The triathlon training blog of Phil Barnes

Montreal Esprit Triathlon - 2013 - The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!

On Saturday I finished the Esprit Iron Distance Triathlon in Montreal. I LOVE this event, I have done it twice now, the multi-lap format is ideal for me. Last year, Esprit, was my first Iron-Distance event and it was perfect. This year, I was feeling pretty good after the Canadian 113 - and decided, "what the heck" - let's do the Esprit again. I do not regret it.

Personal Best!

This report is long and boring, so if you're like me - here are some data tables.

The splits:

The Splits! - Click it to make it grow.

This year vs last year:

This year vs last year -- what's that definition of Insanity again??

Race Report: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

The Decision to do this race

The Good: I officially decided to do this race 5 days before it started. You just have to love the independent iron distance races – no standing in line for hours, 365 days in advance to register.

The Bad: This race would be my third weekend of racing in a row – having done the Cornwall Olympic Triathlon and the Canadian Half-Iron in the two weeks previous.

The Ugly: My training log resembled more of an ad-hoc exercise diary and nothing at all like an Ironman training program.

Drive Up

The Good: Took Friday afternoon off work, was able to pack, and get on the road early enough to be in Montreal for 4-ish.

The Bad: Traffic was terrible in Montreal, took me 1 hour to drive the last 15K to get to the site.

The Ugly: Got stuck in a police sting operation, and was nailed with a $161 traffic ticket for “inappropriately merging” (or something like that).


Good: No hassle whatsoever picking up my package. It was waiting for me, with my name on it and everything. I would be Racer #80 – and as luck would have it, this would give me a plumb spot in Transition – and the last available tote to stash my gear.

Bad: Because I was a late registrant, I didn’t make the cutoff for a T-shirt. (I think I will survive).

Ugly: Race Expo was sparse this year, at least on the Friday evening. 


Good: Booked on and got a great deal on a hotel 5 minutes away across the river in Longueil with complimentary parking (big time savings over last year in Downtown Montreal).

Bad: Nothing exciting going on near the hotel. No nightlife or scenery for miles.

Ugly: Got woken up at 3AM because of paper thin walls to the sound of my neighbour balling her eyes out over something.

Race Day Set Up

Good: No hiccups whatsoever, everything went fine – chips, body marking, special needs drop off, setup; chatted with some nice people; felt 100% relaxed. Most importantly – had a successful trip to the porta-potty (Hint: If you ever do Esprit or the Demi – the 20+ porta pottys in the general Transition area are always available first thing in the morning).

Bad: I arrived on site around 5:30 – 90 minutes ahead of start – and already the prime parking spots were taken, I would have to settle for the main lot. Not a big deal in the morning – but I was already not looking forward to the walk back (alone) after the event.

Ugly: Nothing ugly to report.

Race Day Weather

Good: For the most part warm and sunny (not too hot), only a few wind gusts, overcast for the run.

Bad: I had planned for mostly overcast as per the 5AM weather update, hence, I had chosen clear goggles instead of tinted (which would have been better), and I brought different glasses than I would have had I known it wouldn’t be overcast on the bike.

Ugly: Those darn wind gusts still seem to crop up – and would make for a few interesting moments on the second half of the bike, and also be a pain in the butt on the run.


Good: Despite the water being cold (I’m sure it was less than 70 degrees as posted), it didn’t seem to be much of a factor.

Bad: I couldn’t see jack-squat the whole swim. My goggles were completely fogged up the whole time; the water was unusually murky, and it took me a while to find the wire at the bottom. I only sighted it for a small portion of the “Up” length. On the "down" length the rising sun was in my eyes for each breath. On top of all of this, I couldn’t find any packs to swim with; I was in fact leading a pack most of the time.

Ugly: My first lap was a little slow, and I ended up having to start Lap 2 right behind the second wave of the Half-Ironman. This meant a lot of navigating around and through 2 waves of slower swimmers.


Good: Kept my cool, and did what I needed to do; got cheered on by the Croneys. Guylaine and the kids weren't able to come this year - but it was really nice to have a local cheering contingent - for the swim, bike and most of the run.

Bad: T1 this year, was up further, we had to run barefoot longer. No biggie.

Ugly: The guy who completely “dropped trou” right in the Transition. He was rocking the transitions “old-school” (to his credit, he did try to change behind a towel, but he gave up on that idea pretty quick).


Good: Survived the bike without a mechanical, without crashing, and without getting taken out by someone else.

Bad: My thighs were complaining most of the second half of the ride. I wanted to tell them off, “Jens Voigt” style, except I still needed them for the run, and I didn’t want to offend them.

Ugly: Saw a crash right at the hairpin, 5 bikes in front of me.


Good: Counted only 11 bikes hanging on the racks: huge ego boost.

Bad: Reapplied Body-Glide to some sensitive areas --- ouch, that hurt!

Ugly: On my run out – which goes through the general Transition area, I was running behind someone who (apparently was warming up for a relay or something), and he all of a sudden does a 180 and smacks right into me. (no harm done, maybe a few swear words on my account – not enough to get DQd)


Good: As last year, I didn’t think of this as a marathon – it’s just 9 laps.  The announcer at the end of each lap, is probably better than Mike Reilly (whom I’ve only heard good things about). He really finds a way to make you feel good as you pass him each time.

Bad: After 2 gels on the run, having taken in 9 on the day, I just couldn’t find the courage to continue with gels – fortunately, flat coke and bananas were there to save me.

Ugly:  Last year, I ran way too fast at the start. My plan this year was to pace myself at 27 minutes per lap...  Again, I went way too fast – 3 minutes faster than last year after 10K… it was going to be one of *those* runs! (Luckily, I always felt good on the run, and even though I slowed down progressively each lap, I didn’t blow up, and I never ‘hit the wall’; nor did I need to walk any of it – except for the odd aid station).

The Finish

The Good: A Personal Best! I had a strong last lap – and was able to pick up the pace enough to better last year’s time by one minute and 41 seconds.

The Bad: There is never anything bad about finishing 226 km in one day!

The Ugly: I have never been one to “look a gift horse in the mouth” but, let’s just say the Finisher’s sweater is very unique looking – but I am forever grateful for it, and I am sure I will remember all the good times whenever I wear it!

PS: If you're looking for a better Race Report from Esprit Triathlon, here is the link to last year's report.