St. John’s Newfoundland Triathlon Race Report

Sometimes…things go well, like really well.  And sometimes, things don’t go so well, like rather badly.  As for this race…well, the number three wasn’t just the number of sports I did today.  But let’s start at the beginning.

The beginning being as where exactly St. John’s, Newfoundland is.  First off – I’m in Canada.  And Newfoundland is a province in said country.  And St. John’s is the city.  All of which are located at the far eastern and northern edges of North America.  Here, a quick refresher from the map app when I accidently tried to route here:


In short – on a good day you can probably see Greenland from here, maybe even England.


One of the perks of being far enough north to see Moose roam and icebergs float by is that it boasts really awesome temperatures to race in.  And unlike many races in the DC area, when you arrive in the morning, you probably need a light jacket.


Luckily for us, The Girl’s house is just a few miles down the road so the drive to the race site was nice and quick.  From there we setup in transition and got everything ready to roll.  Because there were no assigned racking spots, we were able to setup right next to each other…Ahh, how cute!


Now, I really wanted to do well at the race – perhaps even end up on the overall podium.  My intelligence gathering of my competitors led me to believe I could pull an upset, especially combined with the cooler weather.  How big an upset?  Well, this was posted at packet pickup:


No pressure or anything…

Oh, speaking of packet pickup – check this out – they gave us full transition bags.  It even fits my helmet!


So with that in mind we swung through body marking and then headed down to the crystal clear waters of a small lake where the swim was being held.


It was funny, at an American race virtually everyone would be at the waters edge some 30 minutes prior to the start of the race.  In this case however, things are a bit more laid back.  First off – the swim buoys weren’t even out…and in fact, had to be dragged out by kayakers:


Meanwhile, we were pretty much the only ones at the beach, let alone on the beach and ready to go.  So we took advantage of that time and went for a nice little swim – probably some 500-700 yards or so.  It was great to get truly warmed up in the water as opposed to just sorta half-way ready.


Anyway, right around 9AM a mass of green-caped folks made their way down into the water and prepared for the start horn.  It was a mass start for everyone except the Sprint folks, who would go about 30 minutes later.  I liked this approach – made it kinda nice in that it was easy to figure out who was truly ahead of ya during the race (we were marked F or S for full or sprint)


Ok…back to the swim.


In short, I swam my ass off.  That was generally my goal.  I was pretty ecstatic to come out of the water only 86 seconds behind the race leader.  I had timed them hitting the last swim buoy about 60 seconds back, and then it was only a short bit later that they hit the beach.  So for me (a non-swimmer), I was pretty happy with that.

Anyway, outta the water and onto T1 I went.


In this race, T1 is combined with your bike split, so I don’t have separate splits there…but I was quick. :)


I got out onto the bike and simply tore it up for the first few miles.  My primary goal was to try and catch up with the handful of folks that were ahead of me coming out of the water.  So, I made good progress on that.  The bike course is a two loop affair with each loop being 14 miles (yes, longer than the standard distance).  The first portion is a heavily twisting and rolling section on the lake’s edges.  It could be fairly technical depending on how you rode it as well.

I rode it having a blast – I loved the up and downs.

From there, it was out onto a semi-main road for another few miles of flats, with a slight breeze to your back.  During this section I was holding 30MPH…on the flats.  It was pretty sweet.  I was also reeling in a few people along the way.

However, that would be short lived.

I had just turned onto the Trans Canadian Highway where the course wandered for a few miles.  In the US this would be akin to biking out onto I-5 or I-95.  Here it was pretty much normal.

Around this time I finally saw the lead group just ahead of me, maybe a few hundred yards – but I was making good ground on them – going into sections with climbs, which are my forte.

About a mile later on the highway just as a jeep was passing me I heard an air hissing sound.  I immediately thought to myself “Wow, sucks for him (the Jeep)”…and then as he went further away, the sound did not…which turned to “Wow, sucks for me”.

A flat…on a tubular tire.

So I went about my business ripping the old back tire off (quite literally) and replacing it with the new tire.  Probably all in less than three minutes.  Not Nascar-fast, but functional.

I then flipped my bike back over and put it on the ground to get on.

At which point..the front tire then blew.

I should point out, I no longer had any more tires.

So, I did the only thing I could do…I rode it in.  I wasn’t about to sit out in the Canadian Wilderness highway waiting for a moose to come along (which, btw, did happen to some other racers out there today).

It took a long time, but I eventually got back to transition (finished loop 1), where a helpful bike mechanic let me borrow his front wheel.  You can see me here, and in particular – check out my front tire if you zoom in, crazy.


So out I went, again.

Re-passing everyone that I had already passed.  I thought it was strange however that my back tire (the first one to flat and get replaced) seemed to be slowly getting more sloshy feeling.  I figured I was just getting fatigued with the wind.

Well…after the bike leg when I’d return to the transition area, I’d find both tires fully flat, and with this little gift in them:


Nuff said on the bike…but I did finish that sport.  Despite three of these:



Finally off the bike!

