-by Rebecca Silver Slayter
Grey skies hung over the shoreline on Sunday morning, as athletes from as far away as Calgary made their way into the water to begin the first leg of the 2014 Port Hood Triathlon. Despite the ominous clouds, the rain held off, and the water was warm though wavy. “The tide was in this year,” notes Race Director Dayna MacDonald, “which was very helpful. When the tide is out, it makes for a hard swim.”
The 80 participating athletes were divided into two distances. Those completing the Olympic distance swam 1,500 metres in the ocean, biked 40 km to Mabou and back, and then finished with a 10-km run. A half an hour later, as the first group transitioned to the biking leg, a second waded into the water and began the sprint competition, which halved those distances. There was also a Team Sprint Relay and a Team Olympic Relay.
For the Olympic distance, Allan MacKenzie (Sydney River) took first place with a time of 2:06:12. Chris Milburn (Sydney) took second at 2:07:54, and Corey Deveaux (Sydney) took third at 2:11:41.
For the Sprint distance, Cliff Worden-Rogers (Antigonish) took first place with a time of 1:04:35. Alex Russell (Halifax) took second at 1:09:07, and Peter Corbin (New Glasgow) took third at 1:10:45.
In the Olympic Team Relay, only two teams competed. Tim Brooks (swimmer), Vincent Nichols (cyclist), and Jonah Hudec (runner) took first with a total time of 2:07:44. Second place went to David Saunders (swimmer and cyclist), and June Saunders (runner) at 2:35:50.
In the Sprint Team Relay, Abbie MacLean (swimmer), Bill MacLean (cyclist), and Maddie MacLean (runner) took first with a total time of 1:20:10. Emmaline Corriveau (swimmer), Laura Purdue (cyclist), and Maddie MacLean (runner) took second at 1:33:38; and third place went to Peter Sargeant (swimmer), Jerome Tracey (cyclist), and Gabriel MacIsaac (runner) at 1:57:17.
Allan MacKenzie, the first-place winner of the Olympic triathlon distance, enjoyed the race immensely. “It was great,” he said. “Everything came together nicely. Good weather and great course, great event.” He found the swimming leg the most challenging: “It was very wavy, which made it difficult to sight the buoys—depending on when you looked up, you might not see it because the waves might be in the way.” However, he says the event otherwise went very well. “This is the first time I’ve ever won a triathlon, so that was pretty special. This is probably my best one to date. I’ve done maybe 20, and it was the best one for sure.” He has participated in the last five or six Port Hood Triathlons and says it’s his favourite event in the province. “It’s a great venue, great volunteers. They don’t cut any corners – everything is top notch. It’s a great event, well-organized.”
MacDonald notes that there are close to a hundred volunteers on hand at the event, almost one for every athlete, and they are an enormous help in ensuring everything runs smoothly. She also expressed appreciation for the addition of a new major sponsor, TD Wealth. “We rely solely on support and sponsorship from the community because we’re a not-for-profit organization,” she said, “so any and all support we get is really appreciated.” All in all, she said, at the 2014 triathlon “everything went awesome…We just hope it continues to grow every year.”