–By Ottawa Sportspage, For Bytown Storm Triathlon Club
From first-timers as young as under-5 to elite-level teens racing in draft-legal Ontario Youth Cup competition, the Bytown Storm Youth Triathlon Series is set to welcome hundreds of athletes for a pair of exciting events this summer.
First up is the Stittsville Youth Triathlon on June 30 at Goulbourn Recreation Complex.
With the swim portion taking place in an indoor pool, Stittsville provides an easy introduction to the sport for newcomers. The more seasoned athletes, meanwhile, get to test themselves in a grand prix-style event featuring three shorter races (200-metre swim, 4 km bike, 1,200 m run) throughout the day.
The speed-centric format reflects Triathlon Canada’s focus on qualifying a mixed relay team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics – a super-sprint distance competition (300 m swim, 6.6 km bike & 1 km run for each of the four racers).
“We’re looking to develop fast athletes,” signals Greg Kealey, Triathlon Ontario Head Coach and a lead organizer for the local races. “Many get shot out of the sport in the U23 category because they relied more on fitness than ability to get their early success.
“We weren’t really producing fast, talented athletes, we were just promoting athletes that were fit.”
The shorter distance puts more emphasis on skill development and speed, Kealey adds.
“I think our sport has too much of an emphasis on endurance, and it actually scares some people, especially young people, that they need to be this uber-fit person,” he explains.
“Now we’re looking at: can we develop fast athletes at a young age and develop fitness later?”
Dashing Dunrobin setting
Recognized by many as the province’s most picturesque triathlon course, the second local race will take place on Aug. 12 out of the YMCA-YWCA Bonnenfant Outdoor Centre.
Already exceptionally popular as a destination race, this year’s Dunrobin Youth Triathlon has an added attraction thanks to its designation as Triathlon Ontario’s Youth Club Championships.
The event also draws young athletes from a variety of sports who don’t necessarily focus on training for triathlon.
“It’s really fun. I love it every time we do it,” underlines Kealey, who was drawn into triathlon because of the unrivalled camaraderie he’d never before experienced in sport.
“It’s nice to bring 200 kids and their families out and no one is arguing, and they’re respectful of the officials on the course and the volunteers,” adds the past Triathlon Canada coach of the year. “Parents are running around the course trying to encourage their kid. They’re cheering for their kid, but they’re also cheering for other kids as well. It’s very positive.
“It’s fun and there’s a really great spirit there.”
See BytownTriathlon.com for more information and to sign up.