Time to run, ‘my sport’.

The run is a two loop course as well, and is a bit long at 6.5 miles (advertised as such as well).  It includes about half a mile in the trees on a compact gravel path, and then out a lightly rolling road for the remainder.  It’s a pretty fast course if run correctly.


I ran it pretty fast with the 5th fastest split of the day, though my motivation was a bit lower since I was basically racing for nothing.  After you lose 20 minutes of time to flats and trying to ride flats, you’re really just competing for yourself, and not against anyone from a podium standpoint.

But I still ran hard.  All the way to the finish.


I thought it was cool that they put out the American flag for me – the lone American athlete there (which they also mentioned when I came into T1 as well as T2 and the finish).


Overall I finished 12th, and in my age group I finished 2nd…which is pretty good given everything.  Having a solid swim and run helped.  My run ended up at a 6:20/mile pace, so I was fairly happy with that.

Post-race, I need to point out the awesome stash of chocolate milk they had.  Mostly because I had about three or so of them.  Pretty sweet.



Speaking of cool post-race things.  This race actually has the awards ceremony later on that night at a banquet.  Including a full buffet!  Mind you, this race only costs some $80 or $90 to get in, and also included that kick-ass transition bag.


It was at this event that I got my medal for 2nd place AG…and the girl got hers for Top 3 overall female.  Once again rockin’ the overall standings!

So, if you’re ever up this way – I’d highly recommend checking out the race – it’s a blast!

P.S. – You won’t want to miss tomorrow’s news…so keep your RSS reader programs peeled…


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  1. Wow. Three flats sucks! Glad you got through! This is a true lesson in perseverance to all of us.

  2. liking the new tri suit, looks sweet. Hard luck with the flats.

  3. Jen

    Wow… great report…sorry about all the tire business… this the main thing keeping me away from tris.

  4. Wow, rough day with all the flats – way to go on still making the podium though!

  5. Yes, on a good day you can see Greenland – not England.
    My dad is from Newfoundland and I’ve grown up on a gazillion stories from the rock.

    Excellent race. Are you in Canada for a while?

  6. Congrats! You faced adversity and still did very well. Congrats to the girl as well!

  7. Did you see any northern lights? Due to the increased solar activity you can see them in the summer this year.


  8. dumb question – what’s an RSS readers program?

  9. Anonymous

    Impressive job even including the flats. Those distances look surprisingly close to a 1/4 ironman. I wonder if that is a coincidence or on purpose.

  10. Great discipline to run hard!

  11. Sorry about the flats, but way to keep going. Both my husband and I are new to tris (I haven’t even done my first yet) and getting a flat totally freaks me out! I am such a GIRL I wouldn’t know what to do!

    Great job in the swim and run too!

  12. Have you played Monday-morning quarterback to estimate about where you would have finished w/o the flat-tires? I imagine you had enough data to put together a reasonable estimate. Given that, you may want to return to the course next year and take care of that unfinished business.

  13. Flat tyres are my biggest hate when it comes to pedalling, but you did fantastic anyway. Thanks for sharing your race experience with us. Cheers.

  14. Nice report! I’m glad to hear that they put on such a great event for a reasonable price like that. Sounds like a good time!

  15. 3 flats and you still got onto the podium. You are a rock star!!! Congratulations to both you and The Girl for her top 3 overall spot. That is awesome!

  16. Good job despite crappy luck. Inquiring minds want to know, though – why did you choose the Garmin 310xt and the Garmin FR60 as the watches du jour? It really is just idle curiosity, but I am curious…..

  17. Three flats??? That’s so not right. And you still ended up 12th over all??? That’s impressive! :) Sounds like an awesome race! Congrats to you and the girl!

  18. Glad to read that you didn’t stop racing even with the flats. My husband and I teach mountain bike race clinics and one of the things we stress is to finish your race (unless you are truly hurt or come up on another racer that is hurt), because once you quit a race it becomes easier to quit again.

    Congrats to you and The Girl for podium finishes.

  19. I remember seeing you on the run. (Opposite directions) Had no idea you flatted, twice, with tubulars. That’s just really crappy luck.

    Funny how you say “Only $80.00” A lot of people here thought it was kind of steep.

    Anyway, hope to see ya next year!

  20. I was recently in the market for a new cycle computer and stumbled upon your blog while researching the Garmin Edge 500. I’ve since been back for periodic visits as I really enjoy your posts.
    As a transplanted Newf, now living in Toronto, I was pleasantly surprised tonight, to see a picture of Newfoundland and read your travel and race reports. It’s also a little funny as I just got back from “The Rock” last week, now I wish I had stayed a little longer and brought my bike so I could have raced myself. I guess I’ll have to add it to the list and make sure I plan one of my future visits around the race.

    Keep up the good work.

  21. Congrats on the AG placing! I have the same tri suit, except in the Women’s version with the blue. Even with the flats you had a terrific placing!