Choi, a Thung Chai and other thoughts on a trip to Vietnam [a draft in progress.. now shared].

A trip to Vietnam, [so far].

The Great Canadian Kitchen Party’s are a series of dinners hosted by award winning Musicians, Chefs and Athletes to celebrate three pillars of Canadian culture – art, food and sport.

Funds raised through auction, of memorabilia and the facilitation of excursions abroad, to locations far and away, provides resources needed to support art, culinary, and sporting expression in Canada’s schools.

GCKP invites people who wish to travel, to hear music, experience local food and participate in unique adventure, to Iceland, Mallorca, Tuscany, Napa, South Africa, Scotland, Croatia, Portugal and Vietnam, and across Canada, from Newfoundland, to Niagara, to peaks in the heart of the Rockies and along BC’s rugged coastline, GCKP has extensive experience, a network with access to local knowledge, and a team of hosts who take care of the details, with meticulous attention to detail, while still maintaining a sense of adventure and leaving room to explore.

Vietnam eh. Culture. Cycling and food. Exploring. I can do that. I packed a backpack and a helmet and I left all my devices at home.

When I returned I sat down to write about it, just to see what I would find. I tried to make sense of the endless notes I left for myself on the back of receipts, on random pieces of paper and in my treasured journal, and through these snippets I found a trail of crumbs marking a faint path back to moments in time, as if unpacking reminder tokens from a bags of holding.


lit lanterns down old dirt roads,

badminton by the river,

concrete truck playing Christmas carols on its horn serenading the Saigon Opera house and Continental hotel at 3am,

man in bear mascot costume sleeping on park bench with head resting on stomach,

frogs without heads hopping around market stalls,

cold beer with Tom Cochrane by the river in the ancient city of Hoi An waiting on tailored suits,

it’s a basket not a boat,

can I play too,

there’s something in the way she moves.

I wrote short stories on tickets acquired visiting landmarks, wrote while waiting for coffee in Ho ChiMin and long form with great theatre alone in Hoi An. I walked down alleys, I sat in parks, I took time to just sit and listen, and I drew illustrations in sketch books of scooter rides emeshed into the throng of traffic past neon signs and bright lights where traffic laws are but suggestions, Advanced driving in the traffic amoeba of people on mopeds known as the Saigon merge.

We went in search of new foods and smiling faces, to hear laughter in the streets of Ho Chi Min, to see through the smallest of windows into the infinite realm of possibilities, what is life like in Vietnam.

A land of staggering natural beauty and cultural complexities, of dynamic mega cities and hill-tribe villages, Vietnam is compelling”.

What I did see in Vietnam, is what I see here at home, just how capable we are as humans, the sheer overwhelming power of our will to endure, and our faith to live on, through ingenuity, and detachment as constructive defiance.

Ingenuity, and the will to endure.

Viet is an ethnic term indicating a linguistic distinction and refers to people from beyond the boundary, in this case of China, in the “nam” land, the Southern land.

In Vietnamese a round wicker basket constructed of bamboo lacquered in Buffalo dung is known as a Thung Chai and in the 19th century it was used to circumnavigate a tax being imposed on boats by French Colonial occupiers. The Vietnamese fisherman claimed a Thung Chai was a not boat, it was a basket, and therefor exempt, and when the French looked the other way, the Vietnamese dragged the basket to the shore with a paddle in hand and ventured out to sea, where they happen to cast a line. Paddling a Thung Chai is much like harvesting rice, you lean in and pull, drawing towards you a seed of progress. This seamless bowl evenly distributes the influence of outside forces, vibrating in sympathy of the waveform of the groove, and when the tides shift, when the wind and the waves and turbulence of the ocean, the tempests of the sea, escalate, this tea cup goes with the flow, it rides above, drifting, conserving, and retreating as its own form of progress, simplicity the greatest form of sophistication, adapt and endure, much like the Vietnamese.

The faith to live on.

With the majority of the Vietnamese population being Buddhist the symbols and artifacts of religious ceremony, the adherence to ritual and the architecture of faith was ever present in the rural Vietnam we experienced. Pagodas, temples and shrines are enmeshed into the landscape as markers of meaning making as expressions of love as a debt paid with grief - death as the mother of beauty.

Atop the mountain pass known as Hai Van spanning a spur of the Truong Son Range, with its panoramic view of the shorelines of Hue and Da Nang, drifting in the rivers, staked in the fields, displayed in homes, and with in its estuaries, on beaches and in the ancient city of Hoi An are lit lanterns as beacons of invitation.

Cycling past fields of peanuts and rice we ventured into the countryside, we saw rural life beyond the main road, subsistence living in every manner of dwelling, three story modern homes, in various states of completion, and disrepair, with grand facades embellished with symbols, as temporary indications as to the existence of continuity, displaying iconology complicit in the presence of faith manifested as elaborately decorated family temples, and small shines at the entrances to corrugated tin shack shelters built into the bank of canals down old dirt roads. We rode across single lane floating bridges made of metal panels welded to floating drums, bound together with rope, and secured to the shore by elaborate scaffolds of bamboo and cable, manned by entrepreneurial attendants in makeshift cinder block toll booths laying about in hammocks smoking cigarettes and playing cards. We stopped for coconut and sugar cane drinks straight from the source at market stalls built around temples perched on wooden bridges erected as tributes to the founding Fathers of the local village, constructed atop stone pillars covered with elegant arch ways providing reprieve from the sun, a wind tunnel like breeze, a place to gather, to commune, to seek sanctuary.

