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Lynne Bermel
Lynne Bermel's Column

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May 9, 2000

An Interview with Rudy Hollywood

With a name like Hollywood, ya gotta know the manís got star quality. And Rudy does. As an accomplished athlete and an infectious, genuine person, no one can touch him - although many have tried to eat off his plate.

Seems heís been at the top forever Ė running, biking, skiing and duking it out with others more than half his age. Weíve wanted to interview ďThe ManĒ for awhile now. Between working out, working ( a necessary burden), organizing Sharbot Lake boot camps and running what must be one of the biggest email rings in the city, Rudyís one busy fifty-something year old. Hereís our interviewÖ
Rudy Hollywood at Ironman
Rudy Hollywood - Ironman!

Runnerís Web: OK, Rudy, weíve been wanting to interview you for a while. Please answer the following questions openly and honestlyÖ

Rudy: Openly, honestly what's that? Is that like asking a woman her age?

Runnerís Web: Sort of. On that subject, how old are you anyway?

Rudy: 54. It seems there are so many good races out there and just never enough time.

Runnerís Web: When did you start competing in triathlons?

Rudy: Hum, it was the early 80s in the days when the National Capital Triathlon was a 2 k swim in Mooney's Bay and a 40k bike out Riverside Dr to Bowsville and ended with a 15 kms run through Carleton along the Canal. Can you remember that far back?

Runnerís Web: How did you get your start?

Rudy: I started running a few 5 and 10 kms in the late 70s. My father-in-law was dying of cancer and the Terry Fox run was big back then. I was getting out of hockey and just getting fatter and fatter. I also wanted to get my boys into some activities while they were young. Soooo Ė road racing seemed to fit the bill.

From there, Joan and I got involved with the kids in track and field and the local running group NCRA and we starting organizing a local triathlon in Sharbot Lake. It ended up running for 10 years. After that, I looked for the next challenge Ė the Ironman of course!

Runnerís Web: What are the performances you're most proud of?

Rudy: I always enjoyed a good 10k battle. I remember the days when Eva Sisk and I would fight it out. Later, I had up and comers like Sharon Donnelly, Leanne Hayes, and Sheila Kealey in their sights. (Editorís note: Uh, Rudy, whatís with competing against all the women?)

OK, I also enjoyed going head to head with Ron Hay and Bill Williams in the National Capital marathon. In later years, it was going up against guys like Chris Gregory and Lou Laflamme who would put a bet on the line. It was always in fun- at least for me.

Iíd have to say I am most proud of a 36 minute 10 km that I ran in the Stoney Creek Duathlon. Iím also happy with a 2:48 marathon I ran to qualify for Boston in l985. Also, making the National Tri team was a big step for me. Iíd also have to say that placing 6th in my age group in the Hawaii Ironman World Championships was a big step for me. As was making the Canadian Team in both Duathlon and Triathlon as a 50 year old two years ago and going to Germany and Switzerland and being the first Canadian across the line.

You know, being in involved in the sport for so many years has given me so much. More than anything, Iíd have to say Iím most proud of the fact that Iíve met so many great people by being involved in it.

Runnerís Web: You said once that swimming used to be your Achilles heel. How did you manage to improve that leg?

Rudy: Biking and running came easily to me but the swim has always been another thing. I started a few years ago with a great coach Tim Kilby at Carleton. I later joined Nepean Masters for a few years with Bill Westcott and Peggy Anderson. As coaches, they put us through our paces, but I found swimming at 10 oíclock at night just too late. I then started swimming on my own but that didnít work out too well. It was too easy to wimp out. So back to Carleton I went - which is where Iím at now.

At Carleton, thanks to coach Kristi Dean and lane mates like Dan Beavon, Sandy Larson, Debbie Whatley, Anthu Lauson and many others, Iíve been able to keep the pressure on. The results have been great. In fact, in l997, I managed to beat Lori Bowden out of the water in Hawaii with 1:02 swim for the 3.8 kms. Last year, with a wetsuit, I pulled off a 58 mins swim in Lake Placid. I was pleased; however, my good buddy Leanne Hayes beat me at 56mins. But, Iím working on it!

