Category Archives: Running

Race Report: Coronation Triathlon – by Duncan Purvis

After a 2 year hiatus from Coronation, I decided to give it a whirl again in 2015. It was an absolutely gorgeous day for a race, if just a little warm. The race is now being run by Multisport Canada, which has a signifcant amount of experience putting on running and tri races. While generally, the organization was good, and the volunteers excellent, their handling of body marking and swim organization left something to be desired. In years past, organizers had an excellent system for placing swimmers in the appropriate lanes, with the similar paced athletes. The organizers have shifted to a system of “waves” whereby athletes were sorted into approximate swim times. Unfortunately, these waves were very large, and had a fairly significant time differential. Based on my estimated swim time of 20:00, I was placed into wave 4, along with 125 other athletes with an estimated swim time of 19-22 minutes. There was no further sorting or fine tuning after that. Communication about start time was also lacking, in my opinion. I lined up amongst the rest of the 4th wavers and hoped for the best.


Giving the Coronation Triathlon another go in 2015


I was a bit uncertain about the swim this year. Given the proximity to work, I had been doing most of my swim training at the YMCA downtown, which has a 25 m pool. It was only a few weeks ago that I went down to the Kinsmen one night for a swim, and I realized that training in a 25 m pool is quite a bit different from training in a 50 m pool, which I had always done previously. I found my times drop a bit so wasnt sure how the race would pan out, given the Peter Hemingway Pool is 50 m. I managed the 1k in about 19:40, a bit off my best for Coronation. I will point out, as I have in years past, tight, crowded pool swims in triathlons do not lend themselves to making friends of the other swimmmers. That’s all I am going to say about that.

It was a little before 10 when I got out of the pool, so not too hot, but I could feel that in an hour or so, it was going to be a scorcher. Given a last lap surge to try and make a pass in the pool, I was quite a bit more out of breath than I would have liked coming out of the pool.

No T1 issues and I was off on the bike! My training this year included very little time on my TT bike, but it felt great! I keep telling people this, but the ability to bomb down Groat Road on new pavement, with no cars on the road is worth the entry fee alone. Luckily, I wasn’t hit by any bent, falling girders. In 2012, the last time I did this race, I had my best bike leg ever. It was one of my goals to beat that time this year. I had planned my splits and the approximate pace I’d need to meet that so I was working pretty hard on the uphills. Each lap as I neared the top of Groat, I would tell myself that I really should coast a bit on the downhill, rest, and get my HR down some. But every time I’d start down the hill I couldn’t resist gearing up and continuing to crank down the hill. Then I’d go through the same thought process near the top of the hill. It was like some Triathlon version of groundhog day, without Sonny and Cher, and the funny. Seemed to have worked though, as I ended beating my 2012 bike time by almost 2 minutes.


Bike Course

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Some basic Strava statistics


Back to T2 and I was off on the run. By now it was getting pretty warm, and I could just not calm my HR down. There was apparently a price that was a going to be paid for going hard on the bike. Running is really not my strong point, so I never expect too much. I know from years past that the key is to make time while you can on the downhill section of Groat, because coming back up as the last thing you do in the race, will never gain you much time. I started off moderately, but gradually built up the pace and before I knew it, I was at the turnaround. I won’t lie, it was a tough slog back up, and I was suffering. Dead legs, a HR that just kept going up and up, overheated, upset stomach… you name it! About 20 painful minutes later, I was rounding the bend near the pool to head back to the finish. No word of a lie, I swear they moved that corner further down the road. Bastards.


Running pace heart rate splits.


All in all, a great race. Even swim, faster bike, slower run (they moved the corner!!!) led to within about a minute of my previous best overall time. What satisfied me most about this race was the run though. I pushed through a lot to keep running and try to keep my goal pace. I’m a bit of a Strava geek, and when I got home and checked things out the numbers confirmed what my body felt…basically i spent 96% of the race in HR zone 4 or 5. Strava also has a feature called “suffer score” which takes some formula based on activity time and HR (as far as I can tell) and give you a number. I was “pleased” that this turned out to be my highest number ever, so some somewhat objective confirmation of exactly how crappy I felt. I just re-read that. Essentially, what I think I just said is that I felt like absolute crap on a run for 43 minutes, but I’m happy because I felt like crap, and furthermore, an electronic measurement of a bodily function transferred via blue tooth to a wrist computer, and then ultimately transferred to another computer to input on a website, confirms that I felt like crap, therefore increasing my happiness. Weird times my friends, weird times.


