The Toronto Triathlon Festival is less than two weeks away and 2015 marks some very exciting updates to this highly anticipated event. With a venue against the backdrop of Toronto landmarks such as the CN tower and Rogers Centre, it is exciting for Toronto triathletes that this year the course is the same as that of the Pan Am Games triathlon, marking a special year for the celebration of short-course triathlon in Ontario. The TTF is a qualifier for Nationals in the sprint and Olympic distance. There are also three age-group spots up for grabs for the 2016 ITU World Championships in Mexico.
The sprint race this year will be draft-legal, a new feature of the race weekend. There will be Junior and Elite/U23 divisions for this event, which will be part of the new Triathlon Ontario Junior Cup and Elite/U23 Cup. For many pros, this is a welcome addition to the event and follows suit with the ITU’s growing appeal with draft-legal races at the highest level of the sport over the last few years. Pro triathlete Leanna Lee of Toronto recommends that for athletes looking to move from age-group status to elite draft-legal/ITU athlete, “it’s hugely important to focus on improving your technical skills. Bike handling becomes infinitely more important in draft-legal racing, as well as learning to ride in a peloton and becoming comfortable with tactical accelerations and attacks” which athletes won’t find in non-drafting races. She also advises that “mastering transitions is key, because losing a few seconds in transition can often mean making or losing a pack on the bike, which can result in losing minutes in overall time.”
With race day falling on Father’s Day this year, the festival will celebrate athletes who want to compete together as friends and family. This will include a Friends, Family & Father’s Day Wave for both the Olympic and Sprint distances. Athletes who choose to race in this wave will be able to start the race together regardless of age and gender.
Local athletes like Lee really love seeing the city turned into their playground. Lee raced the Pan Am Games test event on the course last summer and says, “It was an amazing experience to swim, bike, and run against a backdrop of our iconic CN Tower, the Rogers Centre, the CNE, etc-just to name a few of our city’s landmarks. The 7-lap bike course was fast, but challenging due to the technical cornering, ramps, U-turns, and tight lanes that were cause for a lot of decelerating and accelerating. For myself, there was also something exhilarating about racing on the same familiar roads that I would drive my car on commuting into the downtown core every day!”