Stephane Tremblay’s North of the 49th Marathon report

On August 29th 2010, it was the 13th edition of the North of 49th marathon. This race takes place at the famous Birds Hill Park where several PAN AM competitions took place.

This year was the 8th consecutive year that I completed this marathon and there is a reason for that. Since the 2001 Canadian Championships were held in Winnipeg, I realized how nice, generous and genuine the Winnipeg skating community was.

This year I came with my training partner Allain Legacy. We thought that attacking early in the race will give us a good sense of the chasing interest of the pack and its strength. At the start though there was a 15km/h NW wind that I expected to become a challenge in the long strait away before the finish line especially because we have to complete 4 laps of this course to complete the distance.

The race started quite fast for probably 3-4 km. When it slowed down, Allain attacked first and then me. The pack reacted really well to both attacks but we were not yet in the wind. When the wind started to slow down the pack, Allain launched his second attack, the pack reacted more slowly this time, caught him but was very tired. That was the perfect time for me to go and I did. The pack let me go. Quickly I made a significant gap of 200m, after few km I realized someone was between me and the chase pack: it was Allain in the no man’s land trying as hard as he could to join me and drop the pack. I waited a little for him and he caught me.

Suddenly, the race for me changed and the pace increased. We climbed the first hill as fast as we could and we started exchanging leads. At that pace we knew at mid race we would be able to finish race 1 and 2 if nothing bad happened. We kept the same pace to the finish with one hope: to beat the course record that I set in 2006 of 1h14m21s. I crossed the line 1 second in front of Allain with a time of 1h13m01s. The chase pack came in 3m45s behind us. We were both quite satisfy with the race result and the intensity we put into it.

Following the race there was the traditional BBQ and we all went for a swim into a lake close by. Once again the Winnipeg skating community was amazing especially all of the race volunteers.