Winter Triathlon a “success”

Keely Dakin
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This year’s winter triathlon saw 15 athletes running, biking and skiing through the sun and snow at Little Red River Park.

The 19-kilometre track began just after 11 a.m. on Saturday.  The event includes a four-km run, an eight-km mountain-bike ride and a seven-km free-style cross-country ski.

This year marks 10 since the chilly challenge began on March 2, 2003.

There were fewer participants than expected this year however their were some newbies to the winter sport this year and they appeared to enjoy themselves, at least once they were done and warming up inside Cosmo Lodge with a bowl of hot chilli. 

“It was fun. Tough but lots of fun. An excellent workout,” said Dwayne Mills a first-time winter triathlete.

While it is his first time doing a triathlon in winter, he recently finished a summer triathlon.

“My son and I did the Frank Dunn (triathlon) last year,” he said.

For his friend, Darren Swanson, this was the first full triathlon he has completed although he has been a third of a team for one in the summer.

“(It’s) a great day for it, great temperature,” Swanson said.

Swanson and Mills came out to do the triathlon together, so they reached the finish with the same time.

“I carry an AED in my backpack, just in case,” Mills said and laughed.

“You get older you get a little smarter,” agreed Swanson.

Cycling is often the most challenging part of a winter triathlon because of the uncertain surface and cold wind pelting their feet, hands and faces.

“It was just like riding in sand,” Swanson said.

“I got through OK, other than I fell once,” he said.

For other racers, a winter triathlon is old toque.

Jason Watt came in with Saturday’s best time, at 1:09.08. This was Watt’s third winter triathlon and he has been doing triathlons since 2006.

“I started my first summer tri in 2006,” he said.

For him getting into triathlons seemed like a natural progression as he comes from an athletic background.

“I’ve always been kind of fit and enjoyed that,” Watt said.

The social aspect of triathlons is nothing to sniff at either.

“The P.A. Tri Club is a pretty awesome group to hang out with,” he said.

As for the reason why he does them in the winter, Watt says that living in a place with six months of snow is a pretty good reason.

Director Roy Fremont was happy with how the event went.

“Nobody got hurt, everybody had fun, it was a success,” Fremont said.

While injuries are not precisely common they do happened and winter is an extra hazard. 

“There is a risk when you’re mountain biking in snow,” he said.

Weather conditions vary every year, but this one seems to have met with most people’s approval.

“Any year we could be looking at -30 C below, and icy conditions.”

This year the temperature was about -15 C.

“But with the sun shining, hey it was lovely,” he said.

“We got really luck this year with the road conditions … because the snow conditions required that the roads be grated right before the event,” Fremont said.

They also owe some great ski trails to the P.A. Ski Club.

“The P.A. Ski Club did track the trails for the event and for that we are very grateful,” he said.

Indeed, they were done the night before and again early Saturday morning due to the last minute snowfall, which came down on Friday night.

“We owe them a huge, huge thank you for tracking the ski trails,” he said.

 “It’s a challenge for the organizers and the competitors and … the more challenge it is the more satisfaction we get in completing that event,” he said.

At the end of it all, Fremont gives a heartfelt thanks to all of the volunteers who stood in the cold, keeping things sliding smoothly for the athletes.

“Ultimately the success of any event is attributable to the volunteers.”

Organizations: P.A. Ski Club, P.A. Tri Club

Geographic location: Fremont

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