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Posted: September 2, 2007

Triathlon: Hellard Shatters Course Record at Canadian Iron Distance Triathlon

By Lynne Bermel

Good thing Rick Hellard likes to ride in a straight line. He had to - 24 times in fact - along Colonel By Drive from Hog’s Back to the Laurier Street Bridge en route to shattering the course record at the Canadian Iron Distance Triathlon. His overall time for the 3.8k swim, 180k bike and 42k run race was 8 hours, 57 minutes and 47 seconds (8:57:57), almost a full half hour faster than the record set last year by Eric Deshaies of Gatineau (9:24:43).

“Breaking 9 hours for the Iron Distance is in world-class territory,” “said a delighted Terry McKinty, the event’s race director for Somersault Promotions, who had offered Hellard, 41, a “secret bonus” before the race if he broke the elusive barrier.

”The wind on the bike was really tough,” said Hellard, adding that he had a few rough patches during the run where he wondered if he could actually dip below 9 hours.

Hellard, who has been racing triathlons for 25 years and runs a triathlon coaching business in Ottawa, made his Ironman debut at the Canadian Ironman championships last year in Penticton. It wasn’t the debut he was looking for. “I blew up the bike and had to crawl in on the run. It was humbling.” Disappointed with his 10 hour 35 minute overall time, he decided to race the Esprit Iron Distance three weeks later. There, he finished first and almost two hours faster (8hrs41mins). “The body works in mysterious ways,” he added.

Today’s race started with a two-lap swim in Mooney’s Bay, followed by an out-and-back bike leg of 12 X 15K loops from Hog’s Back to Laurier Avenue and finished with a four loop marathon run along the Rideau Canal to the finish line at the Terry Fox Stadium.

There were plenty of other races to keep the spectators entertained throughout the day, although the spectators did some entertaining of their own. Joanne Gunning, an investment advisor with Dundee Securities in Kingston, sported a “hula girl” outfit, complete with lei, grass skirt and pompoms, while a group of supporters at the Royal Oak near the Pretoria Bridge clanged cow bells and raised more than the odd Guinness to cheer on the racers.

A record 1,200 competitors took part in events throughout the day, including a kayak triathlon, duathlons, a half iron distance, a 5k run, a swim-cycle race and a “tri-a-tri” for those racing a triathlon for the first time. But the Iron Distance is McKinty’s marquee event.

He made a couple of changes to the race this year, including moving the finish to the “classier venue” of the Terry Fox Stadium. He hopes that one day the race will have the same draw as the region’s major ski event, the Keskinada. A sub 9-hour record doesn’t hurt for starters.

This article first appeared in the Ottawa Sun.

Overall Results

Top 3 Men
1.	Rick Hellard, Ottawa  8:57:57
2.	Michel Emond, Gatineau 10:06:07
3.	Richard Turgeon, Gatineau  10:10:56  

Top 3 Women
1.	Sonya Audrey Bonin, La Conception 11:29:01
2.	Natalie Theberge, Sorel-Tracy  11:37:29
3.	Helen Scissons, Coboconk 11:54:47

Rick Hellard shows classic form during the 180K bike leg enroute to victory at the Canadian Iron Distance Triathlon

© Copyright 2007 Lynne Bermel

Lynne Bermel, a former world-ranked pro Ironman competitor, is a senior marketing & PR consultant living in Ottawa.. She is also a freelance writer and TV sports show host. You can reach her at:

You can access previous columns by Lynne at: LB_Columns

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