When Ironman Mont-Tremblant was cancelled earlier this year, Mat Stiver-Balla from Toronto, was crushed. A former national level track and field sprinter and triathlon competitor for four years, Stiver-Balla and his coach – Roger Hospedales – hatched a plan.
“Training with PR endurance under coach Roger Hospedales was going so well and I was poised to take advantage of the amazing training at Mont-Tremblant. To turn a negative into a positive Roger challenged me to make our own race and to make it meaningful,” explains Stiver-Balla.
Inspired by Ed Veal, a Canadian cyclist known for giving back to the sports community, Stiver-Balla teamed up with Fast and Female, a charity that helps to keep youth girls in sport through various activities aided by Olympic female role models.
“This spoke to me because I have a now 22-month-old daughter. Participating in sport is just so powerful and develops skills that are integral to success in all aspect of life. To see stats that 41 per cent of girls age 3 to 16 do not participate in any sport, and that by the age of 14 girls drop out of sport at twice the rate of boys the same age, is extremely alarming. I don’t want to see this happen to my little one or any of the other young girls that can benefit greatly from sport.”
Stiver-Balla completed his solo full-distance effort in Collingwood, Ont., on a “rainy, cool but magical day” on a course set out by Coach Hospedales including swimming in Georgian Bay and running along the Georgian trail.
“It was a powerful day,” says Stiver-Balla, who raised over $7,500 for Fast and Female and was featured on CTV for his efforts. He completed his effort in 10:03.
Stiver-Balla hopes this money is put towards increasing access to youth girls who might not have equal opportunities to sport. “I want to make sure that the money turns out to impact at least one girl who might decide to now go to university, college, trade school or even become a successful entrepreneur.”
In this time of COVID-19 uncertainty, Stiver-Balla recognizes the importance of giving back now.
“Society needs to see the power of giving back and how anyone can influence the next generation. This pandemic has taught me that I am personally lucky to be afforded the life I live, and that others do not have that luxury. This pandemic is impacting so many both mentally, physically, and economically. We need to make sure together we are doing our part.”