I have been racing tri since 97 with my first ironman in 99. Since then the sport changed; some for the best, but along the way certain things I loved changed. Triathlon was a sport run by athletes for athletes. Barrelman is run by John Salt a guy from that era and before it. He isn’t just a race director, he is a care-taker for the sport, for the local sports community, and for his athletes. You can tell this race is an act of love and passion for the sport contrasted by other races that are a cash grab by an overseas equity company. You hear it when he speaks with pride about the athletes from the area, say champions that are not contenders to be the best in the world; and how they have grown with his help. You can tell how proud he is of his course, his race, and how in the face of competition from major cooperations his race doubled in the last year from 400 to 800 athletes. You can tell he goes above and beyond and puts more work into holding this event then any of us do training for it. From the moment I heard about this event and talked to John I knew I wanted to be a part of it; even if it meant racing 11 months without a break and maybe turning in a performance that wasn’t my best. Even if it meant rolling to my own wedding in a few days tired and sore
The swim was held in the Flat Water Center, a rowing stadium. Grandstands, an under water cable, meter markers along the way, and clean protected water made this one of the best swim venues I have experienced. The pro men ended up in a bunch at the front and the top 7All came out in the same group with one person 50m ahead. We ran by the stands which were full and loud. I was happy to be with them but feeling sluggish.
The bike was flat and pretty. Farm houses, red barns, rivers, a Great Lake, fields of crops and tree lined streets made the bike a pleasure. I passed a few, and got passed by a few and kept my head down and road hard. The wind slowed things down and kept it real, but all told it seemed fair; the wind for flatness.
Out of T2 the course takes you through and around Niagara Falls. Cooled by the mist of the falls and inspired by the view the run (see photo) was the best I have ever experienced in any half. Just pure awesome. I got passed by 3 hard charging athletes but stayed steady and saw them again 3k to the finish and ran them down with 1k to go.
After crossing the line I realized I was top 10, not exactly my goal but at the end of a season that started last year, I was proud of my effort because I know I races hard. Post race they had live music in a great park, and more awesome awards then any race I ever went too. Watches, wine for age group podiums and primes. Amazingly a reasonable drive from NYC with a short stop at the boarder long enough for the boarder guard to give my dog a treat.
Thanks to John and his team Canada Multisports for such a great event. Thanks to Valdora, Rudy Project,Xterra, Champion Systems, Carboom and Team Continuum for keeping me outfitted, rolling and fueled.
Photo: me getting lose the day prior on my bike with the swim venue behind me: christine on the podium as the winner of her age group and the Falls you see on the run.