We followed the Mr. Biker Saigon guides, Quinn, Tam, Anthony and crew as they led us on an adventure that may aptly have been advertised as “I wonder where this goes” except that they had carefully planned and considered the routes prior to our arrival, they checked and rechecked and made contingency plans, in case of spontaneous construction on the state owned land, or random occurrences, coincidences, the ever present diversions of Vietnam, such as a water buffalo on the road, or perhaps a ceremony of unity being performed at a bend in the river; and as we ventured beyond the boundaries of the main roads, navigating trails along tributaries and across drainage canals past all manner of livestock and thatched roof hot huts cultivating mushrooms, and merchants manning carts, road side vendors peddling solutions to needs not yet known, when we turned at the rivers bend, we participated in a wedding, our procession of pedlars proceeding past, and who sang on and kept dancing, never missing a beat, their heads turning only for a moment, as if this random collection of bike riding fanny pack wearing foreigners, were just part of the proceedings, just part of the flow.

Unattached to outcome.

In Hoi An Vietnam there is a Football club with artificial grass pitches where they play seven a side.

The leagues schedule is on the white board.

Nets and bright lights and uniforms.

And it is here I showed up,

as a foreigner,

I stood by the entrance,

shoes in hand,

and I waited,

and watched,

I acknowledged the game,

and when the team of expats called me in,

invited to join,

I checked my laces and

stepped on to the pitch,

and we did play,

And when it was done,

as we sat and we gathered,

shared spirit and story,

we saw within in each other one another,

and in our selfs the same,

and in doing so found a moment of tranquility,

of empty space.

And the following day,

I did the same,

I showed up,

again as a foreigner,

in amongst the locals,

and when the ball went over the fence,

I ran and got it,

and I when I returned,

ball in hand,

a gesture of gratitude was extended,

and again we did play,

and afterwards,

having been offered refreshment,

we sat by the pitch,

basking in the joy of sport,

and a moment of tranquility.

When I arrived at the pitch on the second day I was a lone foreigner in amongst the locals, and as much as I was wearing what could pass as a soccer kit, a black v-neck t-shirt, and black athletic shorts, with my Hoka trail running shoes on, which looked more like tank treads then soccer cleats, I might be considered, much like a geological anomaly, as out of place, and yet sport plays on, and when the ball went over the fence, I ran after it, and when I returned, a gesture of gratitude was extended but the game was well underway, so I stood and watched, and waited, and it wasn’t until the final whistle, and the “next up”, the two teams warming up patiently off to the side, began jogging onto the field, that I saw the referee regrouping on a bench and took the opportunity to engage, I ventured forward with a hello and can I play, and then the fence became a barrier, and my question was lost into the chain links between us, as if detained in cells made of metal and its static, with my gestures and body language distorted he couldn’t understand me, so he offered up his phone, pushing it under the fence, and Google translate became our intermediary, the enigma was facilitating our engagement, and it turns out “chơi” is “play?”.

We played as Buddha,


existing beyond the story of who am i,

ones imagination,

this self generated narrative,

where we find reasons to justify what we perceive as reality.

The Buddhists simply played,

with no acknowledgement of the score,

no celebration either way,

perpetually present,

each moment in time happening at the same time,

in a state of deep now,

as witnesses to acts of intuition,

unburdened by thought.

To be continued….

Pilgrimage hotel.

cemetery side road.

badminton by the river,

concrete truck playing Christmas carols on its horn serenading the Saigon Opera house and Continental hotel at 3am,

man in bear mascot costume sleeping on park bench with head resting on stomach,

frogs without heads hopping around market stalls,

cold beer with Tom Cochrane by the river in the ancient city of Hoi An waiting on tailored suits,

Canada’s Great Kitchen Party

[and now for a random thought] When Goggle translator appeared I thought for a moment a Jesuit Priest had arrived incased in a crucible of black mirrors, to meet the children of god, and having arrived, and installed themselves without protheiticing, as this was not the mission, they learned the language, and the culture, and in doing so they occupied the space in between, between a foreigner held back by a fence, and representative of the state, to determine intention, and terms of engagement, in this case to “Choi”, to play sport.

And the contrast to the Opera house of Saigon, Ho Chi Min City, the imperial palace, a museum to war, and the day to day in 2019, the experiences of a foreigner, awake all night all day, walking in the heart of the city, riding mopeds through neighbourhoods with visions lite by neon signs, and people, adapting,

In the land of iheard (by anonymous)

The land of iheard

I heard in the land of iheard they speak of one another, not to one another, they make up stories by filling in blanks, warp context and distort truth into new truths with narratives that fit iheards agenda, and I heard when the struggle begins, when the veneer and the gloss of newness wears off, and the realities set in, they don’t walk at it, they walk away, and they avoid each other, and in some cases even deny access to one another, just to maintain the status quo as to what they heard, and I also heard in iheard they invite you in, you are warmly welcomed and told your worth being seen, but then I heard in iheard what you are seen as is disposable, a means to an ends, and once expired, or exposed as faulty, you are dead to them in the land of iheard, and here I thought I heard that all I had to do was have the courage to show up, but that’s just what I heard, please don’t tell anyone what I heard about iheard, because I’m the type of person that believes in respecting people’s privacy, or so I heard.

I guess it’s never been overheard in iheard that “This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor... Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honourably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whatever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond”.

So it needs to be said, or at least I feel like saying, that to turn others away and shield yourself from any exposure is to hide from yourself and allow fear and doubt to guide you and in doing so betray the benevolent heart required of us all.

We stir emotions in one another, so what, so be it, we light matches into rooms filled with imaginary demons we’re told we’re afraid of, and so what, so be it, don’t be fragile, lean in, heart on sleeve, be unwavering to the tyranny of stories and the world of iheard. Make time and space for people who wish to make time and space for you, no matter the discomfort.

Meet them at the door laughing.

I heard it’s our best quality.

