Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Challenge Bahrain


One of the odd parts of being a professional athlete is it’s a job that requires me to rest – I get to watch a lot of films and have a pretty good recall for movie quotes! So as I jetted east from the continent for the first time, I remembered Sam from Lord of Rings, saying “If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I've ever been.”

I’d never flown across the Atlantic before, and my exotic destination of Bahrain would take me to the Middle East for the first time.

In 21 hours. On board three different planes.

My physiotherapist Sean Campbell even had me wear a Humidiflyer and had to give me exercises to do to keep my muscles fresh (which also meant I looked like a transformer and got some strange stares).
The "Humidiflyer"
 I don’t know what I expected Bahrain to be like, but I thought it would be different than it is. It’s far more like the Californian desert than I expected, with its dry air, flat roofs and dusty plains.
And the people, well, they’re not so different than Canadians in their hospitality and warmth. Everyone I met that I asked for help from was kind and generous, and they genuinely wanted to help me out.
This guy got us through security and customs fast by saying something like "These are not the Droids you are looking for"
Whenever I was out training during the week people were waving or giving me thumbs-up; they haven’t seen triathlon before and were truly intrigued.
The weeks leading up to this trip ticked along in the way they usually do when I’m training. Every athlete has their ups and downs and elite athletes are no exception. We are also, definitely, not immune to food poisoning as it turns out...

Although I’d been training for full-distance triathlons, preparations for the half distance in Bahrain were coming along nicely, and I was pretty confident about the race.
One thing I hadn’t prepared myself for was the hotel buffet. It certainly beat my own cooking at home – it was unreal. It had every type of food I could imagine.  The lineup at the buffet was the who's who of triathlon! It was also pretty neat to see what they all ate in the days leading up to the big event.  Rumor has it Pete Jacobs spent 4 hours at the breakfast buffet on day one!
The most incredible chocolate fountain that hung out in the hotel lobby. Tempting you to get the $27 dessert buffet!
Traveled half way across the world only to eat Richmond's finest cereal - Nature's Path cereal (my favorite!) being served at the buffet.
The race itself was incredible. Challenge Family triathlons are known for providing an amazing experience for athletes and the Bahrain team worked hard really hard to make it a special race. They dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’ from a smooth check-in experience to erecting giant inspirational billboards along the course.
Help desk at the Bahrain Airport for anyone taking part in the race.
We stayed at the Sofitel with most of the other Pro's, friends, family members, and media folk. The hotel was unreal!  The views were incredible and the staff super friendly and accommodating. Highly, highly recommended next time you find yourself stopping through Bahrain. Next December perhaps?!
View from our balcony - it was alright I guess.


The triathlon fan in me was definitely star-struck for the majority of the week. On the first day out to the outdoor pool and Pete Jacobs, Tim Reed, and Tim Berkel were swimming laps.  The pool was a tight circle and ended up being perfect for laps.
The Aussie's getting the work done in the hotel pool.
Selfie with Pete Jacobs and Tim Don...
There was no doubt in anyone’s mind about the Challenge Family’s signature colour, red – and our hosts pretty much painted everything in the town! Even the course itself included a unique feature: an F1 racetrack!
As fast as I like to think I am, I wasn’t quite at F1 speeds – I felt more like I was in a game of real-life Mario Kart than anything – but it was a dream-come-true.



The run course took us in a wildlife reserve that had ostriches running around. I was looking forward to that experience, too, until I saw some in the corner of my eye. Now I always run pretty hard, but I certainly got a little extra speed when they caught me in their field of vision.  Just liek Kevin Hart...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXNF60HX8iw

And I’d certainly never raced alongside a prince before! Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa is one incredible guy. He’s actually the reason the race – and even the sport – came to Bahrain.
You can’t help but have respect for a prince who’s not only racing, but investing in triathlon, and youth and sport development in his country. The indoor 50m pool alone is super impressive! The influence he’s had on his people inspires me.

