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Fort Macleod Triathlon has a winning tradition

New medals have been struck for the 15th annual Fort Macleod Triathlon, paying tribute to the 150th anniversary of Canada's confederation.

New medals have been struck for the 15th annual Fort Macleod Triathlon, paying tribute to the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation.

Close to 300 athletes will descend on Fort Macleod on Saturday, Aug. 19 to take part in a physical challenge.
The 15th annual Fort Macleod Triathlon combines swimming, cycling and running in a test for people of all ages and physical abilities.
“For me, it’s definitely the personal challenge,” organizer Alan Poytress said of the sport’s lure. “Every time you jump in that water . . . it’s a physical challenge.”
The Fort Macleod Triathlon is tailored to people of all levels of fitness and athletic ability.
While families and fun are key elements, the triathlon still attracts people serious about the three-event sport.
“We have some phenomenal athletes,” Poytress said, noting there will be at least one participant this year on the verge of becoming a professional triathlete.
Some use Fort Macleod’s relaxed setting to bring a group of friends together for a day of friendly competition among themselves.
The triathlon offers competition in four categories on Saturday, Aug. 19 at the Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre.
The Olympic event consists of 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-kilometre bike ride and 10-kilometre run.
The sprint category has a 500-meter swim, 15-kilometre bike ride and five-kilometre run.
The super sprint class consists of a 200-meter swim, 10-kilometre bike ride and a two-kilometre run.
The youth (under 12 years of age) event has a 100-meter swim, two-kilometre bike ride and a one-kilometre run.
There is also a relay category, with teams of two or three people taking on individual components.
Organizers experimented with offering a half marathon event, but scrapped it due to low interest among participants and heavy commitment for the volunteers, who had to work the course for eight hours or more.
In 2017, the triathlon will start at 7 a.m. and conclude about 2:30 p.m.
Last year, the Fort Macleod Triathlon had 280 people register, a number Poytress is hopeful will continue to grow.
Participants range in age from three to 80-plus years.
Poytress paused to reflect on the fact the triathlon is going strong, 15 years after it was established.
“It’s an interesting thought,” Poytress said. “The market is starting to get saturated with triathlons. They used to be few and far between and there’s a number out there now.”
Physical fitness activities also tend to come and go as people attempt a challenge such as a triathlon and once completed move on to another event.
“I think where a lot of our impetus is coming is the younger people,” noting more than 100 children 12 years and under took part in 2016. “They’re involved, their parents are involved, and that’s a feeder for triathlon.”
“It’s an affordable activity for families, it’s good fun and youth can train for it without knowing they’re doing it.”
The Fort Macleod Triathlon’s philosophy of it being an entry-level, family-friendly event contributes to its popularity.
“We want people to have fun, we want them to enjoy themselves, no pressure at all,” Poytress said.
Despite those positives, triathlons have come and gone in places such as Lethbridge and Magrath and yet Fort Macleod Triathlon endures, thanks in large part to the people who make it happen each year.
“We have a great crew,” Poytress said. “These people know what to do.”
While there is a core of 30 to 40 volunteers, the event requires about 200 willing workers to provide a safe, enjoyable experience for participants.
People are needed for tasks ranging from traffic control to counting laps in the pool, and from making lunches to announcing.
The Fort Macleod Triathlon continues, with no signs of slowing down.
“As long as there is an interest, we’ll continue,” Poytress said.
For information call Alan Poytress at 403-553-4003 or to register visit www.ftmacleodtri.com.
And if you’re thinking you would like to tackle a triathlon, Poytress encourages you to drop by on Saturday.
“Just come and take a look.”

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