The last time any of our MTC Team were able to travel to a USAT Series Race, Blake Harris took the win in the Youth Event. That was nearly two years ago and as we all know, a lot has changed since then…
Training in isolation; only one month of swim training all season; nearly two years between races – for Blake, it’s been two years of hard, dedicated work and a TON of uncertainty. But in a strange twist, it was when things got worse that the door opened up for the chance to race again.
Here is Blake’s story:
“I registered last winter hoping the border would open up before the event. In early May, I didn’t have much intent on going, but I made the last minute decision to go, because school was now online so I wouldn’t miss class during quarantine and I hadn’t seen a start line in over a year.
I wasn’t expecting much from this race. I had won my previous USAT Elite Series race in 2019, but that was youth and I was now a junior. Instead of competing in the top of the 3 year age group of youth I was racing as a 17 year old in junior (under 20). I also had my wisdom teeth out about 3 weeks prior and was back on antibiotics from an infection that came up on the weekend before the race.
As a Manitoban, I’d also spent the majority of the winter out of the water and training on my own and I was now stepping up to race a mostly American field that has been training and racing very similarly to normal. Given all this, I simply was there to see how a return to racing went.
I spent the days leading up to the event pre-riding and doing a lot of swimming, I had to balance resting and trying to get a feel for the water to give me the best possible shot on Sunday.
On race day, the swim went surprisingly well and I was soon able to form a bit of a chase pack to catch the leaders. There was a group of about 5 athletes who I worked with for the 20km bike to bring the entire front half of the race together, until the last lap where the pack started to split up. I stayed aggressive and made sure I stayed to the front of the pack for the run.
Going into T2, there weren’t many people in front of me and I could see the lead bike less than 20 meters away. A few minutes of aggressive paced running out of T2 left Sam Tullis and I racing head to head for the majority of the 5km. The extreme heat (35c) made the run difficult for everyone and resulted in run times much slower than normal. Sam lead most of the run with me sitting on his heels waiting for the last stretch of the race. I decided to attack 500m out and I soon put a comfortable time gap into Sam, then I just had to run it in and finish it.
I was very surprised and overwhelmed with the result, I didn’t think I was as fit as I was after the winter I had just had.
Now I am awaiting covid test results to renter Canada and go into my two-week quarantine, while I finish out my school year. Until we’re cleared to head home though, I am training in the Fargo pool and getting the most of the facilities that are open down here.”
After two seasons of dedication and non-stop uncertainty, we’re proud to see Blake back atop the podium.
Enjoy your quarantine recovery time Blake, and the good news is it looks like the MTC Program will be able to resume small group workouts once your two weeks are up.