I can’t remember when Chris first said this, but it’s been on his mind for a number of years. No surprise, that the idea began to gel in his retirement. The biggest challenge for him would be the swimming; this meant he had to learn to do freestyle or front crawl, a basic skill which British boarding school swimming lessons failed to impart. Then he would need to consolidate the stroke well enough to swim 1.5 kilometres under the cut-off time, and emerge from the pool with the energy left to cycle 40 km and run 10 for an Olympic distance triathlon.
The obvious candidate event for us to set our sights on was the UBC Tri Du event held very near us early each spring.
His journey began with several one on one sessions kindly given by Kathrin, our oft-times hiking companion and my rogaine partner. Thank you, Kathrin! After these sessions in the early fall, we took up a routine of swimming two or three times a week so as to build up our endurance. Starting in January, we attended a seven week session with Sea-Hiker to gain efficiency and speed.
I was onside, although unsure whether I’d tackle the full Olympic distance. It didn’t take much for our daughter, Louise, to jump onto the triathlon bandwagon. I emailed my cousin Cathy in Toronto for clothing tips, and she quickly jumped on board too, planning a visit to Vancouver; it was to be a family outing!
Cathy, an experienced triathlete, arrived with her superb bike in its hard-shell travel case, and after tending to bike and helmet checks, a few last test runs and diligent chain cleaning, discussion of clothing for cold and windy weather, the four of us set out toward UBC on Sunday morning. By this time, however, my role had been painfully reduced to that of one-armed photographer … but that is another tale.
Chris, despite an upset stomach, completed the event in a respectable 3 hours 23 minutes, which meant he won his age M 60-64 category. There was only one other competitor in his age class, a strong swimmer but we suspect something happened to his bike and he didn’t finish. Chris managed to fall over with his bike as he scrambled to set out on the bike leg, but he survived.
Louise came fourth of six in her F25-29 category in 2 hours 55 minutes, with no one too surprised that running was her strongest discipline and that she was faster than all her competitors for that leg.
Cathy came third of five in her F55-59 in 3 hours 18 minutes. Although this was something like her 18th triathlon, she found contending with a blustery cold day was a new challenge. Most triathlons are held later in the season or in warmer climates.
The faster swimmers such as Cathy started in later heats, so Chris and Louise had already finished, and joined the cheering squad that saw Cathy off on her run. Louise ran along beside her for the first kilometre or so, and provided her with expert local guidance to an impromptu relief station.
See more photos in a Flickr set.
We must be a fairly tough bunch, because no-one seemed too badly off the next day …except me of course. Sigh.
M …the injured