Bow Valley triathletes battle Osoyoos heat, gruelling course
Canmore’s Jessica Eustace may have discovered a new innovation in multi-sport training: dogs.
For more than a year, seven days a week, Eustace has hiked pooches up and down Bow Valley trail systems as the owner of a dog-walking business. Scaling mountains and running trails for hours every day with packs of her four-legged clients slowly built her endurance to peak levels, preparing her for the longest race of her life.
Competing in her first-ever half Iron Man, Eustace was the top Bow Valley finisher at the Desert Half Iron Man in Osoyoos, B.C. on Sunday (July 9), clocking a time of 5:56:29, good enough for 21st. Faced with a 2 kilometre swim, 90 km bike and 21 km run, she suffered through 36 degree temperatures on the desert course and remarkably, felt great after the race.
“I feel a lot better than I anticipated. I’ve always done shorter, more intense races. After this race, I felt more tired than sore,” Eustace said.
Long considered Canada’s toughest half Iron Man, Eustace wasn’t sure what to expect.
Eustace, 29, positioned herself well with a strong swim time that had her sitting 10th. Facing the grinding 90 km ride up Richter Pass, she tried to conserve her energy on the bike, dropping down to 40th, but had plenty of energy for the run, where she ranked eighth.
“Because it was my first half Iron Man, I held back early because I didn’t want to go too hard, too fast,” Eustace said. “I wanted a negative split on the run, but it was so hot, I ditched that plan.”
Crossing the finish line, she stripped off her race paraphernalia and ran straight into the lake 20 metres away.
She’s considering entering another half Iron Man and would like to improve on her cycling speed. Ninety kilometres is the longest Eustace has ever ridden.
“The race plays to my strengths. I have more endurance than power, so I’m more suited for the distance,” she said. “I might do the race again to see how I improve,”
Sandra Baribeau wasn’t far behind Eustace, finishing 24th with a time of 6:05:12.
“The swim went pretty well and the bike had a lot of hills. My stomach felt queasy because of the heat, but I’m happy with the race,” Baribeau said.
In the men’s division, Steve Sellers was the top local finisher, grabbing 39th spot with a time of 5:30:11. Canmore’s John Monk was 46th with a time of 5:34:43 despite blowing a tube and tire during the scorching ride. Canmore’s Frank Charest finished 71st (6:02:12).
“The competition is pretty high, higher than the Calgary race. My legs are feeling pretty sore, but I’m pretty happy I finished. It’s one step closer to Iron Man, but I’m not sure about that yet,” Charest said.
It was one of the most difficult races Charest has attempted, however, he and Baribeau planned to go backcountry camping right after the race.
“We found it pretty hard. The bike has a lot of hills. My leg was cramping after 2 kms of running. But if it’s not hard, it’s not fun,” Charest said.
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