UBC Tri – Bringing home the Bacon

2022 is going to be a monster year on the triathlon front. My current race line up consists of the Ironman World Championships in St George (May), Ironman Victoria 70.3 (May), Escape from Alcatraz (June), Victoria Half Distance (July) and Ironman Penticton (August).

With this in mind, and a slightly limited winter of training due to injury, I was on the look out for a warmup race and the UBC Triathlon provided the perfect opportunity.

The UBC Tri is one of three Vancouver triathlons alongside the North Van Tri & Stanley Park Tri. I have done the other two, winning my age group in both, and was on the hunt for the hat-trick.

UBC offers both an Olympic and Sprint distance but given it’s the first weekend of March I sensibly decided it was too cold for the Olympic distance! I entered the year before Covid and happily pulled out injured as it snowed on the morning of the race. No Thank You!

This sprint consisted of a 700m swim, 20km bike and 5km run. In the big picture of Ironman training a pretty small day but it would be fun to blow some cobwebs with a race!

It was also one of the first opportunities to race since Covid for most people and the Pacific Spirit Tri Club had a great turn out both racing and supporting. As the board member responsible for events, I arrived in time for the first start, 7am. It was a beautiful, if very crisp and with a chilly breeze, Spring morning. Along with numerous other members we cheered everyone on until the final wave of the Sprint starts at 11:40. Special mention to Sarah, one of my oldest friends, who did her first triathlon on this bitterly cold morning and kept a smile on her face throughout!

Luckily by my start time things hard started to warm up. As I headed to the pool, I made the decision to go in tri-suit only and hope I didn’t freeze in the hour or so I would be out there.

We had been seeded by estimated swim time and I found myself in the fastest wave (new for me when swimming!). Pre start we organised ourselves by estimated speed which is often a bit of a lottery, but I placed myself about 6th in the queue.

My start did not exactly go to plan. We were told not to run on the pool edge from the timing mat to the swim start. I was right on the border of trotting, but I slipped as turned to jump in and down I went. No injury apart from to my dignity. I jumped in, no diving allowed, expecting to hit the bottom and then push off forwards. It’s a fancy Olympic pool and very deep so I just sank, eventually surfaced without having touched the bottom and was on my way.

However, things didn’t get any easier from here. Being a fancy pool, the ends can be moved so the wall is different to the deeper sections. So, at the end of my first length, I had a real challenge judging the distance to turn and ended up very close to the wall.

This still wasn’t the end of my issues. On the return leg you have to turn and push off under the lane rope into the adjacent lane. This involves turning over the opposite shoulder to which I am used to and then a very directed push. I got horribly disorientated in my flip and missed the push as I was side on to the wall.

Luckily that was the last bit of drama. From then on, I swam hard and neither caught anyone nor was tagged by anyone so had a clear swim. Always nice when you seed yourself correctly.

Out of the pool I sprinted through transition as wasn’t changing and straight out on to the bike course.

Straight away something was wrong. My bike seat was way too low and instantly my legs were feeling it. Golden rule, never race without checking your kit!! Ooops.

I knew my legs were going to pay for this over 20km but knowing there were better swimmers ahead of me I gritted my teeth and set off after them. The course was a mostly 5km fast flat/downhill then 5km flat/back up. The first section was OK on the legs, but the return was hard. I had to spend a lot of time out the saddle but still overtaking people (mostly from earlier waves).

As I completed the first lap, I heard the cheers and one of my work clients informed me there was only one person ahead. I doubled down on my burning legs as ideally wanted to be close by the start of the run.

Nearly the whole second loop was out the saddle as my legs were on fire!! However, it paid off as I caught him at the entrance to T2 and was running right behind him as we racked out bikes.

I spend a lot of time working on transition and set off on the run with a few seconds lead excited about the prospect of a head-to-head run. Unfortunately, for him, running was his weakest and my strongest so he wasn’t able to stick with me as I put the hammer down out of T2.

I pushed hard on the run but was fairly confident throughout I had the win in the bag. I still wanted a sub 18min 5km so didn’t hold back but without the pressure I had more in the tank.

I finally turned the last corner, to the cheers of the support, taking 1st place overall, my first overall win. The cherry on top was the completion of the triple crown of Vancouver triathlons.

The leaderboard:

There was actually a guy from the UBC team who beat me, but he was part of a separate collegiate race with a different start. It would have been fun to chase him, but he beat me pretty comfortably in all 3 disciplines. I did beat him in both transitions though!

Always nice to take home a win but now my focus returns to the opposite end of the spectrum and the Ironman World Championships. 1hr is slightly different to 10+hrs!!


1 thought on “UBC Tri – Bringing home the Bacon

  1. Brilliant, Richie! Congratulations on your first (of many) wins. Bring them on!


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