Since a group of friends started the Squamish Triathlon four years ago to commemorate the life of Bob McIntosh, one of Canadas top triathletes in the 80s and 90s, the event has grown every year.
With two weeks to go before the race, organizers had received over 140 registration forms, or about 50 more than at the same time last year. Last years triathlon attracted more than 300 participants.
"Whether well exceed last years numbers is yet to be seen, but were certainly on track for a record year," says organizer Peter Hotston.
At the same time, the Squamish Triathlon is losing its better competitors with the World Championships taking place in Edmonton on the same weekend, some of the more prominent racers in the province who have qualified for their age group are heading to Alberta. Squamish local Gord Addison, fourth last year, is in that category.
Hotston credits the increase in early registrations to the fact that the Squamish Triathlon, the eighth event of the nine-race New Balance Provincial Triathlon Series, is becoming more well known. He also believes that more people are getting into the sport.
"Weve always worked to develop the support in the community, putting on clinics for beginners, and pushing the relay for locals. People who participate as part of a relay team, whether they were a swimmer or a runner in a previous years, come back to compete again, either with a team or on their own," says Hotston.
This year the training sessions were full, and at the youth triathlon in May, the number of entrants quadrupled from 30 last year to more than 120 kids.
"Another thing that has been big for the sport is Simon Whitfield winning the gold meal at the Olympics," says Hotston. "Its helped to raise the profile of the sport in Squamish and everywhere in the province."
Huge numbers have been turning out to triathlons across the country, culminating with a record field of more than 1,200 competitors at this years national championships in Drummondville, Quebec.
The Squamish Triathlon has also benefited from the sponsorship of BDO Dunwoody LLP, Chartered Accountants and Consultant, and Race & Co. Barristers, Solicitors and Mediators. BDO and Race & Co. have agreed to back the event for the next three years.
This year, the fourth annual Squamish Triathlon will take place on July 22.
The event begins with a 1,500 metre lap around Alice Lake, a 40 km bike ride along Squamish Valley Road to Brackendale Secondary School, and a 10 km run that includes a mix of trail and road running. Another road section has been eliminated this year with the addition of a trail section by the airport, and Hotston hopes that the final section of a planned 10 km trail will be completed for next year.
To register yourself or a three-member relay team all male, all female or mixed visit the Squamish Triathlon Web site at www.squamishtriathlon.org to register online.
The Squamish Triathlon is a non-profit event, with proceeds going towards the Robert W. McIntosh Memorial Scholarship. In the past three years, more than $14,000 has gone towards three Squamish students who have excelled in academics, athletics and scholarship.