Well, this past weekend marked the official opening of Ottawa’s annual winter celebration, Winterlude. You know, ice sculptures, snow carving, skating on the canal, outdoor music events, etc. etc. But did you know that each year there is also an associated sporting event in the triathlon community? Yup, each year there is usually a Winterlude Triathlon, consisting of a skate, ski, then run. This event is put on by Zone 3 Sports, and is as much a part of Winterlude as the sculptures. Last year, I raced in it, although it was turned into a duathlon, with only running and skiing, due to ice conditions. And this year? Well, sadly, mother nature’s lack of direction on the weather front meant that this event was only an 8km run along the canal :-(. As such, I didn’t sign up this year. However, that didn’t mean I couldn’t take part in a new event, the Winter-Lewd Triathlon! Yup, this one was thought up by a few crazy racing friends of mine, and this little post will fill you in on the details of this little event. If you’d like, you can head over to flickr and check out the pictures from the day.
So what exactly was the Winter-Lewd Triathlon? Well for starters, you won’t find any website, or results, or news stories on it. This was just a fun event planned to take advantage of the fact that there was snow and ice, so we could do all the things associated with winter! This triathlon consisted of skating down the canal from around Ottawa U to Dow’s Lake, then skiing through the arboretum, followed by a snowshoe around the arboretum. Of course, there were no course markings, or even a course to speak of, just a will to get out there and have some fun. Why ‘lewd’ and not ‘lude’? Well, the additional twist was that we were supposed to dress a little lewdly, like wearing our underwear as outerwear! The participants did so in varying degrees. However, it was much too cold for any true exhibitionism. I just wore my pajama bottoms on the outside, and wore a sweater, hat, and scarf from Peru. It wasn’t lewd, but at least it was colourful and fun! There were few more adventurous dressers, and Sophia loaned out a number of her wardrobe items for the ‘racers’. In the end, there was something like 14 people that took part. I didn’t know most of them, but it was a fun crowd.
The plan was to start at Sophia’s house, which is close to the canal. In advance, we sent out a support vehicle loaded up with our skis and snowshoes to park at Dow’s lake. That way, once we got down there, we could just grab our gear and start on the next leg of the event. The only problem with our original plan was the unknown of being a little disorganized as a whole group ;-). Try as we might, it just took us a lot longer to get things done than we anticipated. Ever see the commercial with the cat herders? Yup, that was our group. The cats that is. By the time we got the whole group down to Dow’s lake at the end of the skate portion, it was already somewhere around noon I think! Our plan had been to start around 10am, and be back at Sophia’s for brunch by around 12:30. So much for that plan.
As a result, we modified the race. The next stage was an optional stage where you could choose whether to ski or snowshoe. Since I had my skis all prepped, I chose to ski. After all, I’ve had a couple snowshoe races, but not as much skiing this year. Sophia also chose the skis. All the others went with the snowshoes. Well, not quite everyone. A couple people stuck to the skating, and a few even decided to try their luck at an alternative stage; the bar stage 😉 They headed up the stairs to Mexicali Rosas to bide their time while we skied and snowshoed. The plan was to meet them back on the ice at 1pm. So off we went. We tried for a quick transition, but as usual, it took a little longer than anticipated. We had hoped to do 4-5km each of skiing and snowshoeing, but now we figured we’d be lucky to get the 4km on one event.
Once we were geared up, we started stage 2 in earnest. We ambled along the snowy paths of the arboretum, intermittently breaking into light jogs and/or joking around with each other. There were a couple feeble attempts at sprinting, as well as the obligatory up and downhill sections, to make it a real race course, but we were just intent on having a fun time. Our merry band raised a few eyebrows in the park, as a number of dog walkers and other people were quite curious about our outfits. Perhaps next year we’ll have to be more organized and send the word out to the masses. I think it could be a pretty fun grass-roots event, don’t you?
Back at Dow’s lake around 12:45, and we got ready for the final stage, the skate back to the awaiting brunch. Well, actually, the brunch wasn’t really awaiting, some people had to get down there to get to work on the food. Luckily, James was on it. He took off like a bat out of heck on the ice in order to get ‘crackin’ on the eggs, pancakes, sausages and bread. The remaining motley crew headed down the ice as well, at a slightly slower pace. Part of my issue was that I was on hockey skates. A number of the other racers had clip-on blades that work with cross country ski boots. They’re quite a bit longer, so you get a much better glide, and hence faster speed. So at my turtle’s pace, I eventually made it back to the start line!
From there, a walk back to Sophia’s for brunch. What a spread. I really don’t think I should have eaten the amount of food that I did, given that I didn’t really work up much of a sweat. However, it was there, so I ate up. I know I usually write really long stories, but I think I’ll just leave this one at that. I’m a little tired (read hungover) today, so that’s all you get. Plus, there’s another exciting blog post in the works that I hope to put up tomorrow about what I did after the race on Saturday. Till then, stay cool, and enjoy the winter.