My experience in Olympic distance triathlon is limited to a largely unsuccessful campaign in ITU triathlon in Ixtapa (punctuated by intestinal distress that followed me to XTERRA Worlds that season) and two wins at the Squamish Triathlon (a large local non-drafting triathlon that features a hill on the bike). All of this occurred in ancient history. The Saskatoon 5150 consists of a 1500m lake swim (wetsuits TBD), a flat as a pancake 40km bike course with a slight tail wind, and a 10km, two lap, run with some large “hills” over the bridges in downtown Saskatoon. I am sure after all the flat riding those bridges may appear to be mountains on race day, particularly at the speeds the Canadian ITU athletes are going to plan to race at. I know most of the girls in the women’s field, highlighted by Alison Hooper who recently ran a 35 minute 10km and Alex Coates, a national team regular who both train in Victoria. Janet Nielson is also a girl I see in training often in Victoria and Alexandra I met in Boise at the pro meeting.
On the men’s side, I am less familiar with many of the field but Sean Bechtel, Brent McMahon and Jeff Symonds are probably the favourites. Brent is coming off a two week midseason break and claims to be “fat” which I read as “flying fit and fresh like lettuce”. Sean Bechtel is a very strong swim/biker so I am sure we will see him in the mix. James Cook is a squad mate of the Tuesday Morning Swim Club in Victoria and he is looking for a good hit out as well, so he will be chasing hard as he may lose a bit of time to Brent and the leaders in the swim. As for the chase, I think Alison Hooper is the girl to watch so we’ll see what the ITU speedsters have in store for us. The time differential is 16 minutes. Last year the race was very close between Magali Tisseyre and McMahon. If I don’t get smoked in the swim I might have a chance to push Alison and Alex but they are pretty speedy so we will have to see how it pans out. The weather seems to be a bit unsettled. Honestly, pouring rain might improve my chances this weekend. No matter what, I will be battling as hard as I can because I am going to need the speed at Vineman in two weeks.