Aug 14, 2012- 11:01 AM
OK, so long-time local teacher Kerry Abols hardly looks the part of the "grizzled" veteran, but the fact remains that the 36-year-old has been an absolute mainstay at the local quadrathlon, picking up his second straight solo title on Sunday in a time of 2:10.55.
"I kind of run on auto pilot, I've done this event for so many years," Abols said after the race. "I try and survive the swim and then focus on finding other competitors.
"I'm not a natural swimmer and I don't have a strong swimming background," he added. "This is a relatively short swim, by triathlon standards, but this is about as much as I can swim these days.
"I do a lot of canoeing with the school and even if I don't do a lot of paddling in the summer, it's something I'm not bad at," Abols said. "I can kind of hop in a muscle it out."
Abols finished over six minutes ahead of Clinton Lahnalampi (2:17.11), with John Maunders (2:18.23), Drew Thompson (2:21.04) and Colin Ward (2:29.59) rounding out the top five.
The event includes a one-kilometre swim, a 22-km cycling trek towards Coniston, four kilometres of paddling in a canoe before closing with a 7.5-kilometre run.
A total of 10 men and four women braved the solo divisions, with Sara McIlraith leading the pack for the ladies. The 40-year-old Sudburian completed her first official triathlon earlier this month in Deep River.
The first team to cross the line was "Through the Ages" (James Clendenning, Charles Dumas, John Larmer, Hayden Kosmerly). The quartet was assembled by Larmer, who at 63 years of age, falls just one year shy of equaling the combined age of his remaining three teammates.
While the addition of the Lockerby duo of Clendenning and Kosmerly certainly ensured this crew would remain competitive, the breakthrough leg came courtesy of Dumas, an avid cyclist who has ramped up his training this summer.
"I've been racing elite male in Ontario this summer, training pretty much every day," Dumas said.
Sitting in second place by 40 seconds or so after the swim, Dumas made up substantial ground, handing off a seven-minute advantage to Larmer in the canoe.
While Dumas might represent the top cyclist at the Beaton, the field is substantially tougher as he tackles road races against some of the best racers in the province.
"Working full-time puts you at a disadvantage," he explained. "You're working 40 hours a week, training for 15 to 20 and then being in northern Ontario, sometimes travel a day or two to races.
"With that kind of training, you don't get the recovery that you might get otherwise."
Still, the opportunity to lend a helping hand to the father of one of his long-time Sudbury Cycling Club teammates (James Larmer) had far too great an appeal to let pass by.
"John (Larmer) called me up one day and said he needed a cyclist," Dumas said. "Obviously I would say yes to him, since he's always helped me out."
Though the winning squad might represent something of an all-star mix of talent, the bulk of the competing teams bring together families and friends, some of whom no longer even call Sudbury home.
The DNA's combine a visit to the parents with a chance to compete in a fun-filled event as Darrell (47), Susan (49), Sarah (16) and Nathan (13) Hay make the trek down from their home in Thunder Bay, back to the old "Hay" stomping grounds.
"I was part of the Northland Athletic Club back in the 1980s when I first participated in the Beaton," Darrell said. "These days, we do this as a four-person family team.
"We tend to like the small northern Ontario events," he added. "We've been as far west as Sioux Lookout this year and a little in Minnesota, because it's so close to Thunder Bay."
The Hay's finished second in the Mixed Four team event, just over two minutes back of "Last Minute Mayhem" (Kirsten Hawdon, Frank Lesk, Lauren Olding, Todd Withers).
Hay noted that distributing the workload, for their family anyways, occurs quite naturally.
"It's pretty easy for us because my son is a swimmer, so that's a natural fit for him," Darrell said. "Our daughter does triathlons, so she took the run, and I'm still an avid biker."
Leaving mom stuck with the canoe, arguably the most technically demanding of the four disciplines.
Still, the Beaton is far more about the fun and challenge of competition than winning or losing, with competitors frequently cheering each other on. It was enough to bring a smile to the face of organizer Neil Phipps.
"The weather was touch and go earlier, but it turned out perfectly," he said. "The turnout was up probably 30 per cent over last year, and it looks like everyone is having a good time."
Despite the bump up in registrations, Phipps dreams of a much larger race.
"The only thing keeping this event from having 300 people is the promotion of it," he said. "I just have to spend more time getting people out there knowing about it."