The Challenge event in St Andrews did not disappoint as #myfirstChallenge, a hashtag devoted to those trying this brand of middle and full distance triathlon races around the world for the first time. Although I have a bucketload of half distance triathlon finishes, I have never participated in a Challenge Family event but after this race it will not be my last.
The race was held as far across Canada as I could go. Please consult this map to see where I went. However, flying out of Victoria and then in to Saint John it looked almost like we had turned around… only the trees were different J St Andrews on the Sea is kind of like cruising through Oak Bay.. if you are from Victoria.
Green is Victoria- Blue is St Andrews.
Anybody coming from mountain bike racing or XTERRA would feel right at home at these events. It has all the infrastructure and organization of a top notch professional event but it still remains relaxed and inclusive. All of the energy, friendliness, and beauty in Challenge St Andrews has to be experienced before you scoff at the superlatives. It was simply an amazing and special event.
For a town of 1500 to hold a race of this size is amazing. I think long after my pro career has finished someone is going to talk about missing racing Challenge St Andrews because it sold out in 15 seconds and I will be that wrinkled up old leatherback saying, “Yeah? I raced that back in ’15. I remember a salt water lake and some fireman who ran around the course with a 35 pound air tank.” Memories, thanks for that Fireman Rob.
I keep saying that a professional career has to be fun outside of winning and I can’t stress enough to age group athletes that it is even more important to have that perspective when you balance racing with life. This is all about having fun. It is hard to balance a relationship, a family, a career and your goals if you don’t enjoy every minute of time in your life you have devoted to pursuing your goals. It isn’t just about winning or a personal best.. it is about experiencing life with passion and inspiration. Make it count and make it memorable. Events like this create the memories that last longer than your results and I appreciate that at this point in my career more than ever. Having the opportunity to race at a stunning tourist destination, with the most welcoming hosts and an entire race field full of smiling faces was just such a pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me. It was so special.
On behalf of the pros I want to extend another huge thank you to all of the volunteers who put so much time into this race. I recognize that it is not a big place and a lot of people came “from away” to make the race happen. We can’t be professionals without races and we can’t have races without volunteers. I appreciate so much the opportunity that you have presented to all of us.
Kind of like running along Dallas Road, no?
Winning my first Challenge race doesn’t hurt to make it memorable though. I had my work cut out for me as Kirsten and Jillian really stuck it to me in the first half of the race. I was pleased when my legs came around about halfway on the bike and I started moving to the front and held my lead through the run. It was great to share the podium with Kristin Marchant, Jillian Peterson, Charisa Wernick and Caroline St-Pierre. I would like to throw up a huge high five to Taylor Reid for winning his first ever professional half distance event although this wasn’t really his first win because he did win the men’s race in Saskatoon last year… he just couldn’t beat all of the women J Such a bright future in non- drafting for that guy.
Contrary to the race reports, I did not have the fastest swim. The four hour time change meant I was waking up at midnight to race at 3 am so it is lucky I got my Blueseventy on without zipping it up backwards. I was dropped off of good feet to follow about 200m from the start and proceeded to plow my own way through the water to T1. I am 0 for 4 good swims on the East coast now. I am sure my first four week block of real Ironman training didn’t help me leap from the gates either. Exiting the swim I stopped, took off my wetsuit and put on shoes to run the 400 m up the hill because my tootsies are a bit sensitive at the moment. With Ironman in a few weeks I opted for very slow transitions and safety for the feet so I was doling out time like a referee on Burrows. I gave over two minutes to the leaders between the swim and transition before the bike. I need to tighten that up in the next few weeks. On to the bike, the sluggish start continued as my first 45kms was fairly slow and I felt like I wasn’t gaining any time but by about 30kms I could see they were coming back every 14km stretch of the loop at the highway.
On the second half of the bike I woke up a bit more and got going. I focused on my Powertap Joule to keep my cadence up and managed to get a nice even split coming into transition despite it being mostly downhill into T2. I had 3.5 minutes to second at the first time check so I ran calm and controlled. My running has been strong so I figured I had lots in the tank if someone made a late charge. I heard my lead had extended to 4:15 by the 13km mark so I put it in cruise control for the last 8kms and enjoyed my run with the male pro I caught out there named Pierre who kept chatting to his fans in French J. Coming up the hill for the last 2kms there was some confusion as I was told I needed to serve a penalty. It wasn’t a big deal as I had plenty of time left in the lead so the win was mine. I could relax and enjoy my first challenge race with a WIN! So my run split wasn’t that fast but it also wasn’t as slow as reported- but the swim was also not 23 minutes J
Spending my weekend with the Tanners was great- Adam Tanner was a gentleman and amazing host to Jillian Peterson and I. What an incredible young man who I want to wish the best of luck in maritime college in Newfoundland. The logistics could not have been much easier, given the entire race venue and course was all organized around the Algonquin Resort which was around the corner from where I was staying. It took me two minutes to get to transition and the same to the swim start, the awards and the pub….all was quite convenient.
Scott and Tressa
Thank you so much to Scott and Tressa Bevington for inviting me to their incredible race. Thank you to co-race directors Garth and Helena Miller for everything. Thank you to the town of St Andrews and all of the volunteers for putting on a world class event and inviting the professional field to such a fun and exciting race. Thank you to the RCMP for making the roads safe, thank you to the 100 kids (100!!!) who absolutely lit it up in the kids splash n dash race that made my Saturday so much fun, thank you to the Algonquin Resort and Kingsbrae gardens for the amazing venue, thanks to all of Challenge St Andrews’ sponsors and finally thank you to the pro and amateur field for the fun day at the races. It was a pleasure to share the course with you all.
I created this little video so you could get a glimpse of what Challenge St Andrews is all about. I am sure that putting this race in your calendar would be your best decision of 2016. I loved it so, so much.
Thanks so much to my sponsors that make this adventure as a triathlon pro a reality: thanks to Trek Bikes, Bontrager, Powertap, Champion System, Rudy Project North America, Shimano Triathlon, Blueseventy, Sci Con Bike Travel Bags, Frontrunners Victoria, Asics, Synergy Wellness, Markus Blumensaat, and Procity Trek Store.
I would like to leave you with this quote that I love: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou. Thank you Challenge St Andrews for how you made me feel this past weekend. I won’t forget it.