SharonDonnelly.com
| Canadian Olympian Triathlete Sharon Donnelly |
Sharon's FrontPage Archive 2002
December 15, 2002 - Ottawa Sun Story by Rob Brodie

Triathlon: Forget Sydney -- Greece is the word now for Donnelly

'That Olympics is done'

By ROB BRODIE, Ottawa Sun

Yes, if you're wondering, Sharon Donnelly still has the wheel -- that battered symbol she's used so many times to illustrate her bittersweet Olympic experience.

"It's a conversation piece," Donnelly says of the only part left from the bike she rode during the women's triathlon event at the Sydney Olympics in "I pull it out every now and then to show some friends. It's smashed, there's a hole in the tire because I braked so hard."

The former Orleans resident, who now calls Kingston home, admits she's grown tired of that line of conversation. Sure, the notoriety she gained from her story -- courageous athlete crashes in biggest race of her life, yet wills her bloody, battered body across the finish line to finish 38th in one of the finest displays of the Olympic spirit you will ever see -- translated itself into a year's worth of wonderful experiences.

"It was some of the best part of it," Donnelly says now of the countless school visits she made, battered wheel in tow, and all the other opportunities she had to motivate others.

But Sharon Donnelly is moving forward now, thinking of the next Olympics, not the one that is two full years in her rear-view mirror. And, in the wake of an eighth-place finish at last month's world championships in Mexico -- the top placing by any Canadian, male or female -- there is a lot to ponder.

"I don't talk about (the Sydney race) as much now," said Donnelly, 35, who earned A-carding status -- and $1,100 in monthly Sport Canada funding -- with her worlds placing. "By the end of last year, I was getting a little bit tired of talking about it because I would relive it. I wanted to get on ... I was willing to do that for a year, but then I had to start refocusing. That Olympics is done, I've got two years left to get to the next Olympics. It's going to be a build for the next two years."

The result in Cancun is surely a great springboard.

Sharon in Murakami, Japan
Sharon in Murakami, Japan

Now the work gets extra serious. Donnelly heads to Australia next month for two months of training, including a five-week block she'll spend working in Noosa, north of Brisbane, alongside reigning world champ Leanda Cave of Great Britain.

It means time away from her husband, Dave Rudnicki, and from the adopted home town she's come to love, but it's a necessary part of the process.

KINGSTON 'AMAZING'

"The city of Kingston has been amazing to me," said Donnelly, who marvels at the training facilities available to her in the city.

Her financial needs for the journey are also well taken care of by sponsors on board with her through Athens -- most notably Empire Financial Group, a Kingston insurance company that is her current primary sponsor, and Ken Parker of Ottawa's Sirius Consulting Group, her longest-serving supporter who also manages her website (Kingston Volkswagen is also leasing her a car for two years).

That they all so quickly committed to another four-year Olympic quest -- Donnelly said there's no way she'd have even considered a run to Athens without them -- speaks volumes about her belief in the value of sport and her dedication to it.

All those school kids she talked to in the months after Sydney? They heard little about winning, but instead the things Donnelly believes should matter most about sport -- about loving what you do, making friends, and finishing what you start.

Ironically, it's a message Donnelly felt she needed a medal to best deliver. One she felt was crushed by the crash in Sydney.

Little did she know the power that broken wheel -- and the inspiring story it came to symbolize -- would hold.

"It's what I've been able to do with that and how I've been able to motivate others ... that's what has been so great about my Olympic race," she said. "When I started off in the sport, my goal was I wanted to win a medal so that I can come back home and go to schools and show my medal around and tell kids how great the sport is.

"Well, I thought that was gone. That night, after finishing, it was like, 'What am I going to do? This is not what I planned and set out to do.' And then the next day, I saw all the e-mails (of support) I received ... I broke down. It was like 'Wow, I achieved what I'd set out to do.' Without getting the medal. That was awesome."

Doesn't mean, though, that Donnelly doesn't have medal thoughts about Athens. How couldn't she, after the world championship result in Mexico, which confirmed her place among the planet's elite triathletes?

"I don't want to (think about) results, but with this eighth-place world championship finish ... anything's possible," she said. "Who knows? If I can have the race of my life -- and with my preparation, I can get up for the races that count -- anything can happen."

December 14, 2002 - Sharon's December Update
Sharon has been enjoying her down time from training but has been very busy:

22/23 November - Women's Triathlon Training Clinic, Chateauguay Quebec.
We stayed at a convent there and I participated in a number of activities on Friday evening and Sat morning I gave a talk at breakfast. I did about 30% of my talk in French, since there were about 5 women of the 60 that understood very little English. I returned home immediately since I was hosting a party at my house for friends and local people who support me to coincide with the TV coverage of the World Championships. Dave, my husband was so amazing in that he bought and had organized all of the food and everything for the party! He also served out all of the food during the party!

24 November - Presentation Ceremony of the Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at Kingston City Hall. There were approx 40 other amazing recipients that day. Incredible to see the amount of volunteer work being recognized that day! After the presentation, I had a few friends over to Chien Noir restaurant for snacks etc. Among them, the Speaker of the House and Kingston MP Peter Milliken came over as well as KTown triathlon organizers and my Kingston Volkswagon sponsors.

30 November - Sirius Consulting Group Christmas Party, Chateau Frontenac Ottawa. I attended with Dave and of course, had a wonderful time as we do every year! Great to see familiar faces every year!

3-4 December - Special Olympics Sports Celebrity Festival, Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto. Very busy 2 days! Tues evening is an awards/recognition night for volunteers and Special Olympians. All of the Sports Celebrities are there as well to meet and sign autographs. It is a fun evening. I was lucky to sit at the same table as two well know Special Olympians, Arthur Rea and Troy Fidler. Also at the table, were Major Gen' Ret'd Mackenzie, and Special Olympics Board of Director members. Wed morning began at 6:30 am with all of the Celebrities gathering to be called out to the stage before heading to their designated tables. The breakfast fund raiser was a huge success with over 1300 in attendance. The cost of a breakfast seat was approx $80. The head coach of the Women's Salt Lake City Hockey Team, Danielle Sauvageau, was the guest speaker. Breakfast was followed by another autograph session and it was pretty cool sitting beside Ted Lindsay, who informed one of his fans of my sport and my performances! After about 45 min of autographs, some of us had signed up for the Daryl Sittler face off hockey game. We had a whole 30min to rest up before the start! The hockey was a lot of fun with two teams against each other - half the teams were made up of Special Olympians and the other half with Sports Celebrities. Of course the life of the two teams were definitely, Marnie McBean, Curt Harnett and Michael "Pinball" Clemons. It was a lot of fun and the spectators, mostly school children, had a great time! We all had about 3 hours before the final function, the Black Tie Sports Celebrity Festival & Auction. It is an incredible affair totally hosted by TSN and televised live on WTSN. (Highlights of the evening and day events are on TSN Sat Dec 14 between 2-4pm. All that day will be dedicated to Special Olympics on TSN) I attended the evening Gala with my brother, Allen since my husband was on a course and could not attend. Seats for this event were $400 each!! The event had a huge silent auction as well as an exciting live auction that had items such as a Toyota Corolla, boats, trips etc. At the end of the evening, over 1.5million had been raised! A very successful event. Especially important since Canada will be sending a big team to the World Championships in Dublin, Ireland in 2003!

So the Special Olympics Sports Celebrity Festival was a lot of fun and highly successful as well. TSN will be covering Special Olympics all day today and their Internet site is also having an online auction. More info on the days' coverage can be found at: http://www.tsn.ca/shows/special_olympics_day

It was busy time, but great to do in my recovery part of my training year! Now it is back to the training schedule!

November 21, 2002 - Sharon to promote triathlon at Quebec clinic
Sharon Donnelly, 1999 Pan-Am Games Champion, Olympian And Member Of The National Triathlon Team, To Be In Châteauguay Next Weekend

Triathlon superstar Sharon Donnelly gets together with Quebec women to show just how accessible the sport of triathlon really is.

Montreal, November 20, 2002-"Triathlon is a sport anyone can take part in," says Sylvie Trudel, president of Triathlon Québec's Women's Committee. "Anyone who can swim, pedal a bike and run-or even walk-can do triathlon and get plenty out of it. It's not just for super athletes. This is a sport that is accessible to everyone, no matter what their level is." To demonstrate it, Trudel invited Châteauguay Mayor Sergio Pavone and his team to go head-to-head with a few female triathletes in a spin competition to be held Friday, November 22 as an opener for the Incognito Women's Fall Training Camp in Châteauguay.

Canadian Champion Sharon Donnelly, who had the best Canadian elite finish at the World Championships in Cancun last weekend, and who finished fifth at the Commonwealth Games this past summer, will be on hand to share her experience with the 60 women aged 16 to 54 who will be getting together to train, take in seminars and exchange ideas from November 22 to 24 at the Manoir d'Youville in Châteauguay.

To kick off the weekend, on Friday November 22 at 6:30 p.m., Sharon Donnelly will captain a team made up of "age group" triathletes Nadia Burelli, Josée Ross and Chantal Gendron (a novice triathlete) and National Junior Champion Amélie Bilodeau in a spin-off with Mayor Pavone, councillors Claire Labelle and Claudette Préjent-Auclair, recreation director Claude Cardinal and Christian Laberge from Gestaforme. The friendly contest will be followed by the presentation of the Triathlon Québec 2003 Women's program and a nutritious snack.

"Being a competitive triathlete demands the fiercest tenacity, great flexibility and a delicate balance," explains Sylvie Trudel. "Women are perfect participants in this sport. The fact that the Incognito Women's Camp is running at full capacity is a indication that this sport truly suits women."

The camp's main sponsor, Incognito, is proud to be associated with women triathletes. "Triathletes must have a competitive spirit, an impeccable work ethic and be very adaptable," says the company's Marketing Director, Nadine Boissonneault. "These are qualities that we associate with Incognito. Last year, Incognito launched Invisibles, a new product designed specifically for athletic women. We chose to associate ourselves with triathletes because there's no doubt that they are among the most athletic women around," she adds.

