Tuesday, October 20, 2009


(Photo: Jon is the guy on the right.)

Wouldn't you know it?

The year that Thunder Bay, Ontario's Jonathan Balabuck becomes eligible for Minnesota Multisport Award consideration he won't be able to attend the TriNight festivities on November 7.

That's because the Triathlete of the Year nominee will be on what is known as "The Redneck Riviera." More specifically, he'll be in Panama City, Florida, a place that looks and feels a lot like Mexico, albeit with a fresh coat of paint. Well, maybe not that fresh. And it has the most beautiful beaches anywhere.

Panama City is the site of Ironman Florida, and Balabuck is registered for this year's race.

Via e-mail, Jon, pictured above with his son, talks about his iron-history and his preparation for IMFL '09.

"Ironman is like a favorite food. In little portions, you crave it, but once you have over-indulged; you can't wait until you've digested it and are completely done.

"I had my first crack at Ironman back in 2004 at Lake Placid; went in blind, and finished with a whole new view of what serious training meant.

"We have had snow here already, no leaves for a month, and the last time I open water swam was September 11th (Burrito Union 10 Hour Tri). So why would I want to do a late season Ironman? Like I stated earlier, I crave one last race and hopefully all the cards will fall right. That is what has been keeping me going. That is what puts me on the indoor trainer for long rides, in a wetsuit in the pool, and on the treadmill during the dark. The idea that just being able to do something so big has enough clout to earn one's respect. I respect Ironman (the distance).

"In 08, I DNFed in Arizona due to paracarditis (viral infection of the heart wall)

but at the time I thought it was just a bad day. It turned out to be a really bad day, both physically and emotionally. I had always promised myself never DNF and walking it in was some form of respect to all other athletes; much like Rutger Beke did in 07- he walked the marathon in Hawaii, when I passed him he said 'good job' and I always respected that mentality of triathletes.

"In Arizona I was sick, and when I finally admitted defeat on the race course, I was a broken man. Florida is in a way a redemption for that race. So Training may have been less than ideal, but my passion to wake up and give it a solid go is strong, so only the day itself will dictate how the script will unfold.

"Prediction? I do have number stuck in my head, written down on a piece of paper hidden even from my wife and child, but those who train with me, know this number- It is written in marker on my pull buoy and paddles to remind me why when I start slipping.

"In the end it is the journey, and the journey has been fun. All the races in Minnesota are gems and if I find success on race day in Florida, every single person that toed the waters edge with me have made it possible.

"To all the volunteers, race directors athletes...Thanks for the memories and see you at the races in 2010." JB