The rain held off until just after the race was over. The wind didn’t pick up and whip up the waves until the next day. And the field of competition was both larger and more skilled than ever before.
When St. Joseph Island Triathlon founder Sherri Smith finally had the chance to take a breather following Saturday’s fourth annual event, she felt both exhausted and triumphant.
“We’re right on schedule, exactly where we should be right now,” said Smith, also the race director and a former triathlete herself.
“Every year, it’s been growing a bit more, and we’re going to keep on trucking.”
Final registration numbers weren’t in by Sunday night, but Smith said race officials had counted more than 350 competitors crossing the finish line at the Richards Landing Wharf after a day of running, cycling and swimming. The 2006 event drew 335, making this summer’s event unofficially the biggest yet.
And they’re coming from all over. Participants from several locations in Ontario and the United States made their way to the Island to compete in the Olympic-distance triathlon the event’s marquee competition as well as several other adult triathlons and duathlons of various distances and the Kids of Steel Triathlon.
“We’re getting a lot more people from the Sudbury area, too,” said Smith, a 31-year-old Sault native. “That might not seem like a big deal, but it is for us.
“When people are travelling to get here, it makes us more legitimate.”
Also adding to the event’s profile was the appearance of more top-level competitors than in previous years. Among those were Olympic- race winner Michael Hay of Sudbury and international duathlon race champion Brent McMillan, a native of Thessalon.
“We had about four or five more elite racers this year,” Smith said.
She was also impressed by the contingent of volunteers recruited to help out with the day-long event.
“That’s been huge, really the key to our success,” Smith said. “The number of volunteers we’ve had has just been unbelievable.”