GUILLAUME AND DONAVAN TAKE TREMBLANT
Photo Credit: Ironman.com
For those of us who live in the eastern side of Canada, Ironman Mont-Tremblant has been one of the most anticipated multisport events in years. Not since Ironman Lake Placid was announced in the late 90s has the triathlon community in this neck of the woods so looked forward to a race. They were not disappointed.
All week long we've been talking about the buzz around this community. Seemingly every store and business in the region has an Ironman sign on display. There were over 3,000 volunteers who were bound and determined to ensure that each and every athlete had an amazing experience here in Mont-Tremblant.
Which isn't hard in this beautiful resort area that serves as an incredible ski resort all winter, an idyllic cottage/ lake area in the summer. It's hard to imagine how beautiful these mountains are at the end of September as the trees change color, too.
All weekend long athletes and their families have been enjoying everything there is to do here in Mont-Tremblant. The food is out of this world, accommodations abound within walking distance of the racecourse and the entertainment possibilities here at the resort are endless. Today race-winner Jessie Donavan's three children managed to get to the zip line, might very well have done the luge ride and got their faces painted. Then, about five minutes after watching mom win, they were on their way to a trampoline area.
And, of course, there was the race.
Donavan wins her second
Speaking of women's champion Jessie Donavan, the former elite Nordic skier continued her domination of the Ironman events within a few hours drive of her home in Burlington, Vermont. After a second place finish at Ironman St. George in May, Donavan won in Lake Placid last month. Today she followed up a personal-best swim with a solid bike that put her within easy contact of the front of the race and, once there, never looked back on her way to a convincing win.
Canadian Marie Danais led the way out of the water, but she was quickly passed by country-woman Rachel Kiers, who would lead the way through the rest of the ride. Donavan trailed out of the water, but steadily moved up to the front, eventually moving into second ahead of Uli Bromme, the German-born Boulderite who hung tough trying to keep Donavan and Kiers in contact.
Kiers started the run gamely, but was only able to hold Donavan off for 11 km. She then did her best to hold Bromme off, but eventually got passed by her, too. After having started 10 minutes behind the pros, age grouper Brooke Brown (who won her age group in Texas in May, but missed the Kona slot registration when her car broke down) put together a steady performance that got her both an age group win and fourth place overall. She was followed by Montreal's Natalie Groves.
Women's Top Five
1. Donavan, Jessie USA 01:07:33 05:06:31 03:11:35 09:30:46
2. Bromme, Uli USA 01:04:38 05:14:35 03:17:32 09:42:45
3. Kiers, Rachel CAN 01:01:40 05:08:46 03:33:55 09:49:49
4. Brown, Brooke CAN 01:03:08 05:15:26 03:30:06 09:54:19
5. Groves, Natalie CAN 00:54:13 05:30:04 03:43:15 10:14:13
Guillaume Goes All the Way
France's Romain Guillaume was, on paper, the likely favorite in the men's race. He had a couple of runner-up finishes on his resume and, last year in Wisconsin, appeared on track to win his first Ironman after leading out of the water and through the bike, only to struggle through the run and be forced to walk the last 16 km of the marathon.
Earlier this year he won Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant, then finished a solid third at Ironman Lake Placid. Today he followed the same race plan as he did in Madison last September. His dominating swim put him onto the bike well ahead of the rest of the competition. His impressive bike split on this tough course (4:35) increased his lead - into T2 he enjoyed a 16-minute advantage over Canadian Nigel Gray, but was well over 20 minutes ahead of the men he most feared: Spain's Alejandro Santamaria and American Matthew Russell, who chased Guillaume together through the first half of the marathon.
Guillaume had a few fearful moments on the marathon, reliving his Wisconsin experience from a year ago, but in the end even though Santamaria put together a 2:52 marathon, which was just a shade faster than Russell's 2:53, the Frenchman was never in jeopardy of losing this one.
After so many oh-so-close experiences, today's win was especially meaningful for Guillaume. Gray would succumb to cramps, putting him out of the picture, but two other Canadians rounded out the top five: Martin Lamontagne-Lacasse and Ryan Cain.
Men's top five
1. GUILLAUME, Romain FRA 00:51:22 04:35:17 03:09:09 08:40:48
2. Santamaria, Alejandro ESP 00:57:17 04:52:23 02:52:35 08:46:58
3. Russell, Matthew US 01:02:34 04:47:11 02:53:29 08:48:12
4. Lamontagne-Lacasse, Martin CAN 00:55:05 05:02:16 03:02:15 09:04:59
5. Cain, Ryan CAN 00:57:02 04:58:56 03:05:25 09:06:08
While the top racers put on a show, the rest of the field did their bit, too. The stories are endless, but here are a few highlights from the day:
Luis Alvarez finished yet another Ironman race, continuing his record of completing every Ironman in the world and finishing, I believe, number 88.
John Wragg did the same - his total, though, is an astounding 140 Ironman finishes.
Ironman CEO Andrew Messick proved that he truly can relate to all of us athletes by completing another Ironman in an impressive 11:43:36.
Quebec's super-hero-age-group-world-champion-children's-disease-fighting-activity-inspiration-role-model Pierre Lavoie won his age group and finished 9th overall.
Goshen, Ct.'s Kathi Peck finished today's race in 12:34:40 - and she's 62! That's some fast racing!
Mont-Tremblant will be a mainstay on the Ironman circuit for a long time - of that there is no doubt. Everything about this race embodies what the sport is all about - everything from the amazing community that has supported this event to the extreme to the incredible athletes who inspire all that passion.
If you couldn't be here today to see it all, you'll want to get here someday.
You can reach Kevin Mackinnon at firstname.lastname@example.org