Canadian Marathon Championships

A huge goal in my cycling career came true this past weekend in Quebec by being crowned the Canadian Marathon Champion!

The voyage started off Thursday night at basecamp in Victoria as I packed for 2.5 months of travelling oversees.  It was a full-fledged controlled gong show.  Packing for a race weekend is one thing, but trying to pack for 3 stage races, 3 single day races and a 24 hr race all at once in 5 different countries around the World was a head scratcher.  One bike box was packed with my Kona Hei Hei and all the supplies needed for the 24hr Worlds Champs and Crocodile Trophy in Australia later in October.   I don’t know how this is going to get to Australia but I will try to figure it out later.   The other bike (King Kahuna) and my North Face duffel bag were coming with me, first to Quebec then over to Mongolia and a little Asian tour afterwards.

Friday morning was an early one as I hopped a series of 3 Air Canada flights to Saint Raymond Quebec in Eastern Canada. Our stint in Quebec was solid as my teammate Kris Sneddon and I met up with old time friend Simon Tremblay at a small cabin in the woods for a weekend of chilling and racing.   We laughed allot, got lost in our pre-ride Saturday, got nibbled by fish during our ice bath, laughed some more and even managed to stay a little organized and get ourselves properly fed and rested before the race.  A late night campfire settled any last minute jitters although it was a pretty crappy fire.  I was embarrassed about it and am blaming the French wood as it ended up smoldering an excess amount of smoke into our lungs.  Trying to be a boy scout can be tougher then you think sometimes.

Sunday morning 90 of us lined up for the Canadian Championships in downtown St Raymond to tackle the 97 km course rolling through the beautiful Quebec backwoods.  I have raced in Quebec multiple times and have never had a stellar race.  This I blame on the overconsumption of Poutine and Beavertails.

Last year at this race I was coming off an injury and rode in a very forgettable fashion.  This year all the stars aligned and after testing the legs on a few early climbs I knew this was my race to win.  It was a tactical race, fairly flat with one big climb in the middle followed by 40 km of flat into a small headwind to the finish.   I rode conservatively for the first half, trying to push the climbs to widdle the lead group of 11 down in size, but figured it was wise to stick with them for awhile.

Going into the only single-track of the day, as last rider in our group of 4 (Jamie Lamb, Peter Glassford, Sneddon, & myself), I lost focus and let a small gap open.  Pretty soon riding 15 seconds behind the group I came into a weird loop in the trail, it flung me around and I started biking the course backwards.  When I saw 5th place rider Marc Andre Daigle from QC riding at me I cursed, then  flipped it and rode to where the course seemed to dead end.  From here I saw a faint trail, rode it and seemed to connect back to a more main trail but wasn’t sure if it was right and had no idea what was really going on.  For the next 15 minutes it was an anxious ride through the woods as I would soon learn my fate.  Coming into the  3rd feed station I was informed the leaders were 2.5 minutes up the road.  This was a huge relief as it meant the race was still on and I hadn’t messed it up too badly!

From here I had some work to do if I wanted to catch the leaders before the flat headwind ride into the finish.   If I didn’t I would likely be racing for 4th by myself.   Going up the 25-minute climb I gave it hell as my chance at winning my first National title was starting to flicker away.  9 times out of 10 this gap would’ve been to big to close but on this day I found some extra fire power and I caught the leaders a few minutes from the top.  Not keen on being conservative anymore I attacked the guys to see who had what left in their legs.  Immediately a solid gap opened.

This created a slight dilemma as I could see my teammate Sneddon was in 2nd, drifting behind.  Kris is as strong as an ox on the flats and I figured if we worked together we could essentially guarantee a 1-2 Kona finish, the only problem was one of us would be number 2.  The other option was to try and solo in, but if Kris connected with the other two guys the 3 of them could work together and potentially lead to a 4 up sprint for the win.   In the end it was an easy decision to wait for my teammate over the top and then off we went on a perfectly executed team time trial to the finish.

Riding with Kris to the finish line was great.  We traded pulls equally and built a commanding lead.  Coming into a wheat field 3 km from the finish we looked at each other and knew we had to do what neither of us wanted to do.  He suggested he would give me the win as I waited for him on the climb, but that wasn’t totally fair for him and not the way I’d want to win. The Canadian Title was something we both wanted so we decided too sprint it out and leave it all behind at the finish line.  Either way we were getting poutines together after the race to celebrate a great ride.

Neither of us are real sprinters, I had a bit more punch on this day and took home my first ever Canadian Title by 2 seconds.  Kris came up 2nd, for the 2nd year in a row.  I’m really lucky to have such a great teammate to travel and race with, as it makes the journey to all these races a real pleasure.  There aren’t many guys around as unselfish and solid as Kris.

Post race was full of a river swim, poutines, soft ice cream, a bonfire and more good laughs with Simon, his brother JP and friend Fred.  Thanks guys for the great weekend and huge thanks for being in the feed zone for us JP.

Getting to don the Canadian Maple Leaf Jersey for the next year is an honor I will take with great pride!

Huge thank you to all my family, friends, and sponsors who have stood behind me and supported this dream for all these years.  Accomplishments like this don’t happen alone.

Off to Mongolia to defend a title at the Mongolia Bike Challenge..!

3 Comments on “Canadian Marathon Championships”

  • Bob August 29th, 2013 7:37 pm

    Dude, nice race! The posts are awesome, I love getting insight into how your strategy plays out. You’ve got a good writing style that builds up the anticipation while being self-deprecating and humble. YOU BIG STUD!
    Good luck in Mongolia! Keep riding hard and smart!
    Bob Covey

  • Michael August 29th, 2013 9:35 pm

    Congratulations Cory! Looks like you’re having an awesome season – Keep pushin!

  • Kelly& Jurgen August 29th, 2013 10:20 pm

    Way to go Cory! Such a great accomplishment, best of luck on your next race!

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