| Jul 09, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - July 9, 2009 Record turnout for first Sydenham triathlonBy Julie Druker

Visiting participants complete the sprint triathlon event at the first-ever Greater Kingston Sydenham Triathlon held Sunday in Sydenham. (l to r) Tim Rhodes of Deep River with Justin and Jason Flowerday and Wayne Robinson of Toronto.

Diamond patterns dazzled on Sydenham Lake as the sun shone this past Sunday for the first ever Greater Kingston Sydenham Triathlon. Close to 500 participants from all over Ontario and some from the U.S. participated in the day-long event put on by Somersault Productions of Ottawa.

On race day I spoke with Christine McKinty, who co-partners Somersault Productions with Terry McKinty. She explained, “For a first-time race, we usually are happy to get 250 athletes signed up. Today, so far, we are already upwards of about 440 participants. It‘s close to a record turnout for a first-time event.”

Christine gathered beach side with race participants prior to the 8:30AM start of the Olympic-length triathlon event. She explained to participants the swim route portion that began the race. The racers with numbered legs and arms donned wetsuits and swim caps and headed into the water, preparing for the 1500-metre swim portion of the event.

Spectators lined the beach at the Point as the racers next sprinted to the old ball diamond and mounted their bikes for the 40km cycling portion, which ran along Rutledge Road toward Perth Road Village and then looped back. The final portion of the race was a 10km run along the lake on the Cataraqui trail, which culminated at the finish line located near the ball field at the Point.

The day’s races were incredibly well-organized, thanks to the Somersault Productions staff and a number of local Sydenham volunteers, namely the Sydenham Football Club and others stationed at key locations directing participants through the courses.

Organizers carefully arranged the day so that most events shared a start time and ended in staggered finishes at one centrally-located finish line.

At the finish line Christine and Terry McKinty shared the mike, announcing athletes’ names as they crossed, to much applause of their friends and families.

I spoke to a number of participants as they crossed the line. Forty-two-year old Dave Markotich of Harrowsmith finished first in the 10km run. He ran the race to prepare himself for the upcoming New York City marathon. Breathing hard but exuberant, he said, “It was a great race and perfectly organized. The route was really clear and the aid station was placed in a perfect location. And it’s great to have this race so close to home.”

Dave’s wife Laura congratulated him as she prepared for her own upcoming event, the team triathlon, an event where a three-member team each runs one portion of the race. The event’s co-director Maryanne Takala of Sydenham and two teammates also participated in this event.

It was apparent by the wide range of participants that these events were geared to athletes of all ages and skill levels and that the focus was most definitely placed on personal effort rather than on winning. Underlying this focus, organizers provided medals to every participant who crossed the finish line.

Local professional athletes also used these races as a means to test their personal bests.

Local triathlete Scott Takala, who was instrumental in bringing the event to Sydenham, ran the Olympic length event and crossed the finish line first in what he estimated was just over two hours and one minute. “For a solo race without any drafting, it is one of my better times.” He added, “The bike leg was great, the wind cooperated and the traffic and turns were well organized.”

Peggy Cuthbert of Sydenham was the sixth woman to finish in the 10km run. She spoke enthusiastically about the event. “I really loved the course, running beside the lake on the trail is absolutely gorgeous. I really hope that they have it again next year.“ She is only one of many participants who thought so and the race organizers seem to be leaning the same way.

According to Maryanne Takala, “The organizers would love to hold it again next year. It’s just a matter now of taking it back to council and finding out what the overall response was." She sounded confident when she added, “We’ve already been making plans to improve the event for next year.” 

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