Roberts goes the distance again
Richard Roberts finishes the St. Albert Triathlon for the 25th straight year
Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 06:00 am
Richard Roberts celebrated the silver anniversary St. Albert Triathlon by crossing the finish line for the 25th time in the sprint distance race.
Roberts, 71, completed the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and five-km run in one hour, 39 minutes and 46 seconds as the 182nd competitor out of 263 finishers Sunday morning.
“It was lots of fun,” Roberts said while savouring a slice of watermelon outside Fountain Park Recreation Centre. “Twenty-five is sort of a magic number and I’m lucky that I can still do it.”
The elite-level age group triathlete from St. Albert also placed first in his 70 to 74 age category.
His split times were 14:12 in the pool, 49:55 on the bike and 35:39 on the run.
“I had the same time as last year so I haven’t got slower in the triathlon,” said the 144th overall finisher in 2013 as the top 70-plus male in 1:39:35.
Roberts flew home the day before from Montreal to keep his streak alive after competing in the 15th FINA World Masters Championships.
“Unlike fine wine and cheese I don’t get better with age,” he said. “I had tough competition. (In the 70 to 74 age group) I was 17th in what I felt was my best event, the 50 fly, but I came ninth and 10th in my 100 and 200 fly so that was all right.”
This year’s race, hosted by the St. Albert Road Runners and Triathlon Club, featured an all-time high of 363 registrants for the sprint, try-a-tri (250m swim, 10-km bike and 2.5-km run) and relay team.
“The reason why St. Albert has a lot of people who do go into triathlons is because they’ve got the organizers who are willing to put this on every year,” said Roberts, who was among a big group of triathletes, including his wife Catherine, 67, wearing their colourful Canadian racing gear for the upcoming ITU World Championships at Hawrelak Park. “We’ve had family or friends of athletes that have gone into the organization side of it and I think that’s what made the big difference for St. Albert, like Sheila O’Kelly. She’s done a lot of work in the ITU.”
The sprint distance winner was Kevin Clark with a super fast time of 59:18.
The head coach for the Edmonton Triathlon Academy and the Canadian junior team at the ITU worlds was clocked at 10:06 in the pool, 31:34 on the bike and 17:39 on the run.
“I’m very happy with my race. I don’t get the chance to race so much as I’m coaching the ETA so anytime I get a chance I just want to challenge myself and see if I can inspire the juniors watching,” said Clark, who wasn’t aware what his time was in the post-race interview. “I just wanted to give a good effort today.”
Mark Brown of St. Albert – winner of the 10th annual Chinook Triathlon Festival in Calgary at 1:59:22 in the Olympic distance event – was this year’s runner-up at 1:01:19 and Ian Elm of Athletes in Action placed third at 1:02:19.
Clark, 39, raced professionally up to 2006 and represented Great Britain at the 2001 European championships and Scotland at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. He is also the provincial junior coaching in addition to his ETA duties and Canadian junior commitments at the ITU worlds.
“That’s a big honour for myself to be a head coach of another country even though it’s the junior division but it’s a big responsibility so I’m looking forward to represent Canada as a coach,” said the Scotland-raised Clark.
Most of the ETA triathletes he coaches were older age-group and master competitors in the St. Albert race and the younger ones were in Calgary at a Kids of Steel event.
“We have a good junior development program leading into world champs and we’re hoping after the world champs it’s going to promote the sport and we’re going to get more juniors wanting to take up the sport of triathlon,” Clark said.
This wasn’t his first St. Albert Triathlon after O’Kelly brought him to Canada to coach.
“It’s a friendly triathlon neighbourhood,” Clark said. “We have good supporters of the ETA in St. Albert so we love to come to race here.”
Tammy Laubscher of Athletes in Action was the fastest female Sunday at 1:07:08 for 11th place overall.
The split times for the 30-year-old in her first St. Albert Triathlon were 10:37 in the pool, 36:03 on the bike and 20:29 on the run.
“I had good competition right from the start,” Laubscher said. “I had more than enough left for the run than ever before. I had some good girls pacing with me at the end so that always pushes you to perform better, which we love.”
Laubscher still considers herself a newbie in the sport even though she was the top female in the Olympic distance race at Great White North last month at 2:38:24 for ninth place overall.
“I’m pretty new to the sport. I’ve been doing it for over a year now,” said Laubscher, who estimated the St. Albert race was the sixth or seventh triathlon of her short career and the second of the season after the great White North. “That was a good start to my season. I normally do the Olympic distance.”
The chartered accountant from Edmonton is an accomplished swimmer who is training for her first half ironman.
“Having a swimming background is really helpful. You feel good on the first leg so what more can you ask for,” said Laubscher, who hails from South Africa.
She was pleasantly surprised by the festive-like atmosphere at the St. Albert Triathlon, which included lots of food, good music and even a beer gardens.
“I know what it takes to organize events (through Athletes in Action) and I think this is really, really, really well done. It’s a good atmosphere. If the crowd is happy and the crowd is cheering it makes for a good results.”
Visit www.resultscanada.com for complete results of the St. Albert Triathlon.