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T. Michael Hennessy, Law Office
Caruso Club
Friday, Sep. 22, 2017
Female tandem shows the way at the 2017 Beaton
2017-08-14
by Randy Pascal

The women were not about to take a backseat to the guys, not at the 2017 Beaton Classic.

Securing both the first and third overall placing in the solo race, Sara McIlraith (2:19:06) and Monica Haring (2:21:03) managed to book-end men’s champion Todd Withers (2:19:16) as the Sudbury summer tradition gathered folks on easily the best day of the weekend at Moonlight Beach.

“I didn’t realize that until Colin Ward (2:21:45) told me after the race,” said McIlraith, claiming the female crown for the sixth time. “It never crossed my mind that I would be first overall, that’s never happened before. I knew where Colin was and where Clinton (Lahnalampi - 2:27:45) was, but it never occurred to me that there wasn’t one of the guys way up at the front.”

It’s an easy oversight in any year, given the presence of two and four person teams that will generally show the way ahead of the first individual racers. It’s an even easier mistake when you’re completely focused on maintaining top spot in your gender bracket.

“I was really pushed by my good friend, Monica,” said McIlraith. “She and I swim a lot together, and she’s gotten really strong this year, so I knew I had to stay with her. We came out of the water at the same time. She’s stronger on the bike, so I had to let her go a little bit, just to keep my legs, because I’m a stronger runner.”

Now 29 years of age and making her third appearance in the solo event, Haring has continued to display a steady progression from a rather modest start in the Beaton, with her ultimate goal now to complete an ironman. “To be honest, this race was a New Year’s resolution,” she confessed.

“I wanted to get into shape. I had heard about the Beaton and decided I was going to do it. For me, the first time, the hardest part was the swim. I started really seriously swimming that year, and I couldn’t make it the length of a 25 meter pool. I joined Laurentian Masters to help me with that, and I made it through the swim at the race.”

Very gradually, Haring has made up ground, over the years, on McIlraith. “I knew it was going to be close,” noted the women’s silver medal winner. “But after swimming, biking and paddling, my legs just felt “noodly”. I kept going as best that I could.”

It was a different story for the first time winner in the men’s division, with Withers keenly aware that the fourth leg might propel him into top spot. “My swim was good,” he said. “I’m doing a little more on my swim, and this winter, I hope to do even more.”

“I just survive on the bike. I have a great canoe and I’m like a running specialist. If I have these guys in my sights on the run, I thought I could catch them. Once we got on the beach and I knew they were within a few seconds of me, I knew that if I just stayed calm, I could let them come back to me.”

Having celebrated his 54th birthday and with a goal to remain the oldest participant in the solo category, Withers pulls no punches about the importance of the Beaton in his athletic calendar. “Over the last few years, this is easily the crown jewel of my summer,” he said. “I do everything kind of building to this now.”

Putting all divisions into play, the very first team to cross the finish line was the tandem of Buddy Green (swim/canoe) and David McGregor (run/bike), posting a time just slightly over the two hour mark (2:00:52).

Born and raised in Sudbury, McGregor has called Ottawa home for several years now, with the win on Sunday marking his first return to an event he knew well in his youth. “I did it years ago at the university, a couple of times as solo, and a few times with a team,” noted the 44 year old athlete.

“Years ago, I was a competitive cross country skier and went to nationals for track and field, and then took time off for a career. The past couple of years, I started doing ironmans, slowly getting back into shape. I got asked by Buddy at the last minute to be on his team.”

Prepping for the Ironman Mont-Tremblant next weekend, McGregor acknowledged that the Beaton proved to be a helpful, if somewhat taxing, warm-up for his next race. “It’s much shorter, so we were going harder, putting out a much greater effort over a shorter period of time,” he said. “So this hurts more.”

And while the physical prowess of all of the afore-mentioned competitors is certainly inspiring, their stories might not hold a candle to the inspiration one could gain from 50 year old Glenn Woods, one of just eight men who tackled the test that is the solo event.

“I was a competitive couch potato until 2013,” said Woods, in a glaring understatement. “I was 420 pounds that year. I’m now officially half my former body weight.” And like others who share similar stories, it certainly was not the Beaton that was the end goal when this search for fitness began.

