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.