Tim Wieclawski/metro ottawa
It’s a race, but most people running to the finish line at the Canadian Iron Distance Triathlon tomorrow will not be sprinting to pass the person in front of them or trying to beat a certain time.
After swimming 3.8 kilometres, cycling for 180 km, and then running 42 km, most people will be satisfied just to be on their feet.
Tomorrow’s event, the only Ironman distance triathlon in Ontario, starts at 6:30 in the morning in Mooney’s Bay and the winner will likely cross the line nearly nine hours later.
Organizers at Somersault Promotions said they are expecting only 100 athletes to enter in the Iron distance race, but with a half-Iron distance and other races, more than 1,000 participants are expected throughout the day.
“The great thing about this sport is the wide spectrum of abilities,” said Dick Gunstone, who has finished nine Iron distance races and will be lining the route tomorrow supporting athletes. “I know some people who will be taking the race very seriously, but you’ll also see people in cut-off jean shorts and riding their kids’ mountain bike.”
One of the more competitive racers tomorrow will be Ontario Long Course Triathlete of the Year, as well as Ottawa’s Triathlete of the Year, Rick Hellard, who said he feels fit enough to set a new course record for the Iron distance event, but is not making any guarantees.
“Funny things can happen with this event,” he said. “And they usually aren’t that funny.”
Hellard said the sport is growing and more people will enter the Canadian race as the popularity of the sport grows.
“You see all shapes and sizes out there. Triathlon is not an elitist sport,” said Hellard. “You might even see you’re next-door neighbour who you never suspected was a triathlete.”
The one prohibitive factor for the Iron distance is the training necessary to finish the race. Susan Yelle, a nurse administrator and mother of three, cut her hours to part-time in order to properly prepare for tomorrow’s race.
She said she’s fortunate to have a family that understands the commitment involved to cover that distance. Her husband is a runner and all of her children have competed in various triathlons. Two of her children will be able to watch their mother compete while working as timekeepers during the race.