

Captain Dave Wilson

Ian Ferguson

Cheryl Arcand-Kootenay

Trudy Cooper

Bob Borrows

Val Braiden

Donna Goergon

Liz Timleck

Laurie Murray

Andy Smith

Andy, Bob, Ian Liz, Laurie, Dave & Val

Donna  handing off to Liz


Bob, Andy, Ian, Val ,Donna & Liz


Val looking great !


Geer Geeks


From Jerry & Jan Moran:

One of our sons is looking for a “commuter “ bike that he can use for traveling to university and around town. Do you think you could put out a request to members through our membership distribution list to see if anyone has such a bike. If anyone has such a bike, they could e-mail me at janjer2@telus.net or phone 458-9115.



10 Miler Shirts for Sale:

There are 2006 10 Miler race shirts - long sleeve technical T’s left over – They are for sale for $10 – mostly large sizes. Please contact Ian Laxdal at ilaxdal@telus.net or 460-1656 is you want to buy one.




Have something to post in Gear Geeks ?

Send it to Joanne @ jpgraham@telus.net


Training Corner

STARRT has programs for swimming, biking & running. Join us for coaching, motivation and support !  Please remember, for insurance purposes, you must be an ATA member to participate in the swim & spinning programs.


Coached by Kevin Harrison, the run program meets every Wednesday at 6pm, at Fountain Park Recreation Centre, at the cafeteria. This program is provided at no cost to club members. Thank you Kevin !

Group runs are every Sunday at 8:30 a.m. also leaving from Fountain Park Recreation Centre, meet in the front lobby.


Coached by Swim Alberta certified coaches, Lisa Graham (evening - starting in October) & Liz Paton (morning), the swim programs are:

Mornings: Monday, Wednesday & Friday, 6 – 7am

            Evenings: Tuesday & Thursday 8:05-9:05pm & Saturday 9-10am

Program fees are $50 per month.


The bikes are parked for the season but spin classes are starting in November.

Spin Training

Spinning starts again in November !

Coached by Tracy Shearer, an ABA Level 2 certified coach, spinning is held Mondays, at 8pm at Sir Alexander MacKenzie School, 61 Sir Winston Churchill Ave. 


Who to Call

Running:      Kevin Harrison



Swim (PM): John O’Kelly



Swim (AM): Joanne Graham



Spinning:    Ian Laxdal



Bike:             Joe Garcia



Club Communications:

                Joanne Graham



Community Relations:

                Valerie Braiden




                Catherine Buhr



All about You

What did you do on your summer “Vacation”?

From: Ian Ferguson

For most of us Half Moon Lake was the first open water triathlon of the year.  Several club members took part in this race.  Notable results were medals for Wietske Eikelenboom, Joe Garcia, and Kevin Shopland.  The water was cool, the running fast and a good time was had by almost all.  John O'Kelly flatted on his new bike and did not finish.  This race has always been a low key fun and well organized race.


From: Anne Bradley - Goldeye Lake-A Triathelete’s Paradise

Goldeye Lake is a pristine lake located along the Thompson Highway just outside and 8km west of Nordegg.  We camped overnight after watching a glorious sunset on the lake.  We awoke the next morning to the sound of loons and decided this was our invitation to swim across the lake from Goldeye Centre’s dock. We were the only humans in the water. (The lake is stocked with trout and only electric boats are permitted.) The 4.5 km loop around the lake is perfect for a run. Many groups use this area to begin a cycling tour to Saskatchewan Crossing.  Since we are relatively new to Alberta and Canada, we are always on the lookout for hidden lakes for swimming and kayaking.  So please don’t tell too many people about his place.


From: Helmi Mchenry

I have learned to be careful with chatting about my races as many people can’t do these things due to illness or bad injuries. Anyway, it is nice to share sometimes without feeling bad for any reason. I had a great athletic year!