Media representatives are invited to meet the athletes and guests and get to know the sport of Triathlon, and all that it holds for everyone, and to try out the stationary bikes that are specially designed for "spinning," one of the toughest workouts around! The media will have an opportunity to talk to the athletes, including National Champion Sharon Donnelly and National Junior Champion Amélie Bilodeau, who are both just back from the World Triathlon Championships in Cancun, Mexico.

November 19, 2002 - Sharon's Worlds Race Report
World Championship Race Report - Part 1: The Preparation Phase:

Cancun, Mexico was a perfect place to cap off my great year and I did it with my best ever finish at a World Champs - 8th place! I was top Canadian, male or female, and most important was that I qualified for Sport Canada 'A' Carding! (triathlon only qualifies for A carding for which the criteria is a top 8 finish at World Champs or Olympics. Any lower placing or any other race gets nothing. I knew going into the race that I needed a top eight finish, ninth was not good enough. I was aiming for top eight, and would give everything I had for that. If I fell short, then I would have to be satisfied, since I knew that I had done everything I could have done to prepare for it. That preparation started at the beginning of the year when I planned out to focus on three races: Commonwealth Games Selection race (also Canadian Champs.), Commonwealth Games and World Champs.

My previous reports cover the first two races (see my website http://sharondonnelly.com) This one will cover my final race and the preparation for it. My last report covered my races in Japan which were meant to get me back into some racing after a break from Commonwealth Games and a big build period. After returning from Japan, I had one week at home and then I headed to Clermont, Florida for two weeks of heat acclimatization training. I chose to leave my computer at home and I only called my family during my trip. I wanted to get away and focus on Worlds preparation. I organized and paid for the whole trip myself and was very appreciative of the support that the USA Triathlon Center gave to me. It is an incredible training center with a gorgeous outdoor 50m pool, brand new track (they just finished it while we were there). Florida was perfect preparation weather, with the temperatures in the 90's. So I made sure to be doing some of my runs at 9:30am when I knew I would be racing. I remember one day - I nearly died it was so hot and humid. But I knew it would pay off later in Cancun! The best part about Clermont was the training I did with Leanda Cave (GBR). We did most of our training sessions together and I suggested a few workouts that I think were key to our successful races (she won World Champs!!). I really enjoyed training and hanging out with her and so I was extremely happy when she won the race in Cancun.

I was the only Canadian there (with the exception of a few dedicated age groupers!) but practically every other country was there with their full elite and junior teams and a full roster of support staff. The Germans even brought a cook while the British team had a doctor and staff regularly checking their blood and urine! The British team was very helpful to me as well in that their doctor helped me out when I had some foot problems (stemming from my Commonwealth Games injury), and getting the occasional ride in their rental van! Their incredible support system was visible in Florida - and it was also clearly evident in Cancun with winning 3 of 6 medals!!

Ten days before my race in Cancun, I was done the hard part and my taper began. I was pretty sore and tired, but looking forward to the rest and the race! I flew to Cancun on Wed Nov 6th, four days before the race. It was good that I did that, since I arrived to find that I had been bumped from my hotel to another one due to overbooking. I had to spend a few hours arranging the details, moving my stuff and waiting in lines at the other hotel. They gave me a room with which I was not comfortable which was extremely noisy and smoky and I had a very poor sleep that first night. I knew there were better rooms - but how would I get one? I figured I would spend some energy on Thurs to ensure I get better sleep through the next three nights. I kept asking front desk to put me in a room further down the hall - but never seeming to get anywhere with them. Finally about noon on Thursday, my mind woke up! Hey I am in Mexico, money talks!!! So I slipped the front desk manager US$10 and suddenly I had a great non-smoking room 6 floors higher - near the end of the hall! So I spent Thurs moving rooms again, CBC interviews at the other hotel, and drug testing. It was another exhausting day! But I chalked it up to another day of no training; giving my muscles a little more of a break. That meant I would change my pre-race routine of taking Friday off and instead doing some light training. Be flexible I told myself. I had to resist the urge to squeeze in my schedule sessions that day - but it would make me tired, which I didn't need.

Friday before the race we had a great Team Canada lunch and it was great to see so many familiar faces! I only wish I could watch them race, but I would be staying in my hotel, out of the heat. Although, the past few days were surprisingly cooler than in Florida - the forecast for the weekend called for higher temps. I was happy - I had prepared for that! Dave arrived at noon - this will be the only race he will see me at the whole year! Friday night was the Elite Briefing and Start Pontoon Draw. Definitely, the most nerve wracking part of the whole race! I was happy to not be ranked in the top ten, since they pick blind - IE: no one can see where the other has picked on the pontoon. After #10 has picked, all of the occupied spots are shown on the screen with the empty spots showing (the occupied spots do not have names showing). I could easily see where I would prefer to start and had spoken with Jill Savege prior to the pick where she would choose. I chose beside her and was very happy. We were just right of center on the start line. I didn't even stay to see where everyone else chose; I left immediately. Looking back, that is the first time I have started a race, not knowing where everyone was on the line - I only knew who was on the left of me. It gave me less to worry about!

Friday, I also began hearing reports of large numbers of athletes getting the "tourista" otherwise known as Montezuma's Revenge. Many age groupers would suffer from the combined effects of it and the heat and not finish or barely finish their races the next day! I had prepared for this by bringing an electric hot plate, my camping pots, and a stash of food! I made sure not to drink anything except bottled water and I even threw out a huge 5l jug I had purchased that didn't have the screw cap security on properly (places have been known to take the jugs and fill them with tap water and then sell them). I was taking no chances!

Saturday, I did my pre-race training and occasionally went out to look at the steady stream of age group athletes on the swim and bike courses. I noted that the temperature was around 40degrees Celsius! I felt for them and prepared myself for the same!

World Championship Race Report - Part 2: Race Day, Sun Nov 10th:

I woke up at 5am after a great 7.5hr sleep. Had my favorite pre-race meal in my room (Oatmeal (not instant!), rice cakes with blueberry jam and an EnduroxR4 drink).

Then headed to the race start (only 500m from my hotel!).

I was pretty relaxed at race start. They called my name and I waved and smiled at everyone who cheered for me (lots of people!). I started beside Jill Savege but can't remember who was on my right. I got off to good dive and moved onto Jill's feet. By the first buoy I felt the pace was too slow and I was concerned that the leaders were getting away. I saw no one beside me on the inside, so decided to move to the inside for shortest line around the buoy. After rounding the second turn buoy I could see ahead and I had been correct, there was a gap. I sprinted to bridge it and when I exited the water to turn around the halfway buoy I could see the lead 4 women about 10 steps ahead of me. All I could think was that I had to be with them; at no time did I have negative thoughts that I couldn't catch them! I was maxed out running back into the water; I focused on getting recovered as quickly as possible and getting into a rhythm. I thought that they might surge and swim away from me - but the distance remained the same - so I decided to put in another effort and saw Laura Reback was behind them and I aimed for her. Very soon I saw bubbles and I knew that I could do it. I kept pushing until I caught them. I tried not touching her feet - which would give her notice that I had caught them. But unfortunately, a wave pushed me into her. By the big turn buoy I had settled in and began to think that the pace was too slow and that others would catch us! They picked up the pace again after the last buoy (about 300m to the finish) and I was swimming as hard as I could to hang on. I went off course a bit with someone just in front of me, but she changed quickly and I reacted immediately to follow. Exiting the water, I was about 5m behind the last of the 5 (Barb, Nici, Sheila, Loretta & Laura). Thanks to the race simulation workouts in Florida, I didn't give in and gave it all I had to sprint to catch up to them. I waited to take my goggles and cap off until I got to the pavement so that I could use my arms to pump through the sand. I had caught them by the time I reached the grass section leading into the transition (I had one of the fastest transitions, beating most of the men! 1:29).

I had a good transition and a great flying mount onto my bike. I was third onto the bike and fixed my shoes quickly while I was in good position. The group of us got organized quickly and we could see who was in it: Barb Lindquist, Sheila Taormina, Laura Reback, Loretta Harrop, Nici Hackett, Leanda Cave and I. On the first loop I took a drink of my bottle and I missed my bottle cage, hit the frame dropped the bottle! I tried not to panic. I was thankful that Dave had put drink mix in both bottles - because my remaining bottle would have been the one with just water! (I needed the drink mix!) Later in the bike portion of the race, I was out of drink and Sheila gave me the last of one of her bottles - I must remember to thank her. That was awesome of her!

Throughout the bike we all did our share of the work. After 2 of 8 loops, we received splits that the chase pack had gone from 40 to 38 sec! We became more organized and we began to put time on them again. (Later I learned that there was a crash with Jill Savege, Carla Moreno and Melissa Ashton)

It was great to have the huge crowds cheering and screaming at us. It felt great to be in that pack. But I was also in the moment and thinking only of what I was doing and not what the run would be like.