  • Anonymous

TriathlonTogether Repsol Sports Centre feb 24th

TriathlonTogether Repsol

While Triathlon as a competitive sport has experienced tremendous growth with national federations competing at the Olympics, a professional Super League culminating in a Grand Finale and the Ironman World Championship, at its core Triathlon is an excursion, the goal being to cover the distance, from here to there, and possibly back again, swimming, biking and running. With an eye to accessibility and the notion of participation for “all comers”, beyond the bright lights and sponsorship signage, timing chips and podiums, TriathlonTogether is an event concept designed to encourage simply participating, as duos and squads, teams starting and finishing a triathlon, together. 

On Feb 24th Repsol Sports centre in Calgary hosted the 6th annual 10mile Tri, the largest indoor Triathlon in Canada, and within it, as a “wave” to start the day, the first official “TriathlonTogether”. 

A dozen or so duos and squads met on the pool deck with a diverse iteration of team make ups; a father and son, mother and daughters, a family, a couple, old friends, some newly introduced’s, a squad of colleagues and a duo, new to swimming and determined to make it through, set off together. The start procedure was “ready when you are” and off we went, embarking on a 150meter swim, with floatation devices welcome, a 3km ride on stationary bikes, and a walk it, or run it, simply make your way through it, 1km around the indoor running track at the Repsol centre. Each team had their own lane, with the next group waiting until they were done swimming, it was low key and absent of timing chips, it was about comraderie and community, a tribute to the power of cooperation, and the joy of coming together in common enterprise, in this case, swimming, biking and walkrunning, from here to there and back again, a TriathlonTogether.

As a former professional Triathlete and the Sydney Olympic Triathlon Champion It brought me back to the “Bobs lake” triathlon in the early 90’s where the swim was from the beach to the floating milk jug not far from shore and back, we rode around the perimeter of the small lake and a ran down the country lane to the farm house where the food was being prepared. We all started each leg together, waited for the last swimmer to exit the water, started the ride together, and regrouped to begin the run, with music and food at the farm, it was a celebration of participation and community.

30 years later, TriathlonTogether was much the same, and the hope is, as an open concept, the format can be adopted and adapted, as a wave within existing triathlons, or as a spontaneous adventure with friends, at a lake or a backyard pool, in the ocean or in lanes at a community centre.

 It was a privilege to participate, to share in the occasion, and to see the smile on every face, having finished a triathlon, together.

With TriathlonTogether's scheduled for July 21st at the Toronto and Edmonton Triathlon Festivals, I look forward to next time I put on my board shorts and a t-shirt, find some team mates and get out for a swimming, biking and walkrunning excursion.

A Broughton Archipelago Paddling Adventure

A Broughton Archipelago Paddling Adventure 
May 9 to 13, 2019
With Simon Whitfield and Fraser Murray

Join Fraser Murray, the owner and general manager of the Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort (, and stand-up paddleboarding guide and Olympic Gold medalist Simon Whitfield ( on the ocean in view of Ursa Major in an Archipelago. 


When Debbie and Craig Murray towed a refurbished float home across Queen Charlotte Strait, to a bay by a waterfall, nestled into the base of a mountain, under a sky known as Ursa Major in the heart of the Broughton Archipelago young Fraser, Clinton and Georgina, the Murray family, called it home. The refurbished hut is now a lodge and the waterfall a power generator, with all the amenities of a world class retreat the float is now a lodge with waterfront cabins and is known as the Nimmo Bay Wilderness resort. Immersed in wilderness with curiosity embolden with youth Fraser and his siblings began to explore, they are of the archipelago, with internal compasses tuned to unearthing the unexpected, the Murray’s know where the locals play music, and always know how to find their way home. Fraser will be your guide.

Simon Whitfield grew up in Kingston Ontario by the lake, a Paddle Canada-certified SUP guide and instructor, a four time Olympian and the Sydney 2000 Olympic Triathlon Champion, he has a good sense of direction and is content sleeping beside his board, paddle in hand, in proximity of people, or otherwise, ready for anything, and will be your paddling guide.

So, what’s a “Broughton Adventure”? 

We'll pick you up in Victoria on May 9 and arrive in Port McNeil late afternoon that day. Debbie and Craig Murray, who have been hosting people at the Nimmo Bay wilderness lodge for nearly 40 years, will be our hosts. An evening of food, music and stories, after dinner, we’ll pull out the sea charts and play the weather wheel — which is essentially the Murrays saying, “if the weather does this, then we’ll do that, but if it’s this, then that. Or: just in case it’s this, then that, there, and then this, before that, all to see this, that, and the other thing.”

Be ready for three days of paddling in the archipelago, in amongst the wildlife, with a boat and guide support, food and coffee.

In the Broughton, in search of nothing, ready for anything.

As for accommodation, it’s do as the guides do. We’ll be sleeping on the occasional dock, perhaps on the zodiac, possibly on the beach, possibly in guide huts, and maybe, if the weather wheel permits, at Nimmo Bay, sharing meals with the staff and visiting the woodstove-fired floating sauna. Meals will be provided and dietary restrictions can be handled; the folks at Nimmo Bay are experts at packing lunches and dinners (and the occasional bottle of wine and/or growler) for guests all season long.


We’ll provide a list of gear you’ll need to bring, and have you covered for boards, paddles and PFDs, (with drysuits available for rent). We have a Quiver: racing SUPs, touring boards and mulit-person boards all of which are top notch. You’ll want to bring appropriate outdoor and cold weather gear, a sleeping bag, a therma rest, etc.(list provided) we’ll provide shelter and cooking gear.


May 9: travel from Victoria to Port McNeill (accommodation provided)

May 10, 11 and 12: play the weather wheel! 

