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Blind and barefoot racers finish first in Sydenham's Tri/Du eventby Julie Druker
Blind atlete Ron Hackett crosses the finish line aided by Marc Lemieux.
Hackett finished first in his age group overall as well as in the
Now in its fourth year, the Sydenham Triathlon-Duathlon event continues to grow in popularity, attracting athletes from all over Eastern Ontario and further afield. At this year's event, which was held on Sunday, July 8, over 600 participants, including athletes from Guelph, Toronto, and a few from south of the border, gathered at the Point in Sydenham to test their mettle in a number of races. The Tri-Du took place at Sydenham's Point Park, where the waterfront beach, trails and park provide the perfect natural surroundings that make the event a popular one for athletes of all levels, and one they return to year after year.
According to race director with Somersault Productions, Richard Cadman, who both founded the event and has been its director since its inception, the highlights of this year's events included a couple of notable winners who crossed the finish line first in their events despite additional personal challenges.
One such athlete was Clive Morgan of Yarker, who placed first in the Olympic Triathlon event in the age 50-54 category and who completed the event in a time of two hours and fourteen minutes. Clive, according to Cadman, is a long time triathlete and a “real notable character” who runs the majority of his races barefoot. Clive's Sunday race in Sydenham was no exception and he crossed the finish line, first in his age category and the only participant who ran shoeless.
What made his finish even more noteworthy was the fact that his son Blair Morgan, who ran in the sprint triathlon (19 years of age and under) crossed the line almost at the same time, winning his event with a time of 59 minutes 34 seconds.
Another athlete who came to the attention of the numerous cheering fans was Ron Hackett of Kingston, the one and only blind athlete, who competed in the Olympic Tri with his guide Marc Lemieux, owner of Black Dog Pottery in Kingston. Ron was guided through the swimming and the running sections of the event with Marc by his side, giving him directions and pointing out any obstacles in his way.
In the bike section of the tri the two rode a tandem bicycle, for which Cadman said organizers designed a special lane at the transition area so that they would be unimpeded by the other athletes. Hackett ran a great race and finished first not only in the disabled category but also placed first in his age group overall, which was an incredible double victory for him.
Other notable highlights for Cadman were the rain-free weather and the coming together of entire community for the event. “The energy that the community volunteers put into the event is spectacular and their energy goes a long way in keeping everything and everyone moving along and making for a very enjoyable day for everyone involved. We get so many notes sent to us following the race from participants who have nothing but good things to say about the volunteers and the event,” Cadman said.
Maryanne Takala of Sydenham, who is the event's assistant director, echoed Cadman's comments, adding that the race continues to get bigger and better every year. “We're finally getting to the point where we are able to fine tune things and with the help of our volunteers from the Sydenham Legion we are able to both set up and tear down a lot faster than in the past. That and the fact that our volunteers are now completely familiar with the event and know exactly where they have to be and what they have to do, all allows the day to run very smoothly.”
Since the Sydenham Tri-Du's inception four years ago a few changes have been made. The transition area was moved from the ball diamond to the foot ball field, which allows for a smoother and safer transition to the biking portion of a number of the events. And as far as traffic goes, this year members of the OPP were placed on Rutledge Road closer to Harrowsmith so drivers were made aware of the event and could take an alternate route to avoid being held up in traffic.