The Tinman Triathlon is back at Elmira District Secondary School next week, and students are getting ready to swim, run and bike their way to the finish line.
Along with over 100 EDSS students participating in the triathlon on May 31, there will be another 350 students from around the region and beyond joining the athletes on the course, says one of the organizers.
“It is very popular,” said teacher Margie Cressman. “All of the schools, both in the Waterloo Region and some from Guelph, are involved.”
The race began many years ago, taking a break before returning to the streets of Elmira 12 years ago. Last year’s race saw Elmira place third overall, with Guelph’s Centennial Collegiate and Vocational Institute placing first, and John F. Ross Collegiate and Vocational Institute, also in Guelph, coming in second.
Cressman says although placing high would be nice, it isn’t the most important thing in the Tinman Triathlon.
“We are just happy that the kids come out and do it. This is more of an event, and this is how I describe it to the kids, that is more about your personal best, very much so. It is about just going out there and giving it a shot,” she said.
The race starts in the pool at the Woolwich Memorial Centre, beginning with 15 laps of the pool, or 375 metres. Then, students and participating staff make their way to dry land, hopping on their bikes, and riding 15 kilometers on the Kissing Bridge Trail. They make their way back to the WMC before going for a five kilometer run to the finish line. Finishing times are tracked by a chip ankle bracelet that is triggered when the racers pass over mats that track when they passed a certain point.
Cressman says it wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers that lend their time, keeping participants safe, and on the right route.
“(The biking and running) is where the volunteers come in,” she said of the 120 people giving their time for the event. “They are at basically every single corner making sure that people go in the right direction, in case someone gets hurt and, of course, people with water and things like that.”
The triathlon itself is a good introduction to the world of competitive racing for the students – giving them a taste of what is out there if they decide to continue in the sport.
“Triathlons themselves are a big deal, and it is actually considered a ‘try-tri’ because it is not on open water and is a shorter distance,” said Cressman, adding that it adds a competitive aspect to going for a run or a swim. “I think that all three of those activities are what I would call lone activities, other than maybe running on the cross country team. It allows them to get that first little taste of being in a competitive triathlon, and in the future, there are many more that they can choose from after high school if they would like.”
It isn’t just students that will be participating in the Tinman Triathlon – teachers and staff members will be swimming, biking and running as well.
“It is tradition now,” said Cressman, who will also be taking part.
The triathlon will run on May 31, with a rain date of June 2, and Cressman asks drivers and others in town to keep an eye out for the racers during the event. They will be covering a large part of Elmira, including residential areas.
“By noon hour, we are well underway with students out there. We are going to be on the trail for the biking and then for the running, we go up first, then down Barnswallow and Whippoorwill. Those are the main routes,” she said.