The Prince and his entourage rolling into athlete registration

I think one of my responsibilities as an elite athlete is to encourage new people into the sport and celebrate the achievement of all athletes who sign up for races – young, old, fast or getting faster.
The day before my race I met one of the young people the prince has inspired. I went down to the kids’ race to volunteer and cheer them on, and met a 16-year-old Bahraini named Abdulla.
“Abs” is new to triathlon, from swimming. When I was talking to him, I realized he’s been having the same experience I used to have watching full-distance triathlon in Penticton when growing up. And was he ever lapping up the event, just like I did!
He loved meeting all the other athletes, sharing about what he’s been learning and all of his hopes and dreams for his triathlon career. After the race I learned he came out of the water in second place in the relay category – so I’ll be keeping a close eye on his development in the coming years!
Handing out medals at the Kids Junior Race. Always so much fun!
Abs and I at the awards banquet.
Whenever I read articles like this, I expect to hear the athlete’s strategy and am always inspired to read how closely to plan it went. But really, my strategy was quite simply just to go hard, get the most out of myself and to Get Ugly at the end. I heard Jan Frodeno said that I looked like I had been pushing the hardest when I was running down the finish chute and that is exactly the look I'm going for!
T1 Race morning

I was happy with my swim (although an elbow to the eye courtesy of Tim Berkel wasn’t one of my planned tactics!). I went a little harder than I normally would on the bike, but I wanted to take some chances and see what could happen.
I started to notice the Middle East heat on the run, but I figured everyone else was suffering too. I picked off as many athletes ahead of me as I could, but couldn’t quite get myself into sixth place.
But I was stoked to finish in seventh in such an amazing field. I found myself right in the middle of outstanding athletes and triathlon legends.
We also got incredible Challenge Bahrain transition backpacks as well as finisher jackets that looked like something you would find at MEC. Super light-weight, packable and really warm.  
Probably one of the cooler parts of the race was hanging out in the doping control tent post race with all of the pro's (male and female) and blurting out to Tim Don that my girlfriend Sophia has told me that his hair should be my hair-spiration...

The party didn't stop in the doping control tent either - Challenge Bahrain put on an unreal awards ceremony followed by the wildest triathlon after-party I've ever been to. Well, lets face it, the only after-party I've ever been to. Akon, Dire Straits, and Canada's own Massari were performing live. Yes, live. For about 200 people. Take what you're imagining this concert to be right now, and multiply it by 10 and you've got it nailed. There was even a dancing robot and the best break-dancer group I've ever seen.
Akon. Found myself thinking "Oh right, he sung that song too!" all night long.

 I've been home now for 24 hours and I still can't believe what an amazing experience I had over there. Challenge really knows how to treat their athlete's with respect and dignity and are doing great things for the sport of Triathlon across the world and especially in the Middle East.

Still figuring out my race plans for 2015 but you can be sure that it's going to include a few more of these races - this is one to put on your bucket list!

Huge shout out and thanks to everyone who was able to make this trip (and this season) such a success including Mike Brown (Great White North & Challenge Penticton Owner/RD) and Darren Hailes who traveled with me from Canada and were under the watch of the palace with me...we think it had something to do with 3 guys sharing a hotel room together. Everyone at Challenge Bahrain and Challenge Family for all of their hard work getting the race organized and all of us pro's organized. All of my sponsors, supporters, family and friends. And of course, my best friend Sophia who does more for me and my career then anyone could ever imagine!

Until next year Bahrain!! 


Sunset on our last night.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Triathlon Magazine Canada Articles

I have thrilled to have been asked to be an online contributor for Triathlon Magazine Canada.  I have linked my first three articles below.  From now on I'll be contributing an article every week and watch out for the occasional work in the written magazine.

Five Books Every Triathlete Should Read 

How to Survive the Recovery Workout

Five Questions All Athletes Should Ask Themselves 





Tuesday, October 14, 2014

BMO Okanagan Half Marathon and Tri Power Harvest Run

This weekend Sophia and I doubled up on running races competing in both the TriPower Harvest Run and the BMO Okanagan Half Marathon.  With two races on consecutive days, it goes without saying that we earned our Thanksgiving Dinner! 

First up was the Harvest Run.

