Racers, Take Your Marks

The Winterlude Triathlon: Still a kid at 32
  • Dec 31, 2014
  • 368 words
  • 2 minutes
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The nation’s capital is many things, but nobody can ever take away its reputation as an outdoor recreation mecca. Ottawa also happens to be one of Canada’s triathlon hot beds, home to “classic races and many athletes” according to the local triathlon club, “who have made their mark on the local, national and international triathlon scene.” 

One of these is the Winterlude Triathlon, a skate/ski/run event that qualifies as one of the oldest events in the city’s perennially favourite outdoor winter festival. Now its 32nd iteration, the triathlon attracts hundreds each year for a day of lively competition starting at 8 a.m. on January 31. The 8-kilometre skate from Dows Lake near the Pavilion heads south toward Carleton University on the canal and loops back. Upon the return to Dows Lake, skaters transition from skates to skis in a hard-packed-snow t-zone. Six kilometres of intense ski time (skate ski or classic) on a double loop are followed by a 5-kilometre run.

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A mandatory race-kit pickup is scheduled for Friday night. Participants must wear a championship chip if they want their times to count, and relay teams can be all female, all male and mixed. Organizers encourage competitors to be realistic in this first-come, first-served event. For instance, skaters are urged to line up according to their actual skating ability rather than the position that meshes with their magical wishful thinking. And as with all high-density events, the threat of chaos is one misstep away, so everyone is urged to follow the rules of civility. Stick to the right side of the canal on your return loop. Get out of the way if you fall. Be sure to shout “skater down” if someone falls. In the skiing leg, yell “track” and pass on the left. And avoid a possible mash-up in the transition zone by showing courtesy and common sense at all times.

Public service takes a lot out of a working stiff, and weekend-warrior competitions are a time-honoured method of recharging. On January 31, come out to Dows Lake to see how they do it in Bytown.

For more information, please visit


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