Happy Birthday to the Bluewater Triathlon, which turns 35 this year.
The 2016 version of the enduring endurance race is on Saturday, July 23 in Bright’s Grove, the home of race director Dr. Ken Walker, who has been at the helm since the mid-1990s.
The event has evolved in several ways, he said.
“At one time, the field was made up of mostly die-hard (triathletes). That’s not really the case anymore. It’s more of a ‘people’s race’ and more of a community event.
“A lot of local residents participate. Many people just do this once a year, it’s the only race they do … or for some, it might be a lifetime achievement thing.”
Walker said the gender make-up of the field has also evolved.
“It used to be about 80% male … now it’s probably 50-50,” he said.
It has also become more of a multi-distance, multi-event competition over the years.
Originally an Olympic-distance triathlon (1.5-km swim, 40-km bike and 10-km run), it is now essentially six races-in-one.
The duathlon (2.8-run, 40-km bike, 10-km run) was added and there are separate individual and relay (team) races for both events.
Additionally, there is a sprint triathlon and duathlon, featuring much shorter race distances open to individual competitors.
Walker said it always draw a large number of out-of-town participants and newcomers are generally dazzled by the beauty of the lakefront course and race layout. If there is a drawback, Walker said, it’s the flatness of the course because some athletes like the challenge of hills.
Walker said Ontario has about 20 triathlons each summer, with some part of a couple of different competitive race circuits. However, the Bluewater event remains independent and unaffiliated with any race series, he said.
In fact, it’s a fundraiser for St. John in the Wilderness Anglican Church, and some of the volunteers who line the course are also church members.
On Sunday, June 24, the group stages its annual Ironkid Triathlon, with 120 youngsters, ranging in age from four to 16, competing in their own endurance mini-race.
Walker says ideal conditions for race day are cooler temperatures and a flat lake.
“We’ve had to cancel (the swim) twice in the past 10 years,” he said. “We have to make sure the swim is safe for the poorest swimmer in the race – and for those who might have to go out and rescue someone.”
If the swim is cancelled, all competitors automatically get shifted into the duathlon competition, says Walker.
Online registration for the race is available at www.bluewatertriathlon.ca