Runnerís Web: What are your goals for this season?

Rudy: I thought the Boston Marathon would be enough of a goal for this year. Having qualified for Boston at the National Capital Marathon last year in 3:05 I was not really happy with the 3:23 I ran. I knew going into it; however, it wasn't going to be great because Iíd pulled a muscle in my calf the week before while running with another running buddy, Pat Bonnilla, in one of the worst snow storms of the year.

After coming off a strong cross-country ski season this year and having such training partners as Sheila Kealey, John Lewis, Mike Hayes, Rick Hellard, Tom McGee, Joanne Baptiste, Chris White, Rob D'Arras, and Reece Randall, Iíve got to say that I expected a little more of myself at Boston. Itís tough to race anytime but when youíre injuredÖ. Itís no heroics; itís just survival Ė to live to fight another day.

Runnerís Web: What is your ultimate goal, Rudy?

Rudy: Ultimate goal??? Letís seeÖ I guess it would have to be to retire from Health Canada Research Labs in Ottawa as an Engineering Support Staff Member where Iíve been for the past 32 years. Then, I could get in some serious training! (Ed note: Coming soon, folks. Rudy retires this November. Look out world!)

Runnerís Web: What do you enjoy most about training for and racing in tris?

Rudy: The people. More than anything else. New people, old people Ė it doesnít matter. They all have the same goals: To be a ďlittle bit better.Ē .

What has surprised me more than anything else is that you CAN get better as you get older. Sometimes I feel there's a target on my back but so be it. I enjoy it where Iím at and I give full credit to someone who passes me in the race. I also pay all my bets when I loseÖ

Runnerís Web: What are your favourite distances to race? Why?

Rudy: Iíve got to admit, the real speed just isnít there anymore. Whatís great for me now is that I can do OK in the long slow stuff. Thatís thanks to Paul Leroux for introducing me to the Ironman in Montreal Ė but thatís another storyÖ.

Runnerís Web: Where are your favourite places to train in Ottawa?

Rudy: I like to train on the measured courses like the cross-country ski courses and the National Capital Marathon route. I also like the Terry Fox track, the Carleton pool, Meech Lake or the Gatineau Hills. All of these sites are measured distances. There is no wimping out, or cutting the workout short when you train on courses like that.

Runnerís Web: Weíve heard the stories about the camp you organize in Sharbot Lake. Tell us about it.

Rudy: Some people say "torture not train." Since the introduction of Ironman to the North Eastern area of North America Lake Placid, there has been a growing interest in this area for some long distance workouts. Since I have been around a bit people keep asking: " What should I be doing" to train for Ironman?Ē

Two years ago, I introduced Friday morning swims at Meech Lake at 6 am. During the first year, we maxed out at 17. Last year, we had more than 33 people all with the same idea: " How to finish an Ironman." Some had never swam in open water before.

From there it was: " How do we do more?" Well most of us had full time jobs so we chose the long weekend for our Boot Camp. It ended up being a four-day regimented camp centered on training with lots of fun thrown in. They could bring their families who could swim and have fun while we were swimming, biking and running our brains out.

The first day is 90k bike with 1hr run.and a swim (optional). The second day was a 180k ride and a swim (a must). The third day was 1 hr 1/2 run with afternoon of golf or dockside followed by the fourth day -a 4k swim. Then, everyone went home (gladly).

Runnerís Web: How did you get into the Rudy Hollywood triathlete email business?

Rudy: That all started with a co-worker and great runner-athlete named Tania Jones. She knew I was somewhat of a tri-geek and would e-mail asking what was up, and I would do similarly. Then some one like Dev Paul (Ed. Note: Iím sure youíve seen his name a time or two on Rudyís email.) would also like to know so I would forward the comments. The next thing I knew, the list was over 350 members on the daily tri- joke list. They all have one interest: "Workouts" and what's related.