“I didn’t even start running until I got down to 250 pounds or so,” he said. “The first 150 pounds were just walk, walk, walk, which is all the body needs, and watching what I ate. Then I started running. I hated running as a kid, but for some reason, I started liking it. Then I started biking, because I heard it was easier on the joints.”

“Then I started swimming. One thing just led to another and the next thing you know, I’m doing triathlons and I love it. Now, it’s just a way of life. I never want to go back to the old “Glenn”.” The first triathlon that Woods would compete would be in North Bay, last summer. He would trim an astounding 25 minutes off his time in his repeat performance last month.

As for his next Beaton, the now avid Sudbury Fitness Challenge participant has narrowed down where the emphasis with his training should lie. “The swim was awesome, no issues with the swim at all,” he said. “The bike has a little bit of a rough course, compared to other triathlons, which was a bit of a shocker to me. But the paddling was probably the toughest part. I’m not a strong paddler, and I don’t think I realized just how far four kms is in a canoe.”

That is a refrain that is often heard, even in the team events, where the identification of paddling talent is typically the toughest slot to fill. “I’ve never been in a race before, but I have canoed for fun for a few years now, so I have a bit of experience, I guess,” said recent Lo-Ellen Park graduate Liam Bursey, heading to Laurentian in the fall to pursue a degree in Architecture.

In his mind, the team of former Knights stayed true to their moniker, “Undertrained and Overconfident”, perhaps with the exception of running ace Brendan Costello, who reeled in a few other squads in the final leg.

“Costello made up for the gap, for sure,” said Bursey. “My arms were a lot more sore than when I normally canoe, that’s for sure. I had a lot of space around me when I went out there to start out, but that didn’t last for too long. I had people on either side of me pretty quick.”

“They were catching up to me. Our team had a really good start, but the canoe is tough. Some people had Kevlar canoes, which are really light, and there were people who had way more experience than I do. There were people around me who really knew what they were doing – they were going really fast.”

Following are results for the top few finishers in each grouping, as well as all solo athletes who completed the Beaton Classic:

Women's Solo Division
1st - Sara McIlraith - 2:19:06
2nd - Monica Haring - 2:21:03
3rd - Lindsay Raymond - 2:50:46
4th - Debra Michaud - 3:52:14

Men's Solo Division
1st - Todd Withers - 2:16:16
2nd - Colin Ward - 2:21:45
3rd - Jordan Hotta - 2:26:24
4th - Clinton Lahnalampi - 2:27:25
5th - Scott Hopkins - 2:40:14
6th - Glenn Woods - 2:46:51
7th - John Oberthier - 2:56:50

Women's Pairs
1st - Shelley Watson/Tracy Hayes - 2:43:34
2nd - Laura Young/Kelly Bowie - 2:46:05

Men's Pairs
1st - Buddy Green/David McGregor - 2:00:52
2nd - Rob Gregoris/Stephen Faulkner - 2:11:18
3rd - Kelly Thompson/Sean Thompson - 2:11:39

Mixed Pairs
1st - Dana Wilson/Kerry Abols - 2:20:26
2nd - Jessica Lonsdale/Joe Lonsdale - 2:30:38
3rd - Karen Broughton/Tom Johnston - 2:39:57

Mixed Fours
1st - Kara Fillier/Robin White/Lisa Labreche - 2:18:54
2nd - Tristan Wallis/Thomas Gore/Katie Grove/Laura Williams - 2:33:24
3rd - Kiara Vallier/Ray Love/Jessica McShane/Mike Raskevicius - 2:35:12

Men's Four
1st - Julie Falvo/Frank Battaion/Glen Younggregoris/Pascal Renard - 2:08:27
2nd - Tamara Flanigan/Charles Dumas/John Larmer/James Larmer - 2:11:39
3rd - Chris Dodds/Casey Crowe/Liam Bursey/Brendan Costello - 2:16:10

Women's Four
1st - Paris Macey/Kate Richards/Mary Waddell/Allison Caswell - 2:31:31
2nd - Laura Stanyon/Bridget King/Helen Loiselle/Alison Godwin - 2:40:54
3rd - Anne Mullins/Alison Aho/Trish Hennessy/Sophie Roberge - 3:03:13

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