Sault Stryders
Running Club

Runner had 'no idea' he took St. Joe's title
Reported August 15, 2011 by Dona Schell for The Sault Star
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Stephen Eles was unaware of his first-place finish until final results were tallied.

Eles, of Brimely, Mich., finished in the Olympic Distance Triathlon just minutes ahead of the local competition -- Stew Blake and Steve Demidovich -- at Saturday's 8th annual St. Joseph Island Triathlon.

"I had no idea," Eles said following the race.

He finished with a time of 2:13:17, followed by Blake (2:14:25) and Demidovich (2:15:29).

Eles was one of more than 450 athletes from across Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, the U.S., and as far away as Spain, Switzerland and Puerto Rico, to converge on Richards Landing.

For spectators, many of whom were equipped with umbrellas and ponchos, the steady rain was an inconvenience. For athletes, it was a welcome, cool relief.

"It went pretty well overall," Eles said, adding the hardest element for him was the hill along Sailor's Encampment, about 15 kilometres out.

"Coming down that hill, covered with water, at that speed, was a little intimidating," he said. "It made things a little slick. You had to be careful turning or going down hills. Just ride it, hope for the best and don't hit your brakes."

Overall, Eles said, weather had little to no effect on his performance.

"Any time you have cool weather, it's good for triathlon," Eles said.

The St. Joseph Island event may be his last triathlon for this year. He does, however, have his eye set on a marathon later this fall.

A preferred runner, Eles said he enjoys participating in triathlons during summer, adding the run portion builds on his marathon training.

"Not only to stay fit, but do something different. It keeps my focus on something else," he said.

Demidovich, a five-time triathlon participant, was happy with his overall finish.

"My time was faster than last time I did it, just that there were two faster guys," he said following the race. "They had good races and I couldn't keep up to them."

Demidovich said his bike may have performed a little slower than what he would have wanted, but his competition was faster.

In reviewing critical areas during the cycling portion, Demidovich said extra caution was needed with the wet road, but added that slow him down much. But Eles and Shaw had better rides.

"That's what happens in racing," Demidovich said. "It was a good day for me."

Demidovich has his eye on the ironman competition.

Unlike the ironman, a triathlon is an all-out race.

Demidovich described this year's race as some of his recent best times.

"I think the times were faster with better competition all around," he said. "There were a lot of good local guys, and then there was Steve Eles, a Lake Superior State (University) track coach, who is a super-fast runner. We're all friends and this was good friendly competition."

Triathlete Jullien Flynn, 18, has competed in various sports for much of her life. The Saultite finished 17th overall, but first in her age group, with a time of 2:40:49.

"It means a lot to stand in the winner's circle," Flynn said. "I really trained hard and pushed myself this year in all of the events, especially in my run time. I'm very pleased with my run time."

In a matter of weeks, Flynn leaves for McGill University where she intends to compete on the varsity cross-country and track teams.

Each year, she has seen not only her times improve but her overall placement get better, attributing her overall performance to extensive training, which also includes two triathlons earlier this summer.

Flynn's training also showed with her "strong" improvement in swimming and cycling.

Marathon competition is not on the horizon for Flynn. But she doesn't rule it out for later.

"I plan to run my whole life, as well as keep doing triathlons recreationally when I older," she said, adding her name will continue to be on the Olympic distance roster.

Flynn, said that in retrospect, she wished when she could have qualified, as a teen, to represent her hometown at an Ontario Summer Games.

"It's important for kids to get out, do their best and have a good time," she said.