It started out with my first marathon in May in Vancouver with a time of 4hr12. At the end of May I did my very first Triathlon at Coronation and have done two more after that! My best results I think were at the Leduc Sprint where I came first in my swim heat and did very well in my age division. I also tried the Olympic distance at the ITU Hawerlak Triathlon and managed to stay under 3 hours with 2:56 and came 10th in my age group. I now have an inflamed periformis due to long time stress on that part and surrounding tissues etc. which may stop me from doing the St. Albert sprint triathlon but with some Advil I may just finish up my year with that one. I am very grateful for the support from many athletes in STARRT and especially to Allison, my swim coach, who must have short hair now because of the grey hair she grew in frustration with me and my annoying elbow.



From: Christine Wronko

I completed my first marathon in Ottawa on May 28, 2006 in a time of 4:47:43!



From: Hugh Brown

To all the people who were out cheering me (and others I’m sure!) at the ITU race.  I want to thank you with all my heart, as I had the worst race of my life, after bonking on the run.  It was your cheering, and the other runners who passed me and encouraged me, who kept me going, and receiving a final time rather than a DNF.  I don’t know the number of times I thought of just quitting, but you kept me going. THANKS, Hugh



From: Jean Minchau

Just a note to let you know that I am missing not only the training but also the entire swim team. 

We got to Owen Sound at the end of February on a Thursday and on Monday, with our furniture somewhere between St Albert and Owen Sound, my husband got a posting message sending him to Ottawa at the end of March.  That’s OK -the house we had rented was filthy and took me the first week to scrub clean, the basement filled with water the second week, the yard took me another week to rake and then, to top it all off, we had a small influx of wasps.  

We purchased a home in Stittsville in June and we've finally settled in - the painter just left two days ago, the garden shed, central vac, garage door opener are in, the landscaping is well on its way - I've been busy busy, spending a lot of money - much to my husband's dismay. 

Training is going well - we live 2 minutes from the TransCanada Trail, so there's no excuse not to run.  Compared to St Albert, this place is FLAT, with not a hill in sight.  I've started spinning classes (the instructors are a pleasant mix of relentless taskmaster and cheerleader) and will be swimming with a Masters Team in Nepean in the Fall. 


Alcatraz Adventures…

From: Mike Gerencser

Alcatraz was by far my best race. 25th out of 300 in my age group and 130th out of about 1600. I did finish first at ITU Edmonton but it was a small field. I qualified for worlds but I turned it down. GWN was a PB but I was not at my best at that race as I was ill. (5:03:50) 94th over-all - 37 out of 119 in my age group.


From: Carolyn Murray 

Hi Everyone, Well I am now back in Canada after my longest trip to date.

I started off with a short flight to San Fran where I met my mom and we both competed in the Accenture Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. The day couldn’t have been better, My mom and I both had great races. I placed 4th Overall Female (Pro) and mom won her age group by over 20min!!

That race is definitely on the favourites list and always brings many of the Top Triathletes around the world. My tip for this race is that you need to do it twice...at least to know what to expect. Those of you who have done will know what I mean.





Three amigos Half Moon Lake: Ian Ferguson, Joe Garcia & John O’Kelly


We Love to Hear from You !

There are bragging spots in every newsletter, so let us know what you are doing, what you have done, or what events are coming up….

Email or call Joanne Graham with any of your thoughts.

e-mail:    jpgraham@telus.net

phone:   460-1656


























Escape from Alcatraz


the start…

Laurie Murray on the podium

Carolyn & Laurie Murray

Carolyn accepting her medal


Kevin Shopland at Ironman Canada


From: Ann Shopland


Editors note: Ann forwarded this story from Kevin & after I read it, I thought you might appreciate hearing about his whole journey – I hope you enjoy the read.