EXTREME suffer Score! Proof that it hurt, incase the pain wasn’t proof enough.



Celebrating a successful triathlon effort with the whole family


Kindness matters!

As I hope you all remember, when Fiera Race Club members race, donations are generated for a select group of charities (for more information see our About Us page). We have chosen these charities carefully, weighing a few key criteria:

1) we want to support some local charities – charities that are making a difference close to home for most of our members.

2) we want to support charities that make a large, lasting, and tangible difference.

3) we want to support charities for which there is a personal connection for our members

4) and finally we want to support charities that reflect the values of a recreational, athletically motivated sports club, such that we are.

Additionally we want our modest donations to have as big an impact as possible, and at the same time we want to spread our impact around as widely as possible.

Taking all these things in to account, I think we have come up with a most deserving list of eight recipients.  They are as follows:

Right to Play

Doctors without Borders

Food Banks Canada

Canadian Red Cross

Stollery Children’s Hospital

Camp He Ho Ha

Nature Conservancy Canada

Environmental Law Centre

We don’t always receive thanks for our donations, nor do we expect to.  I hope that the knowledge that we are fortunate enough to feed our passion to train and race all while generating funds that ultimately help to make to world a better place is more than thanks enough.

Still, it is awfully nice when we do recieve a note or letter such as I recently recieved on Fiera Race Club’s behalf, from the Executive Director of Camp He Ho Ha.

“This act of kindness is written on the hearts of so many who benefit from your generosity”

Here is the letter in full.  I hope it motivates us all to keep training, racing, and giving.

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Race Report: Frank McNamara Series #3 – Millcreek 2013_04_24

By Caitlin Mader

Having succumbed to the pressure around the office to join the Fiera Race Team, yesterday I laced up my running shoes  (well, my converse sneakers, having skillfully forgotten my runners) and ran one of the Frank McNamara Wednesday night races.

I’m new to this whole running with groups of people in a semi-competitive setting where you can’t just stop for ice cream as soon as you get tired thing. So my goal was less along the lines of “go faster than other people” and more along the lines of “don’t find a way to somehow look like an idiot.” Arriving at the startline just as the buzzer sounded and wandering around aimlessly for a bit trying to find someone to tell me what to do, I was off to a good start. After locating the officials table and receiving my foot-chip-thing, I knew I had to make up some ground, so I did what any serious athlete would do, and I sat down and had a snack. With an encouraging “What are you doing? Get going!” from the officials, I was off!

Not used to the 5.4 km length of the race, I started to burn out at about to 12:43 mark (measured in seconds and nanoseconds) so I found another competitor with whom to match my pace. He looked about seven years old, so I thought this was reasonable. Unfortunately the little tyke ran with youthful zeal that can only be explained by a mother waiting at the finish line with candy and the new season of Law and Order on DVD, so I soon found myself falling behind.

Being a spring race, the hilly terrain of the ravine was still fairly icy and muddy, so I employed my failsafe method for going down icy hills quickly. I don’t want to give it away, but if I was the eighth dwarf, I would be “Flaily.” This seemed to work fairly well, in that I did not fall flat on my face, although in the process, I was passed by dwarves “Speedy” “Leapy” “Swifty” and “Mucleshirt”.

I made it to the finish line in 30:06 for a solid, middle-of-the-agegroup finish. In hindsight, if I’d known it was going to take that long I probably would have ran slower. A bike ride home and some hot yoga completed the Yuppie Triathlon, and I sought my reward in a delicious Chunky-Monkey muffin baked by none other than Renee Howard, the Fiera Race Team’s other new member. Overall, the experience was very satisfying. It appeared hard at first, but that was just an outer shell that gave way to a soft, perfectly baked interior, loaded with nuts and fruit, and I think some coconut.  That was the muffin. The race was alright.