We came into the second transition with about 1:45 lead. I had a very slow transition because my glasses were caught up in my helmet straps and I figured I really needed them on this course in the sun. I grabbed water and sponges at every aid station. I went very controlled for first 1km. People told me later that they thought that that would be my speed, but I knew I would negative split. By the start of the second of four loops, I started to reel in Loretta and up ahead I could see Sheila. Ahead I could see Laura, but unsure if I could get her. I thrived on everyone cheering me on. I was surprised at the large number of people shouting at me "fast feet" (Dave told me later that he told any Canadian he could see, that it was my favorite cue and to yell it out to me). I recognized certain people cheering for me - it meant so much to me. After halfway, Michelle Dillon passed me. I still did not think about placing too much - I was just focused on running my race - focused on my form and quick tempo. At about 6km mark, I think I passed Sheila - but I don't remember passing her! I remember thinking of my pre-race plan to pick up the pace at 5km. I also heard Lance Watson telling me that I was the best second half runner. I didn't noticeably pick up the pace, but maintained it and didn't give in to my desire to slow my tempo. I also focused on my belly breathing (all cues that help me!). At one lap to go, I started to think of my placing. Only Michellie Jones, Michelle Dillon and Anja Dittmer had come up from the chase pack to pass me. I was in 8th spot. I knew that I had to give everything I had, and more, on the last lap to keep it. At the far turn, with just over 1.2km to go, I saw Sandra Solden just behind me and I knew Carol Montgomery was closing fast. Then I heard someone yell at me - "you have 20sec on Sandra." I did the math and figured if I put everything and more into the last km, Sandra could not make up 20 seconds. I had to increase my pace two-fold, to interval pace. I picked up my tempo and focused on the finish. I rounded the corner and had just enough to get over the rough final 20m. When I finished, I found it impossible to keep my knees under control and ended up being carried to the tent for an IV. I was so happy to have held them off and to have pushed myself more than I had thought I could before. I found a new level that has been hidden for a long time - injuries had kept me from pushing my physical limits. It felt great to be able to test those limits again.

I have finally receiving sport funding after being at the top of my sport in Canada and in the world for over 7 years. But it is only thanks to my family, friends, and all of my sponsors, who have made it possible for me to train and achieve these successes. They were all there when I really needed the support and I am so happy that they are continuing with me on journey to Athens 2004.

Women Race Results:
1.Leanda Cave (GBR)7. Laura Reback (USA)
2.Barb Lindquist (USA)8. Sharon Donnelly (CAN)
3.Michelle Dillon (GBR)9. Sandra Solden (BRA)
4. Michellie Jones (AUS)10. Carol Montgomery (CAN)
5. Nici Hackett (AUS) 11. Kathleen Smet (BEL)
6. Anjya Dittmer (GER) 12. Loretta Harrop (AUS)

The race will be televised on CBC Television, 1430-1600, on Saturday November 23rd.

For complete results and photos visit the ITU Website.

November 13, 2002 - Sharon Gets Sport Canada “A” Card
Sharon's best ever finish at a World Championship qualified the 1999 Pan American Games Champion for Sport Canada “A” carding under the Triathlon Canada international carding status.
November 10, 2002 - ITU World Championships, Cancun Mexico
Sharon placed 8th in this morning's ITU World Championships in Cancun, Mexico in a time of 2:03:19.
Leanda Cave of Great Britain was the surprise winner in a time of 2:01:31. Sharon was the top Canadian.
Temperatures soared into the thirties on the Yucatan Pennisula during the race.

More information later...

For detailed reports and results visit www.triathlon.org.

November 2, 2002 - OPG Breath of Hope Relay
I am asking you to join the Lung Association and Ontario Power Generation in Ottawa's first annual Breath of Hope Relay. I will be participating in the event as the Honourary Special Guest and will be leading the Luminary Ceremony. Donovan Bailey will also be there in his capacity as Honourary Chair. Below you will find some info on the event and you can learn more and register at their website www.on.lung.ca I really hope to see you there - it will be a lot of fun.

The OPG Breath of Hope Relay, November 15th, 2002, Corel Centre, Kanata

Get your team together for The Lung Association's newest special event, THE OPG BREATH OF HOPE RELAY! This is a fun and inspirational late night, people-driven, non-competitive relay event. Participants take turns walking, running or strolling on a track - to remember those who have lost their battle with lung disease or are currently living with lung disease.

Teams of 10 to 16 must keep one member of their team on the track at all times; team members are asked to pay a $10 registration fee and to raise a minimum of $100 in pledges.

At 10:00pm, a luminary ceremony will be held to honour those individuals that live with lung disease every day and to remember those who have passed away. Luminaries for Hope surround the track and are lit as a choir sings.

Prizes are awarded to teams with the most laps, best theme/costumes as well as overall top fund raiser.

Live entertainment keeps spirits high all night, including:
Live blues, jazz and swing by Manny & The Swingin' HipShakers
Dance instruction by Ottawa Dance Zone
Free massage by Kiné-Concept Ontario Institute
and much more....

Register Online for the OPG Breath of Hope Relay.

For more info: Call 613-230-4200 or Email ottawa3@on.lung

October 6, 2002 - Makuhari World Cup, Japan
Sharon placed 5th in today's race in a time of 2:03:13. She was third out of the water, 20 seconds behind leader Nicole Hackett of Australia. A pack of 14 formed at the front of the race on the bike. Once on the run, Jill Savege (CAN) and Nicole Hackett and Liz Blatchford of Australia went to the front and maintained their lead to claim the podium places.

Here is Sharon's race report:

Hi Everyone

I just got back from the race site and I am very tired. I was hoping for a podium finish today and again it eluded me. I was happy with 5th, but I know I can be on that podium, it will come.

The race started at 9:50am in Makuhari (New City) beside a huge baseball stadium. There were also 500 age groupers racing before us. It made us feel better when we saw the water we were swimming in - knowing that they also had to swim in it! The water temperature was 24 degrees so no wetsuit - though we all wish we had one so that we couldn`t feel the garbage as we swum through it! The garbage was disgusting. It was a pontoon dive start out into the bay then we turned around and has to swim up the river into a strong current past the pontoon, turn around and then swim to the pontoon, climb out and run off and dive in again for another loop. The river section was covered in garbage and we had to swim through it - it was disgusting! But we survived okay (we`ll find out tomorrow or the next day how we fared!) I had a great swim start and lead out Jill Savege to the first buoy where we met up with Nici Hackett who then took the lead. I stayed on her feet until the dive into the second loop and then she put the hammer down! I tried to speed up and ended up almost blowing! On the final way back in, I was practically swim over as it is much easier to draft behind someone into a current. I managed to hang onto that new group and exited the water in third position (Nici was about 20sec up)

There was a long run from the swim up ramps etc to the first transition. I got off on to the bike in good position, but could see we had a big pack. There were about 12 of us and surprising, we got to together quickly and starting pacelining really well. In no time, we had caught Nici Hackett and putting time on the chase group. It was the best I have ever seen a big pack work. Everyone did the paceline, no one sat at the back. It was great to be a part of that. We had over 4 min over the next group into T2. But of course, we had a big pack, so it would be a tough race with 13 starting the run.

I had a quick transition and was third onto the run course. But it was no time before Jill Savege came flying by me! I tried to match her pace and could for a bit but soon dropped off. She was running with two others and I had two others on my shoulder. It was extremely hot and humid and the sections with the tail wind were almost worse because they were so hot! There were a lot of 180 turns on the course (5 per lap - plus other corners and there were 3 laps) the toughest were the stairs we had to climb every lap!!! That is where Machiko gapped me and I couldn`t gain back again. We climbed an overpass and then came down the ramp on the other side, another very technical section. We had more stairs at another turnaround as well, so they really had an impact on the race. Jill Savege (CAN) held on for first \, Nici Hackett 2nd, Liz Blatchford 3rd, Machicko Nakinishi 4th and I was 5th. Tereza Macel (Can) was 7th but the girl in front of her, who I passed in the last lap, did not do the proper course - she missed a crucial ramp on the last lap (with no benefit - but none the less was the wrong course) - there is a protest in right now and she either will be disqualified or get a time penalty in which case Tereza may bump up to 6th! Which is really great - World Ranking points and money!

It was so hot and humid, but great to simulate World Champs as well. which take place in one month in Cancun Mexico. The men`s race was exciting with Miles Stewart (AUS) winning his second in a row. Hamish Carter (NZL) was second and Juraci Mueraio (BRA) placing 3rd.

The Japanese have been great hosts and I look forward to training for a few more days with them since I leave on Wed. I will be going to Tokyo tomorrow to meet with my friend Capt (N) Bear Brown who is the military attache for Canada in Japan. He will give me a tour of the Canadian Embassy and then I will do some shopping later in the day with his wife Sue. Then head to their home for dinner. It should be a lot of fun. I return home Wed, and will stay a few days in Toronto and will have a retirement party for my mom on the Sat. I go back to Kingston that weekend. Then I fly to Florida for two weeks to prepare for World Champs which will take place on Nov 10th.

That is all for now folks, thank you for all of your support and you can find video clips, photos etc on the ITU website http://www.triathlon.org

Sharon-san

Visit the ITU race site for complete results and more information.

September 29, 2002 - Murakami Sprint Triathlon, Japan
Sharon won the Murakami Sprint Triathlon in Japan yesterday covering the .75K swim, 20K cycle and 5K run in a time of 1 hour flat.
Sharon drove 6 hours to get to the event, raced and then drove 6 hours back, arriving home at midnight.
Visit the ITU race site for complete results and more information.

Here is Sharon's race report:

Hi Everyone

Very short email to tell you that I placed first in this past weekend`s race in Murakami, Niigata Prefecture. It was a sprint distance race and I worked alone together on the bike with another Canadian Christine Jeffery who placed 7th. For the run, I was fairly happy with especially considering I was concerned the night before because I pulled out my race shoes and saw that only one of them had an insert!! I had forgotten to put it back in after hurting my foot at Commonwealth Games! So I decided to do the run without any inserts in my shoes! I was thankful that it was only 5km! I will hopefully send some photos to my website of some of the race and great people I have met

I am staying with the 2002 Asian Junior Champion who placed third in the race! She is really great and her coach who has arranged everything for me is awesome. I travelled from the area I am in now near Tokyo (Chiba Prefecture) to Murakami on Sat. It was a 6hr drive! Then drove back after the race getting back at midnight last night! We had 8 of us in a van.

They have a great training set-up and I swim and run with the group. Training here makes me appreciate the wide open spaces we have at home! I am enjoying the experience and eating Japanese food again - I love it. First thing when I arrived my senses were on overload - different smells, visually different road and building set up (crowded with narrow streets), hearing - I strain to understand or recognize words - to no avail!. I am learning some new phrases, but basically communicate through hand signals with my roommates! The apt is very very tiny and they even have their shower as storage, all showers are taken at the pool, their training venue - about 5 min walk away.

