Conquering the Canadian Cascades…

By Matt Lock

At the beginning of August 2015 I competed in the Ultra520K Canada [formerly Ultraman] race; an invitational, solo, triathlon format over three consecutive days. The race centres around Penticton in British Columbia; it provides the most stunning scenery as the ride(s) and run legs take you through sections of this major mountain range of western North America.

The three-day format included:

Day One:                   10km swim + 149.6km bike
Day Two:                   276km bike
Day Three:                84.4km run

Whilst I have competed in numerous Iron distance events and RAAM, the training for this event saw a steep increase in volume with particular emphasis on the swim and bike legs. The logistics of organizing a support crew [including paddler] were also a key consideration.

As I, and the other 24 invited athletes and crew assembled at the swim start a rather emotional speech was given from the race director which was followed by a rather ‘funky’ version of the `Canadian anthem. This set the scene for the swim start; a point-to-point lake swim with a paddler by your side. Then, we were off…

Whilst swimming is not my strongest discipline I came out of the water in a very respectable 5th place with a time of 3.09 hours. It had however, taken its toll…. I came to the conclusion after Day One that ‘next time’ I would take on more nutrition and hydration; I was not in a good way as I took off for the first bike leg.

It was only after I had rolled off the start line that I truly realised the state I was in. With my pulse was screaming, my legs felt disassociated from my body and I was out of breath. This is where experience became a crucial factor of survival in the high temperatures and long climbs. That said, it still took almost 80km’s and a lot of great support from my crew to finally settle in, take in some nutrition and finish in 4th place overall.

I awoke the next day feeling rested, with strong legs and in good spirits. After the first 30km and a small navigational set back I settled in and pushed on for the next 100km’s. The second half of the course featured a blend of steep climbs and long, straight sections with a solid, hot head wind as company. The athletes were fairly strung out by this stage and I had made my way back to 4th position by the time the climbing started.

Canada_520With the days ride due to conclude in Princeton the last 40km involved an ‘out and back’ with the first half being uphill, with a head wind. I was  ‘repaid’ for this torture with the inevitable second half being downhill, with a tailwind. Buoyed on by my crew I went ‘all in’ for the finish and secured 3rd place for the day with only a few hundred metres to spare.

The final leg was a ‘point to point’, 84.4km run from Princeton back to Penticton. The first 30km were on tarmac roads with the balance being on dirt roads that led all of the athletes up and over the mountain range. Feeling rested and ready [but for the result of some unexpected saddle chaffing] I soon settled into 4th place and around the halfway mark moved into 3rd place; a position I would maintain until crossing the finish line. After some amazing support from my crew, I secured 3rd place overall [age groupers] with a run time of 7.58 hours and fortified a podium place at my debut event.

I want to thank my crew, all those who supported me [near and far] with a special thanks to my wife Neridah who sets the benchmark for being an amazing Crew Chief and wife!

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