Triathlon set to splash at Fanshawe

STEVE COAD -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 6:59 AM ET

John Salt never let go of his goal to hold a triathlon in his hometown.

The London resident, president of locally based MultiSport Canada, first tried in late July 2002, only to be forced to shift the event to Lakeside, in Oxford County, because of the unpredictability of bacteria levels in Fanshawe Lake.

Three years later, he's back at Fanshawe, saying the event is a go with the blessing of the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority.

Chris Harrington, co-ordinator of planning and research for the UTRCA, says there is no indication of any problem with the water in the lake.

"There's a history of water quality concerns in the lake. Most notable are algae blooms that have typically occurred late in the summer," Harrington says.

Hence, Salt's decision to stage the event now rather than at the end of July as in 2002.

"Historically (water quality) depends on the type of season we're having and flow of the water into lake."

The races, stop No. 2 in the HSBC Bank Canada Triathlon Series, will come with an interesting twist. Rather than the traditional triathlon format -- a swim before hitting the road for a biking portion and a run to the finish -- the Fanshawe event will be an off-road event.

This means all disciplines within the triathlon or duathlon races will be contested within Fanshawe Conservation Area.

"With me being from here and MultiSport being based here, it's awfully nice to have an event here," Salt says. "It's not a traditional triathlon (or duathlon). Because it incorporates mountain biking (rather than road cyclists), it's opening the sport to a whole new group of people. Off-road is becoming popular."

Off-road definitely works at Fanshawe, particularly considering the traffic factor on nearby roads, Salt says, referring to heavily travelled Clarke Road, Fanshawe Park Road and Huron Street.

Is London's gain Lakeside's loss?

Hardly. In fact, the series shifts to the Oxford hamlet north of Thamesford for its third stop next weekend.

For information, check out www.multisportcanada.com.

HSBC BANK CANADA TRIATHLON SERIES

What: A series of off-road triathlon and duathlon races involving swimming, mountain biking, trail running and even canoeing or kayaking

Where: Fanshawe Lake and Fanshawe Conservation Area, entrance off Clarke Road

When: Tomorrow

Schedule: Canoe/kayak triathlon (8-kilometre canoe/kayak, 21-k off-road bike, 6-k trail run) at 9 a.m.; off-road triathlon (750-metre swim, 21-k off-road bike, 6-k trail run) at 9:15 a.m.; duathlon (2.5-k run, 21-k off-road bike, 6-k trail run) at 10 a.m.; Kids in Dirt duathlon races (various distances for kids three to 15 years) at 2 p.m.

Note: Race-day registration will be available, organizer John Salt says.


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