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.
“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.
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.
“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.