Welland Sprint Triathlon 2017 Report – How not to race!
By Edward Ing
Morning June 24th at the Welland Flatwater Centre was the perfect setting for the sprint triathlon race.
There was only a slight wind. The water was flat. No threatening clouds were in the sky.
The bike course and run course were flat and the water was still. Though the setting was perfect for the
race, it still required a polished triathlete to execute perfectly and turn the race it to a beautiful and
glorious performance. However this report is not about a perfectly executed race, but it is about, let us
say, a less polished triathlete and how not to execute a triathlon. There are lessons to be learned in this
I went out right on the feet of the lead swimmers. Buoyed by my wetsuit, I was gliding through the
water, taking long reaches, making firm catches and completing smooth pulls. I was in my best swim
Very soon, I was gasping for air. I was in oxygen deficit. That beautiful form was my form at a 100m
interval pace in the pool, not a 750m pace out in open water. I followed the lead swimmers with
enthusiasm and was paying for it dearly.
As I continued my strokes and gasping for air, I was doubting weather I could finish the race. I swam
for the rocks on the side of the course and stood up on them contemplating if I could continue. A
minute and a half later, I tried again and, stupidly, I went out too fast again and ended up standing on
the rocks for a second time. I took an even longer time-out and considered abandoning the race, but I
was on the far side of the canal from the exit.
I slipped back into the water and swam a slow pace to the other side. Slowly my breathing calmed and I
was on pace. I finished the last half as I should have started and made it to T1.
After the race, Catherine Rose gave me a few tips. I could have stayed in the water if I had practiced it,
and had I the presence of mind, I could have very slowly freestyled back into the pace that was
appropriate for me, she said. But the plan “A” should be to not get caught up in the excitement, but to
go out slowly and build into my own pace.
I missed my row and had to double back. I did make a mental note of where my bike was relative to the
exits before the race, but really, as instructed and advised, I should have practiced, pre-race, by running
from the Swim Out to my bike and to the Bike Out to be fully familiar with the layout of the transition.
Also, running from the Bike In to my bike and then to the Run Out is mandatory practice to get familiar
For cyclists in-the-know, the Velominati, rule #37 is: “The arms of the eyewear shall always be placed
over the helmet straps.” I committed to abide by this rule but with the sage triathlon advice that, “What
you can do when you are rolling or moving forward, you do rolling or moving and you will save time.”
So I fixed my glasses to my bike when setting up my transition, intending to put my glasses on after I
had mounted and was rolling along. The glasses would have fit over the straps naturally, and I would
look like a cyclist who knew what he was doing.
I mounted well, with a semi-flying mount, feet into shoes that were held in place by elastics on the bike
and broke the elastics as I began to pedal as planned. I was 1km into the ride when I heard rattling. I
heard some more rattling and my glasses flew off the bike and onto the road. I had forgot to put them
It took me 200m to decide that those 125$ glasses had to be retrieved. So I slowed down and U-turned,
crossing the yellow centre-line. (Thanks to the powers that be that no Tri-Ontario official was on that
segment of road!) I picked up the glasses and put them on, the arms over the straps, and
resumed the race.
The lesson here: It’s a friggin’ triathlon race. Velominati rules do not apply! Do as I have always done.
Glasses in the helmet. Glasses on first, then helmet. Straps naturally fitting over the arms of the glasses.
Then you can get your helmet off without removing your glasses for the run in T2. (This latter
advantage was irrelevant as you will later read.)
There were more problems on the bike. At 2km into the ride, I started feeling a sore neck from trying to
look forward, sore arms from the weight of being in the aero position and crammed thighs during the
up-stroke. The problem was that I hadn’t been on my tri bike enough this season. For about 7km I kept
exchanging passes with the same group of people and annoying them. Finally I settle into a pace.
The lesson here is to get used to your bike and don’t make the change to another one in the last few
days before a race. It’s not enough time.
I turned up the second aisle to find my transition spot. I couldn’t find it. My bike was in the third aisle. I
did not notice that there were three aisles when I surveyed the transition before the race. The lesson:
same as the lesson in T1.
At about 100m out of the transition area and into the run, some spectator yelled out at me, “Your
helmet!” I thought about what that meant, then winced once I figured it out. I then estimated the
distance back to the transition area. Then I yelled back, “It’s too late!” I completed the 5k run with the
helmet on. The embarrassing photos have yet to make it onto the Internet. But I bet I looked good
though — rule #37 having been maintained.
I did finish a personal best 5k run off the bike. I credit the time to the aero helmet. So the take-away
from this is: I recommend the Bontrager Ballista aero road helmet. It has very good aerodynamics and
my head was cool, both on the ride and during the run — should you, dear reader, want to do the run leg
with your helmet on.