May 13: travel back to Victoria (arriving mid- to late-afternoon)

Who else is coming? When we put out the call, Dan Rubinstein ( and Jeremy Koreski ( put their hands up right away.


Dan is a writer who works at Carlton University in Ottawa, where he admits to mostly playing pick-up basketball and skipping out to paddleboard in the middle of the day. He loves paddling — absolutely loves it! His first book was about walking; his second will be about SUP. On his first trip to Nimmo Bay, last fall, to write a cover story for an upcoming issue of Air Canada’s enRoute Magazine, he paddled first thing in the morning and as much as he could throughout the day, then snuck off for a paddle at night. (He also took in all the amenities a luxury resort has to offer: massage, floating sauna and an open bar.)


Koreski, who grew up in Tofino and has spent a lifetime exploring the great outdoors, spends most of his time behind the camera taking spectacular photos, which often win awards and hang in galleries. After five minutes with Jeremy, you realize that he just gets it. He is perpetually present, finds beauty in the unexpected, and knows when to put the camera away. He also knows when to proceed with caution, and when to put one foot in front of the other and simply proceed. 

Claudia, a veterinarian from Victoria who is fairly new to paddling, (but loves it just as much as we do), has also signed up because that’s just how she rolls, “count me in! what are we doing?” (with her authentic Jamaican accent) which means there are just two spots remaining.


If this sounds like fun, or if you’re curious and want to know more, put your hand up, and then put it back on the keyboard and email

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, eh.

Cost: $950. This includes your board, paddle, PFD, accommodation for four nights, food, boat transfers and transport from Victoria to Port McNeill and back. Bring an instrument, or a poem, or a story you would like to share. Or don’t. That’s an option too. But bring your sense of adventure: it’s the Broughton, and if you love paddling, and appreciate the “how did we get here” moments in life, apply within.

TriathlonTogether Sunday Feb 24th Repsol Centre Calgary



This inaugural Triathlon Together event is a short distance triathlon race presented by 4 time Olympian Simon Whitfield and 3433 Sport Performance Centre. This is a partnership event with WTS Edmonton and Toronto Triathlon Festival who will be running TriathlonTogether events in 2019, in the lead up to the 2020 WTS Grand Final Triathlon Together is open to participants of all abilities to enjoy the moment with their friends and family. Moving away from the traditional approach of triathlon being a solo sport, this event brings people together, to share the experience, and to create opportunities to meet and forge new relationships, together.

This is an event for people to take part or race and/or, for those experienced triathletes, mentor newcomers to the sport.  A perfect opportunity for you to invite a friend or to take part with your kids. There is no specialized equipment required, just a swim suit and goggles, a t-shirt and a pair of trainers! We are getting back to the roots of our sport.

This short race is perfect for anyone:

  • swim 150 metres

  • bike 3 kilometres

  • run 1 kilometre

The swim is 6 laps of our 25m competition pool, the bike is on a stationary trainer or use one of our already set up Keiser bikes, and the run is just 5 laps of the 200-metre indoor track.


Singles - $25
Duo  - $30 for the duo
Squad - $35 for the squad



This is not a relay event, rather an event where you take part or race together.

  • Start time: 8:00am

  • Sign up as a single and we will pair you with another single or a duo

  • With pool swims – duos/squads will get their own lane

  • Duos and Squads will get their own lane to themselves. We will avoid the usual melee of a standard pool triathlon

  • Duos/squads will exit the pool together

  • They will move to bikes together

  • They will start the bike together on stationary or moving bikes

  • They will finish the bike together

  • They will go to Track together and start the run together

  • They will run together

  • They will cross the finish line together

  • Duos/Squads may elect to do the event two, three or more times depending on their availability, and at the race director’s discretion

If you are planning on attending both the 10 Mile Tri and Triathlon Together, below is a timeline of the events.

TriathlonTogether - feb 24th Repsol Sport Centre Calgary

“Welcome to TriathlonTogether 

Where you participate as a “duo” or as a “squad”

Arrive “solo” we’ll find you a crew.

Team up with friends, or show up to meet people, just take part, or race, teams finish together, 

Duo or Squad - TriathlonTogether”



150 meter swim, 3k stationary bike, 1km indoor track run

Duo’s or Squads of three

·      TriathlonTogether is a philosophy of inclusive and accessible triathlon events that promote experience over results and togetherness over individuality.

·      Events across the country are challenged to find their way to offer TriathlonTogether; realizing each market and community is different.

·      Formats, distances and courses are encouraged to embrace the TriathlonTogether concept.  Safety is the utmost priority, but some traditions can be challenged (ex. allowing floatation devices in the swim)

·      Timing is at the discretion of the race organizer based on the format adopted. 

·      Cost is not to be a barrier but value is important


Untold Stories with Martin Bauman

Simon Whitfield: “Accept the struggle”

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Simon Whitfield is in a good place. It’s a Tuesday night, and the four-time Olympian has finished his weekly soccer outing in Victoria, British Columbia — a men’s league where the competition is a far cry from the rigours of racing against the world’s best triathletes.

“I can’t just run the entire time; I get sore now,” Whitfield jokes. “I’m out there making truces [with the opposing team].”

At the end of the night, he unwinds with a beer at a host’s apartment and reflects on what has led him to this point: a spot in the Canada Sports Hall of Fame, a pair of Olympic medals, a budding rivalry with the Gorge boys of the Vancouver Island Soccer League.