The race on the weekend was fun. There were a few Australian men and Hungarian men, but only three non-Asian women in the field. But very competitive as it was the Japanese Sprint Championships. I won a beautiful trophy and 5kg of rice!!! But they say it is the best rice in Japan! I will find a way to bring it home!

Well, I must go now, Take care and I will write again soon.

September 25, 2002 - Sharon San is off to Japan
Sharon will be competing in the ITU Makuhari World Cup triathlon in Japan on October 6th
Visit the ITU race site for a start list and more information.
September 10, 2002 - Dave is 3rd at Mountain Bike Race
Captain Dave Rudnicki, an Air Force logistics officer at 2 Air Movement Squadron 8 Wing Trenton and Sharon's husband, placed third in the men's 35-44 age group at the World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Championship for mountain bikes at Silverstar Mountain Resort in British Columbia. The race took place over the August 31st - September 1st weekend.
August 13, 2002 - PSP Profile of Sharon
The Canadian Forces Personnel Support Programs (PSP) web site did a profile on Sharon and her husband Dave Rudnicki prior to the Commonwealth Games.

It can be accessed here.

They also did a short follow-up after the Games here.

August 9, 2002 - Commonwealth Games Triathlon Race Report
This is my daily log entry for Sunday Aug 4th. I have not altered it in any way, so excuse the grammar as I wrote it how I was thinking at the moment (actually I wrote it on the plane home on Tues Aug 6th - as I had two full days with the race, Closing Ceremonies and recovery/pack & clear-out day!). I have returned home and will attempt an overview when I get some free time after a weekend at home!

Sunday Aug 4th - RACE DAY

Awoke 0500 and had quick breakfast at dining hall. I think I was only sober one there! I was feeling a little nervous. Bus to the race site left at 0545 with Carol, Natasha, Joel Filliol (Assistant Team Manager), Lance Watson (Team Coach), Shauna Fla th (Team Manager), and Lois Pohlod (Physiotherapist). Got there and immediately got to getting my turbo-trainer warm-up in after body-marking and suit inspection. I did about 15min and it started to pour rain! I then went for a short 8min run warm-up & look at finish/loop area. The time was flying by, so I had to keep the run short. Set up transition, in the rain. I had to really rush to get ready for swim to get a warm-up. I swam about 10min with pick-ups, not ideal but everyone had less time than normal.

My feelings at the race were pretty calm, on the bus over I was okay - it was great to have the others there. When the announcers called us out, I felt nervous, but happy - I smiled and waved at the Canadian friends and spectators. I didn't have any negative thoughts; I did not have the "what am I doing this for?" question that often pops into my head. So that was good.

The race start was fast - they said take your marks, and we hardly reached the edge when the gun went off. I got off to a good start - I remember being surprised & happy that Carol was continuing to swim beside me and Nicki Hackett wasn't getting too far ahead. We had picked great starting positions on the Friday Pontoon Draw (Carol and I were #17, 18 beside Nicki and Loretta). We turned the first buoy (approx 350m out) and I saw there were a lot of others with us. I didn't get hit very much, but I had to sight a lot. I thought I saw a few swimmers farther up - but couldn't bridge the gap because of so many all around me. At about the 600m mark, Carol moved in behind and I moved onto Leanda Cave's feet. The second loop was a lot faster, I was hoping Carol was still on my feet. I knew that it would be tough for other swimmers to hook on because we moving faster on the second loop, but more because the women in front of me were 4-5 abreast so there was not no long line to grab. (That is why Michellie didn't make the pack.) I came out of the water with Nicki and I managed to avoid two others who slipped & fell on the corners. I had a decent transition and went out second onto the bike.

I had plenty of time to get into my shoes. The weather sucked. It was pouring rain, so I was very cautious. There was a large front pack and I was happy to see Carol in the pack as well, she had the swim of her life to hang with us, and I know that the start position was the key.

In the bike pack was: Loretta, Nicki, Anneliese Heard, Heather Evans, Julie Dibbens, Jodie Swallow and us. I found a few of them very aggressive on the technical section in the city and near transition, and we were having to catch back up after being conservative in those sections due to the conditions. The last 2 laps of 4, we went to the front for those sections to go our pace. It was good because on the last lap, Jodie Swallow crashed right behind us. I heard it and it made me feel sick. We came into transition and I had a horrible transition because I couldn't feel my feet, I jammed my feet into my shoes, but my big toes was getting caught. I left transition and tried to get into fast feet rhythm. I just couldn't catch the girls in front - they were running fast. I caught Dibbens only. At the first turn-a-round I could tell where the chase pack was - There was Michellie Jones, Michelle Dillon and Natasha (I remember thinking to myself that it was great to see Natasha with that group). The pack of Cave, Hackett, Evans and Carol were pulling further away, but I was trying as hard as I could to maintain contact. I know I can run the speed they were running, but not on this day. My big toe was really hurting and I began to realize that it was not thawing but that I had really hurt it in transition. I don't think it was an excuse that I couldn't run faster - maybe a little, but not enough to run with the medal winners. I ran the last lap hard because Michellie was charging hard behind me. The crowd was huge and loud each time we came through to begin another loop.

I finished the race in 5th place. The others racing for 2nd and 3rd ran 1.5min faster than me. I know that I can do that, but not this day.

Looking back at my feelings during the race, I was running hard - but could I have run faster? This will be my focus as I look toward World Championships in Cancun, Mexico on Nov 10th. Work on my run speed and my confidence as a runner. I must believe that I am a runner.

I was happy when I was done, the aftermath went pretty quick. I did enjoy the race, and was positive about it. I went to medical after to get ice and tape my foot to walk. My toe and foot were black & blue.

I missed the men's swim and bike because I had to do drug testing. Saw the men's run and it was great to see Simon win and Jocelyn place top 20. Bizarre to see the various levels in the race - there was a 50 yr old from Norfolk Island, the crowds were great and cheered him on as much as the winners! But not quite as loud as the hometown England favorites!. Hung out with Lois, Curtis Myden, and Rick Seay from Swimming. They helped me with bringing my stuff back to the village. I said I would try to get to the swim finals that night.

I went for x-rays to see if I had a broken bone in my foot. They were not clear x-rays and could not see much. Lois taped me up so I could walk easier at the closing ceremonies. We went to the pool and talked our way into the pool media area. It was great to see some of the events, including the 1500m. I hung out a bit with the CBC crew (Bryon McDonald, Steve Armitage and John Grootveld). Lois and I along with other swimmers went directly to the Closing Ceremonies.

No sooner did we sit down with the Team (who had arrived earlier) than it started to rain! It rained the whole evening! Yech! At the end we went down to the field - but couldn't recognize many people because everyone had the same white plastic rain ponchos on! Went back to the village with Lance. Then I had a few beers with Yan Huckendubler (Media Rep for Triathlon Team) at the party tent at the Village. Got to bed, Very tired at about 0245am.

What a day. It seemed so long - but was over in a flash. Two gold medals, 5th place for myself, Natasha was 12th and Jocelyn was 19th. And the spectators had a blast!

August 4, 2002 - Commonwealth Games Triathlon
Sharon placed 5th in this mornings Commonwealth Games triathlon in Manchester, England in a time of 2:05:19.

Visit the Runner's Web for race coverage.

July 31, 2002 - Commonwealth Games Report #2
Hello Everyone

Thank you so much for everyone's supportive emails and well wishes. I am feeling really good and my training sessions have been going great. I am taking a rest day today (Wed, Jul 31) and catching up on some emails. The Web Center here at the Village is great with over 100 high speed terminals! Our triathlon team returned from our Wales training camp two days early at the request of Simon W so that he could access the medical services at the Village, for his rehab. I am taking a very easy approach to these Games and am just following the group. It is much less stress! Team Canada was great at finding one of the most quiet areas in the Village - away from the International zone and dining areas where much of the traffic and noise is. We are located in University housing, two per room (the beds have seen some years of use though and the springs seem to always find the wrong spot when one is sleeping!).

Wales was beautiful and less populated than the Manchester area and the terrain was more rugged. We stayed at a carvan park beside the Irish Sea! So now I can say that I have stayed in a caravan - they were great - the kitchen was actually bigger than our kitchen at home in Kingston! We trained with the Scottish team and even went and did an open water swim that was organized by a local triathlon club - it was awesome to be amongst local triathletes like at home, of all ages, but funny accents! We swam in a river with a beautiful old city on the banks.

While in Wales, I celebrated my 35th birthday quietly with a beer and a glass of wine! I made my wish!

Back in the village I am meeting back up with my friends from other sports like Clara Hughes. Isn't she awesome? Gord Fraser arrived yesterday and it was wonderful to see him as I haven't seen him since I stayed at his house in Tucson in January.

Tomorrow, Thurs Aug 1 my race preparation begins as I will be going to the race site for training while the team managers have a meeting. Then on Friday, the athletes meet at noon for the all important swim pontoon draw. For me that is the most stressful part of the race! Then Sat is a feel good training day, we drop our bikes at the transition area at noon and then I move into a hotel close to the race for that night. (being the last event I didn't want to take a chance and stay in the village in case of lots of noise due to it being the last night, as well, with such an early start, I get about an extra hour sleep by being near the start) Sunday at 8am here in Manchester is the start of the women's race! The men start at 11am.

So that is the plan! I will probably not send in another update until after my race. So until then, have a great weekend everyone and for those competing in the KTown Triathlon or other races, have a great one!

