Sports » Features

Beginner triathlon, trail run make Family Fun Weekend



There are always several telltale signs that it's springtime in Whistler: skunk cabbage blooming in wetlands, nesting robins making more noise than bears, and the appearance of posters advertising the Whistler Triathlon Club's annual beginner races and the annual Whistler Valley Trail Run.

Both events are scheduled for the May 23-24 weekend, with the annual Kids of Steel and Adult Try-a-Tri on Saturday and the Valley Trail Run on Sunday.

The Kids of Steel race is a fully sanctioned triathlon for kids as young as eight. It takes place at Meadow Park with a pool swim, bike ride, and run on the paved Valley Trail.

Kids aged 8 to 11 do four lengths of the pool (100 metres), followed by a 4 km bike and a 1 km run. This year the younger riders will tackle two laps of a less hilly bike course through the Alpine subdivision.

Kids aged 12 to 15 swim 300 metres, bike 10 km on the usual Alta Lake Road route, and run 3 km.

Kids aged 16 to 18 do a 500 metre pool swim, followed by a 14 km bike and a 4 km run.

Although some of the athletes will have competed in past years this is an entry level triathlon with an emphasis on fun instead of speed. The cost is $40.

There is advance registration at until 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22, and you can register in person at Snow Covers between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. during the voluntary bike and helmet check and package pickups. There is also a second package pickup and bike check on Saturday morning from 7:15 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. at Meadow Park.

Start times depend on age categories, with the older kids entering the pool at 8 a.m.

More information is available at

The Adult Try-A-Tri is for never-evers, once-in-a-whiles, and even experienced racers looking to hone their skills for the season.

Back for a third year, this event is for racers 19 and older, and includes a 300 metre swim, 14 km bike and 4 km run. It starts at 9 a.m. on Sunday. Like the older age categories the bike leg is on Alta Lake Road, which is on the hilly side, but the payoff is a flat run on the Valley Trail to the finish line.

Registration and package pick-up details are the same as for the Kids of Steel race, with a $50 entry fee. There are prizes for the top triathletes in each age group.

The organizers are looking for volunteers to help out counting laps, marshalling the courses and transition areas, and assisting in other areas as well. Diana Rochon of the Canadian Centre for Sport will be coordinating volunteers this year at

"It was a late start to the season this year, but this is a good race to get up to speed and you don't need to do a lot of training to enter," said event direct Marie-Anne Prevost. "We're actually expecting a good turnout this year for the adult race, as a group from Vancouver is using this as their training goal."

The Every Woman In The World health and wellness conference has also added two new packages this year that include either the triathlon or Whistler Valley Trail Run, as well as up to five other workshops.

The Whistler Valley Trail Run is turning 18 this year. This is also the fourth year that the race has gone off-road, following gravel trails through Lost Lake Park instead of the paved trails around the Whistler Golf Course.

There are two categories, 5 km and 10 km, with new courses for both. With construction at Rebagliati Park and the entrance to Lost Lake, the run will start and finish at Spruce Grove Park this year.

The 5 km route follows Lower Panorama to Molly Hogan, and back again following Lost Lake Loop and Old Mill Road. The 10 km route keeps going at Lost Lake, following Vimy Ridge and then Tin Pants back to the start/finish area.

Both courses start with a lap around the baseball field to break up the pack before heading into the park.

"There's a lot of uphill from the start this year... but then it gets easier and faster," said organizer Christine Suter. "We wanted to have the same course as the last few years but it was impossible. There's something to be said for making it different as well."

This year the Whistler Valley Trail Run kicks off the Sea 2 Sky Trail Running Series, which includes Comfortably Numb, STORMY, Loop the Lakes, Rubble reek and Lumpy's Epic.

Early bird registration is available until May 8 for $20, going up to $25 until race day. All proceeds go to the Community Foundation of Whistler's youth fund.

You can sign up online at until end of day on May 22, and in person from noon to 4 p.m. on May 23 and from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on race day, May 24. The race gets underway at 9 a.m.

Also back this year is the annual Teddy Bear Trot. This is a free event, open to kids 10 and under. Kids run with their bears and parents around a short course, and everybody gets a prize.