Race report: Gravenhurst Olympic triathlon (most unique swim start in Canada)

I might be in my 7th year competing in triathlons, but I made a rookie mistake in this race! I was a lemming – in other words:

“A person who unthinkingly joins a mass movement,

especially a headlong rush to destruction.” (Oxford Dictionary online)

But that’s not how this race began! Alasdair and I were staying at the cottage of friends, and arrived at the race site early enough for me to be the first one in my age group to rack my bike – actually, only one bike in the entire transition zone was racked before mine. That was a first for me!

I snagged the prime spot on the rack (closest to the “bike out”).

I went through registration, getting my race bib, t-shirt, product samples, timing chip, and body marking done, then set my stuff up in transition. By 6:45 AM all I had left to do was put my wetsuit on – and visit the portapotty a few times!

All smiles pre-race!

Alasdair and I walked down to the water where we would finish our swim, so that he could get a good look at the swim course and figure out how to better pick his route – in previous years he had nearly swum into a nearby bay instead of directly to the swim exit. He warned a few people before the race to be careful what they used to sight…

Way in the distance behind me you can see an orange sighting buoy. Pretty visible, right?

The race was set to begin at 8:30 AM, which meant that all triathletes had to be at the boat dock at 8 AM. Just before this, there was a pre-race briefing in the transition zone, during which I put my wetsuit on. Alasdair and I walked to the dock, and waited with everyone else to be called onto the boats by our swim waves. We were both going to be on the Wenonah II, the bigger of the 2 steamships that would take us out to the swim start line. Unlike last year, we actually knew we were boarding the same boat, so after my wave boarded, I waited for Alasdair where he couldn’t miss me so we could actually hang out together. We stood chatting with Dave, who has the same swim coach as us, in the fresh air on one of the upper decks. But Alasdair got cold and had to go inside (with motion sickness, I need the fresh air!).

1500 m SWIM

And just like that, I was standing at the door of the boat and jumping 3 feet down to the water! I was the third one in my age group to jump, and was briefly winning the race as I swam to the start line! But we had to wait for everyone in our age group to jump off the boat before the race began. I learned my lesson the first time I did this race when I was one of the last to jump off, and had to swim very quickly to the start line because they were yelling that the horn was going to sound! Now, I make sure I’m one of the first off the boat. The steamship whistle sounded and the race was on!

As I swam to the first and only green turning buoy, where we were to turn left, I felt that I was swimming well, finishing my stroke and powering through it (no wimpy arms!) and swimming in a direct line. I turned at the buoy, and couldn’t see the orange sighting buoys, so I followed the people ahead of me. Each time I sighted, I had the same problem – no orange buoy! So, I kept following the people ahead of me, and headed for the big building at the shore. I wondered why I couldn’t see the sighting buoys, until eventually a motor boat just to my right yelled, “You have to go waaaaay left!” I looked up and left, and yikes! I was waaaaaaay of course – but I wasn’t the only one! Remember those swimmers I was following?! Well they were off course too. So I swam like mad to get back on course, kicking myself for not having stopped earlier to find the sighting buoys (and ensure I didn’t go off track)! Eventually I made it back onto the course, and after a ways I reached the dock and the ladder we had to climb to get out of the water. I was mentally prepared to see 40+ on my watch, but was “pleasantly” surprised to see 37+. Last year, I did the swim in 33 something, so I was rather disappointed!! (I have no idea how much further I swam than I should have – I don’t have a GPS watch.)

2016-07-16 | 2016 MultiSport Gravenhurst Triathlon (Saturday)
Not lost after all!

I ran along the dock to the road, across the road and along the grass all the way around the transition zone. I reached my bike and had my quickest wetsuit removal so far this year, put on my helmet, sunglasses, socks, bike shoes, race bib, had a quick pee and headed out.

40 km BIKE

It was a little congested at the beginning of the bike course trying to get around slower moving people at the multiple intersections right in town. But before long, we were more spread out and it wasn’t too bad. The course was rolling hills through the pretty countryside, with lots of shaded areas – in fact, wearing sunglasses made it quite hard in some places to see the very rough road when I was in the shade. The first 5k was my slowest, but some others were over 30 km/h. The ride felt pretty good. One guy was drafting right behind me for a short time, so I turned and said, “You know you’re not allowed to draft, right?” And he replied (rather annoyed) by saying something about just trying to pass. I thought that I might see Alasdair about 2.5 km from the turnaround, given his 4 minute head start on the swim, my 4 minute slower swim this year, and him being a bit faster on the bike – turns out that’s pretty much where we saw one another (I was 4 minutes from the turnaround). The second half of the ride was easier; however, there was a bit of congestion with cars on the route at a couple of intersections. I had a gel at 5k and 35k, and most of a gatorade bottle, but didn’t need the water I had with me. I stopped to pee at a portapotty just inside the transition zone, then grabbed my bike and ran to my spot, changed into running shoes, a hat, and took off.

10 k RUN

The beginning and end of this out and back run route was slightly different this year, but the course was still very hilly. I reached the first km marker in 5 minutes and 3 seconds (very fast for me!), so I wondered if the sign was in the wrong spot. It was only 22 degrees, so the temperature was perfect for running. The sun was out and there wasn’t much shade. There were multiple aid stations on the run but I didn’t stop at the first few for anything, then grabbed heed a few times, walking a bit through the aid stations. Two or three times I poured a bit of water on my head, but it wasn’t too hot. I saw Alasdair at around the 3 km mark. I ran all the hills and felt strong on the run. At 7 k I had a cramp but thankfully I was able to get rid of it by changing my breathing – it only lasted 100 m or so. In the last few hundred metres I spotted Alasdair, who cheered for me as I ran by. I remember in the past the last bit of the run seeming to take forever, with a big loop around the park, but this time, it didn’t seem that way. In this last section lots of people were cheering for me by name – most read it on my bib (and somehow they all pronounced it correctly)! Kathleen (whose husband Paul also did the race) cheered for me and snapped a couple of pictures.

Nearing the finish line. [Photo by Kathleen – thank you! Love it!]
And then I heard Steve Fleck announce, “And Kyra Paterson will be our next finisher!” I crossed the finish line in 3:06:12.9. I was a few minutes slower than last year, which was on a different, flatter bike course. The last time I did this same course was in 2013, when I finished in 3:11. Clearly my swim could have gone better, but my bike was good and my run was great! I’m really happy with how my run has progressed – holding a sub 6 min/km pace on a hilly course is a big accomplishment!

After the race, I found Alasdair and we had our cartons of chocolate milk, pizza, pretzels, and fruit, and watched the awards presentation. It is always so impressive to see what the older athletes can do – there was an 84 year old man named Bob who completed the international duathlon (10 k run, 40 k bike, 5 k run). Amazing!!


This is the dock that we ran along at the end of our swim.


Time: 3:06:12.9 – 11/16 women 40-44, 52/98 women, 193/272 athletes

1500 m swim: 38:50.8 (2:35/100 m) – 13/16 women 40-44, 70/98 women, 214/272 athletes

T1: 1:55

40 k bike: 1:23:47 (28.65 km/h) – 10/16 women 40-44, 43/98 women, 183/272 athletes

T2: 2:03

10 k run: 59:37.8 (5:57 min/km) – 11/16 women 40-44, 52/98 women, 193/272 athletes

Post-race pic at the cottage [Photo by Sarah].
We will definitely do this race again. I highly recommend it. But register early, because there’s a cap and it sells out early every year!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s