Mt. Tremblant Half IronMan, by Paul Hutchinson.

To give you some background, I am a long time runner who has dabbled in duathlons and even did a few short triathlons years ago when we lived in California. But I have typically avoided swimming as a form of exercise.  Last October, Claudia mentioned to me in conversation that they were putting on a 70.3 at Mt Tremblant in June. As we talked more, I learned that it was on June 24th which was important for a number of reasons – it was Claudia’s birthday and 5 days after my 55th birthday. (Also Jean Baptiste day).  A couple of other factors entered into this as well. We have been Mt Tremblant many times skiing and Claudia has a lot of family on Lac Superior.  With all this in play, I thought this would be a good way to celebrate, so I decided I would enter the Mt Tremblant Half Ironman. I was on my way.

Claudia put together a program for me to ramp me up to the half iron distance over the next 8 months. I started going to Mega days and getting more involved with TCOB. I even went out and bought swim goggles and did my first swim in about 10 years. It was 10 lengths of the LA Fitness pool in Burlington! Claudia and I went to Arizona in April for Greg’s Triathlon camp. I signed up for a number of races, Oakville 10k, Mississauga half marathon, ATB relay, Milton and Guelph Sprint Triathlons. At this point Claudia who has done many Triathlons including halfand full Ironman decided she would do it as well. We decided we would make a mini vacation out of it and spend 6 days at Tremblant.

Fast forward to June. Training has gone well and we are on our way to Quebec. As we drove into Mt. Tremblant, we realized that this was being set up as a world class event. It was also being embraced by the region very enthusiastically. There were signs everywhere about the 70.3 and the full Ironman in August.  We had a great rental condo at the top of the village that had views looking out on the entire village and start area as well as the lake. Over the next few days we did some swims in the lake (water was now above 70 compared to the 55 reported a few weeks ago). We drove the bike course and did a ride on Lac Superior rd which had the biggest hills. The entire bike course was hilly, but this one section at the 70k mark was much more pronounced. But the roads were newly paved and very well laid out. We ran part of the run course which for the most part was on an old rail trail. Everything looked great. Our only fear was the weather which was a sweltering 34 degrees C. But the forecasts indicated it would be down to 24 or 25 on race day.

We visited Claudia’s family and had dinner with some TCOB friends. It was a very good way to get acclimatized and ready for race day.

Now as race day approached we went through registration, bike set up and the stores for the event. They continued to demonstrate that this would be an exceptional event. On race morning, we walked over from the transition area to the start of the Swim.  I have not been to many races where the Snowbirds did fly over to celebrate the beginning of the event!  The first couple of waves were started by military cannon blast.  They were pulling out all the stops.  We were both in wave 10 so had time to watch many of the waves go off.

At 7:45 am we were off. The swim for me was actually uneventful and I got through it faster than I thought I would. Strippers were in place at beach which was very helpful. There was a long 400 meter run to the transition. The bike course proved to be beautiful and hilly. The section on Lac Superior that we rode somehow seemed much more challenging after riding 70k. But there was lots of support along the way. Volunteers in orange shirts were out in droves and very enthusiastic. One unique aspect of the ride in a number of fuel stops was the use of hockey net and sticks to collect all the used water bottles. My guess is that this not a common practice. Finished the bike ahead of schedule and felt pretty good. Transitioned to the run and most of this was on the rail line, though in mid day was not as shaded as I had hoped. Many more volunteers  on the run route.  Lots of support and fuel stations along the way. I felt really good until about the 14 k mark and then started to fade. I pushed through by walking some of the hills and got to a very spectacular finish setup  through the narrow streets of the village. I was done!  I finished my first half in 6:12. Claudia was there at the finish. She had a great race and finished in 5:49.

So overall a great event and I hope to go back next year.

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