The Harvest run is a 5.5k and 3k cross country race at Covert Farms. Covert farms is the perfect venue for a cross country race.  The course went through vineyards, up and down hills, on dirt roads and up into some fun single track trails. Just an awesome spot to run!  The race is a fundraiser for the the kids group that I coach with TriPower, so I was thrilled to be a part of it!  This also meant my arch rival Keagan would be racing.  Keagan is a 12 year who I coach at TriPower.  He is super fast and like all of the TriPower kids, has a great attitude and passion for running, triathlon and hard work! He out kicked me at the Challenge Penticton Fun Run (photo of us below) some say I didn't have the Eye of Tiger that day ;).  This time around he threw down some WWF trash talk at the start line and it was on.  I was able to finish ahead of him and win the race but it is only a matter of time, probably 5 or 6 years, that he'll be taking me down for real! That is what the Harvest Run is all about. Inspiring the younger athletes so they can one day kick my ass! That and winning a great bottle of Covert Farms wine for Sophia!

Keagan and I at Challenge Penticton Fun Run
Game Face!

Sophia in a Sprint Finish

Mere moments after receiving my wine prize, Sophia has already taken it!

Next up was the BMO Okanagan Half Marathon

I have done the Half Marathon portion of this race 3 times before and it is the perfect way to kick off Thanksgiving Sunday.  You get a great run in the morning and can then chill out all afternoon and hit Turkey dinner hard like your name is Joey Chestnut! Unless you are a triathlete, then you also fit in an afternoon ride.  Between the Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k the event had 2672 people out running and getting ugly on Sunday.  The staggered start and loops of the course work, I think I crossed paths or ran past all of them! This is always awesome as it leads to people cheering and giving words of encouragement to each other. It keeps you motivating and having a blast!  It was great to be able to win the race for the fourth time.  Sophia picked up a PB so she was pumped!

Link to Post Race Newspaper Article

Next up Ironman 70.3 Austin!  Stoked!

Pre Race Goal!
Photo from Wave Physio

Asics HyperSpeed 6.  Fastest Shoes I've Ever Worn!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Challenge Penticton Video

I am thrilled to have defended my title at Challenge Penticton! It was an unreal day out there. Chris Stenberg put together an awesome promo video for next years race.
Challenge Penticton 2015 from Challenge Penticton on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Thanks To My Cheer Team

I just want to say a quick thank you to my cheer team for getting me to the finish line in second place at Ironman Whistler on the weekend! Thanks to everyone out on the course that told me to "Get Ugly Out There!!!" Thanks to my Aunt Linda and Uncle Ron for putting me up for the weekend!

Race Report to come soon!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hindsight Is Always 20/20


Ironman 70.3 Texas race was a complete disaster for me.  I am pretty disappointed in myself for making a bunch of stupid decisions.  Having said that, disasters and stupid decisions make for incredible learning experiences.  So in a strange way, I am happy to have gotten beat down in Galveston!  

I had a great swim and felt super cruisy in the second pack of guys.  I got on the bike and felt great.  Not just great but that invincible, nothing can stop me today, kind of great.  The kind of great that most people feel in a triathlon before they annihilate themselves early on the bike.  And that is exactly what I proceeded to do.  I got caught up in the stupid ride with packs game.   The packs game NEVER works for me,  yet for some reason I decided to play it on that day.  The appeal of catching on an the front and using them for pacing and then smoking the run for the win seemed like an awesome plan.  But if it was so awesome, everyone would have done it.  I rode way to hard to try and catch the Brent McMahon, at the time it did not occur to me that he might be doing the same so that nobody caught up to him. The packs game never works for me because it involves throwing down big surges, keeping an eye on the other guys, not keeping the most aero position and takes me out of my mindset.  I also got caught up in the game and was looking for guys coming from behind. 

I blew through the second aid station, and didn’t take a bottle.  I have no reason for that.  My thought process went something like this “I’ll skip this aid station, that’s a bad idea”  but at 54+km/h by the time I thought  “That’s a bad idea” it was too late.  Normally I have a backup bottle, in case something happens (I.e. dropped bottle, aid station not ready, stupid decisions)  however for this race I decided to use my back up bottle to hold my pit stop.  At the time it seemed so genius.  My Argon 18 looked pretty friggin sexy so why ruin that by  Gorilla Taping pit stop on the frame?  Stupid in hindsight.

