TUPPER LAKE - A heavy heart didn't slow Charles Perreault down, as the Quebec resident swam, biked and ran his way to an impressive victory Saturday in the 31st annual Tupper Lake Tinman Triathlon.
Just a day before the race, Perreault was at the funeral of his 43-year-old sister Genevieve. He said he wasn't sure if he would make the trip back to seek his third straight win in Tupper Lake, and sixth overall in the 70.3-mile event.
But with the memory of his only sibling providing the inspiration, Perreault put the hammer down early and never looked back on the way to finishing nearly 15 minutes ahead of the next closest competitor.
Quebec’s Chuck Perreault emerges from the water well ahead of the rest of the field during his winning effort in Saturday’s 31st annual Tupper Lake Tinman Triathlon. Perreault has now won the 70.3-mile endurance race for the past three years and has six titles in the event overall.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"My sister had been ill for a while and I did this for her today," Perreault said. "She was with me the whole race. I thought about her during the swim, I thought about her on my bike and I thought about her while I was running. My sister was there pushing me on."
The 41-year-old from Quebec City surged ahead of the rest of the field early in the swim and extended his lead during the bike and run legs to triumph in a time of 4 hours, 5 minutes and 40.4 seconds. He had the fastest times in all three legs of the race.
"About 400 yards into the swim I turned around to backstroke and take a look, and I was all alone," Perreault said. "My girlfriend was keeping track of my time all the way. She told me I was three minutes ahead in the swim and 13 minutes up after the bike. At that point, I knew it was in the pocket. It was a perfect race. I was flying the whole way."
Perreault was joined by three other Quebec triathletes in a Canadian sweep of the top four positions overall in the men's race. After failing to complete the Tinman the last two times he visited Tupper Lake, not only did Montreal's Mathieu Plaisance finally reach the finish line, he claimed second place overall in 4:20:10.8, which also gave him the top spot in the men's 25-29 age group.
"The first time I quit, and the last time I was here, I had a flat tire that I couldn't repair," Plaisance said. "My goal wasn't to win, it was to finish. I was wishing for top five, I did better than that, so I feel very, very good."
Alexandre Albuquerque of Longueuil placed third overall in 4:21:55.6, and Montreal's James Jacek Cote was fourth in 4:28:37.3.
The women's overall title also went to a Quebec resident, with Genevieve Jacques of Longueuil crossing the finish line in 4:57:05. Jacques, who also competed here in 2011, said she was using the race this time around to train for the Ironman Mont-Tremblant, which takes place on Aug. 18.
"I didn't come to win, I just came to train," said Jacques, who was the 35th to cross the finish line overall. "I'm not super excited, but yeah, I'm happy. It was a pretty good day."
Cadyville's Erin Rasco was a close second overall for the women, finishing in 4:59:16. Third place overall for the women went to Carley Kenwell of Ottawa. She crossed the line in 5:08:20.
Dan Dohman of Jay was the fastest finisher from the High Peaks region. The 21-year-old graduate of AuSable Valley High School was 58th overall with a time of 5:12:35. Saranac Lake's DJ Racette turned in the top result among Tri-Lakes competitors, placing 68th in 5:16:53.
The full Tinman featured a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile round-trip bike to Cranberry Lake and back and a 13.1-mile run. The field included 299 triathletes, and all but seven competitors reached the finish line.
The Tinman also included a sprint and a relay.
The sprint consisted of a .6-mile swim, and 18.6-mile bike ride and 6.6-mile run. Bruce Rohdenburg of Corning took the men's sprint title with a 1:53:44.5 finish time. Competing in the men's 20-29-year-old age group, Lake Placid's Colin Delaney was runner-up in 1:57:40.7. Delaney turned in the fastest run result, a 43:41, among all 96 competitors who entered the sprint distance.
Montreal's Joffrey Renaud rounded out the men's sprint top three with a 1:58:01 finish.
Lydia Heilmann of Fairfield, Conn. was the first woman to cross the line in the sprint, winning in 2:06:00.8. She was ninth overall. Another Connecticut triathlete, Pascale Butcher, placed second for the women with a 2:12:29 finish.
Twenty-three teams raced in the full-distance sprint relay. The 3Hs of Santa Rosa, Calif., won the relay in 4:45:20.5, the Beer View Mirrors of Quebec were runner-up in 5:07:00.4, and M.A.S. of Saranac Lake finished third in 5:15:45.6.
Race director Ted Merrihew said the field has dwindled over the more than three decades that Tupper Lake has hosted the Tinman, due in part to the numerous other races that have cropped up. He said that isn't a bad thing, however, as the race is still big but manageable.
"Years ago, we had 1,000 people doing this race," Merrihew said. "This used to be the only game in town, but now we compete with other races in a way for competitors. We had more than 500 people, and that's still impressive. A lot of people love this race. For a lot of them, it's a relaxing environment. We don't want it to be too big."