Montreal ITU Age Group World Champs 2022 - Oggi Zurzolo

After many months waiting for this day, it had finally arrived. I had arrived in Montreal, Canada, 5 days prior to the race, my first international trip in 19 years. I was quite out of my comfort zone, in a different country by my lonesome, but loving it. I spent the days prior to the race trying to get my bearings in this foreign new city, going for a few jogs, an open water swim, cycling on the bike course and racking up over 30,000 steps a day sightseeing (whoops). There was a parade of nations, opening ceremony and pasta night before the race, so I got to meet the Australian team, and me being me, it didn’t take long for me to become friends with a few. I was overwhelmed with messages from friends and family the week leading to the race, all wishing me luck, making sure I was alive and having a great time.  


My wave was due to start at 10:15am, and it was already quite hot. It was forecasted to be 30degree’s but also incredibly humid.  I walked down the stairs to the wobbly pontoon, which I lost my balance and almost stacked it. 30seconds before my wave was to start, we had to get in the water and wait. It was a wetsuit legal race, and even with the wetty on, it was quite chilly.  I had a shocking start, I struggled not having anything to kick off and I had an incredible tight chest, which made breathing quite hard. I always knew that I would struggle on the swim, let’s be honest, I can’t swim for shit. Half-way through the swim my chest tightness went away, and I was able to get more into a rhythm and find some feet, as I caught up to a small group ahead. The water quality wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, considering it was almost made into a duathlon due to the water quality.  Before I knew it, the swim was over, and I ran up the ramp before embarking up 42 steps. This was quite annoying, as the athlete in front of me blocked me passing him, so I just had to go at their pace. I then had a long run-down transition, where I quickly took the remainder of my wetsuit off, put on my helmet, but then couldn’t get my left cycling shoe tightened, as the boa dial was stuck so I just cycled with my left shoe being incredibly loose. We had to run down a ramp before mounting and jumping on the cycle course.


I mounted my bike and as I approached the first straight, a massive group flew past and another WA competitor Ronan in the 20-24 age group, screamed out for me to hop on. I managed to surge and jump on, scoring a Strava trophy in the process lol. I have never competed in a draft legal race, so it was epic, and I found I was perfectly fine on the straights, was able to hold onto a wheel easily, but my cornering skills is what let me down. I would tend to lose the group on the corners and then had to surge to catch them on the straights, so definitely must work on that. I held onto the group pretty much for the entire of the first lap, but majority of that group were on their 2nd lap as they were in the waves before me, so then I was left on my own for the second lap. It was an incredibly technical course, and I did witness quite a few crashes, so at least I was able to stay upright and avoid them. Despite laboured breathing, I was loving the experience and soaking it all in as the course was through the heart of Montreal city. Once we dismounted, we had to run up the ramp before racking our bike. Before coming onto the run course, we had to do some ridiculous run around the entire transition, which was a decent 500m. Both my T1 and T2 were the longest times I have ever had in in a sprint triathlon, just due to how long transition was.


As I entered the run course, it was bloody hot, can’t remember the last time I trained in the heat. The run course was just an out and back, and I ran the best I could, I didn’t hit the pace I wanted to but was never passed by anyone. I at least was in the top 10 for my age-group in the run. I’ve been loving running so much, so despite being sore and hot I loved the run, and who doesn’t like passing people in a race. As I approached the finish line, there was some guy in front of me, no idea what age group he was in, but I surged to catch him, and we had a head-to-head sprint finish, which was cool. Just like that, the race was done and dusted, received my participation medal, which is pretty awesome, then there was a huge spread of food to choose from.   

The whole experience was epic, and I don’t think I have ever felt more alive in a race, so it lived up to my expectations. I walked away knowing some things went well, some things I need to continue to work on and it was an invaluable experience. I would very much like to quality again, whether that be next year or the following etc, and work on my weaknesses but I would much prefer to do a longer course option, either the standard distance, long course and even the standard duathlon format. With the friends I had made in the prior days, I organised a night out to celebrate out in the town, which then grew exponentially with athletes from around the globe joining us, so the after party was lit, and even I had a drink or two to celebrate