MEC Classic 5K & 10K Run

You know that spring is just around the corner when our email inbox starts to fill with news about races.  Here is the latest from the folks at MEC:

Interested in running?  Eager to win some prizes? Join MEC Edmonton for our inaugural 5 and 10 K Classic Run.

Date:  April 15, 2012

Time: 9 a.m. for 10 K and 9:15 a.m. for the 5K folks (awards at 10:30 a.m.)

Start: Louise McKinley Park, 9999 Grierson Road (please make your way down to the River Valley Adventures Building. Note that parking is available, but costs 10$ for the day)

Cost: It’s $10 if you register in advance, or you can register on-site the morning of the race for $15.

For more information about the race, or to register on-line, go here.

5 Peaks Pre-Season Trail Running Race

If you’re like me and can’t wait for the Trail Running Race Season, then the 5 Peaks Pre-Season Trail Running Race scheduled for April 28th in Fort Saskatchewan is the event for you. Eleven km of fantastic river valley running, stuffed full of twisty-turny single-track trails; flat and fast. As if that’s not enough, to add even more adventure, this race is done at night! That’s right, race in the dark.  All this for the small entry fee of $40. Sign on now and you get a mass start and the option to run as many extra kilometres as you like.  Thats right, extra kilometres are unlimited if you register today.  But wait, that’s not all! There will be podiums, awards, and an after party! Thats  right, all this for a mere 40$!!!! But wait, that’s not all. Port-a-potties will be available at the start finish where you can enter to win the last drop of hand sanitizer!  Don’t be a fool; sign on, lace up, bust out. Don’t miss the 5 Peaks Pre Season Trail Running Race! Its In The Dark!!

Winter Meltdown

If you check out our race calendar, you will see that February has been pretty bare of race events. However, as winter melts down things are really shaping up in Alberta, into a season void of reasons not to race — take a look at March and April!

Newest addition to the Calendar is the Canmore Winter Meltdown – a winter triathlon and duathlon.

2012 Frank McNamara Cross Country Running Series

Registration is open for this grass-roots running series.  That’s right; Fiera Race Team is not just about cross country ski racing and bike racing.  Sure those are the things that get me fired up, but while i enjoy boasting about railing the trails on two wheels, some of our members enjoy ripping it up on no wheels at all.  The 2012 McNamara Cross Country Series has organized 5-ish km-long running races on Wednesday nights starting April 11, to May 9th.  Register for the whole series for only $26. Fiera Race Team members post their results here to generate money for charity.

The Perfect Runner

Mark your calendars for a super-cool event!!  On March 14, the Metro Cinema will be hosting an advanced screening of “The Perfect Runner”, a documentary that explores the unique running abilities of humans.  

The screening will include a question and answer session with the filmmaker, in which I will ask the question “If humans are the perfect runners, why do I suck so badly at running?”.

If you don’t live in Edmonton, or can’t make the advanced screening, you can watch the documentary on CBC television on March 15 at 8:00 PM.  Check out the website for more info about the documentary, and have a gander at the official trailer below.

What Has Happened to Stefan???

After so much racing, so much success last year, quite likely you have been wondering what the heck has happened to Stefan.  Well wonder no more.  The following update has just come in from Stefan, himself:

It’s been a while since I contributed to the Fiera Race Team blog but here I am again. I was dealing with a long lasting Achilles tendon injury which finally, after about 6 months, eases off. It was a truly depressing and very painful time. Running wasn’t possible at all, however, since about 6 weeks I am able to run again. It still does hurt every now and then but it feels like it is getting better. But on the other end I also had a very wonderful time when Sanja and I got married in Germany on July 16th.

The wedding was absolutely amazing and we even had some people from Edmonton there (Simmon Hofstetter, Andrea and Darren McGregor, Robin Braconnaire and her boyfriend Joe Baker). The rest of the time we spent cycling, eating and travelling. We also had a little one week honeymoon on the lovely island Dugi Otok in Croatia where we met up with Andrea and Darren again. We had some really fun times cooking fresh fish, scuba diving and cycling; and it actually was on this very island when I started running again.

