There were 5 of us who braved what Steve Fleck referred to as “weather of biblical proportions”
in completing the Muskoka 70.3 2021, with the consistent theme across all our race day plans
being the ability to stay calm and adapt. As very aptly put by Jeremy, “ for me, it made the ability
to change plans and adapt mid-race as important as the training and prep that went in. I made
some mistakes and paid for them, but was able to shift and get through [by executing ] plan C,
maybe even D, but I got across the finish and two points I didn’t think that was going to happen.
I’m happy with that.”
To accommodate the challenges of COVID, the swim start was a rolling start and unanimously
we all loved it. While I waited 41 minutes to get in and thus had to really keep nerves in check,
it did create some awesome moments of camaraderie amongst those I was standing alongside.
As Julie put it, “the rolling start was more relaxing than a mass start but the fact that I had a
familiar smiling face (Graham) right beside me and a few others close by cheering us on at the
start also likely calmed me a bit.” I think it is fair to say we would all love a rolling start to any
and all future 70.3’s!
The bike ride can be described as epically challenging, “but nothing as tough as the escarpment
climbs we’re used to around here. The weather sucked, but it probably made me hold back a
touch and meant that I didn’t sweat as much”, so for Graham, he felt pretty good starting the
run. Julie reflected … focusing on not crashing or blowing a tire while attempting to go as fast
as possible in downpour meant the beautiful scenery was missed. The cracks of thunder and
lightning did scare me into having a fast ride though. Fortunately, I had a medic riding by me at
that point so I knew if the lightning got worse, he’d at least know what to do as I sure didn’t. I
suppose one could argue that the uphills became secondary to the challenge of capitalizing on
the downhills while focusing on not crashing or blowing a tire. It really was the best of times
and the worst of times!
All of us finished the ride with the excitement of getting off the bike to run in the rain but again
the weather threw us a curve ball… the sun came out and the humidity hit epic levels. Andrew
loved the new run course – a double loop of nothing but hills with minimal shade (how could he
love it) and is “looking forward to running the course again someday without the humidity.”
Julie, Jeremy, Graham and I on the other hand found the heat tough, particularly on the second
loop. Like Julie I “fell into the black hole of walking at times”, but the volunteers and other
runners made helped to make us think past the heat, the hills, the heat, the hills, the heat, the
hills and ensure it was positively memorable for all of us. Julie loved running alongside Graham,
Graham so appreciated the volunteers who at every aid station ensured he could pour two cups
of water all over his body, I loved running with a young man who ‘kindly’ reminded me that I
was 40 years older than him while I made damn sure I stayed with him till the end, and Jeremy
executed plan C and then plan D.
We were all blessed with fabulously supportive family and friends along the course, all of whom
braved unbelievable conditions to keep us motivated. We were supported by truly remarkable
volunteers and Julie said it so well: “I am not sure if they truly understand their importance at a
race”. From all of us, THANK YOU! How blessed are we to be able to spend a day celebrating our
months of training with such supportive people!
Andrew called this event the swim, swim, crawl triathlon (when I saw him, he sure wasn’t
crawling!) and that it was. Despite the conditions, each of us achieved and/or surpassed
personal goals (congratulations Julie on your spot at worlds) because of the work of our great
coaches and TCOB family. Thank you all – what a wonderful family we are a part of.