Rolling Rampage 10k
Thursday 10th October saw the annual Rolling Rampage 10K in Ottawa, an 18 loop course on Parliament Hill. The Hill was filled with cheering students from many of the local schools, politicians, among others, including many tourists who happened to stumble upon the spectacle.
Cassidy has won the event for the past two years, but in the best field the event has seen since moving from Toronto, Cassidy could not predict the outcome.
“Of course I am racing to win, but in this field I could very possibly end up fifth.. I don’t know how it is going to go. But I am going to give everything I’ve got. This race means a lot to me at home.”
Cassidy’s main competition was South African Ernst Van Dyk, who broke ahead of the pack right from the beginning of the race, until Cassidy reeled him in about 4 laps later.
“Ernst is a legend in the sport, but in recent years has switched focus to handcycling. So despite his illustrious past career in chair racing, he hasn’t quite been in his best racing chair form for the past few years. I reeled him in quickly and so I committed to wearing him out. But it became evident he was in strong form.”
Cassidy did the bulk of the work from the front, for 13 laps, surging ahead of Van Dyk. But like a yo-yo, Van Dyk kept coming back. Cassidy tried to move aside a few times to let Van Dyk to some of the pulling, but Van Dyk wouldn’t pull up. “At first I thought it was because I was tiring him out, but he was obviously in good form, and I read him wrong until it was too late.”
Cassidy lead the lone pair right up until the final lap which was a furious 600m sprint. The Hill was erupting in cheering for the Ottawa born favourite. Cassidy led right up to the last incline approaching the finish, where Van Dyk pulled away enough for the win.
“Obviously I was really frustrated with the result. I am really happy with how hard I raced, and the form I am in. I could be better, but I didn’t know if I would finish as far back as fifth.. so one less than the best possible outcome is alright. I’m okay with it for now… but I’ll want it back next year.”
Link to photos http://www.demotix.com/search/media/rolling%20rampage
Cassidy left that evening for Chicago, where three days later he would defend his 2012 title amidst not only the most talented, but the largest field Chicago has had with 63 athletes at the line. The great line-up included Australian Kurt Fearnley, and Richard Coleman, Switzerland’s legendary Heinz Frei who had beaten multi world record holding teammate, Marcel Hug in the Berlin Marathon just weeks prior, South Korea’s Gyu Dae Kim, American Joshua George and the entire USA team, and also competing in Chicago was the Rolling Rampage winner, South Africa’s Ernst Van Dyk, among others.
In the press conference Cassidy was asked about his form this year, “It’s been a bit of an inconsistent year with a few trials I’ve had to overcome, reasons and excuses aside, I definitely feel like I am on the up and out. I’ve been working hard. This is a great field here, and I’m not even thinking of it as defending my title. Of course I am going to try and win it, but I am going to go out and just worry about racing smart, being strong, and confident in an awesome field. I’m excited.. it’s going to be a fun day.”
Perhaps Ernst Van Dyk had something to prove, or perhaps his win in Ottawa boosted his confidence, but he led a very fast first 10k, with a pack of nine in behind. The large group stayed together until the 20Km point when Van Dyk, Fearnley, George, Frie and Bothello got a break and eased ahead by 30 seconds. Cassidy was in the chasing peloton with five other elite athletes.
“I was in a bad position near the back of the pack when the attack happened on a turn, and I got caught. I just wasn’t in good enough form to catch them. On top of that, my shoulder was giving out, and my guts were cramping up badly as well.. it was to the point where I was thinking of pulling out. But I decided to stay strong, stay patient, and still try and make top 5.”
Cassidy, Pike and Bleakney of USA eventually caught Bothello, as the four powered on in pursuit. Around 35km in Cassidy attacked and lost the group for a few kilometres until Bothello and Pike reeled him back in around 38km.
“I really wanted to try and win that 5th spot, and so I committed to a long attack with about 2k to go. To many it may have been risky but I stayed confident and hung in there to take 5th. I am very happy with how I raced, considering the circumstances. I have alot of work to still do though to be back where I want to be.”
Cassidy finished in 5th in 1:33:30 with Ernst Van Dyk, in fine form winning again in a sprint finish with 1:30:37. Not even a chair length behind him was Kurt Fearnley in 1:30:38, and in a outstanding performance, third went to Joshua George in the same time 1:30:38, and fourth to Heinz Frei in 1:30:31.
“I haven’t worked so hard and pushed my limits of pain this much in a while. I was proud of how strong I finished considering how I felt for a while in the middle. It was fun though to be a part of such a great race. Ernst pushed really strong and definitely deserved the win. But I think myself along with the others will now know the kind of shape he is in heading into New York. I think everyone is eager to go at it again.”
Cassidy finishes up the season with the ING New York City Marathon on November 3rd.