Dearest Mother- 
As tired as I am I feel very alive. The Gorge boys pelted us with shots and although Matty held his own and kept us in the game for a time, the barrage was too much and we evenly succumbed to the onslaught. We live to play another day-S p.s. I am now limping

— Simon Whitfield (@simonwhitfield) November 22, 2018

Make no mistake: at 43, the Kingston, Ontario native is still an athlete. 19 years after winning the first-ever Olympic gold in the triathlon at the Sydney Games, and seven years after his last hurrah at the London Olympics, Whitfield still swims, still cycles, still runs. Add paddleboarding into the mix, and one gets the impression he could still outperform athletes twenty years his junior. But these days, the drive is different.

For as long as Whitfield has lived, there has been sport. Growing up down the road from Queen’s University, he’d head to nearby Tindall Field, or — more often the case — around the corner to Couper Street for makeshift games of road hockey, where centre ice was marked by a pothole and he and his friends took turns pretending to be Wayne Gretzky.

“It was one block long,” Whitfield jokes. “C-o-p-p-e-r at one end, and C-o-u-p-e-r at the other end. It’s like the French Canadians and English Canadians couldn’t decide.”

At twelve, he competed in his first triathlon, a Kids of Steel event organized at Sharbot Lake. (“I did it in a pair of boxer shorts,” Whitfield recalls.) By the race’s end, he was hooked.

“I just loved the outdoor atmosphere of it,” he says. “It was a festival of sport where you did this thing, this excursion.”

“I was itching to push ahead with this thing I loved to do, and there was no containing me then.” – Simon Whitfield

Before long, Whitfield was in the pool at 5:15 a.m. on training days. At 16, he moved across the world to attend Knox Grammar School in Australia and continue his training.

“I was itching to push ahead with this thing I loved to do, and there was no containing me then,” he says.

A year after his arrival in Wahroonga, on the northern fringes of Sydney, Whitfield learned that Australia would be hosting the 2000 Summer Olympics, and the triathlon would make its debut as an Olympic sport. The stars had begun to align. Flash forward to 2000, and the triathlon would begin and end at the Sydney Opera House, the very same place he had once graduated from boarding school. Was there any doubt of what would happen?

“It was magic. A fairytale,” says Whitfield.

At 25 years old, he won the race and became a Canadian hero. When the Games ended, he carried the country’s flag into the closing ceremonies.

“I will say, the only thing I wondered at the time was, ‘will I get goosebumps again?’ Because I had this pinnacle experience … like, ‘wow, that just happened.’ And then I wondered, like, ‘how do you recreate all that circumstance?’”

“I had this pinnacle experience … like, ‘wow, that just happened.’ And then I wondered, like, ‘how do you recreate all that circumstance?’” – Simon Whitfield

It would take eight years to reach the Olympic podium again, this time earning a silver medal in Beijing. Finally, he was asked to carry the flag once more, this time at the opening ceremonies in London. After his fourth Olympics, Whitfield retired from competition.

“I just wasn’t willing to make the sacrifices required. Plain as that,” he says. “There was a time in my life when I thrived on sacrifice. Truly. I thought everything I did was based around … was I sacrificing and giving more than other people were, to fortify myself for the next moment I had to compete.”

“I paid for it with relationships,” says Whitfield. “When I look back, in the end, it’s the people.”

Nowadays, the father of two has a different focus: namely, those closest to him. There’s still the love for sport, but the temptation to relive past glory? Not in the slightest.

“I work towards contentment,” he says. “I accept the struggle as part of it. And it’s actually where the good stuff is.”

"A place of gathering" and tweeted Dearest's.


A place of Gathering

“I have been asked to write about the enormous contribution a community of people whose foresight and frankly audacity, to build a facility, and with it a high performance culture, allowed for an equally audacious athlete to succeed in his pursuit of sporting excellence-S”

I arrived in Victoria days after the great snow storm of 1996, at the age of 21. I was full of piss and vinegar and ready to take on the world. I had been living in Australia for the past five years and having seen their commitment to sport, the facilities they had built, from National Sports Institutes to community centered gyms and pools, I had an ideal I was in search of – to be completely absorbed in high performance, supported by community, with an aim to express one’s gifts, to represent and to inspire.

Success in high performance sport ultimately comes from proximity. To be amongst it with others, to see each other face to face, to define and refine best practices, to manoeuvre around and beyond obstacles, and to reinforce the ties that bind us through common enterprise.

To walk into Saanich Commonwealth Place, with its Olympic sized pool, performance dive tank, an ever expanding gym and human resource team, whose foyer had been witness to so many athlete’s dreams, was to be fully immersed in a culture of excellence.

The commitments made by the 94 Games and government, to ensure that any facility built would be done so with the intention of servicing the needs of both the local constituents and high performance sport, were immediately evident.

The symbiotic relationship that has been achieved at Saanich Commonwealth Place between the community and high performance sport is a world leading vision belonging to those that built this exceptionally designed facility, those that implemented the supporting Operating and Trust Fund agreements, and those who sustained the originating philosophy by making only those day-to-day compromises needed to enhance the high performance and community relationships.

Saanich Commonwealth Place is a gathering place, an ideal proving ground, where community activation, high performance engagement and the rituals associated generate optimized outcomes, optimism, and worthy causes. A Place where outcome is greater than the sum of individual parts; where those whom the years have made wiser may be slowing down, where those who still have so much to learn and yet have room to speed up are exposed to the experience and counsel of those that walked before them. A Place where all share in the aspirations of those who are expanding the limits to which they once felt confined.

Saanich Commonwealth Place has a legacy that needs support to continue. The effects of the facility construction and agreements can be seen not only on podiums where the Canadian Maple Leaf flies high but also at every single day – in the pool, on the deck, and in the foyer.

I ask that you ensure, protect, and support this heritage by renewing the unique access and operating agreements that have enabled 25 years of high performance sport at Saanich Commonwealth Place, and will hopefully be there to support the next generations of athlete and community youth to achieve their dreams.

