XTERRA Sleeping Giant Race Recap

Sep. 11, 2014

To run an XTERRA event in Thunder Bay has been the dream of local race director Gordon Ryan for several years. Teaming up with James Kowalewski of XTERRA Ontario and Element Racing, that dream became a reality on Sunday at the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in Thunder Bay Ontario Canada.

The second of two Ontario races (XTERRA Mine Over Matter: 2014 Canadian Cross Triathlon Championships took place July 5th and was Canada’s largest full distance off-road triathlon event in 2014) debuted with a large local and provincial field, however it also drew-in participants from as far as Brazil, Hawaii and Bermuda. Additionally, it was the debut race for the 2013, 23 and under ITU World Champion from Australia, Charlotte McShane.

Coming off the 2014 ITU season, Charlotte came to Thunder Bay to end her race season on a high note and stamp her qualifying ticket to the 2014 XTERRA World Championships in Maui Hawaii.

The day got on its way with overcast skies and a cool breeze coming off of Marie Louise Lake. The cool temperatures were warmed with an emotional and heartfelt welcome from race organizer Gordon Ryan, which set the tone for the rest of the day.

With some significant chop on the water, the swim favoured the swimmers and was lead quite convincingly by Aussi pro Charlotte McShane. Charlotte exited the 2-lap course over a minute ahead of the next closest athlete in any race category; the bike portion of the race, however, was the great equalizer. While the bike course itself was not technical, it was relentless as the rain the night before the race and the relatively new, soft trails did not allow for participants to let off the pedals- it was an all-out grind on the 24km double looped course.

By the time the bike came to an end there was a definite shift in the standings as locals Doug Thiessen and Scott Hill moved into the lead, and Charlotte McShane dropped down into 6th overall (while still maintaining her convincing lead over the next fastest female).

Charlotte was far from done, as she shot out of transition onto the run course determined to regain the spots lost on the bike. In fact, she left transition so fast that you could hear a domino effect of volunteers and spectators gasp ‘my goodness, did you see that girl run!!’ as she flew by. Charlotte confessed in her post race interview (see Charlotte’s post race interview here: http://youtu.be/9D19y8ebO58) that she took off from T2 way too fast and that it might have caught up to her in the later stages of the run. She must not have faded too badly as she was able to regain 3rd spot overall with the days 3rd fastest run, and managed an almost 30 minute victory over her next closest female competitor.

Scott Hill on the other hand had a different kind of day- racing from behind but always in the mix. Known more for his abilities as a Nordic skier, Scott proved that a little cross training can go a long way. Scott came out of the water in 3rd and would battle out the bike course with the second fastest swimmer in the field, Doug Thiessen. While Doug got the better of Scott, who came off the bike dropping down to 4th overall, it was Scott’s blistering run which brought him the overall win, with a final run time 7 minutes faster than the next fastest competitor in the race. You can see Scott Hills post race interview here: http://youtu.be/cG5Jwg-wqIA.

‘This race is going to be a gem in Ontario’ said XTERRA Ontario’s James Kowalewski. ‘The organizers, the volunteers and the northern Ontario hospitality came shining through, and it will only get much bigger in the years to follow. Gordon Ryan and his crew put on a fantastic event and we look forward to seeing what they will have in store for us in 2015!”

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