Duathlon just the latest hill for staffer to climb

By Adela Talbot
May 22, 2014

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DUATHLON_summerfieldAdela Talbot // Western News
Spencer Summerfield, a media technician in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, is representing Canada at the 2014 Duathlon World Championships, taking place in Pontevedra, Spain, at the end of the month.Consider this the latest hill for Spencer Summerfield to climb.

Consider this the latest hill for Spencer Summerfield to climb.

Summerfield, a media technician in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, has spent 21 hours a week, as much as 80 hours a month, around 1,000 hours in the last year alone, preparing for the 2014 Duathlon World Championships, taking place in Pontevedra, Spain, at the end of the month.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking; I’ve never done anything of this scale,” said the 27-year-old, who took up duathlons only two years ago. Last year, he qualified to represent Canada at the world championships.

“I race the last day of the competition in the age group category. I’m not a pro or elite, but it will be nice to see all of that taking place, to calm the nerves. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve worked really hard for a year, and I deserve it.”

Summerfield competes in sprint duathlons – a run-bike-run competition made up of a 5-km run, a 20-km bike portion, followed by a 2.5-km run, all done consecutively. He trains with Balance Point Triathlon, a group coached by Gabbi Whitlock, assistant to the director of administration and the associate dean (research) in Arts & Humanities. Whitlock, a competitive swimmer, has coached athletes for more than 15 years.

“I’ve always run. My father was a phys-ed teacher for 30 years, so running and activity has always been in my life,” Summerfield said.

“I started about a couple of years ago and joined Gabbi’s group and went through the trials and tribulations of thinking I was a good runner and I could do it. But I was put in my place really quick by a bunch of veterans,” he continued.

Summerfield spent the last two years training harder than ever. He bought a bike and was quickly racing duathlons, winning in his age category each time.

It might come as a surprise, then, to know Summerfield has a heart condition.

“I was diagnosed last May with a genetic heart condition that, more or less, said don’t swim,” he said, explaining why the triathlon might not be an option going forward.

“I’ve been battling with that syndrome, Long QT syndrome (Type 3), a genetic mutation that changes the way my heart beats and everything else, since. Most people who get this are told not to compete in competitive sports.”

But Summerfield trains well and trains smart. He trains with a heart-rate monitor and takes medication for the condition, including a new beta blocker that has helped shift his heart rate downward by about a third, keeping it in a ‘safe zone’ while he trains.

And recent road races and duathlons are showing him his hard work is paying off, finding him on pace and hitting every target.

Summerfield will be one of 90 Canadians in Spain from May 31 to June 1. He will compete on the last day, coincidentally also his birthday. He couldn’t be more thrilled.

As there is no funding provided for amateur athletes, Summerfield has been fundraising through GoFundMe. For more information and to support his trip to Spain, visit www.gofundme.com/Spencer-World-Duathlon.

This story originally appeared in the May 22, 2014 edition of Western News.


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