Simon Whitfield

Olympic Champion Triathlon

Olympic Silver medalist

Four time Olympian

Canadian Flag bearer London 2012

(twitter) Dearest -

I lost my voice when I became afraid of those who might take offence and convict me for what I had to say as they are just words for if we were face to face I would arrive vulnerable humble grateful and in this you will see peace in me constructive defiance an i within a we -Awei

(twitter) Dearest-

I am tempted by further prouncement, to peacock and support one side; as if I should lend my voice, and yet, i now stay silent, as a gesture, empty space, silence as ease, so you may hear yourself think, and then decide without fear of the echo in this dark chamber-shear

(twitter) Dearest Mother-

it has come to my attention that the postcards I write to you, as previously stated, random musings and irrelevant thoughts, are being read and read into by onlookers and voyagers who may feel the need to comment as to their validity and value; enjoy, with a grain of salt, S

(twitter) Dearest-

I wrote and I wrote late into the night, and sometimes at the crack of dawn, I scribbled notes and added thoughts, reappropriated, reconfigured, bent and reformed the previously stated, to suit a current agenda, and came up with, well, this..-S

(twitter) Dearest-

If only I could capture these fleeting thoughts narrating and nattering away inside my head, these whirling snippets, internal proposals to which I wish to add comment, to compose, in concise yet eloquent soliloquies, a tangible response, a discourse, an impactful contribution, or not, just a thought, somewhat irrelevant-S


Rudy, Joan, Brandon and Rustin- on July 1st 1988, I sat on the roof of your house watching Canada day fireworks having decided from our perch that indeed it was not possible to dive from the roof to the backyard pool, and therefor the start line for the Hollywood house triathlon would have to be the deck, and that after endless ten meter laps and a backyard transition the perfect bike course would require us to navigate the block at breakneck speeds on our litespeed geronimos before dismounting and running around the park and sprinting to the finish in time for the bbq!!!

My love of triathlon, as a festival of sport, the community of athletes, volunteers, officials and race directors, began at Sharbot Lake where we, triathletes, trirudy athletes, aspired to see what we were truly capable of, and share in a grand outdoor excursion together, wearing speedos.

I am Grateful to know you and I look forward to once again swimming, biking, running.. and pint’ing with you in the future.

Simon St.Quentin Whitfield


Those who are of singled minded focus, and determined resolve, define themselves by the manner to which they apply themselves, each and every time, within any and all endeavours, and it is in this way one would describe Kyle Jones.

A man of principle, his adherence to a simple ethos, discipline, as a disciple unto himself, consumed by attention to detail, orientated to a standard of excellence, attained through daily ritual and driven intention, based on the belief that satisfaction, a satiation of the hungry that drives us, comes from ones ability to put one foot in front of the other, and endure the grit and the determination required, to accomplish the task, no matter the obstacle.

Kyle, it’s a privilege to know you my friend, in my mind you help define one end of the spectrum, as a man who lives into his values, and expresses his gifts.

At the end of the day what more can we ask.

Simon St.Quentin Whitfield

re:post "Time well spent. A love of books"

Time well spent. A love of books.

I am sitting at my desk writing staring out across the roof tops at the mountains well beyond with their stencil like black and white beneath blue outline. It’s 3pm on a Saturday. With a long paddle this morning out chasing bumps beside “the Grizzly” and “Sir Richard” still flickering through my nervous system and the mundanes done for the day this is my version of a bloody brilliant way to spend an afternoon.

Bob Dylan Street Legal is playing on vinyl. I bought it for 5 bucks at Brians. There is something about this album, the lyrics and the beat, today it is on repeat, which means getting up and flipping the record; it is worth it.

*“no time to think”* tell me about it. Again and again.

I have been conversing with myself for a few hours now having departed company at noon.

Talking to paper. A favourite pastime.

My desk is, my desk, a clean’ish space featuring copious amounts of writing utensils and a lamp that looks like an African women in a long cream coloured dress with a skinny neck ordained in a stone necklace of orange, brown and gold chevrons carrying a very large beige basket on her head, at least it does to me. Apparently to others it looks like the 70’s. Beside my desk is another desk, populated with papers upon papers, books stacked on books beside more books; on top of and on either side of the desk, and under it.

I have the intention of reading all of them but Blood Median has me captivated again, Cormac, you eloquintionist.

[“Eloquintionist” - “that is not a thing” says Websters - I do not care says i - it makes sense to me, despite not being very… eloquent]

Cormac’s descriptive genius.

My goodness,

*“they crossed before the sun and vanished one by one and reappeared again and they were black in the sun and they rode out of that vanished sea like burnt phantoms with the legs of animals kicking up the spume that was not real and they were lost in the sun and lost in the lake and they shimmered and slurred together and separated again and they augmented by planes in lurid avatars and began to coalesce and there began to appear above them in the dawn-broached sky a hellish likeness of their ranks riding huge and inverted and the horses’ legs incredibly elongate trampling down the high thin cirrus and the howling antiwarriors pendant from their mounts immense and chimeric and the high wild cries carrying that flat and barren pan like the cries of sounds broke through some misweave in the weft of things into the world below*”

You can feel it can’t you. I have watched the entire scene in my minds eye many times, quivering riders emblazoned on the horizon only to disappear “through some misweave in the weft of things into the world below”.

I just wanted to write it out again.

Some misweave in the weft of things…

Blood Meriden is on the top of one stack, The Path by Micheal Puett - *what Chinese philosophy can teach us about the good life* - is there too, thank you Mr. Puett, your distillation, as best as able, of the wisdom of the ages has had a profound effect on me.

To exist “as if” I am another, and commit myself to the smallest of incremental gains.

‘The Prophet’ by Kahil Gibran is on top of a separate pile.