Sharon Donnelly
sharon@sirius.ca
http://www.sharondonnelly.com

July 26, 2002 - Commonwealth Games Report #1
Manchester Press Conference re Kelly Guest's Positive Test
Friday July 26, 05:33 PM Canadian triathletes Simon Whitfield, Sharon Donnelly and Natasha Filliol, right to left, and Filliol's husband and coach Joel Filliol, left, attend a news conference in Manchester, England on Friday, July 26, 2002 after the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport announced that their teammate Kelly Guest had a positive doping test. Guest has been removed from the Canadian Commonwealth Games team and is returning to Canada. (AP PHOTO/Andrew Vaughan, CP)

Hello Everyone

Many of you will have read the sports headlines by the time you have read this email. I just wanted to write a quick email to let you all know that the last 24hrs has been very tough for our team, but we are refocusing and looking forward to our races. For those of you that have not read the news, Kelly Guest a member of our Commonwealth Games team tested positive for nandrolone. The test had been done at our ITU World Cup in Edmonton. It came as a total shock to us all and we immediately gave our full support to him. The test amount was minuscule, but in the test results, that does not matter. What we all do know, is that Kelly is a person of integrity and honesty and would never do something of this nature.

Kelly was informed just before we left for the Opening Ceremonies (we were told that Kelly was held up, but not the reason, as they wanted to let us enjoy the Ceremonies). Upon our return to the Athletes Village, we were told everything and we said that we would visit him early the next morning before the press conference and then be at the conference as a team to support him. Most of us only had a few hours to sleep and we were at Kelly's hotel by 6:15am. It was a tough morning. I am sure the papers and newscasts will be covering the details so I really don't want to go further.

We are doing well and the whole Canadian Team is giving us support as we deal with this. We want this to pass quickly so that the focus can be on the successes of the Canadian team. Alexandre's celebration of his medal has been cut short by this news and that is a truly unfair.

I wanted to make sure that all of my supporters and friends are aware of this and know that we are dealing with it very well and are refocusing on our upcoming competition as well as getting back to enjoying this wonderful celebration of Sportsmanship, and Friendship, Commonwealth Games.

Thank you so much for all of your support

Sharon Donnelly
sharon@sirius.ca
http://www.sharondonnelly.com

July 21, 2002 - Corner Brook, Newfoundland ITU Triathlon
Sharon placed 8th in today's race in a time of 2:08:10.
For race reports and complete results visit the race site at: http://www.triourworld.com or the Runner's Web.

Sharon is off to Manchester for the Commonwealth Games.

July 16, 2002 - A Note from Sharon
I am VERY BUSY packing for my next travels - I returned from Edmonton yesterday (I placed 15th after suffering asthma in the race, I felt it was not bad placing). I fly to Corner Brook tomorrow for another World Cup and then straight to Great Britain for the Commonwealth Games.
I will be trying to update you as I go, but you can keep updated via my website as well. Also, below are the Team Canada email addresses as well and any correspondence will be forwarded to me. The tel/fax numbers will be set up later - I don't have them now.
Take care and talk to you when I return!
Sharon

CWG Team Canada Email Addresses:
teamcanada@commonwealthgames.ca
media@commonwealthgames.ca
athletes@commonwealthgames.ca

Visit the Commonwealth Games official site at:
www.commonwealthgames.com
and the Runner's Web Commonwealth Games Links Page for more info on the Games.

July 15, 2002 - Edmonton Triathlon, July 14, 2002
Sharon was 15th in yesterday's Edmonton ITU Triathlon World Cup in a time of 2:05:03.

Full details are available from the ITU web site.

July 15, 2002 - Summer Update - July 2002
The summer time is just flying and my racing has been doing the same! My mid-season focus race was the Canadian Championships in Victoria, BC that also served as the selection for the Commonwealth Games team. An added bonus was that it was an ITU International points race - meaning that I would also gain valuable points on the Olympic qualifying World Rankings List.

I left my hometown of Kingston 6 days before the race, knowing that everyone on the start line would be primed for the same goal as myself. But I was feeling the most confident I had felt in a long time. I was injury free, my training sessions were great and I was happy! In December of 2001, I made a conscious decision to go back to listening to my body, following my favorite weekly routine and scheduling in the local training groups to my schedule. I consult with the coaches of the groups, if there is a coach, in order to see how we can optimize the training. With my travel schedule, having a coach 'on-site' is impossible. Training camps are the ideal solution for me, with the remainder organized by myself, and I am happy with that arrangement - it works for me.

I arrived in Victoria and was excited to reacquaint myself with the area and athletes with whom I had trained the two previous years for training camps. The atmosphere in the triathlon community was pretty tense as could be expected prior to such an important race. This was clearly evident when I showed up to an open water swim (at the invitation of a fellow athlete with whom I had trained the previous year at similar open water sessions) and I was told by one of the coaches that I was not allowed to join the group! I was offended at first; I was a national team athlete, entitled to train at the only designated National Training Center, I had trained with the group in the two previous years and suddenly I was told I was not allowed to join! Their reasoning: "they don't want all of the out of town competitors showing up and comparing themselves to the training group athletes" I replied: " I don't need to compare myself against them, I should think that they would want to take this opportunity to compare against me!" I then added "I won't forget this!" and I went off and did my own swim. Well, I didn't forget about that day - I gave them a final reply on the Sunday when I won the race!

Race Day - I felt good before the race start, and confident. The swim was surprisingly rough and I had my goggles knocked off at the first buoy and I had to stop to replace them. I got back on some feet and stayed with the front pack for the duration of the swim. I knew I was near Tereza Macel and Jill Savege, and we all knew that we needed each other for this race to unfold. Exiting the water, there were about 6 athletes (with about 50seconds over the next group). Three immediately were dropped in transition and the three of us got down to work on the bike! I had a rough time on the first 5 km as I had to control my asthma in the dry air. The other two were patient and after recovering I was able to start putting in some work to get ahead of the chase pack. At the 20km mark, Jill made a bad gear change and dropped her chain. Unable to catch back up she dropped off, to get swallowed up by the chase pack. So for the last 20km, it was Tereza and I on our own. Tereza was a workhorse and she really put in her lions' share of work that day. Unfortunately, we were not getting time splits on the course and so could not gauge the distance we knew that we needed for the run. We started the run with a little over 2minutes lead. I knew it would be enough for me, but I was unsure of Tereza's running form and I hoped it would be enough for her.
The run course was tough and I had forgotten how steep the downhill sections were and the impact on the body! I focused on form and was able to relax a bit on the last 2.5km loop and enjoy the race. I finished the race and saw my Commonwealth Games teammate to be - Natasha Filliol - have a great finish. Jill Savege held on for third. Tereza came in 4th Canadian. I gave her a big hug - she had been my teammate that day. I couldn't have won without her help on the bike.

After the race, I phoned home to find out how Dave (my husband) had done in his important race in Milton, Ontario. He did a 24hr Solo Mountain bike race (over half of it in pouring rain) and he placed 3rd overall and 2nd Canadian, qualifying him to compete at the World 24hr Solo Mountain Bike Champs. So it was a great weekend across the board!

I took an easy week after the race and went for a great camping weekend with Dave complete with greasy eggs, bacon, and beer and wine at night! But it was back to business right after. The past two weeks have been particularly tough for training here in Ontario with incredibly high temperatures and humidity along with poor air quality. I have had to drastically curb my training since my lungs cannot handle the smog. Forest fires raging in Northern Quebec called any outdoor activity to a halt for me for the entire weekend and I ended up indoors on treadmills and spinning bikes. With Edmonton fast approaching, I am really looking forward to it to escape our weather here and overcoming a cold virus that I have also acquired!

It will be a busy 4 weeks, but extremely exciting! My next group of races is:

14 Jul - World Cup, Edmonton, Alta
21 Jul - World Cup, Cornerbrook, Nfld
04 Aug - Commonwealth Games Triathlon race (last day of the Games)
31 Aug/1 Sep - Dave's World 24 hr Solo Mountain Bike Championships, Silver Star, BC

I will then either head to Europe for a series of World Cups, or go to Brazil. I will make my decision after I return from Commonwealth Games. The season ends with the World Triathlon Championships in Cancun, Mexico on Nov 10th.

Thank you everyone for your support. As always, you can stay updated on my website and also learn more about my great sponsors who make it all possible for me!

Happy Trails!

Sharon
www.SharonDonnelly.com

June 16, 2002 - Sharon Wins Commonwealth Trials in Victoria

[From Joanna Fox, Event Media Contact]

Hunter Kemper from the United States set a course record of 1:45:22 in the Victoria International Triathlon this morning in Victoria, BC. Canada's Simon Whitfield, returning to competition after two months off as a result on injuries sustained in a bike crash in a triathlon in Australia several months ago, was 2nd in 1:46:45 making up 5-6 places in the run portion of the event.

Sharon Donnelly, the 1999 Pan American Games Champion and a Sydney Olympian, won the women's race in 1:59:42, also a course record, ahead of Natasha Filliol (CAN) in 2:00:30.

The race served as the final selection for Canada's Commonwealth Games team for the Games in Manchester this summer. Whitfield and Kelly Guest make up the men's component of the team while Donnelly, Filliol and Carol Montgomery, who did not race today, make up the women's contingent.

Whitfield and Montgomery had both been pre-selected to the team.

Complete results will be posted on the race web site at: http://www.islandnet.com/~tria2002 and at Race Headquarters at: http://www.raceheadquarters.com

Official Race Report

June 15, 2002 - Team Canada berths up for grabs at triathlon
Although the Commonwealth Games are tea and cool cucumber sandwiches to the Pan-American Games' spicy salsa and samba, Sharon Donnelly sees a nice symmetry to it.

The 1999 Pan-American Games gold medallist wouldn't mind adding a similar golden entry on her resume this summer in Manchester at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

But first she has to get there. That opportunity comes Sunday at Thetis Lake Park and over the streets of the Western Communities in the Nike Victoria International Triathlon, which serves as the Canadian trials for the Commonwealth Games.

June 10, 2002 - Runner's Web Mini Interview
Runner's Web: With the Commonwealth Games Trials less than a week away, what is your mindset re your state of preparedness?

