The first time I did this race, it was in 1985. It was not a fantastic performance on my part, but the race lived up to its reputation for being well organized and supported, so I wanted to come back and do it better. I remember coming off the bike with Kevin McKinnon and hammering the first part of the run with him, all the while he kept saying “This is too fast. This is too fast.” To which I replied “then slow down.” Which he did. A few kilometers later, I was blown and he ran by me. I can only imagine what was going through his mind, but if it was me, I would have been thinking something along the lines of “told you so…”
In 1986, I had an infected blister on my heel, so I was kept out. I went anyway and watched my friend and training partner, Marc Pelletier, win.
In 1987, all was good and I did indeed improve on my performance with one of my most memorable wins. After that, I really wanted to repeat the feeling. It took 16 years for that to happen, but I eventually did it. I did it again two years after that, and another two years after that for my fourth win at K-Town. Along the way, Nigel Gray and Mike Neil notched 4 wins each for themselves. I had several 2nd and 3rd place finishes, not coincidentally behind Mike and Nigel, but never in the same race.
2013 was different—they were both entered. Mike had retired in 2011 but looked very fit. He was coming out of retirement for the 30th Anniversary of the race. Nigel is always very fit. In my mind, my chances of anything other than finishing 3rd were slim to none. And then of course, there were the other 10 guys that could beat me to consider—Sean Betchel, Stephen Cann, Olivier Mouyau, Nic Courville, Derek Lantz (winner from the year before) and a few other guys on the elite rack I did not know.
Race morning dawned and it was beautiful. Set up in the t-zone was as easy as ever, and very calm and quiet.
I did notice that every 10min or so, the wind was a bit stronger. At first it was a light breeze, but eventually, the wind was quite strong. This would affect the swim and the ride. I figured it would be a strong tailwind on the way out towards Gananoque, and ugly on the way back. Hello little chain ring!
I walked around the t-zone and wished everyone I knew good luck, then donned my new Zone3 Race Performance Wetsuit, ironically no relation to Zone3sports. (it seemed a match too good to be true to pass up). The suit fit pretty snugly. Wanting to wear this new addition to my equipment list would ensure I never gain another pound.
At 7:50 we were allowed in the water to warm-up. Olivier barreled through and dove in, saying something about “I beat Rick!”. I followed and immediately the arms felt good. The legs felt good. The lungs felt good. It was going to be a good day.
I swam out to the first buoy and checked out the waves. They were going to be a factor, but not as bad as some years.
I swam back in and lined up. My trusty good luck charm Paul McAneney tracked me down and settled in beside me as he has done for 5 or 6 races now.
At 8 sharp, the horn sounded and off we went.
God, I cannot believe how fast some people start. I’m not slow, but I think I was about 40th to the first buoy, 20th to the second buoy, and then I don’t know. I had no idea how many people I passed or if I had been passed during the rest of the swim.
As it turns out, I was 6th out of the water, about 30sec behind Stephen Cann and right with Nigel who beat me out of transition by about 30sec. Sean Betchel killed us and was 4min up the road. Fish!
Nigel was a man possessed on the bike, riding away from me, and catching Sean by the end of the ride closing down the 4min deficit.
I, on the other hand, rode scared—I knew Olivier and Nic had seriously outsplit me in Tremblant 70.3, and I did not want that to happen again, or as badly, so I pushed hard and was vigilant about keeping the pressure on. On the way out, my speeds were high and as I neared the turnaround, I saw Sean, then Nigel, then Stephen, then…the turnaround! I was in 4th. Mike was behind me for the first time ever! Yippee.
I made the turn and headed for home. The chasers did not seem too far behind and I figured they would catch me by the end of the ride. I vowed to myself that I would not make it easy for them to catch me. I pushed hard and to my surprise, my legs came around and actually began to feel better and better. The wind I had anticipated did not affect things as I thought it would, so my speeds were similar on the way back as they were on the way out.
At the end of the ride, I was satisfied the chasers never did catch me.
I posed the Speed Concept at the end of the ride and took off on the run in 4th.
And then I saw Nigel walking back towards the finish. His calf was bugging him, so he wisely pulled the plug with IM Tremblant just two weeks away.
Alrighty, then, I was in 3rd, and according to my Nancy, Stephen was only about 1:15 ahead of me. I have outrun Stephen before, and he has outrun me before, so I pushed hard to close the gap on him by the run turnaround. If only the ghost of McKinnon were nipping at my heels whispering “This is too fast. This is too fast”, I may have listened this time, but probably not.
I ran by Hula Girl at the first aid station. She seemed surprised to see me ahead of her old coach Mike, but she was supportive just the same.
I ran through every aid station and passed on the actual aid so as to gain precious seconds on my prey.
When I was at the 6k mark, Sean was already out and back, so he was 2k ahead of me. Ouch! My ego took a knock.
My strategy of passing on the aid was working: I closed the gap to Stephen down to about 20sec at the turnaround. I realized, though, that I was getting a bit parched and there were two guys running towards me really well. One was a relay. The other was not. I began to worry for my 3rd place.
In almost every Kingston Triathlon I have done, at around the 8k mark, I have been passed by a relay runner. It has always been superman Steve Boyd. Until this year.
Yes, I was passed at the 8k mark as per usual, but as he was passing, I quipped “It’s usually Steve Boyd that passes me here.” To which the passer replied “I’m his replacement.” Fair enough.
I began to tire a bit and to lose ground on Stephen. I was not going to get him unless something drastic happened to him, which was unlikely.
At 12k, the other fast running guy, Derek Lantz, passed me asking how far up the road the next guy was. “45sec or so.” “Damn,” he said, and then continued on his way.
It turns out, he caught Stephen at 14k and finished a great 2nd place. Stephen was 3rd and I hung on to 4th. Drained, but very pleased.
Once again, the K-Town Triathlon lived up to its reputation and my expectations for a well organized, competitive, and fun event were confirmed.
Thanks to the Race Committee for the last 30 years, and to all the volunteers how help make this such a great race.