When triathletes pack up all their gear to head to the Perth Triathlon on race day morning, one of the most important items they include is their contribution to the post-race buffet lunch. Participants have to declare on their entry form what food they’ll bring, and race volunteers pitch in to ensure there’s always a perfect balance of salads, main dishes and desserts.
Race director Kris Plant says the community triathlon, held in June in Perth, is a fundraiser for the Perth indoor pool and the Stingrays, the town’s youth swim team. The town of Perth is a summer tourist destination on the Tay River in eastern Ontario. The entry fees are reasonable and the triathlon can be done as a team or individual event. The tri consists of a 500m swim in the indoor Perth pool, a 16k bike, and a 3k run. The transition area is right outside the pool’s on-deck double doors. There’s also a duathlon with a 3k run substituted for the 500m swim.
Swimmers go off in heats, with two swimmers sharing a lane and a maximum of twelve swimmers in each heat. Each swimmer must have a lap counter, so there’s lots of on-deck cooperation as swimmers in slower heats introduce themselves to swimmers in faster heats and ask them to count laps. Swimmers in the first few heats, who might take up to 20 minutes to complete the swim, are often able to finish their race and return to the pool bleachers to join spectators watching the drama of the fastest swimmers in the last few heats.
Claude Dreano was the women’s winner last year with a time of 49:47. She says she loves the friendly atmosphere of the race. “My Ottawa club comes to this race as a group, and since it’s a small field, I really feel like I am part of a team. I love the bike course. There are never too many riders on the road, so you can ride it as a time trial. Most of all, I like the potluck and awards ceremony-it’s great that people stay around after the race.”
Brockville’s Kevin Beatty, a noted Canadian long distance runner and last year’s male winner with a blistering time of 41:45, was amazed at how much of a challenge the relatively short course presented. “The beauty of the Perth triathlon is that it forces you to go faster. People are racing, and because of the shorter distances they are racing hard. Just because it’s a short race doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt-it’s just a different kind of hurt that you rarely get in training or in longer races. The Perth tri offers a chance to go all out, 100 percent in all three disciplines, and test your maximum speeds in a race environment.” Beatty says he was also impressed with the personal e-mails sent to participants by the race director before and after the race.
The triathlon is capped at 150 entrants and there is no limit on the number of entries allowed in the duathlon. The race, which has been an annual tradition in Perth for more than two decades, attracts local athletes, a big contingent from Ottawa, and others from nearby communities such as Merrickville, Jasper and Smiths Falls. It’s not unusual to see three generations of one family competing as a team or against one another, and it’s the kind of race where many participants have come back year after year in the race’s 23-year history.
As volunteer race director and triathlete Kris Plant observes, “Small races like this one run by volunteers are the heart and soul of triathlon in Canada.”
For more information, please go to www.perthtriathlon.ca.