Sharon: I am pretty positive about my upcoming race. As fit as I can be at this time of year. But I am particularly happy because I am injury free and I am running and cycling as strong as I was in early spring of year 2000. My swimming is also fast, but admittedly, I am not 100% confident on the wetsuit side of things. However, I have been doing a fair amount over the past two weeks to get used to it

More...from the Runner's Web

June 2, 2002 - Beat Beethoven 8K - Kingston, ON
Sharon was the first woman in today's Beat Beethoven 8K in Kingston this morning. Her time was 28:43.
May 31, 2002 - Photo Update
Sharon with Phil Narsh's Harem after the Nordion 10K race in Ottawa Sharon with Phil Marsh's Harem after the Nordion 10K race in Ottawa

Click the photo to see an enlarged version.

May 14, 2002 - Update from Sharon
Hello everyone!

Just a quick update - since the weather is less than desirable to be outside - I figure I will sit down to write a few words! This past weekend I travelled to Ottawa to participate in the Nordion 10km road race. I drove there in my brand new Volkswagen Golf TDI provided to me by Kingston Volkswagen. We formed a three year partnership as of last week! It is great and of course being a Volkswagen driver for over 16 years already - it was a perfect fit!

The race went well, I placed 10th in a very good field, but a little off my desired time. I ran a 36:29 in windy conditions. There were over 5000 runners in the race! I stayed in Ottawa to watch the marathon the next morning which was very exciting, albeit very cold temperatures. Great for the competitors but tough on the spectators! I headed home to resume my hard training in preparation for National Championships which take place on June 16 in Victoria BC.

The other purpose of this update is to ask you to support the Tim Horton's Camp Day which takes place tomorrow, Wednesday, 15 May across the country. Sales from every cup of coffee go to Tim Horton's camps which provide a great opportunity for needy children. This is my second year participating and if you happen to be in Kingston tomorrow. I will be helping out at the CFB Kingston location between 7:30-9:00am and at the Ontario St location (by the Wolfe Island Ferry) between 1:30-3:00pm. Please help send a kid to camp!

That is all for now, and again, thank you so much for all of your support.

Sharon

May 12, 2002 - Nordion 10K Road race - Ottawa, ON
Sharon ran 36:30 for the Nordion 10K on Saturday night for a 10th place finish among the top women. In the photo below she is shown with Lynne Bermel, former Ironman triathlete and military CISM running team partner.
Sharon pre-race with Lynne Bermel
May 10, 2002 - DND Ombudsman Program
Sharon was the MC at DND's Omudsman Program Sharon was the MC for the DND Ombudsman Awards Program. She is a member of the Ombudsman’s Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee is a group made up of seven CF members, both serving and retired.

Click the photo to see an enlarged version.

May 9, 2002 - National Capital Race Weekend - Ottawa, ON
Sharon is registered to race the Nordion 10K in Ottawa this Saturday night. The Nordion 10K, an integral part of Ottawa's National Capital Race Weekend, is Ottawa's largest and most competitive 10K race.
May 8, 2002 - Kingston Volkswagen Sponsors Sharon
Kingston Volkswagen (www.kingstonvw.com) has signed on as a sponsor of Sharon for the next three years.
April 27, 2002 - ITU St. Anthony'S World Cup - St. Petersburg, FLA
Sharon did not finish the race today at St. Anthony's due to the heat. Here is her report:

Hi Everyone

What a day! I unfortunately did not finish the race due to the heat. The race started at 12 noon and the temperature was already into the 90's with a water temperature of 82 degrees. I had a great start but at the first buoy when the packs merged I was pummelled! I had trouble staying in position and lost touch with the fast swimmers I had planned to be with. At the end of the swim - I came out with the front group, but not up front. My transition was not fast enough, I also had to stop while another athlete wheeled her bike right in front of me. I ended up just missing the front pack. I worked so hard with two other athletes to catch the front group because I could see that they were not going fast, but I saw that some athletes were getting dropped from the bike and they started getting faster while we got slower since there were only three of us working - I looked back and saw a whole line of athletes drafting us and so tried to get them organized which was impossible. I decided to work with a the few out front to stay away from any problems at the back (possible crashes) that meant that I had to take a lot of pulls - but that was the price I decided to pay. I also began to feel the heat bearing down on me as the bike progressed.

Onto the run, I could not get my legs going. I felt so heavy and lethargic. It was a tough slog and took water and sponges as much as I could. I thought of last year where I was in the medical tent after the race and I did not want to end up there again - it takes too long to recover from. I was not in a position to gain international points, so I decided to pull out. Not easy, but I had to be smart. I got a lot out of the race in learning where I have to work on - and I will bring that into my training over the next six weeks as I prepare for the Canadian Championships in Victoria BC on June 16.

Thank you everyone for your support - to check out the results of the race, you can see them on www.triathlon.org

April 14, 2002 - Geelong ITU World Cup Triathlon, Australia
Sharon placed 11th in the first ITU World Cup of the year in Geelong, Australia in a time of 2:07:51.

For a race report visit the ITU web site

April 7, 2002 - Gatorade Triathlon Series - St. Kilda - Australia
Sharon placed 2nd to fellow Canadian Carol Montgomery in the final round of the Gatorade Triathlon Series, held at St. Kilda on Sunday.

Sharon's time was 1:00:28.

See the SuperSprint site for a race story and complete results.

Sharon races again this weekend in Geelong, Australia.

April 4, 2002 - Geelong Update from Sharon
Hello again!

I have been in Geelong for almost one week now and am enjoying it very much. Geelong is located in the State of Victoria, about 80km outside of Melbourne. Many people live in Geelong and commute to Melbourne. The major tourist attraction, The Great Ocean Road starts not far from here and I hope to take a drive along this road on Saturday. From pictures, it seems to resemble the Cabot Trail highway in Canada.

I am staying with a family here who have two young daughters. They came out to watch me race on the weekend and it was great to hear them cheering on the sidelines! Speaking of races - I was 11th in the race which was the most important race on the Aussie calendar since it was their selection race for both Commonwealth Games and World Championships. I did not take a break for the race, as I continued to focus on my training. So 11th was not bad, but I did make some mistakes and with a poor swim start, I know that I would have a few higher places. But I am here to get those kinks out of my system before the real season starts!

Our race started after the age groupers raced in the morning. I always like to race at competitions with an age group race on because it ensures a lot of spectators for our race, plus it gives me confidence to know that they too have done our course and I get the attitude: "if they can do it, then I can do it too!" (there is comfort in knowing that others are suffering too!!). The start platform was not large enough for the number of competitors and we had only about 8 inches each for our dive start! I was not aggressive enough on preparing for the start and two girls on either side of me, got out first on the dive and as a result, I had no empty water to dive into! I ended up jumping in to avoid diving on their backs! I immediately swam to the side to open water and started the race! So I was already way behind. I managed to work my way up to the chase pack - the first pack was already way ahead and exited the water, 1 min ahead of us. I also felt like I had another gear or two left in the swim, which I will make sure to use in next weekend's race!

In the transition came the next blunder. I am usually very good and have quick transitions, but his time, I removed my wetsuit as usual, but then for some reason, I told myself to pick it up and place it in my box! That wasted precious seconds that I needed to get onto the good bike group. As a result of this, I missed the chase group and was left in "no-man's land" another competitor soon joined me, but we could not catch the group ahead, although we kept the gap even. By halfway through the bike, a small group lead by Emma Carney caught us and our contact with the group ahead began to disappear - they were pulling away. Of course, way in front was a pack with Barb L, Loretta H, and Nici H, who ended up putting an extra 2min on us! It was a tough 6 loop course with a tough little hill each loop and some technical turns at each end. But the run was yet to come!

Smooth transition, but of course my run fitness is just starting and most of the girls took off in front of me. I focussed on my form and tempo for the entire race ( except for every km or so where I had to pull my suit down over my butt as it continued to ride up! - we all had to wear the Accenture series bathing suits - and they are far from comfortable suits and always tend to give a wedgey!)

The run course was tough as it had two hills per loop, which we did 3 times. But I maintained my pace and I felt that it was a better effort than my last race in Devonport. So that is good. But there is a ton of room for improvement. In fact, next weekend, April 16, I get to do the course over again as it will be used for the World Cup race. The race director promised to have a better start platform and will in fact ship in the one that was used for the Sydney Olympics. (I will make sure to pick a better starting position than in Sydney!)

Overall, the race was not too bad. I was mad at myself for the transition mistake, but I know it will not happen again. Also, I knew that I did not rest up for the race and was using it for training. I am getting great training while here in Geelong as the roads are in beautiful condition with a huge variety of routes and the running by the river near me is ideal. The 50m pool is open all day for length swimming - so I hope to come back home with some kind of a tan!! Not likely!

I will sign off now - the weather today is slightly cool 16 degrees with showers off and on. Extremely windy! Hopefully the weather will begin to come around at home in Canada as well. Wishing you all the best - till the next time I write...

Sharon

March 31, 2002 - Geelong ITU Triathlon, Australia
Sharon placed 10th in today's ITU triathlon in Geelong, Australia in a time of 2:09:27.

Detailed race information is available from the ITU

March 25, 2002 - Sharon's New Wheels
You may have noticed that Sharon has a new bike in the photo of her from Devonport. In January of this year Sharon signed a three year contract with Guru Bikes.
Check out their web site at http://www.gurubikes.com
March 20, 2002 - Race Report from "Really Down-Under!" Devonport, Tasmania
This was my first time ever to the place Australians refer to as "Tassie" and in fact everything about it seems to have a resemblance to Newfoundland! I am staying with a wonderful family - so great in fact that I changed my airline ticket and am staying longer! They have two children who are quite talented triathletes and I am trying to pass on as many tips as I can! Carol, the mom is great and she took me on a tour of their main tourist destination in Tasmania - Cradle Mountain. Gorgeous.

The race itself was incredible well organized and the athletes loved the small town atmosphere. I placed 7th in the race which had a small women's field but of good quality with 8 women ranked in the top 20 in the World. I felt better than in my first race of the season in Uruguay, and it was a good race to gauge my progress and what I need to do compared to my competition. I am right where I want to be.

