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Bluewater Triathlon was biggest yet, organizers say

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Tara Jeffrey

Haley Walker says there’s just something about the annual Bluewater Triathlon that sets it apart from other events.

“People love that this very much still feels like a grassroots event, with all those little ‘local’ touches,” said the organizer of the races held in Bright’s Grove over the weekend, drawing a record number of participants of all ages. “But it’s also very well-run.”

Walker, who took the helm last year after her father — longtime race organizer Ken Walker — passed away, says nearly 350 athletes were on hand Saturday and Sunday, an all-time high for the decades-old event.

Organizer Haley Walker crosses the finish line at the Bluewater Triathlon, Saturday. (Lou Parry Photography)

“When I was out there, I noticed a lot of folks were first, maybe second-time racers,” said Walker who also participates in the triathlon. “People were just out having a great time. I think that’s what they love about this event — we try to keep it competitive, but approachable.”

The longtime fundraiser for St. John in the Wilderness Anglican Church in Bright’s Grove, boasts a variety of races, including Olympic and sprint events; participants can register for the triathlon, duathlon or aquabike.

Participants gathered in Bright’s Grove for the Bluewater Triathlon, Saturday. (Stephanie Maxwell photo)

Awards offered include the Lambton Chiropractic Chase Challenge, in which the women get a headstart, and the first person across the line in each race wins a grand prize of $250. Those winners were Jessica Cullen of Waterloo (Olympic Triathlon) and Kate Guy of Innisful (Olympic Duathlon).

Age group winners also receive a branded glass and bottle of Refined Fool beer.

“The oldest participant was 81,” Walker said of racer Veronica Coleman. “Joe Hill was a close second — he is a couple of months younger than Veronica. They both won their age category (80+).”

On Sunday, 125 youth set off to swim, bike and run, for the IronKid event — which was so popular this year, it was sold-out by mid-June, Walker said.

Four-year-old Arthur Ferencsik was the youngest participant in this year’s Ironkid event at the Bluewater Triathlon. (Submitted photo)

“It’s always such a blast,” she said. “The kids take off and they’re just so excited… the youngest in the Ironkid was four!”

The weekend’s winners included both local and out-of-town athletes, even drawing in participants from Australia — who were in town visiting, but made sure to plan for the event.

The event is always followed by a ‘post race feast’ hosted by members of the church.

“This was the year of the butter tart,” Walker said with a laugh. “We always try to maintain that small-town feel.”

To view the results, click here.

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More photos:

Pat Cranston of Lambton Shores participates in the Sprint Duathlon event at the Bluewater Triathlon, Saturday. (Stephanie Maxwell photo)
Curtis Manzys of Sarnia crosses the finish line at the Bluewater Triathlon, Saturday. (Stephanie Maxwell photo)
Kate Camlis of Sarnia crosses the finish line at the Bluewater Triathlon. (Lou Parry photography)

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