A classic combination of endurance sports received a Thunder Bay adaptation.
More than 150 people competed in the first Thunderwolves winter triathlon which was held on the Lakehead University campus on Sunday morning.
The event was unique in that it combined the usual two elements of running and swimming with Nordic skiing instead of cycling.
Co-race director Adam Kates was not surprised to see such a large participation number with it serving as a testament to how vibrant the physically active lifestyle is in the city.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant but I honestly did expect this,” he said. “Thunder Bay is the best athletic community I’ve ever been in. The endurance sport community is fantastic.”
There was both a long and short course available. Racers skied five or 10 kilometres on a course created behind the athletic buildings, swam 250 or 500 metres in the Fieldhouse pool and ran three or five kilometres on the Hangar track.
Lakehead University Nordic skier Greg Kilroy was the top finisher in the long course.
The three different disciplines gave each competitor strengths and weaknesses, and Kilroy was well aware of which one of the three might be a struggle.
“The swim was really difficult. I got water in one of my goggles and ended up colliding with a teammate,” Kilroy said.
“It was more trying not to drown. I’ve been trying to swim this year but I’m definitely a bull in the pool.”
The easiest way to ensure successful transitions, according to women’s winner Daphne Haggarty, was to find a comfort zone.
“Moving from being out in the cold and going into the pool were polar opposites,” she said. “I really just tried to take my time and acclimatize and jump in the pool when I had caught my breath because it can come as a shock.”
It was on the track where Kilroy made his move and cemented his win. Trailing ski teammate Harry Seaton entering the five kilometre run, Kilroy turned on the jets and blazed past the competition.
Kilroy has put an increased emphasis on making running part of his training and he said it definitely paid dividends in his first race of the year.
In addition to the individual races, the event also had a relay option available to those not wanting to tackle all three.
Kates said that allows for more people to get involved with the event, which is the key to building an active community.
“Elite sports are great but participatory sports are the best thing,” he said.
“In my mind that’s what’s great about endurance sports. You don’t have to be the best runner, skier or swimmer; just come out and participate and you get as much out of it as the person who wins.”
The event served as a tune up for the members of the Thunderwolves ski program, who will compete in the Lappe Invitation next weekend as a trials for OUA selection.
Kilroy said the triathlon helped him get into his “race mind” as he hopes to earn a spot on the team that will compete in his hometown of North Bay later this season.
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