At the swim start, I got squeezed and I had to stop and go behind another swimmer. By 300m I was swimming in a good group and the pace was even a little too easy. I tried to go around but I saw that I had trouble sighting - I could not see the turning buoys or the direction - so I figured that the person was going slower because they were having to sight so much. So I decided to stay in behind - besides I knew the only person way out front was Barb Lindquist. I knew I was either on Laura or Melissa's feet. (It was a wetsuit swim). At no time in the swim or before the race did any negative thoughts come into my head. I talked and joked with a few of the others before the start.

I came out of the swim with Siri, Laura, Melissa and Leanda Cave. I had a good transition and was first onto the bike. I felt pretty good off the start and took my pulls straight away. I chose to go up the hill in my small chain ring since I could draft. (Barb told me later she did big chain ring - I think if I was solo, I would also do big chain ring). My cornering also felt good.

Going on to the run - had a fair transition, but I don't have the run training at this time of the year and could not hold on. I saw by the final results that I was about 2-3 mins off the pace, which I know I can whittle down in the next while. I also did not hurt in the run like Uruguay (Uruguay - my shins were killing me - I used new shoes here in Australia) and my leg turnover was much better - I concentrated on that part of it. I think I could have held a faster pace and gone out a little quicker in the run - but I wasn't sure of myself. I had no problems with my asthma at all. My next race I will aim to start with a quicker pace and maintain that throughout while still focusing on leg-turnover.

Overall the race was good and I am looking to improve in each of the remaining two races here in Australia. Devonport has been a great experience and I am looking forward to seeing more as I do more cycling into the beautiful hilly surroundings. The only bummer - is that the outdoor 50m pool is closing on Sat! There is a quarry that I hope we can all go to next week for Mon-Wed. It will be perfect for wetsuit swimming.

I head to Geelong (about 100km east of Melbourne) on Thurs 28 Mar and will be staying with a family there as well. The race on that weekend is another ITU points race but is also the qualifier for the Australian Commonwealth Games Team, so the competition there will be extremely tough - and I am looking forward to matching up it with! The race two weeks later will be held on the same course, but will be a World Cup and will consist of even more talent. It is looking to be a great exciting three period. I also will make sure to do a tourist visit of the Great Coastal Road which is in that location.

More...

Race Photo

Sharon.

March 17, 2002 - Devonport, Tasmania ITU Triathlon
Sharon resumed her racing season in Tasmania this morning with a 7th place finish in the Devonport ITU World Cup Triathlon.
For information on the race, visit the Runner's Web
Sharon races again in Australia on March 31st in Geelong.
March 16, 2002 - Pre-Devonport, Tasmania ITU Triathlon
Hello Everyone from Tasmania Australia!

Hope you are doing well. I am well and the family homestay I am staying with are very nice. They have two children who compete in triathlon and it has been fun hanging out with them!

It was a long flight here - packed flights and the seats hardly reclined - the best sleep I got was about 1hr on the floor of Honolulu airport. I am dialed in now and getting prepped for the race on Sunday! The competition will be very high, though not too deep (about 15 of us). The organization of the race looks first rate and so I am looking forward to a good race. I did two races in South America in Feb, but these races are really the start to the year! I am only beginning my training prep so these three upcoming races (all held two weeks apart) will be eye openers! But I also plan to get some great training in as well!

This week, on Wed, Carol (the mom) took me for a drive to National Park Cradle mountain and we did a walk around one of the most popular lakes, Dove Lake. It is the most frequented tourist destination in Tasmania. We also stopped at her parents to pick up apples and apple juice (they own an orchard).

Tomorrow I will see some of the triathletes that I have not seen in over a year. Then I depart for Geelong (via Melbourne airport) on Tues or possible Wed (Qantas has changed my flight and I must confirm today) Qantas employees went on strike on Wed and airports are ineffective from 8-3pm!! that is the reason that my nice 10am flight got switched to the horrible 6:30am flight!!!

I just wanted to write to you all to fill you in on where I am in the world and my preparation and start to the 2002 race season! Thank you again for all of your support - I couldn't do this without you! I will write again after the race with a quick report!

Take care everyone and talk to you soon.

Sharon

March 1, 2002 - Update
Sharon was the MC at DND's Omudsman Program Sharon was the MC for the DND Ombudsman Awards Program. She is a member of the Ombudsman’s Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee is a group made up of seven CF members, both serving and retired.

Click the photo to see an enlarged version.

February 25, 2002 - Update
Sharon decided against doing the Santos Triathlon in Brazil on the 24th and returned home to Kingston last week.
She will be leaving for Australia on March 8th where she will do three races on the 17th and 31st of March and April 14th.
February 17, 2002 - FAST Triathlon Feminino - Santo, Brazil
Sharon and Carol Montgomery
Sharon and teammate Carol Montgomery
Canadian Team Second!:

This is from an email from Sharon and Alicia Kaye received this morning:

Hello Everybody!!

This is a combined quick race report from Team Canada. Alicia Kaye, Sharon Donnelly, & Carol Montgomery.

The few days leading up to the fast triathlon were awesome - fun and the weather has been perfect until...Race day! We awoke to a continuous rain with grey clouds stretching as far as the eye could see. At breakfast, we all confirmed that we must be cautious, and safety first! We rode to the course in the pouring rain, but we were in good spirits - we are here in Brazil and it will be a short race!!!

The timing of the race start was flexible since it had to coincide with the TV's timings since the race was being televised live worldwide!! The feeling among the athletes on the start line was light - except the Brazilians who had a lot of press and pressure on them to repeat last year's first place performance. Alicia took a great place on the inside of the start line allowing here to lead out Carol and Sharon and block for them in the swim. As a result, Sharon had a clear lead coming out of the first water section and got away on the bike with another Brazilian. She held on to second with Carol coming in third in the first race. Alicia finished strong - and counted for the team. We all rode safe considering the constant rain on the course.

We had about 15 min break before the start of the next race and again the TV dictated the start time. Alicia again made sure to get the great spot on the line with Carol and Sharon right behind. The race went well again with Sharon taking the lead out of the swim, but unfortunately, there were more women this time in the front pack. Most important was Carol was there too. But Carla Morena from Brazil got in front of Carol and Sharon and blocked and let Sandra Solden jump away and onto the camera bike. Carol and Sharon, aided by Susan Williams of USA could not catch her. Of course, our caution for safety paid off as Sandra was too aggressive and lost her lead by crashing on one of the corners. She managed to get up, but Carol and the pack passed her. Carol finished the run in second place and Sharon in fourth. Alicia held on for a strong finish and her placing will be confirmed later today.

Another 15 min break and the rain had stopped thankfully. We could also see the crowds swelling to huge numbers! It was motivating and exciting. Going into the final round we were in second and knew that we just had to finish. Getting first place was out of reach. The swim went exactly like the previous race and the front pack consisted of 2 Brazilians, 2 Canadians and 2 USA. The drama happened behind. Alicia saw that her pack, led by the South Africans were putting time on our group, and so Alicia went to the front and slowed the pace to block. On one of the corners, Mariana Ohata from Brazil made a move on the inside with too much speed and went down taking down the whole chase pack, including Alicia. Alicia immediately got up but realized that she had broken three spokes and was unable to continue. Thankfully, we were far enough ahead in the points that we still had second place as a team locked up. Alicia was unhurt except for some nice road rash! Carol finished off the third race in a sprint finish with Carla taking the win for the third race.

Overall, it was incredibly well organized, thanks to Helio Takai and his organization. It was very professional and the crowds loved it!

We all hope to come back next year.

The results will be sent out tomorrow - Check out the FAST triathlon website or go to Runner's Web site which will also have it (Sharon's sponsor - I had to give them a plug!!)

The best thing about coming in second place for the team - WE CAN NOW GO SHOPPING!!!!!!

Until next time - thank you for your support and talk to you soon

Sharon & Alicia

February 10, 2002 - Punta del Este Triathlon, Uruguay February 9, 2002
Sharon's First Race of 2002:

This is from an email from Sharon received last night:

It is 1am here and it seems things are just getting started in this South American resort city! Punte Del Este is basically the Riviera of the South America! We can´t even afford to stay at the race hotel and a bunch of us will be moving hotels tomorrow! We arrive to torrential rains and winds. We were hoping that it would not be same for race day. We were lucky. Race day was sunny, with wind. Race start was scheduled for 5pm and in true fashion, it was delayed to 5:20pm. It was bizarre hanging around all day, wondering what to eat and just waiting!

There were only about 12 women starters, but of those, 6 were Olympians!! There was a much larger field of men. The men started and the women started 2 min behind. It was a tame swim except for the jelly fish. I ran directly into one and I almost stopped because the pain all over my face and shoulder was so excruciating! It was still hurting me many hours later. We exited the water all at once, at the far end of the first loop, Carol Montgomery went off course and I was caught behind 2 Brazilians, Susan Williams saw her chance and got away. Our pack could not get her and any attempts by Carol, myself and Mariana Ohata were futile. These attacks were also meant to try to drop Carla Morena who was not doing any work in the pack - but she always managed to catch back up.

The run quickly sorted itself out with Carol taking the win and the two Brazilians finishing the podium. Sue held onto fourth while I came in for 5th. (I backed off the last 5km since I was not near Sue and 6th place was fay behind).

The men´s race went well, with Victor Plata winning his first ITU points race.

It was a good race - I went into it without many expectations since I had not raced since July! It has also been a wonderful experience to see a part of the world that I would never otherwise have visited! There seems to be more Argentineans here - at least they are driving all of the nice cars! That is all for now! I will be heading to Brazil (Santos) on Wed for the FAST team triathlon next weekend and then I will accompany the Brazilians to their homebase for a week of training before heading back to Santos for another race (non-drafting). Then I finally return home!

