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Ironman Canada 2008: a day when honour was lacking.

August 25th, 2008

I initially deleted this post,…as sometimes I speak my mind sooner than I should. And wasn’t sure if this was one of those times. After thinking it over, and with a bit of encouragement from my friends in the sport, I’ve decided to repost it.


Dirty, dirty, dirty! I’ve always loved to race Ironman Canada based on the fact that the hills often will break people up, and keep packs from forming. My image of the race is now tainted,…the race yesterday was dirty, and far too full of cheating.

I apologize for sounding bitter,…nobody likes a sour puss. I will say however, apart from being disgruntled, I really did enjoy myself yesterday. I finished in a decent time of 8hr52min, with a big smile, and happy heart, knowing that I raced cleanly and the best as I could on the day. Far too many of the top eight men (as deep as the money goes), however didn’t deserve to be there, because they got there by sucking draft on the bike. With that said, those in the top eight who I witnessed race cleanly, were KYLE MARCOTTE, COURTNEY OGDEN (who was in the pack, but at least made an attempt to keep his distance), and BRYAN RHODES. The only guy in the top eight who I didn’t see on the bike, was Justin Daerr.

Anyways, I exited the water in the second group of athletes. Kyle Marcotte from Calgary was one of them. I sat on a chair next to him in transition while we sorted our gear. I asked him how he was feeling, and we both wished each other good races.

The group we exited the water with, started to form a bit of a loose pack. Early on, one of my water bottles slipped out from the cage affixed underneath my aerobars. I turned around and picked it up from the ground. I lost touch with this group, however it was within eyesight. Kyle Marcotte was then trailing about 50m behind it. I took a page out of Tom Evan’s book of smart IM bike racing, and took it super easy up the first hill, McLean Creek Rd. By then, everyone seemed to have pulled quite a way ahead of me. Slowly, I started making some gains on Kyle. I caught back up to Kyle around Oliver, and as I passed him, I told him that I thought that we both were racing smart (in terms of pacing). I ended up closing in on a massively long line of riders — I’m guessing at about 15 pro-men. Christopher Brown was off the front about 100m ahead of this group, doing his own race. I spotted the draft marshal, and asked him if he was doing anything about draft pack??? He replied that he can’t do anything when the media vehicle is beside the pack — I still don’t really understand that excuse. Through the aid station on Ritcher’s pass, the pack was about 200m ahead of me — I grabbed some water and was spraying the entire bottle all over the body for the purpose of keeping me cool. I threw the bottle to the side of the road, just after the LAST CHANCE DROP OFF zone. It was then that the draft marshal came up to me and gave me a YELLOW CARD penalty for throwing my bottle passed this zone. In his words, he said “I’M REALLY SORRY TO HAVE TO DO THIS TO YOU, AFTERALL YOU’VE BEEN RIDING SO CLEAN”. In my mind I’m thinking, if I’m riding cleanly, does that mean that you acknowledge that the pack ahead is NOT riding cleanly,…AND IF SO,…WHY ARE YOU NOT DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT???!??

At this point, I knew that it was pointless to argue with the official,…all I could do was shake my head.

I then asked him one more time,…”then can you PLLLLEEEEASE try to break up that pack?”

I spoke with the official again, closer to the top of Ritcher’s,…as if to make me feel better, he told me that he gave out some penalties.

While I was serving my bottle-toss infringement in the penalty tent, Kyle Marcotte then passed me again. It took me until the end of the rollers to catch back up to him. At that point, Kyle Marcotte was closing in on one particular pro who served a yellow card in the tent earlier. A few minutes after passing this guy, I looked back to see where he was,…I was disappointed to see the bugger on my wheel! I then had some choice words for him and asked him what he thought he was doing!!!??? He replied, “I’m on your ASS!” Needless to say, further conversation deteriorated from there.

Around the 100km mark, spending a great deal of time in around 15th place, I made a decision to start upping the pace. At the special needs, I grabbed my bag, with two waterbottles and two instant ice-packs,…the kind that requires you to burst a gel/bladder, then you shake the bag, and it induces a cooling reaction. I shook ’em up, and put them in my cycling jersey.

Soon thereafter special needs, I caught up to Christoper Brown,…I tried to encourage along, and suggested to him to go get the guys ahead. Once I got back onto the main highway,…I was in close contact with the pack of riders again. I was feeling very good,…as though I had another 3 gears. As I flew by the pack, I had some distinctly choice words again for eventual 2nd place finisher Bernhard Hiebl (who took cheating to a new level) as he was sucking a major draft, sitting right on the wheel of the guy ahead of him.

I had a strong last 50km of the race, I was putting some serious time on people, and felt in complete control. My coach Paulo was telling me to ‘chill just a little bit’. I actually felt like I was chillin’ already– it was just a day where cycling fast felt easy. It was certainly not my intention to go for the fastest bike split, but things worked out that way — to my complete surprise, I ended up biking a 4hr39min, and was in 3rd, within striking distance while starting the run.

I felt super good for the first 15km of the run,…I was holding well on the pressing men behind me, and got pretty close to the overall lead. At this point, I felt like I could win it. Without stomach problems, cramping, or any notable mini-disasters, I just simply started to slow. I was passed by a number of men close to the turnaround. The rest of my race was unremarkable,…I just got it done – step by step. One of the last guys to pass me was eventual 8th place finisher Courtney Ogden. As he passed me, I made a comment that I can’t believe the number of guys racing so fast today — he replied, “yeah, but you saw the bike!!!”. Anyways, by the end, I was really happy to have finished and be able to be reunited with my wife Allison at the finish line.

I was really flattered from words of Paula Newby Fraser, and Micheal Lovato at the finish line too — they both had nice things to say about my efforts on the bike regarding my attempt to ‘go for it’.

Thanks for reading!!! Congrats to all those who finished.