John Curran | Jul 22, 2020

Buck Lake’s Clarke sisters, Daley, 14, and Riley, 12, are perhaps best known on the lake for annually hosting a lemonade stand in the South Arm Narrows that raised money for charity over each of the past seven summers.

“Because of COVID-19 we weren’t able to keep that going this year,” said Daley.

Undeterred the pair turned their attention to something much more active, though easier to socially distance: a kids’ triathlon. This year’s inaugural Buck Lake Kids Triathlon is on August 23 and will be held in support of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa.

“We’ve helped a lot of different causes, hospitals and charities with our lemonade stand,” she explained. “This year because our focus is so much more about getting kids to participate, it made sense to help a cause related to helping kids.”

They’ve capped the entries at 25 participants to ensure social distancing with those taking part encouraged to seek out team sponsors and donors to raise as much for the cause as possible – well beyond the modest $20 sign-up fee will generate.

The field will be split across three divisions ages 9 and under; 10 to 12; and, 13 to 15. The littlest competitors will do a 150m swim, 2km kayak and a 2km run. The middle group will go 300m, 4km and 3.5km; while the oldest kids will max out the course at 500m, 6km and 5km, respectively.

“We substituted kayaking for the normal biking portion because we wanted to make it more about the lake,” added Daley. “It makes me feel good helping people in need and doing a good deed that helps other kids.”

The Clarke sisters, including 9-year-old Aubrey, will each be participating in the race and it sounds like they are in for some stiff competition both on the fundraising side and in terms of the triathlon itself.

Among the early registrants for the race is a team of five girls going by the name the Porcupine Island Crew (PIC). The squad – represented by a super-chill, bespectacled porcupine logo/mascot – includes Emily Youngman, 8, Emily Hunter, 10, Claire Youngman, 10, Louisa Hunter, 6, and Mia Tomlinson, 11; all of whom have family cottages on the lake’s second largest island.

“Our logo is a porcupine with sunglasses,” said Mia. “It represents our team attitude; we’re cool, but mess with us and you’ll get the quills.”

The girls’ competitive mugging for a reporter notwithstanding, they are definitely in it to raise money for the cause.

“It sounds like really a lot of fun and it helps raise money for the Children’s Hospital,” said Louisa. “We’re trying for $100 each.”

“We set a team goal of raising $500 combined and when we told our sponsor he said he would match it if we hit our goal – so that would be $1,000 for CHEO if we make it from our team alone,” added Claire. “I hope other teams can beat us, but that’s still a great challenge, so we need to accomplish both our goals: fundraising and getting physically ready for the race.”

All first timers when it comes to triathlons, the PIC girls do have some experience with competition to rely on.

“I do competitive gymnastics, three events now, and all the other girls ran cross country on school teams,” said Emily Youngman. “My sister Claire and the other Emily (Hunter) are also our coaches so we’ll be ready for the race by then.”

The girls have begun a strict training regiment comprised of lakeside yoga to properly prepare their minds and bodies for their workouts, followed by a minimum of one hour a day swimming, kayaking, and running around the island. (Mother Christine Youngman said it looks an awful lot like playing and it generally goes on from sunup, to sundown – far longer than the one hour a day they are shooting for.)

“We all have different strengths,” said Claire. “For me, I’ve been running and swimming almost as long as I have been alive, but I’ve only been kayaking for a year, so that’s the biggest challenge for me.”

Emily Hunter added they will work on different techniques to get the most out of themselves during the triathlon.

“We’re working on our breathing and the younger girls are learning how breathing can affect you in sports,” she explained.

If you would like to register for the event or request additional information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also use the same address to make email transfers in the case of would-be sponsors/donors.

And remember on race day, (again that’s Aug. 23) motorists around Wren Lane and boaters around the South Arm Narrows be mindful of all the young athletes while they are competing so everyone gets home safe and this reporter gets to write another story with a happy ending.

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