Sudbury Sports Guy: Conquer the Crater offers a little
something for everyone
Author of the article:Randy Pascal For The Sudbury Star
Published Jul 24, 2023
With an even dozen events
on the go, spread between this past Saturday and Sunday,
the folks involved with the 2023 XTERRA Conquer the Crater
pride themselves on offering a little something for everyone.
Winner of the marquee full distance off-road triathlon
in 2022, native Spaniard and now Torontonian Francisco
Montoya was second only to Mathieu Bilodeau from Fossambault-sur-le-lac,
Que. this year, the latter clocking a time of 2:05.46,
versus 2:15:14 for Montoya.
Perhaps more important for
race organizers is the fact that the second-place finisher
made a return visit this year to Sudbury with friends.
“He brought in six
more guys this year,” noted Felix Martinez, who
originally hails from Venezuela, but now resides in Mississauga
near the bulk of the competing sextet. “We are all
friends from the Latin American community. We used to
train with him (Montoya) — obviously we are not
at the same level, but we are getting there.
“He has been pretty much a mentor for us.”
A former competitive swimmer
who represented his state in South America, Martinez seriously
started targeting his first ever trip to Northern Ontario
back in late summer of 2022.
“I started training
last year after almost ten years out of the pool,”
the 35-year-old said. “I focused on getting back
in the pool and now getting comfortable in the open water.”
All of which was the basis
for the following race game plan, as he described it while
checking out the course on Friday.
“On the swimming, I
want to get comfortable in my pace — and then get
well prepared with hydration and fuel during the mountain
bike. I want to try and keep a good pace for the running
trail, keep it up on the up hills and go crazy on the
The first woman to cross the line was Heather Pady from
Mono, Ont. in 2:32:01, a couple of minutes ahead of local
Sara McIlraith, who posted a time of 2:34:31.
While events like the 42-
and 21-kilometre trail runs are considered qualifiers
to move on to various international meets, offerings such
as the short distance off-road triathlon and the 5 km
and 10 km runs were among the more popular races.
Already making a name for
herself as an up-and-comer within the female officiating
ranks, local product Abiguele Perreault was adding the
sprint tri to her summer training regimen this year, tackling
the challenge for the first time Saturday along with boyfriend
Simon Begin, from Hearst.
“We have no clue what to expect,” Perreault
said with a smile on Friday, their registration and introduction
to the transition area preparation complete. “We’ve
been practising at my camp, doing mock triathlons. We
have an idea how to pace ourselves, but other than that,
we are winging it.
“We watched a few YouTube
videos — How to Prepare for your First Triathlon
— but other than that, it’s going to be a
surprise,” the 20-year-old Esc l’Horizon graduate
Keeping herself in shape
by virtue of a very busy on-ice schedule — Perreault
had actually planned to compete at the 2022 Conquer the
Crater, but was forced to pass up the opportunity when
she was selected to work the Ontario Summer Games for
the OWHA last year — the well-rounded athlete veered
towards triathlon specific training in the spring.
“We started with the running and then added the
bike portion when the snow melted — and when the
water was warm enough, we did the swimming. We’ll
see how this goes.”
Sudburian Kevin Powell shared many of the same thoughts
as Perreault, likely not a surprise given that he was
also tackling the short distance triathlon for the first
time ever, as well.
“I signed up kind of
on a whim — it sounded like a fun event,”
suggested Powell, who did have some hands-on experience
as a volunteer with a previous Conquer the Crater to establish
a base of knowledge. “I have done long road rides
(cycling) before, but nothing like this.”
Giving his particular background,
Powell acknowledged that the triathlon could be somewhat
hit and miss as he contents himself with simply remaining
reasonably competitive and completing the course, when
all is said and done.
“I am probably better with cycling; I do a lot of
road cycling,” he said. “I am more limited
in mountain biking, but not to say I haven’t done
any. I was a lifeguard, doing swimming lessons and stuff.
My swimming is strong enough, but I haven’t trained
in a long time so this should be interesting.
“I am going to try
and pace myself with the swim, not tire myself out and
then make up some time on the bike. Running is more of
With a time of 2:19:53, Kevin
Powell can now strike the short distance off-road triathlon
off his bucket list.
Now 55 years of age and with
an athletic resume that covers competitive swimming growing
up and into the masters category with more recent tangents
into high-end paddling and the world of ultra-distance
running, Lisa Champion of Oakville was one of the final
competitors to leave Kivi Park Sunday afternoon having
just completed her 63 km trail running challenge in a
time of 9:08:58.
Considering only 17 hardy souls completed the longest
of the runs, getting to the finish line in and of itself
marks another tick on the bucket list that must number
several pages in length for Champion. Now preparing to
tackle her longest distance ever, a 100-miler next May,
the first time participant in Sudbury outlined how she
found her way to the expanding Nickel City proceedings.
“I have a friend that
did it last year and he’s from Sudbury,” she
said. “We’re always looking for something
different — and something technical. I like technical
trails. You kind of feel like you’re young, doing
a parkour in the woods kind of thing.
“With trail running,
you have to pay attention; you have to keep an eye on
your feet. Time kind of clicks by. It’s very different
from road running — you have to pick up your feet.”
Different styles of running,
different athletes, different events: it’s kind
of a theme with Conquer the Crater.
Randy Pascal’s That
Sudbury Sports Guy column runs regularly in The Sudbury
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