I could tell the watts were slipping a touch and getting harder for me as we approached the turnaround.  It got worse from there as we headed back into wind.  I was really wishing I had that bottle of Perform and it felt like forever until the next aid station.   I went from half Ironman pace to Ironman pace to long ride pace pretty quick. The deadly combo of poor nutrition and pacing had started to blow me to pieces.  To make matters worse I had changed my saddle position a bit last week as I hadn't quite felt comfortable.  My power had been slipping so I attributed that to my seat position, not the obvious fact that I was at the end of a hard training block.  Stupid on my part!  My sit bones were bothering me around 30-35 miles and Killing me at around 45 miles.  It was something to do with my position on my saddle that made me struggle on the run. 

So here I was, went from feeling like a million bucks to struggling to turn the pedals over.  I started thinking about the run, the stupid moves I had made and was trying to regain my composure when.  I thought this can’t get any worse and then BAM!! It can always get worse.  I swerved to miss a pothole and hit another.  Another crash.  Luckily this one was at a much slower speed.   I was pretty banged up and cut up and completely demoralized.  I was 500m from T2 and got back on my bike and rode in to T2. 

I had to options at this point.  Option A: drop out and go feel sorry for myself in my hotel room.  Option B: Get out there and get it done even if I had to walk.  I decided to get out and there get it done.  I know what it means for a lot of people just to finish, so if I was physically able to it, I was going to get it done.  Like Asics’ new motto that is written on my duffel bag and sweat pants “Stop at Never”.   Klean Athlete had helped me get down to the race so I wanted to make sure I did whatever I could to finish. I ended up getting this AWESOME company a whole lot of exposure because I was out there for a REALLY long time!  I had to walk the first mile (which took a lot longer than I thought!). Things finally loosened up and I was able to jog the next 11 until my hip flexor started to tighten up and I walked the last mile to the finish. 

What causes dumb mistakes?  Confidence.  Or lack there of. When your confidence slips you make bad decisions.  My confidence slipped heading into the race.  It wasn’t confident in what I could do. Seven months is a long time between races. And when six of those seven months are spent injured, you really start to question your abilities.  I felt like I need an extra something to take the win and beat Brent McMahon.  My focus turned away from the execution of my race to tactics and things that were beyond on my control.  This is known a classic “Choke”. 

The goal of the race was to enhance my preparation for Ironman Texas.  So mission accomplished.  I definitely learned some good lessons. 

So what have I learned form the race. 

1.) Pace yourself.  Go your own, even pace.

2.) Stick to a plan that works for you.  For me it’s to ride alone. 

3.) Accept that someone might be able to get to the finish line before you,.  The only thing you can do about that is get to the finish line faster. 

4.) Other people will be going too hard, don’t worry about it. 

5.) It’s okay to pass last years champion just as long as you are going your pace and not riding like a maniac. 

6.) Physically write out your nutrition plan and stick to it.

7.) Always have a backup bottle.

8.)  Don’t change your position 2 weeks out from a race.

9.)  Respect the distance and the course.  It’s the course, not your competitors, that will beat you down. 

10.) Don’t crash. 


Aside from the race, it was great to get to go down to Texas to meet the team from Klean Athlete. If you haven’t heard about this company, look into them now. They make awesome nutrition products (the ProBiotics are my favourite) that are specifically designed for athletes. I’ve noticed my time spent in recovery mode post-race is drastically decreased (assuming there hasn’t been a crash involved), and any GI issues I have ever experienced, stopped after taking their product.
Tim Monk (the VP of Sales and Marketing at Klean Athlete and passionate triathlete) even spent the day with me on the Monday after the race and took me out on the Ironman Texas course making sure to point out every pothole along the way.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The UBC Triathlon and Some Sponsor Updates!

Photo: Björn Ossenbrink

One race, one win.  Can’t complain about that!  The UBC triathlon was the 3rd triathlon I ever did back in 2006.  Looking back at the results it was quite the solid field with Trevor Wurtele, Andrew Russell and Adam O’Meara.  I remember thinking that Trevor (though I only knew him as the guy in the white and black shirt) must have cut the course because he came out of nowhere on the swim to be right behind me on the bike.  http://www.winningtime.ca/results_ubc_031106/olymaleoall.txt

Racing, how I missed you!  Mainly, how I missed Getting Ugly Out There on the run!  It has been a long road back from my crash at Challenge Penticton.  The impact on my hip caused problems in my sesamoid bone and kept me from racing until this past weekend.  It was awesome to get back on a start line and go through the emotions.  I know, I changed the saying, ‘emotions’ just seem so much more fitting in this situation. 

