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Wednesday, Sep. 19, 2018
Former L.U. swimmer claims inaugural Kivi Park Swim/Run
by Randy Pascal

Showcasing all of the natural beauty of Kivi Park in an event that is seldom seen in these parts, Run/Swim organizer Buddy Green drew an interesting collection of athletes to Sudbury on the last weekend of July.

Among those, former Laurentian University varsity swimmer, current triathlete and eventual race winner Jennifer Piper of North Bay. "The event in Sudbury was right off the charts, a brand new thing, and I think that's what made it so much fun," said the 27 year old four time champion of the North Bay Triathlon.

"The dynamics of this race are a lot different than a triathlon. Instead of transitioning, you would stay in whatever equipment gear you ran in to swim, and vice versa." Moving back to her hometown in 2012 and now working as a paramedic in the area, Piper has continued her role as a swim coach, a position she initially filled with the Sudbury Laurentian Swim Club, and now with the CT-33 Thunderbirds Swim Club.

It's been part of the reason why she has morphed from a competitive swimmer to tackling the triathlon circuit in recent years. ""I'm fortunate enough that the way I can facilitate some of my practices is that I actually swim with my swimmers," said Piper.

"They challenge me just as much as I challenge them. It's not always the case, as there are times when you need to be evaluating their technique, so I need to be on the deck, but it allows me to continue to train, and that's what I enjoy. It's kind of the best of both worlds."

Though her competitiveness in the water was not likely to be questioned, Piper acknowledged that at least one of the remaining two legs of the triathlon was far from producing a natural fit. "I would say that running was a big challenge for me," she stated.

"I participated in track and field in grade school and high school, but the idea of long distance running really didn't appeal to me. But I knew that if I wanted to take my racing to the next level for triathlons, I had to be a faster runner."

"It was two summers ago that I saw a lot of improvement in my running, really focusing on my technique," continued Piper. "I became friends with more runners, or triathletes who were dominant runners. They gave me valuable feedback on my running technique and how to train as a runner."

All of which made her quite comfortable, roughly one month ago, claiming top spot in her hometown race once again. The Run/Swim, however, was a different animal altogether. "In Europe, these races are apparently a lot more popular," said Piper.

"I did a little bit of research to see what they were wearing. To my surprise, they actually have specially designed wet-suits for these races, and they have suggested footwear. I didn't go out and purchase any of those items, but it gave me a better idea of what was going to work and what would not."

Ultimately, her first place finish, in Sudbury, in a time of 2:08.00 suggested that things could have gone far worse. "I didn't have a lot of time to try out gear that I already owned, so that made things a little interesting on race day," said Piper.

"I did end up with a pretty big blister on my left heel, which is still healing, but other than that, things went well." In posting a margin of victory of 2:14 over second place finisher Craig Ross, Piper overcame not only the uncertainty of proper outfitting, but also a far different terrain than the vast majority of her triathlons.

"In a triathlon environment, you're usually racing on roads or a really well packed down path or trail," she noted. "For this race, we were on hiking trails that had lots of roots and rocks that you had to look out for. Sometimes we were running through brush cut trails, sometimes it was a little marshy."

"You had to watch your footing, a lot," she summarized. Piper will be back in her element come August 13th, when she competes in the Bracebridge Triathlon. Following is a complete listing of finishers in the Sudbury race, along with their times:

1. Jennifer Piper - 2:08.00
2. Craig Ross - 2:10.14
3. Ignacio Castillo - 2:11.32
4. Ross Shepherd - 2:14.55
5. Steve Whitmore - 2:19.33
6. Benjamin Frederiksen - 2:26.10
7. Meaghan St John - 2:28.00
8. Oleg Vinokurov - 2:34.10
9. Erica Mantay - 2:39.37
10. Loren King - 2:39.44
11. Joseph Kimani - 2:40.53
12. Carole Brown - 2:41.03
13. Didier Gosnet - 2:41.40
14. Fabien Gosnet - 2:43.02
15. Ginny Dénommé - 2:44.10
16. Mark VanOostrum - 2:47.58
17. Craig Espey - 2:49.32
18. Lenka Bubenickova - 2:50.06
19. Kristin Zazelenchuk - 2:59.00
20. Chrissy Lane - 3:01.30
21. Paul Guerin - 3:02.29
22. Rachel Askett - 3:03.10
23. Elyse Crichetiere - 3:06.07
24. Suzi Santaguida - 3:12.20
25. Chantal Mayer-Crittenden - 3:14.39
26. Ryan Post - 3:25.30
27. Arla Connell - 3:45.30
28. Madhu Nagaraja - 3:45.30
29. Ginette Lalonde-Kontio - 4:17.00

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