*“then said Almitra, Speak to us of Love. And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them, and with a great voice he said: when love beckons to you, follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his winds enfold you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him, though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden. For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth. Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself. He threshes you to make you naked. He sifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness. He kneads you until you are pliant; and then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for gods sacred feast. All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart. But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; for love is sufficient unto love. When you love you should not say, “god is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.” And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires; To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving; To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy; To return home at eventide with gratitude; And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.”*

I am grateful for Mr. Gibran. I am listening grandmaster. Life with its mystery, you have left behind some clues.

I feel lost and yet I know somewhere there is light.

Osho made it to my desk too, ‘Life is a soap bubble’

“*Man is born in slavery. We are born as slaves to ourselves. We come into this world imprisoned in chains of desire, held tight by those subtle chains. We have been enslaved like this since birth. It is something given by nature; we dont have to do anything to earn it. Man simply finds he is a slave. Freedom has to be earned and only someone who struggles and strives for it will find it. For freedom, a price has to be paid. Nothing of value in life is ever free. This slavery which nature gave you is not misfortune; it would be a misfortune only if we failed to win our freedom. There is nothing wrong in being born a slave, but it is definitely wrong to die as one. Unless you find inner freedom, nothing in life will have any meaning or fulfillment. You may have been given life, but if you remain trapped in a prison of desires, if you never know life. There is no difference at all between someone imprisoned in desire and a bird imprisoned in a cage. You only enter the world of real life when your awareness is freed from desire. If you want to know truth, become a master of yourself. Victory over truth is not for someone who is defeated by their own self”*

but Osho.. “the truth is a bully we all pretend to love” and ignorance is bliss. Or so I keep telling myself.

‘A thousand mornings’ poems by Mary Oliver is next to Osho. I have only really flipped through it but I saw a piece of wood painted white with *“tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life - Mary Oliver”* written on it and knew I needed to read some Mary Oliver. I came across ’tides’ which spoke to me as I love nothing more then paddling in and amongst the space in between.

* ~Tides~ *


*Every day the sea*

*blue grey green lavender*

*pulls away leaving the harbor’s*

*dark-cobbled undercoat**

*Slick and rutted and work-riddled, the gulls*

*walk there among old whalebones, the white*

*spines of fish blink from the strandy stew*

*as the hours tick over, and then*

*far out the faint, sheer*

*line turns, rusting over the slack,*

*the outer bars, over the green-furred flats, over*

*the clam beds, slippery logs,*

*barnacle-studded stones, dragging*

*the shining sheets forward, deepening,*

*pushing, wreathing together*

*wave and seaweed, their piled curvatures*

*spilling over themselves, lapping*

*blue gray green lavender, never*

*resting, not ever but fashioning shore,*

*continent, everything*

*and here you may find me*

*on almost any morning*

*walking along the shore so*

*light-footed so casual*

I read this to Evelyn last night and she told me she would bring me a poem in the morning, what she wrote made her dad smile ear to ear.

*‘Mornings together’ by Evelyn Claire Whitfield*

*Whenever we wake up*

*together we write and we draw*

*I copy from books sometimes and for other*

*times I draw from my imagination you seem to*

*write about our day*

many thanks Mary Oliver.

‘The Heart and the Breath of Love’ an article by my favourite Zen Buddhist Monk Brian Maclean is on my desk too.

*“Where does Love reside? It is generally agreed upon among spiritual traditions, that ‘Love’ and ‘Ego’ are ‘Lands’ in the the sphere of human functioning. Where ego strategizes, Love embraces. Where ego closes in on, Love open to. Where ego feels fear, Love feels fearlessness. Where ego finds reasons to run, Love knows the value in staying. Among the Inuit, Raven is the trickster, pleasure seeking and greedy, and symbolically represents the ego. Raven-ego is always vigilant in checking out for the best advantage. Raven-ego is looking for which one is the biggest, which bed is the softest and which Lover is the most trouble free. Raven-ego does not have the patience to learn deep Love, the resilience to endure travel on a not always smooth path. The mythic centre of Love is not Raven-ego, but the Heart”*

I’ll see you on Tuesdays Brian, I look forward to our conversations, I can’t wait to write our book together, “conversations between a Zen Buddhist Monk and an Olympic Champion, on life, the theatre inherit in pretending to understand relationships, cognitive dissidence and other things considered; is my submission for the working title, we’ll see what Brian thinks.

What it has to do with Zen Buddhism and running around in your speedo not being particularly good at any one thing, is yet to be determined.

[*Hey Brian “a buddhist monk walks into dominoes and orders pizza… “one with everything please”.*]

And finally, in a spot all to itself, for no stack can contain it, ’The Paper Menagerie and other stories’ by Ken Lui.

This maybe my favourite book of all time, when I travel Europe in July for two weeks it is coming with me.

The Paper Menagerie is always coming with me.

With its opening paragraph.

*“There is no definitive census of all the intelligent species in the universe. Not only are there perennial arguments about what qualifies as intelligence, but each moment and everywhere, civilizations rise and fall, much as the stars are born and die. Time devours all. Yet every species has its unique way of passing on its wisdom through the ages, its way of making thoughts visible, tangible, frozen for a moment like a bulwark against the irresistible tide of time. Everyone makes books”*.

Mr. Lui, you have had a profound impact on my life, i read and i read and i read in search of universal meaning in specific incidences, you have this mastered, I am simply gob smacked at your profound wisdom, your creativity, your insights and most astoundingly your imagination. I wish I met Ken Lui as a kid, what I would have done to play dungeons and dragons with Ken, the worlds this man would have created. There is a seat at my table for him any day, I’d make fish taco’s with a side of guacamole and find his favourite pint. I have no idea why. And there would be stacks of blank paper. And pencils. Heaps of pencils. Coloured ones. Whatever he needs to express his latest vision.