At first it was only a couple hundred meters but after a few days I made it up to about 3km. My Achilles tendon didn’t hurt at all during this time and I thought it was finally over – but it wasn’t. Once we came back to Edmonton it started to hurt again and swelled up badly. I was totally desperate and decided I will just start running again – through the pain – because if I not start doing anything soon I can erase IM Cozumel from my calendar. “Hop or Top” became my motto. I know it’s crazy to do such a thing but what did I have to lose? My time was running out and the pain persisted for 6 months now even though I did things like “eccentric calf muscle strengthening”, stretching in general, massaging etc. but nothing seemed to work. The first runs were painful and I wasn’t sure whether it’s a good idea to just keep running, but, believe it or not, after about 10 days it got better. You might say now it could be a coincidence and the injury just healed up during the same time when you started running again but I don’t think so. Whenever I had a few days off running it would hurt more than during periods in which I ran more frequently. The really funny part of this story is, however, that when Sanja and I were in Serbia her uncle Boban (a marathoner himself) told me “Run 30k straight through and it will get better”. At that time I couldn’t even think of running because it was so painful and I told him “If I would run 30k straight I probably won’t be able to run at all anymore”. Apparently, he knew better.

So, that was a brief summary of what happened to me in the past months. Now what are the plans for the rest of the year?

After finishing IM Hawaii last year I told myself you have to come back here and try better. There is still so much room for improvement. As you may know from previous blog contributions I focus on one sport every year with the long term goal of becoming an overall good triathlete and making it into the top five in my age group in Hawaii as well as going sub 9 hours at some point along my Ironman “career”.

Last year was all about running and doing bricks, whereas this year is in the sign of swimming. In November 2010, I started swimming 3 to 4 times per week and moved up to about 7 km on some training sessions in early summer of this year. Honestly, I have no idea how much this will give me in terms of minutes but I am sure the swim will at least feel better.

I also had to stop cycling due to my injury when it was really bad. With the first races coming up I decided to just do them and see how the Achilles tendon will respond. To get into some sort of a shape I did a few of my “one hour all out workouts”. Of all the races I did this year, the Banff Bike Fest was by far the best!! This was the most amazing cycling race I ever did here in Canada. Beautiful and fast with a whole bunch of great people! I can only recommend it. If you have a road-racing license, then definitely do it next year!

For Cozumel I spend all my time on the trainer. I do 3 to 4 trainer workouts a week ranging from 60min during the week and up to 240min on the weekend. Even though these longer rides are at a relatively low intensity the do kick the fudge out of me and I am usually trashed for the rest of the day. Here’s a nice quote from world class Canadian triathlete Peter Reid: ”I get the same intensity out of a 90-minute workout on the trainer than I do from three or four hours on the road.” I totally agree and if time is the limiting factor for you give it a try! Especially during the long cold Canadian winter ;)

As for running the first half of the year was pretty devastating due to my Achilles tendon injury, as you already know. Now it’s great again and I am very happy. I am now in training week 6 (out of 14) and I am super pumped for Cozumel. My training results, particularly for running, are awesome! I can hardly believe it myself. The reason for that must be due to the fact that I was running lots last year and not only quantity but also quality. That means I spent most of the time doing speed and threshold workouts on the track. This year when I started running again I went back on the track and did a 2 by 20min threshold run to see where I was in terms of running. Amazingly enough this test resulted in an average pace of 3:48min/km for the first 20min and then a 4:10min/km for the second 20min. This totally blew me away and I couldn’t believe that without running for 6 months I am still able to pull that off. Sure, the second 20min were way slower and that must be due to lack of training but it showed that my running investment of last year wasn’t lost. Long story short, I believe that, if staying consistent for the next few years, I will be able to reach my goals.