Hereís a plug: If you would like to be on the Tri-loop, send your e-mail address to It's basically a daily information newsletter itís like reading the paper with your morning coffee. You get your tri-fix and a laugh, just like the comics and then on with your day.

Runnerís Web: Tell us a bit about your famous Ironman tattoos.

Rudy: Back to Paul Leroux and another bet. He said "OK, you do Ironman Montreal with me and I'll do the Gatineau 50 with you". The bet was on. Paul had a tattoo put on the right calf of a roadrunner - after all he was fast. After qualifying and returning from Hawaii, he said I have to get a tattoo. As Christmas approached, my mother gave me a little money to buy a present, so I got a tattoo. She was not happy.

It looks, if you look quickly like a bike grease mark, but if you look closely it is a swimmer, biker, runner, with the Ironman logo's in between them first Montreal then Penticton, and Hawaii. I should put the American flag and eventually Hawaii II.

Runnerís Web: What do you like best about being a triathlete?

Rudy: I look around and see all the people I graduated with and I don't like what I see. Iím just happy being me. (Sounds like a song) I also realize that I'm a bit of a role model and people are constantly asking questions as you know from the daily e-mail messages.

Runnerís Web: We would be remiss if we didnít mention Joan who has supported you throughout. She has had her own successes as a race official. Tell us about that.

Rudy: Joan started officiating when Ontario races started to be sanctioned in the early '90s. She was at races around the province for me and for our two sons, Rustin and Brandon who were doing Kids Of Steel races, and she got involved by officiating. She has been selected to officiate at the last five Canadian Triathlon Championships and at three World Triathlon Championships. She also officiated at the Pan Am Games Triathlon that was held last summer in Winnipeg. Sheís become well known in triathlon circles. Iím proud of everything sheís accomplished.

Runnerís Web: That about raps it, Rudy. Anything else to add?
Rudy Hollywood
Rudy Hollywood (Left)

Rudy: Yes, if I could just add this. The bike.. I almost forgot, of course everyone's the same, they never want to talk about their worst discipline. But I over the years have been very lucky to find a few friends that would put up with an old guy hanging on for dear life at the back of the pack in many long rides.

For example; my great buddy Donald MacDonald unbelievable biker and very patience person would take me out time after time, for lots of torture ridesÖtill Terry Hicks (Ironman 2000) and Peter Simms (Worldís Duathlon 1999 Canadian Team) came along then we would do Eastern Parkway repeats. Then the group from the OAC got involved in a loop ride on Wed. nights in the Gatineau Park, but was Don satisfied no, he wouldn't want to do just one loop in the park. But he would make me: ďGo early and get another loop in before we have the sprint to the gates with the group. ď Of which I never won by the way.

Then came Rick Hellard and his group that he was training for Ironman, Rick's Multi-Sport Consulting "There are no boundaries." Zone3 Sports and he politely invited Don, to join "da'boys". This is a group of people with the likes of Vince Feres, Rob Aikens, Roger Smith, Lou Laflamme, Eric Roy, and a few other, and also my real hero Dr. Donna Locket, who are put on this earth for only one reason: To Torture.

Well, they let me tag along, this year I promise to do at least some pulling. Last year, one of our last rides, before Ironman, 180km ride, and I think everyone in the group still talks about it. With the help of another great rider Paul Datars, we rode from Vince's house in Stittsville through Calabogie and returned in 5:15mins of riding time. Needless to say I didn't do much pulling then either nor did I run with Rick on the 10k out to Rob Ladouroute's BBQ, but I did have a beer ( or two).

Runnerís Web: Thanks for that, Rudy.

Rudy: Thanks for asking. See you at the races!

Contact Lynne via email @

For more on Lynne's background read this interview with Wayne Scanlan which appeared originally in the Ottawa Citizen.

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