It’s tough to know where to start, in the whole scheme of things the actual race is such a small part of doing Ironman.  But, to put things into perspective, the swim start of my first triathlon 12 years ago was in the same place as the Ironman swim start.  I’ve dreamt about doing this race since then and after the “luck” I’ve had the past few years with accidents, I was beginning to think that getting to an Ironman start line wasn’t something I’d ever do.  As it turns out, earlier this summer I was reminded that I’m actually one of the lucky ones.  A former teammate and training partner of mine during my UofC days was killed while cycling just outside of Cochrane in July.  Needless to say, this race meant a lot to me for a lot of different reasons.


First off, a HUGE thanks to everyone who was there for me on race day, you guys were nothing short of amazing.  I must’ve had one of the largest cheering sections at the race. I think the final count was over twenty people complete with signs, shirts, and hats.  I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am for everything my relatives in Australia (Bill, Susan, Billie, and Georgia) did for me during my time there as well.  The opportunity to go down and basically live like a pro athlete for two months was an experience I’ll never forget. Training down there really gave me the chance to get healthy again as well as get back to actually enjoying the sport after these past few years. So, thank you to all of you once again, having all of your support meant the world to me.


Short story – 3.8km Swim, 180km Bike, 42.2km run, 11:09:15 total time.  I guess this would probably sound a little twisted to most, but I had an absolute blast.  For a first crack at that distance just getting through the race was the only concrete goal I had so everything else was a bonus.  The whole day seemed like a time warp, definitely didn’t feel anywhere close to 11hrs.


Long Story:


The Swim - I had planned on lining up at the start towards the left hand side so I’d stay out of a bit of the mess that is an Ironman start.  Not having a good position when the gun goes basically leaves you with an experience equivalent to climbing in a giant washing machine filled with rocks.  A kick in the face or punch in the head just isn’t the way anyone wants to start a day…especially when they’ve got 140.6 miles of racing ahead of them.  A few minutes before the start it became pretty apparent that finding a starting position to the outside of the main pack wasn’t much of a secret.  Most people were positioning themselves far left or far right so this left a bit of a void right in the middle, I ended up taking my spot at the front almost dead center on the start line.  I was either going to be one of the smartest of the 2,375 starters….or I was about to look like a giant ass!  The strangest part about the start was that I was the calmest and most relaxed I have ever been at a race start…this with thousands of people watching and a helicopter circling overhead.  Fortunately things worked out fairly well and I exited the water after a fairly uneventful swim right at the hour.  Pacing an open water swim that length is a bit of a challenge because you can’t gauge things by your heart rate monitor or timing splits so it’s a bit of a guessing game.  As far as effort goes I definitely went on the easy side of what I was capable of but for a first Ironman you just don’t take any chances.  Tactically I probably could have been a little smarter but I exited feeling strong so that’s all that matters.


The Bike - I was fairly confident that I had a good pacing and nutrition strategy for the bike so I just stuck with the plan.  I took out the first 40km very easy to prevent blowing up later in the day and to focus on getting in tons of calories before the stomach got a chance to start yelling expletives at me.  Holding back at the beginning was one of the hardest parts of the ride.  Sitting up and cruising when you’re feeling great and guys are blowing by like you’re on a tricycle is tough to do.  For a non drafting race, there were some pretty tight packs riding by as well, who knows how many of these guys got caught by the draft marshals but its tough to swallow when you’re following the rules and packs of 20 guys with aero helmets and disc wheels are riding by like it’s a Tour de France team time trial.  I knew the early pacing would start to pay off though when the first major climb started up Richter Pass in Osoyoos, so I just kept to the plan and watched the parade of morons ride by.  Richter Pass was easily the best part of the ride, this was where I bumped up the effort a bit and got to pass all the guys trying to be heroes in the first 60km.  Riding past the big groups was absolutely hilarious, these guys had another 140km to go and they already looked like death.  I had this huge urge to drop my shorts and moon them all as I passed, but it was too much of a sunburn risk with my white cheeks!  I settled for a stupid grin and worked my way through pack after pack of guys who were going to have a very long day.  Got through the tough rolling section and to the special needs station at the 120km mark and grabbed the water bottle I had filled with two bottles of boost.  I used this as my nutrition for the rest of the ride rather than the gels and bars and that turned out to be my big mistake for the day.  Boost had worked great for me in training but for whatever reason it just didn’t work well on race day.  The boost I had for breakfast had settled okay but this bit was very nearly ushered back out of my stomach.  I ended up slowing up quite a bit because I couldn’t stop burping and the rest of the ride was a bit of a struggle.  The climb up to Yellow Lake kicked my ass just as it had when I rode the course in July but then I started to feel the power coming back and rode in the last 20km fairly strong.  Leaving town and the climbs up Richter and Yellow Lake were an absolute blast, the road is just packed with spectators.  The climb up to Yellow Lake was like a Tour de France mountain stage where there was really only room for guys to ride single file because so many people had crowded onto the course….including guys wearing wigs, grass skirts, and coconut bras?