Results that I can remember:

Men:
1.Victor Plata (USA) 2. Moreira (Brazil) 3. Doug Frieman (USA)

Women:
1. Carol Montgomery (CAN) 2. Carla Morena (BRA) 3. Mariana Ohata (BRA) 4. Susan Williams (USA) 5. Sharon Donnelly (CAN) 6. Jennifer Guttieriez (USA)

(Editor's note: I will update the results when they are available from the ITU)

February 2, 2002 - Sharon's First Update for 2002
2002 Update #1

The year is off to a good start! Dave and I had a nice relaxing Christmas in Cuba at an all-inclusive resort without any of our sports apparel and it was just what the doctor ordered. Shortly after I returned, I left for a 2 ½ week training period in Tucson, Arizona. That training period has come to an end and I am flying out in a few hours!

I have had a great time and have done a tremendous amount of training with a focus on cycling, which was not difficult to do seeing as I was staying at the house of Gord Fraser, Canada's top cyclist! Gord rides for the Mercury cycling team and has an impressive career with other teams as well. It has been cool to see his collection of team and winner's jersey's as well as his 1997 Tour de France bike. I really lucked out when I found out that his wife, Caryn, is going to massage therapy school - of course I volunteered whole heartedly to help her with her homework and use me to practice on!

The day after arriving in Tucson, Gord introduced me to the famous Mt Lemmon ride. It is an incredible mountain which has a small ski area at the top. They ride to the bakery at the top, 25miles of climbing to 8500ft! I was so excited to be out on my new GURU bike http://www.gurubikes.com and in such nice weather - I had to really hold myself back from going the whole way. But I vowed I would do it before I left to return home! I did just that three days ago! It was the longest climb I have ever done! Gord advised me to pack my pockets with jacket, gloves, leggings and toe covers - I am glad he did - it was so cold for the last 8 miles of climbing (the return downhill was of course frigid!). It took me 2hr15 to climb (with about 2 photo stops and a stop for putting clothes on!). Gord did the climb in 1hr40!! The views along the way were breathtaking!

There is an incredible beauty here in Tucson. That is one of the many reasons I enjoyed myself so much here! I have learned all about the local wildlife and vegetation, (and quickly learned that the "teddy bear cholla" is anything but cuddly. It the most horrible cactus bush you could ever brush up against! Imagine porcupine and you have a good picture!) Caryn brought me along to some amazing running trails where I got myself lost - it was great! Local triathlete extraordinaire, Jimmy Riccitello, set me up with the local swim groups out of the University of Arizona pool. There are only outdoor pools here in Tucson and with the variety of weather I had while here - it was a unique experience to go swimming in a heated outdoor pool while the air temperature was 5 degrees Celcius! I can't forget to mention that while swimming, in an hour span, I probably saw a minimum of a dozen military aircraft buzzing over the pool with their landing gear down! It was awesome! There is a huge Air Force base here, Davis-Monthan, and their main types of aircraft are the A-10 Wharthogs, F-16's fighter jets and the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.

Tucson was perfect for my training and I only wish it had been longer! I also really enjoyed meeting so many of Gord and Caryn's friends and teammates. Overall it was a positive way to start off my year! I will certainly be considering this place for winter training 2002-3 for a longer period of time.

Planned Race Schedule:

09 Feb ITU Points race - Punta del Este, Uruguay
17 Feb FAST Triathlon - Santos Brazil (Country teams of 3), 3x (250m swim/ 4km bike/1.3km run)
24 Feb Santos Triathlon
17 Mar ITU Points race - Devonport, Australia
31 Mar ITU Points race - Geelong, Australia
14 Apr ITU Points race - Geelong, Australia
27 Apr World Cup - St Petersburg, Florida
12 May ITU points race - St. Kitts or Puerta Vallarta
16 Jun Commonwealth Games Selection race - Victoria, BC
14 Jul World Cup - Edmonton, Alberta
21 Jul World Cup - Cornerbrook, Nfld

Activity Schedule:

01 Feb Guest Speaker Lung Association Conference , Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto
06 Feb DND/CF Ombudsman meeting - Ottawa

January 6, 2002 - Sharon's Last Update for 2001
Another Year Just Flew By…!!

It is hard to believe that we are already into the 2001 Holiday season! In fact, I am late getting this report out to my website. It may have to wait until the New Year. It has been a very busy two months since my last report in *October. I have been getting in some great bike training on the roads courtesy of the amazing unseasonably warm temperatures in Ontario. Even last week, Dec 12th, I did a 2hr ride in 8 degrees Celsius temperature! But I am sure that the snow will soon fly in! I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season - I will be celebrating Christmas Day with my husband Dave on the beaches of Cuba! It will be our first vacation, non-sport related, in over 7 years. Basically it will also act as the honeymoon we never had! With the schedule I had in November and December, Cuba will be a welcome break.

November
The month started with an evening at St Lawrence College Recognition Night where I was presented with an honourary diploma. It was wonderful and I was extremely honoured to receive it since it recognized the community work that I have done as much as my sports achievements. I believe that it is a great institution and am proud to hang the diploma on my wall.
One week later I was busy giving a talk at the Toronto branch of my RMC Alumni, followed the next day by the Ontario Triathlon Awards Banquet where I was awarded the Lisa Hamann award for my contribution to triathlon and community. Two days later I attended the Official Kick-off for the Lung Association Christmas Seal Campaign in Toronto at Nathan Phillips Square with Maple Leafs, Gary Roberts, Donavan Bailey and Ben Heppner, opera tenor. I gave a one-minute talk on asthma and sports and the Lung Association's Asthma Action Hotline. I was thrilled to meet Ben Heppner and I even brought a CD for him to sign! He then asked for my signature for his kids.
I really enjoy being a spokesperson for the Lung Association. Being an asthmatic and growing up with a smoking parent who successfully quit, I feel that I am a good representative. It is my way of giving back for the all of the help I have received.

I traveled to Toronto and Montreal during the month for president meetings of my sponsor Empire Financial Group. It was great to meet all of the staff of the company who has been so generous in their support of my endeavours and will continue to support me through to the next Olympics.

However, the highlight of the month had nothing to do with sports, celebrities etc. It was my trip to the movie theatre with three girls and a mother on the opening day of Harry Potter! It was so much fun! I am not sure who was more excited - the girls or me!

December
As in November, the month got off to a great start with the Christmas party of my sponsor, Sirius Consulting Group. It took place at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa and the huge ballroom was packed! It was great - as it always is! This year they had a magician and of course since I was at the table closest to the front - I was pulled up! I was pathetic! I certainly will not quit my day job and take up magic!
The highlight of the month was, without a doubt, my involvement with the Special Olympics fundraiser, Sports Celebrities Festival. These festivals are held in every province and the Yukon and the finale was held in Toronto at the Westin Harbour Castle on 4-5 Dec. The first night commenced with a meet and greet for all of the sports celebrities, volunteers and later the Special Olympians themselves! Of course the rookies (five of us) were highlighted and given a warm welcome. Some have been 'friends of the festival' for over 15 years like Paul Henderson, Darryl Sittler and Ernie Whitt.
After the dinner we were escorted to a ring of tables for signatures for the Special Olympians who then were brought in. It was awesome. I was sandwiched in between Carlos Delgado and Dan Ferrone for the signing period.
The night extended on with the urging of Marnie McBean to join her for a beer! How could I resist. It seems like yesterday that we were partying in Sydney! So a group of us (Marnie, Ken Read, Alison Sydor and Buck Martinez) talked of sports politics and anything else that cropped up. It was extremely interesting and could write a lot more about what I learned there!
Let me tell you, the organized breakfast at 0700hrs came early after only 4.5hrs sleep! It took place in the conference center with over 1500 people. I was seated at the head table and was called up by Brian Williams and driven to the stage in a golf cart! At my table was Micheal 'Pinball' Clemens, Tracey O'Grady, Jennifer Robinson, Daniel Nestor, myself, Buck Martinez, Andrea Dowey (Special Olympian of the year) and JP Ricciardi. There was another table with a bunch of other notables. Micheal Burgess sang the anthem and the Special Olympics key song. We were shown a wonderful video of Special Olympians and other special guests were involved. An incredible morning!
That was closely followed by the Darryl Sittler Sports Celebrity Face-Off. Two teams of celebrities and Special Olympians were pitted against each other in floor ringette. It was a blast! Marnie and Curt Harnett were the loudest by far, and it was hilarious to see Marnie take Micheal Clemens over the boards and act out a fight! I now see why he is called "Pinball." Because at one moment he was in front of me with the ring and then next he was at the other side! He just ran circles around everyone. BUT - he didn't score! Edge the WWF wrestler was the overwhelming scorer. But I had to hand it to the goalies, both Special Olympians - they were awesome! I am glad that we weren't up against a whole team of them - I heard they did that last year and they annihilated the sports celebrities!

After the game, time to unwind for a few hours, talk with some others, a run outdoors and then get ready for the Black Tie Auction Gala! Wow! Another 1200+ people, and seats were $400 a piece! I was seated at the Toyota table that had donated a Toyota Celica (It went for $28,000 in the live auction). The volunteer of the year, David Chan was great and he purchased a photo, [below]. The evening was a resounding success with over 1.4 million raised! I had donated a picture and book and had a joke going with Alison Sydor that I would put a bid on her donation of a bike jersey if she put one down on mine (I figure that ours were the least expensive items in the room!) Well, she didn't get a chance because my table partner Buck Martinez bought it! He also obtained a hockey jersey and tickets and that is a story that is available here.

Click for larger photo
Sharon at the Sports Celebrities Festival in Toronto, December 2001   [Click photo for larger image]

The evening again extended well into the wee hours - again at the urging of Marnie, and I dragged Alison along with me too! Needless to say, a great time and a very successful event!

The month is wrapping up with some great training, developing my upcoming year schedule and getting ready for Holiday in Cuba!

I am really looking forward to the upcoming year. All of my appearances and promotional work is done and I am focusing 100% on my training and racing. I am feeling great about it. I will list my upcoming races and training periods once I return from Holidays and before I leave for my first training session in Tucson, Arizona on Jan 12th. Until, then have a safe and happy holiday season!!

Sincerely,
Sharon Donnelly

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