By Colonel John Giguère, Director Human Resources Business Management, MILPERSCOM –
For the fourth consecutive year, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Triathlon Team sent athletes to the Ironman 70.3 SuperFrog competition at Imperial Beach, California. The triathlon features a 1.9 km swim, a 90 km bike, and a 21.1 km run. The entire course runs parallel to the shoreline and is susceptible to harsh elements. The swim is in the ocean near a part of the shoreline that typically gets large breaking waves, the bike ride may have strong crosswinds, and, over half of the distance for the run is in the sand. The overall course is a unique and challenging.
This year, six athletes (two each from the NCR, CFB Montreal and CFB Valcartier) made the cross-continent journey for the race. Air travel for a triathlon requires a fair bit of preparation including:
- Partially disassembling your bicycle and packing it in a travel case;
- Packing your suitcase full of all the equipment needed to compete in three distinct disciplines; and
- Worrying for several hours about whether or not the aforementioned equipment will arrive with you.
The team’s travels started out on Thursday 12 September, 2019 well before dawn. They met up in Toronto and flew onward to San Diego. From there it was a short drive down the highway to the rental accommodations adjacent to the race course. Upon arrival, the first order of business was to reassemble the bikes and take them out for a short test ride. That was followed by groceries, supper and rest. Friday and Saturday were dedicated to short duration training of all three disciplines but especially entering the water and getting past the breakpoint of the waves. This also provided the opportunity for the team to familiarize themselves with the course.
Sunday, 15 September, 2019, race day started at 4 a.m. After a quiet breakfast, the team walked over to the transition zone to lay out the kit for the day ahead. The weather, as promised was hot and sunny but with moderate humidity and light winds. Perfect.
The race started at 7 am after the playing of the Star Spangled Banner and the arrival of Navy SEALs via a precision jump onto the beach. The swim was relatively easy this year with smaller than normal (3-4 foot) waves breaking just off the beach. It went well for all members of the CAF team. As each team member completed their two loops of the swim course, they headed into transition, quickly shedding their wetsuit and other swimming gear, and hit the road on their bikes. Lastly, came the run. This year’s run course was particularly difficult both as a result of the new design as well as the timing of the high tide which greatly narrowed the available hard packed sand to run on. Notwithstanding these difficult running conditions, all members completed the course and proudly crossed the finish line.
Warrant Officer (WO) Fred Nolin from Canadian Forces Learning and Recruit School (CFLRS) in St-Jean was the first Canadian in a time of 4:36:13. Good enough for 12th place overall, and a 4th place finish in his age group.
As a group, the team put three members on the podium for the Military Division of the race:
- Leading Seaman (LS) Benoit Labrèche – 5 Field Ambulance (5 Fd Amb),
- Lieutenant (Navy) (Lt(N)) Brenna Roux – Director General Military Personal Policy (DGMPP),
- Colonel (Col) John Giguère – MILPERSCOM.
Additionally, four team members won age group awards:
- WO Fred Nolin – CFLRS,
- Master Corporal (MCpl) Benjamin Guillemin – Royal 22e Régiment (R22eR),
- LS Benoit Labrèche – 5 Fd Amb,
- Col John Giguère – MILPERSCOM
Finally, Col Giguère earned one of the twelve available positions for the 2020 Ironman World Championship. Another outstanding outing for members of the CAF Triathlon Team.
Photos courtesy of Chantal Borg
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