Just last week the course looked like this.   


The roads cleared up over the last couple of days and sun was astonishingly brilliant for race day.   I am not one for lame poetic sentences, but a week ago we thought it was going to snow race day, and it turned out to be shirts-off weather! Only in Vancouver…

Shirts Off!

The swim is done in a 50-meter pool.  Normally I hate pool swims because I can NOT count laps.  300 meters is my limit; I don’t swim 400’s, I swim 400’s-ish. But don’t think I have gone soft on you, I always err on the side of too much.  So if I had to count a 1500…. no chance.   Thankfully UBC has solved this problem by having swimmers go up and down each lane for the 8 lanes of the pool.  You then get out after the 8th lane, run (it’s a race, there’s no way I’m going to follow pool rules and walk) back to the beginning and swim 7 more lanes.   To change lanes you do the always-sketchy flip turn under the lane rope.  Negative side effects include: flip turning the wrong way, one-foot push offs, grating your head on the lane rope, or heading back into oncoming traffic.  All of which make things more fun, all of which I manage to do every time I’ve raced at UBC.   

The start of the swim is a time trial start; each person 10 seconds apart. I swam hard to catch the one guy ahead of me. He had written down 18 minutes for his 1500 time so I had hoped to draft off him to a good time. Although he looked like the kind of ex-swimmer that spent more time working on technique then anything else. Needless to say, he started fading HARD. That was when I decided to make the move to pass him and when “The Claw” came out! 

The CLAW!  Photo: Björn Ossenbrink

This is my new mission – to get rid of my claw.   No matter how hard I try I always do it.  I have purchased two beefy aluminum rulers and some duct tape to splint my forearms to practice. I am not kidding. Duct tape fixes anything and everything right?


Once you’ve finished your laps, you jump out of the pool and run outside to T1. The bike leg has a lot of turns and the roads were pretty slick from the torrential downpour we experienced on Saturday.  I took the corners fairly conservative as I was under strict “Don’t crash this time” instructions from my girlfriend.  I also made sure to give plenty of room as I lapped people, especially to the guy with the Alexander Gustafson like Bad Boy shorts.  I figured if we got tangled up he probably kick my ass as well.  


With the time trial start you can’t tell exactly where people are in the race so you just keep pushing hard right until the end. Once I got out onto the run course, it took me a bit longer to settle into my race pace then usual but managed to get there within a few kms. This was quickly disrupted when I was trying to pass someone and managed to loose my balance and fall (seriously, what is wrong with me?!). I quickly surveyed the damage, shook it off, and kept going. Managed to loose some skin from both knees but luckily nothing serious. 33 minutes later I crossed the finish line thinking “Oh right, so that’s what it feels like!” The running hard and suffering reminded me of what makes this sport so awesome.

Nathan, Nathan and I

Congrats to my fellow Okanagan athletes for kicking ass as well. Nathan Champness came 2nd, Chris Young 4th, Jen Annett won the womens and Robbie Smith with a comeback appearance won the Sprint Distance. 

It’s great to be back to racing and I am excited about the 2014 season!

Photo: Björn Ossenbrink

On the sponsorship side of things, at the end of 2013 I said goodbye to Orbea and welcomed Argon-18 to my team. I am so excited to be working with the guys (and gals) from Quebec! Thanks to Jonathon Caron, my French-Canadian interpretation skills I gained from him will finally be put to good use! I’ve already spent a good amount of time with the Argon-18 team so look out for more info from that! And as always, I have an amazing team of Asics, Shimano/Pro, Powerbar, Ryder’s, Klean Athlete, Champion Systems, Swagman Racks, and Kicker Endurance on board for another year of good times and fast times!

Photo: Björn Ossenbrink

Lastly, I want to say a big thank you my physiotherapist Sean Campbell from Campbell Health for put me back together after the crash.  Not only have we put the pieces back together, but we have made some improvements as well! 

Next up is the St. Patricks Day 5k at Stanley Park. Race starts at 9:00am, party starts at 9:15am!

Keep Gettin’ Ugly!
Jeff