Here is a little summary of my results and what still is going to come:

Place   Race                                       Category         Date
?            Ironman Cozumel             M30-34          11/27/2011 
DNS    Challenge Roth                    M30-34          06/10/2011                                        
45       Banff Bike Fest – RR            Cat 3               06/19/2011                                     
8          Banff Bike Fest – Crit          Cat 3               06/18/2011                                  
4          Banff Bike Fest – ITT            Cat 3               06/18/2011                  
8          Pigeon Lake Road                 Cat 3               05/29/2011                                 
12       Velocity Stage Race – Crit   Cat 3              05/15/2011                               
5          Velocity Stage Race – ITT   Cat 3             05/15/2011                            

That’s it for now! Stay tuned and talk to you after November 27th.


Race Report: Ottawa Race Weekend Half Marathon

Pete van Wesenbeeck sent in this account of last Sunday’s Half Marathon – part of the Ottawa Race Weekend.  In it, Pete is much too humble to point out that he kicked butt, squeaking in a top 50 overall (out of 9,333), and finished 6th in his age category (out of 680).  Full results here.

A muggy, overcast Ottawa valley day couldn’t stop over 9,000 committed souls from toeing the line in the 2011 version of the Ottawa Race Weekend half-marathon.  With a forecast high of 33, many were dreading a long, slow plod through unbearable heat.  Luckily, the inferno held off and late-morning rainshowers served as a welcome respite from the humidity; soggy sneakers notwithstanding.

Pete all smiles at around the 6 km mark

The new course promised to be a pleasant change from the well-worn journey up and down the canal that many a runner have endured over the years.  Heading west out of the concrete canyon of Ottawa’s downtown, the course meandered through Chinatown, Little Italy and Wellington Village before doubling back east along the Ottawa River Parkway.

Keeping its inter-provincial flavour of past years, the route nipped into la belle province for a couple of kms before heading back to Ontario across the rustic Alexandria Bridge.  Incredible fan support greeted runners as they tackled the remaining few kilometers along the canal, across, and back again to the finish chute.

Perhaps the greatest aspect of the new course was its accessibility for the citizens of Ottawa to come and catch the excitement.  And come out they did!  Pretty much from downtown and all through the neighborhoods, spectators could be found cheering and clapping, providing much-appreciated encouragement to competitors.  As I ran by one of my favourite breakfast diners along Preston, I even noticed the owner out front taking in the action.  My hastily called-out order for one of his gourmet brie omelets as I ran by was generously answered with an offer to stop by after the race for one on the house!

The route passed within a block or two of our house, so I had the added advantage of seeing my wife and kids, plus lots of friends, around the 5k mark for some rousing encouragement and a few high-fives.  As an added bonus, I could always sneak off the course if things weren’t going well and head back to bed for a mid-morning nap.

I heard Evan’s cowbell clanging away and saw John snapping pix just past the 6k mark, as I headed through the heart of Wellington Village.

The cheering squad

Seemingly haphazardly-placed kilometer markers made it tough to keep track of pacing, which would be my only complaint about the course/organization.  I’m no metronome, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t responsible for the near-minute difference in my pace between a few of the kms.  Anyway, I ran at what felt was a comfortable speed and tried not to get carried away by the great cheering along the way.  It was difficult to get a good idea of where in the throng of runners I was situated, but by the time I rounded the bend onto Wellington St., the crowd had thinned out a little and I could focus on trying to catch a few clumps in the distance.  I wasn’t concerned with placing really; my main motivation was to get to the massage tent in the recovery area before the line-ups got too long.

I was grateful for the amazing turnout of exuberant crowds in the downtown core, as I was starting the feel the toll of the previous 18 kms.  Buoyed by the raucous clapping and cheering, the final stretch passed by in a bit of a haze, and before long I had the finish-line arch in my sights.  A couple of failed attempts at a finishing kick nevertheless resulted in squeaking in just under 1:23.  Marathoners coming in around the 3:30-mark were streaming in and as I admired their effort, I couldn’t help but think how much I would have dreaded facing another kilometer, let alone 21.

All in all, the day was great fun and a positive enough experience to consider running another half in the fall…  We’ll see.