He’s a four-time Paratriathlon gold medalist and a Paralympic silver medalist, but once his triathlon season is over, Stefan Daniel becomes just one of the guys on the Calgary Dinos cross-country running team. That group of guys all happen to be very fast – after finishing second to the University of Guelph powerhouse in 2017, the Dinos took last year’s U-Sports National Cross Country Championship title and are in the hunt to defend their title after a convincing win at the Canada West championship last weekend.
Daniel took last weekend’s regional championship, finishing ahead of team-mate Russell Pennock, who is also a formidable triathlete, in an impressive wire-to-wire 31:28 finish.
“It feels great – I was not expecting that,” he was quoted on godinos.com after the race. “It was really windy so I went out fast, but the pack was pretty slow, so I decided just to commit and try it. I was somehow able to hold on – I don’t know how.”
It’s been a remarkable – and long – season for Daniel, who started his paratriathlon winning ways on March 9 with a win at the CAMTRI Paratriathlon American Championships in Sarasota. He went on to take Paratriathlon world series events in Yokohama, Japan and Montreal. In August he took the test event in Tokyo, then won his fourth world title in Lausanne in September.
Daniel finds the switch to cross-country running a welcome change, though.
“Triathlon is so individual, but I really do love team sports – it’s such a different feel,” he says. “It’s almost like a new season, it’s such a change of pace. I enjoy focusing on running for a couple of months of the year.”
Daniel will get a welcome break after the national championships – he’ll take a couple of weeks off before he starts his build towards the Paralympic Games in Tokyo next year, where he’ll arrive as the favourite.
With those games in mind, Daniel will take the winter off from school to focus on training. While he’ll be based in Calgary, there will be lots of trips to the national training centre in Victoria as he prepares for Tokyo.
First things first, though – in a week Daniel will be lining up on the challenging course at the top of Kingston’s Fort Henry hill looking to help his team earn another national title.