Carolyne Guay: Chasing Dreams on Canadian Soil

Racing since 2019, Carolyne Guay quickly rose to the top of her age group before earning her pro licence in 2022. She’s a regular on the Canadian circuit with elite and age division wins to her name in Quebec, Bromont, and Tremblant. Yet this year she’ll face her biggest challenge as the XTERRA World Cup touches down in her backyard.

Written by
Sarah Bonner
min read
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The XTERRA Spark

Encouraged by her sister to try road triathlon for years, Guay finally agreed when she discovered there was an off-road option. Her first race was XTERRA Quebec, and despite not training, she won her age group, finished fourth overall ahead of some pros, and qualified for the World Championship in Maui that year.

“I went to Maui and finished fifth in my age group. I thought, ‘No training and fifth? That’s not too bad.’ So I told my boyfriend, ‘Next time I’m on that stage, on the podium.’”

XTERRA ignited something fierce in Guay. She returned home and began training with a determination to podium at the next World Championship. Although the pandemic delayed her plans, she used the extra time to get stronger and faster. In 2021, she won both XTERRA Quebec and XTERRA Tremblant outright. When she returned to the World Champs, she stepped onto the stage and up onto the podium, claiming the age group title and finishing 12th overall. Her standout performance didn’t go unnoticed, with an invitation to race professionally following shortly after.



The Full Send

As a neo-pro in 2022, Guay defended her title at Tremblant, took second at Quebec, and added a win at XTERRA Bromont. Still working as a self-employed physiotherapist, she found it challenging to balance her professional life and intense training schedule. Wanting more time to build up her training, she limited herself to domestic racing. But her dreams were growing bigger.

“I told my boyfriend, ‘I wish I could go all-in and go full-time, but I don’t see how we can do that financially.’”

Faced with this dilemma, Guay and her boyfriend began to brainstorm solutions.

“We bought a house just before COVID, and looking at market prices, we thought maybe we could use some of the money from the house. That would be the only way I could chase my dream. My boyfriend said, ‘If you want to do it, let’s do it.’”

They decided to take a leap of faith. A month later, the house was sold. The couple moved into her parent’s camper van for the summer, embracing a minimalist lifestyle to fully support her off-road tri aspirations. This bold move marked the beginning of her full-time pursuit of the sport. Since then, they have moved several times and currently reside in a friend’s renovated barn—a lifestyle change they’ve come to love.

“I’m not impulsive. I think things through, but I’m not afraid of taking risks. I don’t want to have any regrets. I’m pretty sure if we didn’t sell the house, in four or five years, at 40, I’d wish I had.”



Hometown Showdown: Québec World Cup

Now, for the 2024 season, Guay is focused on building her World Cup experience, with a major goal of performing well on home soil. Quebec was one of two new locations to debut on the XTERRA World Cup circuit this year, and when the series touches down in Canada on July 12-14, Guay will have the chance to race in front of the home crowd twice in a single weekend with the fast and furious Short Track scheduled ahead of the Full Distance race.

“I’m very excited because all my family and friends will be there. I know the trails well—they’re very technical, which is my strength. If it’s raining, it turns into a mud fest, and that’s very, very nice,” she smiles.

Guay explains how the trails in Quebec differ from those in European XTERRA races:

“We have more singletrack trails designed specifically for mountain biking. In Europe, you might get shared or 4x4 roads, which are wider. Here, we pass the pump track and have a flowy descent with big berms—things you don’t see much in Europe.”

"I know the trails well—they’re very technical, which is my strength."

Even though it will be her fifth time racing in Quebec, the deep field of top-ranked international pro athletes that the World Cup will bring makes it a completely different challenge.

“When I raced in Quebec before, even if I was seven minutes behind on the swim, I knew I could make it up on the bike or the run. But in the World Cup, I can’t do that—they’re fast!”



World-Class Racing, Local Grit

Despite there being seven XTERRA races in Canada, the vastness of the country means the community is spread out. With over 5,000K between some events, travel is extensive even on a domestic scale. Several events are held within Quebec, so local hype around XTERRA is growing, but the women’s field is still developing.

“I like when there are lots of women racing, but in Quebec, there aren’t as many right now. My goal is to finish in the top ten with the men; I feel like the men are my competitors too.”

Guay is thrilled that adding World Cup classification to Quebec will bring the best female athletes to her home event.

“The World Cup brings more elites and a deeper field, which is very nice. You get pack dynamics—people to chase and people behind you,” she says excitedly.



Embracing the Pro Life

Guay wants to race with the best, but she admits that racing in front of a home crowd adds pressure. Part of becoming a professional hasn’t just been training and racing at the highest level but also finding her place among the pro women’s field both on and off the course.

“It’s quite hard when you turn pro and have all these expectations from yourself and others.”

“It’s tough because my swim isn’t very good, so I’m always alone on the bike and can’t fight as I’d like. I’ve always been very competitive, but I know my limits. I know where I am and where I can go.”

"I’ve always been very competitive, but I know my limits. I know where I am and where I can go.”

As Guay progresses and works diligently to improve her swim, part of becoming a pro is seeing herself as one.

“When you’re not there, you see the pros and think ‘wow.’ But they are no different. Last year, I realized they are ordinary people. Even if they’re winning, they are stressed before the race and sometimes they cry. They have their own problems to manage.”

“I enjoy being with the elite because you get to know them, and they’re just people, just like me.”

She admires fellow pro racer Emma Ducreux for her relaxed approach and commitment to improvement, and finds inspiration in Solenne Billouin’s positive energy and approachability, despite her current top-ranking status.

“Emma Ducreux is really nice. She talks to everyone and has fun. She doesn’t put any pressure on herself and keeps pushing to be better. I like the way Solenne races. She has good energy. She’s at the top right now, but we can talk to her easily.”



Bienvenue à Québec

Above all, Guay is excited to welcome the World Cup to her home province. Racing on familiar trails with the support of local fans brings a special thrill. The event not only showcases the beautiful and challenging trails of Quebec but also highlights the vibrant culture and hospitality of the region.

“People in Quebec are really friendly. They mostly speak French, but they’ll try to speak English to communicate with everyone. And Quebec City is a very nice place,” she says.

For athletes looking for a post-race cheat meal, Guay recommends trying the local cuisine. “Everybody says people should try poutine,” she laughs, referring to the famous Quebécois dish of french fries with cheese and gravy. “But post-race only. I don’t recommend it before, or you’ll be slower on the climbs!” 

You can follow Guay’s World Cup campaign on the World Cup series page, and watch her race live at the Czech Short Track and the World Championship Short Track and Full Distance races. Also, be sure to subscribe to the XTERRA YouTube channel for all video content from the off-road triathlon pro series.











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Author Bio

Sarah Bonner

Sarah Kim Bonner (MA, PGDip, BA Hons) is a Canadian freelance writer, graphic designer, and professional triathlete. She has worked as a creative for over 10 years, specializing in written storytelling within endurance sports. Emotionally allergic to an office 9-5, she has lived and raced all over the world from the Arctic to Africa and now calls the Canary Islands home. Find her at or @sarahkimbonner.

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