The Run - Coming off the bike the legs were feeling pretty good but I could tell right away that the stomach wasn’t going to let me have an easy day.  Tried to get myself into it and really fought to get through the first mile.  As I went by my cheering section, Linds ran with me for a few strides and I told her I was probably going to be closer to 5 hours for the run because of the stomach issues.  After that I figured the best option was to start walking to try and calm things down a bit and just focus on staying hydrated.  I was walking for quite a while and eventually added in some short bits of running then walking through the aid stations and taking in as much as I could.  I layed off the Gatorade and just went with water and coke at the aid stations until my stomach finally settled down and I was starting to pace off of a few other people and eventually worked my way up to a decent pace.  By the time I hit the turnaround I was feeling great and everyone had driven out there to see me again.  I began working my way past lots of other runners and at one point another athlete said “great pace man, you’re looking awesome,” took me a second before I realized that it was last years third place overall pro.  That just shows how difficult it actually is to put together a solid race, last year racing to a podium spot, this year having to resort to walking a big chunk of the run course.  I continued with the same routine the rest of the way back with running strong between aid stations then walking through the station to get water, coke, and ice.  Managed to spot and yell out to a few other athletes I knew who were working their way towards the turnaround point when I was heading back into town.  The great thing about this race is it doesn’t matter if you go 9hrs or 17hrs, everyone goes through the same thing and there’s a lot of mutual respect between athletes.  I knew it had to get a little more difficult at some point and sure enough I started to get little twinges in the calves and quads.  Not enough to slow me down at first and the walk breaks at the aid stations were easing things off.  The last 5 miles were an absolute battle, I would run until the legs would completely seize then I’d have to stop and walk for a while.  Trying to start running again was excruciatingly painful but after a few strides I would be feeling okay again until a couple hundred metres down the road when they’d seize up.  I never thought I’d be so happy to be in so much pain! At this point I was back into the town so I was grinning from ear to ear.  Ran past my cheering section again for a few sweaty high fives and then back along the out and back section along the lakeshore to the finish line.  I basically had a brutal opening and closing 10km but the middle 20km I was flying so managed to get through the run in 4:20, much better than what I thought I’d do at the beginning of the run.  I thought I would have this perfect memory afterwards of the finishing chute but I think all I really saw was the finish line, the brain had been on auto drive for the past 11hrs so there wasn’t much thinking going on.  Haven’t seen my finish line photo yet but I’m guessing my face shows what the release of five years of frustration looks like.

The Aftermath – The legs weren’t feeling too hot for a few days!  I definitely took some lessons out of the race but I can’t be anything less than happy with how the day went.  Could’ve been faster but I also could have been hours slower.  And, I enjoyed myself enough that this was definitely just my first Ironman.  Next summer is a break but it won’t be too long before I’m back sleeping on the grass overnight in Penticton waiting to register.



Kevin Shopland at Ironman Canada