This Sunday marked the return of a popular annual sporting event to the city of Kingston, as athletes took part in the 37th running of the K-Town Triathlon. The race, which has been a staple of the Civic Holiday weekend for decades, returned this year after organizers were forced to cancel the 2020 and 2021 editions of the triathlon due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The event has a long and storied history, and we’re just so excited to be able to bring it back after two years,” said Race Director Jason Vurma, of Multisport Canada. Together with Summersault Events, Vurma’s organization agreed to take over hosting duties of the K-Town Triathlon, after local organizers stepped aside several years ago. “What we came to realize is that [Summersault’s] home base is Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley… and our strengths lie in the GTA, and Kingston sits squarely in between.
“If we want to have strong numbers, we need to have great support from the Ottawa area. We need to have great support for Montreal, we need to have great support from Brockville and all along the St. Lawrence. And we also need great support from the GTA. So that was really the genesis for why we sort of teamed up on the event because we want the K-Town Tri to keep going strong,” added Vurma.
This year’s race saw hundreds of athletes take part in various events throughout the day, with a long course triathlon providing a unique challenge for some of the elite level athletes, while sprint races and other relays allowed competitors of various abilities to take part. A traditional triathlon features a swim, followed by a bike ride, with the race ending in a run. Meanwhile, duathlons feature two separate runs broken up by a bike ride.
As Vurma noted, this year’s event also saw an uptick in participants, thanks in part to the ways people tried out new forms of exercise throughout the pandemic. “Through the two years of the pandemic, there [were] a lot of folks that got a little bit more active because outdoor activity was the name of the game. So we’ve definitely noticed that there [have] been more newcomers that have taken up the sport in the last couple of years.”
This year’s triathlon featured a different course from previous years as organizers moved the race away from Confederation Basin. “We were really fortunate to be handed the event by the local organizing committee… six to seven years ago after they ran the 30th annual event. And so we ran the event downtown, got to know the downtown venue. And obviously, anytime you’re doing anything downtown, there’s a lot more going on and there’s a lot more in terms of challenges,” remarked Vurma.
“Confederation [Basin] understandably is very, very tight. The area that we have for the bicycles is arguably the tightest transition we have in any event… So we reached out to both RMC and CFB Kingston over the course of the winter and asked if there was the possibility of examining the move of the event here. And one thing led to another and it just it seemed like the right call.”
One of the biggest changes with the move to CFB Kingston is that the swimming event no longer takes place in the busy section of Lake Ontario in front of Kingston City Hall, a site which has caused a number of challenges for previous organizers. “Anytime you’re swimming in the big body of Lake Ontario, you’re really at the mercy of the wind and the waves. And we’ve had several years where we’ve had to shorten the swim. And it’s been a little bit more nerve-wracking both for us and for participants in a wavier environment.”
While officials are pleased with the location of this year’s race, Vurma noted that Multisport Canada hasn’t completely ruled out a return to the downtown site in the future. “It’s not that the downtown is a no forever, but it seemed like the right fit for this year to give people a little bit more elbow room and a little bit more space… We recognize that it was been a fixture downtown for a long period of time.”
The highlight of Sunday’s race was the long course triathlon, which featured a gruelling 2000-metre swim along the Cataraqui River, followed by a 55-kilometre bike ride to Gananoque and back, ending with a 15-kilometre run around the campus of Royal Military Collage. The elite-level men’s race was won by Kingston’s own Nick Cossman, who battled closely with fellow competitor Jessey Elf throughout the entire event.
“The race was good, I mean I knew I’d have a hard time just sticking with Jessey. I was with him till the turnaround then he just put up a little surge coming around the buoys, and I just lost a little steam, I think the gap was around 45 seconds to a minute,” Cossman said of the swim portion of Sunday’s race. “Then onto the bike, I caught up to him at the turnaround… and then I put a pretty good surge in, gapped [him] and got about a minute lead.”
While Cossman was able to open up a bit of a gap over Elf during the middle stages of the bike portion, a flat tire forced him to stop and complete repairs before he could continue. “It took me about three and a half minutes to fix that, so I lost my lead and I lost a bit of mojo. But, I knew if I just stayed with it, I’d still be pretty close.”
Cossman caught up to Elf at the transition point, before passing the other leaders in the early stages of the run. Despite some cramping toward the end of the run, Cossman was able to “jog it in” as he crossed the finish line in the first place.
As for this year’s course layout, Cossman had positive things to say regarding the new route. “The swim was great. The bike course was really nice. [It was] nice not going across the Causeway… [The] run was really, really hard. Fort Henry hill, three times, that really hurt. So I’m sure everybody suffered out there… But, you know, good course, ‘legit’ course. Great views up there, I mean, it’s iconic to do Fort Henry.”
While Cossman took home the gold medal in the men’s long course race, Kingston’s Danae Morris was the top finisher in the women’s race, with a final time clocking at 03:12:28.0. Meanwhile, the men’s and women’s short course races were won by Kingston’s Brant Satchel and Newmarket native Christine Cash respectively. The complete results can be found at sportstats.ca.