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An Interview With Carol Montgomery

Sydney Olympics Site

An Interview With Carol Montgomery

On Christmas Day, Carol Montgomery, one of Canadaís most recognized triathletes, underwent serious surgery to repair a blocked artery in her left leg. Had she not had the operation when she did, doctors told her she might have faced serious consequences in the future, including rapid deterioration of the leg and potentially, amputation.

The former World Duathlon Champion, many time Canadian Triathlon champ and World ITU Triathlon silver medallist, had known something was wrong for sometime. It got particularly bad when she started to focus on running in 1996 to try to make the Canadian Olympic standard of 15:45 for the 5000m. (She came heartbreakingly close, running 15:49). She figured it was either a pinched nerve or a muscle imbalance, so she reduced the volume and intensity of her run training and returned to tri training. Amazingly, she managed to stay up in world triathlon ranking by modifying her workouts and "running through it."

At an ITU World Cup in Mexico this November, she felt like her leg was going to explode running out of the water. She decided then it was more serious than she thought and consulted a B.C. surgeon. He diagnosed the problem as a narrowing of her iliac artery.

Carol is optimistic about her chances of recovering in time to earn a spot on the Canadian Olympic Triathlon Team. She realizes sheíll have to move quickly because the Canadian womenís team will be decided by the end of April. She already has three top-14 finishes in ITU races; she needs only one more. In this interview, she talks candidly about her operation, her immediate goals and her feelings on the sport.

Runnerís Web: Tell us, exactly what happened?

Carol: For several years, I was having trouble with my left leg cramping and fatiguing with exercise. It was getting progressively worse overtime. I just tried to work through it. It was finally diagnosed by a vascular surgeon in Vancouver, Dr. David Taylor, as a narrowing of my left external iliac artery. He used a piece of saphenous vein to repair 15cm of the artery.

Runnerís Web: When did you start getting signals that this was a serious problem?

Carol: I had signs while trying to make the 1996 Olympic standard. At that time, I started having trouble with my left (inside) leg and figured that it was a strength imbalance. It would only happen during max effort exercise in the beginning, such as track running and hill climbing on the bike, so I would try to adjust my training and work through it.

Runnerís Web: Whatís the prognosis for the future?

Carol: The surgeon is confident it has been repaired. It is such a rare problem, no one really knows what to expect for the future.

Runnerís Web: Are you planning on racing again?

Carol: I am planning to race again in the first ITU World Cup races in April. My goal is to represent Canada in the 2000 Olympics.

Runnerís Web: How many years have you been racing at an international level?

Carol: Iíve been racing full-time since 1991.

Runnerís Web: What are your best performances?


1990 2nd World Triathlon Champs in Florida, US.

1996 3rd World Triathlon Championships in Ohio, US.

1993 1st World Duathlon Champs in Dallas, Texas.

(Runnerís Web note: Carol must like racing in the States)

Carol: I was also a member of the Canadian Commonwealth Games Team in 1994 (Ed note: Where Carol won a silver medal) and the World Track and Field Team in 1995.

My best times on the track are:

9:04 3000m

15:46 5000m

32:26 10000m

Runnerís Web:How have you managed to stay motivated to compete at such a high level for so almost 10 years?

Carol: I love training and the people and places I get to go. I love doing what I want to do and when.

Runnerís Web: You were one of the pioneers of triathlon here in Canada. How do you think it has changed since your early days in the sport?

Carol: People don't seem to have as much fun as they used to. I used to love the parties afterwards when everybody used to take part. Now it seems that it is just the people from the early days still out and about.

Runnerís Web: At one point in your career, you focussed on running rather than triathlons. Which do you prefer?

Carol: Triathlon is my job. Running is my hobby. After my career in triathlon, I don't think I will go near a bike or a pool for a long time.

Runnerís Web: If you could offer any advice to someone getting into triathlons, what would it be?

Carol: Try not to over train. Take the time out to spend with friends and family. Don't be too single-minded.

Runnerís Web: What lessons have you learned from training and racing for so long?

Carol: The one lesson I wished I have learned is how not to get injured. I have changed my training plan so much over the years but I still havenít found a solution!

Runnerís Web: I guess weíre all invincible, Carol. Good luck in your quest!




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