Friday, 16 December 2011

Muskoka Long Course

Trisport Canada, which is owned by World Triathlon Corporation, released their 2012 series schedule this week, and the biggest change was the replacement of the Muskoka Long Course race with a 5150 event.

The race has been run at two unique distances since 1996 (2K swim, 55K bike, and a 15K run until 2009, 13K run in 2010 and 2011).  Check out this impressive roster of athletes who have won this race:

Simon Whitfield in 2005 and 2006 (Olympic gold and silver medalist)
Karen Smyers in 2001 (Two-time ITU world champion, Ironman world champion)
Craig Alexander in 2007 (Three-time Ironman world champion, two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion)
Lisa Bentley in 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2009 (11 time Ironman champion, 3rd place Ironman world championships)
Miles Stewart in 2004 (ITU world champion)
Samantha McGlone in 2005 and 2007 (Ironman 70.3 world champion, 2nd place Ironman world championships, Ironman champion)
Dave Harju in 2001 (Two-time Ironman champion)
Tereza Macel in 2000, 2004 and 2006 (Four-time Ironman champion, 4th place Ironman world championships)
Jasper Blake in 2000 (Ironman champion) 
Melissa Spooner in 1997 (Two-time Ironman champion, 4th place Ironman world championships)
Jamie Cleveland in 1999 (Ironman champion)
Christine Jeffrey in 2010 (4th place XTERRA world championships)
Mark Bates in 1997 (4th place ITU world championships, 2nd place Ironman Canada, 2nd place Pan Am Games)

In addition to these winners of the Muskoka race, past participants included Luc van Lierde (Ironman world champion and Kona course record holder from 1996 to 2011), Luke McKenzie (five-time Ironman champion), Bryan Rhodes (four-time Ironman champion), Tom Evans (two-time Ironman champion) and Tara Norton, Donna Phelan, Paolina Allan and Sheri Fraser, all Canadian long-course veterans who've placed 2nd overall at Ironman races.  Oh, and don't forget local Muskoka hero Nat 'Dream Crusher' Faulkner.

I raced the Long Course three times - in 2008 as a qualifier for Ironman Canada, in 2009 while battling a rib injury, and in 2011 where I had a 'breakthrough' race - swam as expected, was able to ride with former pro Richard Pady for almost the entire 55K bike ride, then ran a 45:00 13K run which equalled Wolf Guembel's run course record.
Burning it up on the run course in Huntsville
While I'll miss the unique race distance, I'm actually excited for the Olympic distance race.  When Sean Bechtel won this year, he noted on his blog that he won $250, versus $2,500 that he took home for coming third four years earlier.  The prize money for the Muskoka 5i50 is $3,000 for the winner and pays five deep (down to $500).  There's a lack of competitive Olympic distance races in Ontario (Rob Allen's Cornwall Triathlon is probably the most competitive), and I feel it's the distance I'm most suited to, so I'm planning on being there on July 22nd to test myself against the big boys!

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