That Sudbury Sports Guy: Beaton Classic produces new storylines

Emily Marcolini (left), Kaeden Ward, James Bertrim and Rob Gregoris ae winners of this year's Beaton Classic. Randy Pascal jpg, SU

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Pretty much each and every August, the Beaton Classic allows us the opportunity to catch up with quadrathlon regulars.

The likes of Clinton Lahnalampi, Sara McIlraith, Kerry Abols, John Larmer and Donna Smrek are among a good solid handful of race regulars, the folks that we pencil in to the starting lineup a year or so in advance.

Yet for as much as an event like this annual local tradition is built around a core of these fitness foundation folks, part of the anticipation of the gathering lies in learning the stories of those who can not yet lay claim to forming the essence of the fibre and fabric of the Beaton Classic.

That takes time.

It seems virtually a given that the next generation will form a quadrant of the crew that fills the void.

At this point, Kaeden Ward is likely far more well-known as being the son of Lo-Ellen teacher Colin Ward, one of those gentlemen who could easily have been included in the previously noted grouping, completing the Beaton on a solo basis for the umpteenth time on Sunday.

Young Kaeden, however, is ready to carve out a name of his own.

The soon-to-be high-school freshman teamed with long-time friend and accomplished swimmer James Bertrim, and race veterans and elite individual leg competitors Rob Gregoris and Emily Marcolini to finish first overall, covering the course in 2:02:16, a couple of minutes ahead of the team of Kelly Hotta, Allison Caswell, Jordan Hotta and Pascal Renard.

Though his team held an advantage of almost 10 minutes heading into the run, Ward was anything but confident knowing there was an experienced marathoner on his tail, with still 7.5 kilometres ahead for the young man who turns 14 this week.

“I was worried because Pascal is really fast and I didn’t feel great,” said Ward. “I was focused on just trying to run through it and run fast enough that they didn’t catch me. I was happy that I had a decent distance (lead), but I wasn’t sure how much I was going to fall apart at the end.”

Yet another participant in the DQ Kids Duathlon not all that long ago, Kate McIlraith was tackling the cycling leg for the fifth or sixth time in her career, missing out on last year’s race due to work commitments.

By now, the 19-year-old, third-year environmental biology major at the University of Guelph is keenly aware of the unique attributes of the roadways that she must navigate before tagging off with her team paddler, Jayde Hurley.

“I think it’s gotten even bumpier, which I didn’t think was possible,” she said with a laugh. “But I like that they changed the route. Instead of coming past the train tracks three times, they turned us around up top, which makes it easier.”

Joining forces with Julie Falvo (swimmer) and her boyfriend, Justin Leale (runner), McIlraith was quite confident to leave the canoe leg in the capable hands of Hurley, a fellow Lo-Ellen Park Knight, who is likely more well-known for her athletic accomplishments in Nordic ski, track and field and cross-country running.

“She’s really strong with her upper body, so I knew that she would be good there,” said McIlraith. “And she’s done a bit of paddling with one of her friends. They did the canoe marathon together.”

This is often how teams come together. It’s certainly a similar story to that of Kim Brouzes (swim), Peter Ledingham (cycle), Matt Luoma (paddle) and Mikael Maki (run). The quartet was taking part in the Beaton for the third straight time, with Ledingham jumping in to cover for regular Julie Luoma, unable to commit the time, unfortunately, this year.

“We do it for fun, it’s something to look forward to at the end of the summer,” said Maki, explaining the rationale for a team comprised who folks who slide into the 40-49 age bracket. “We were just talking about doing it, I don’t know if there was any one thing that was the catalyst. We just decided to do something different.”

Posting an extremely respectable time of 2:17:21 in finishing second in the men’s fours division, Maki and company mixed in elements of competitiveness with a weekend warrior mindset. “You try and improve on your time, each year,” he said. “Your first year, you’re not really sure how you’re going to do.

“Each of us looks at how we do within our leg. I would say that today, the swim was the hardest, partially because they had to do the 800-m run at the end, and also because there was a crosswind with the swim.”

Of course, the 17 brave souls who completed the Beaton on a solo basis (four women, 13 men) would likely provide the best assessment of the toughest leg of the course, given their inability to duck even one of the four disciplines.

A native of Smooth Rock Falls, Stacey Trottier entered the Beaton for the very first time this year, joined by her husband, Mitch, though this might represent the natural evolution of the impressive athleticism for the parents of two (seven- and nine-year-old boys).

“I’ve been doing triathlons and the timing worked out this year, and we decided to do the Beaton, throwing in the paddling,” noted the 42-year-old woman who bested her husband in the swim and the run, but had to defer on overall family bragging rights, crossing the line a short distance back of her training partner (2:42:49 vs 2:31:35).

“I did a lot of triathlons in my 20s and then I stopped, for about 10 years, when I had my kids,” said Trottier. “We’ve been back into it for a few years now, but I just started paddling last week. I had a week with my canoe to try and figure things out, but it was awesome.”

In fact, it might only be a matter of time before the Trottiers are as much an integral part of the Beaton as those noted at the outset. “I definitely need to practise more on the paddling, but I’m definitely coming back next year.”

“I thought it was so much fun.”

 

Randy Pascal’s column runs on a regular basis in The Star.

 

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