My kids would be there too, they have some ideas they would like to share having been read “an advanced readers’ picture book of comparative cognition”

“*My darling, my child, my connoisseur of sesquipedian words and convoluted ideas and meandering sentences and baroque images, while the sun is asleep and the moon somnambulant, while the stars bathe us in their glow from eons ago and light-years away, while you are comfortably nestled in your blankets and I am hunched over in my chair by your bed, while we are warm and safe and still for the moment in this bubble of incandescent light cast by the pearl held up by the mermaid lamp, you and I, on this planet spinning and hurtling through the frigid darkness of space at dozens of miles per second, let’s read.”*

**So that happened**

What a writer.

My darling, let’s read.

And that is my desk. Behind me sit fifty more books waiting on shelves to eventually be adored again. Some of my own art and endless streams of pictures and doodles by Pippa and Evelyn occupying the walls to either side.

Sitting on top of a stack of some of my favourite books by the record player is a picture of a fog covered lake, the reflection of a ghost like tree mirrored on its surface, with a dock perched out into the mist; an ideal cove for quite contemplation, a sanctuary to timelapse.

I have spent hours staring into the fog; the stillness, an escape, to lapse with time. Moments of reprieve.

A blank canvas adorns the other wall, a reminder that the past is the past, and the time is always now, a blank slate.

For now - it is time to read.

Doubt, fear, narratives and reputation - (shared draft)

Doubt and Fear. 
I write you from my tent pitched only yards from where we will depart in the morning for our most absurd and yet appropriate adventure  — and as the hour draws near and the seeds of impending doom, my doubts and my fears, now fight to take root, looking to secure in my mind, a looming narrative and therefor governance of my thoughts I will myself to look forward, to find in my self the stead fast, the firm stance required, to represent myself, who i was and who I have become. And in this battle at times I feel lost. And at this juncture at times I feel overwhelmed and ill prepared and yet I feel capable, to rise to an occasion once again, to bring forth to the fight my best effort, to lean into the task, to marshal my strength and find serenity in the knowledge, I have been here before, and I will be here again, which, in its self, is both assuring and destructive, for while I have shown the will to endure in campaigns of the past, the war fought with in the terrain of my mind, this battle of conviction and doubt, much like the excursion which draws nearer with every moment spent  pondering, gains strength in its prowess the more I consider, and yet will fall short on the shore. Much as a hurricane is endured and then passes, and the knowledge that time swallows all, and this too shall pass, being all that we need to hold dear. This doubt looks to derail us, to unwind and dismember the quilt of our most feverish defences, without need for elegance or grace, irrelevant of best intention or even the bliss of ignorance, it tramples and works with unrelenting stampede to collapse any and all fortification we push forward to impede its path, to lesson the torrent and divert consequence. And it is here I find my relevance, and draw from my source. I wrestle with my confusion, assaulted by past experience, as the world leaves me in its wake. 
And yet, i walk on and do so content. 
We came for a reason
At least that’s what we tell ourselves, as meaning makers. And sometimes we arrive with no agenda, as if drawn in by a feeling of simply needing to be there, and at others times we show up knowing the general ghist, the trending towards theme, in consideration of the task at hand. Either way and anyway, we arrive, and there is what happened and then, appreciating just how obvious this is, and yet, a crucial detail to hold on too, there’s what happens next. And while we must consider the past, as predictors of the future, at the end of days, its what you do next, how you carry yourself once the distilled lessons learned settle. What actions did you then take, to erare is human, and ultimately our saviour from being too fragile. 
I landed on the island of Orcas with this in mind, what happened before, with its looming, and ever changing narrative, to see up close what happened next, a cast member in a version of the story still to be told. The stage is set as a swimrun excursion, an adventure of sorts, the cast of characters includes an icon of sport, as a beacon of humans endurance capacity, our will to sustain, and the question of morality, what price are we willing to pay. There are no shortage of opinions as to how people feel, their judgement and measure of another man. I do my best to stay clear of assumption and its cousin speculation, and yet, at one point in our lives, when our peak physical capacity coincided, and if the circumstances required, and our attributes were those best suited; if you needed to send someone to get the medicine, over the hills and far away, you would have considered sending one of us, by an objective measure, with all narratives, and excuses set to the side. Each in our own way, we did whatever it takes, and in doing so laid ourselves bare. And if you read this as an admission, I have nothing to hide, if you have questions, please ask them out loud, and with this knowledge I never need wonder, how I would have done if i had not made up my own rules. But to each their own, we all face the struggle, I have my own flaws, they poke and prod me every new day to which I do wake. And in this I find solace, as it is said, the cracks they let the light in.

snippets - random writings


There were visions of saving it. One leapt after it. The other too far but on the way. No matter. First instinct was right. Accept risk and get on with it. The cost we pay the consequence of untethered adventure. Nothing ventured nothing gained. The courage to accept risk being the reward. Noted. Next time we agree to arrive incrementally more prepared.


There a man lays. Arm cradling his head. Hand stretched out pointing the other way. Positioned almost intentional. Maybe premeditated. He could be simply taking a rest. Those driving by doing their best to assess while still navigating a road. Possibly someone at the far light walking towards. Cars coming. All evaluate out of the corner of one eye. And then the moments passes. He gets up and simply walks the other way. I suppose he no longer needs our help, immediately. It felt almost like a test. Who moved towards, and who moved away.


It is said she was a kind soul.

One hopes we all are.

Her gift being the grace of empty space.

Those who knew her will grief in their own way.

Grateful to have known her.

Kim may you Rest In Peace.