Debbie Leger on the run. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Switch to an earlier date works out well for the Cowichan Challenge

Entries down slightly as a result, but ideal day greets participants at Fuller Lake Park

The Cowichan Challenge Triathlon switched to a much earlier date on the calendar than usual, but organizers couldn’t have asked for a better day.

The event has traditionally been held in early July at Fuller Lake Park, but also moved to June in recent years and didn’t happen at all on one occasion. It was a drastic move to go into late May, but participants were greeted by ideal conditions for the fun and friendly triathlon and aquabike event hosted by the dedicated and hard-working members of the Ceevacs Roadrunners.

“We had to go in an earlier date this year to avoid conflicts with other events,” said race director Robin Taylor.

The triathlon began bright and early at 8 a.m. with a swim in Fuller Lake followed by cycling on rural roads in the beautiful Cowichan Valley and a run on forested trails.

The water was an ideal 19 C for the swim. “The triathlon gods loved us,” quipped Taylor.

About 100 people were registered, but slightly less actually showed up to participate.

“It’s still early in the season for triathletes,” reasoned Taylor. “But we have such a narrow window to fit these events in.”

Competition from other events – both old and new -makes it difficult to pick suitable dates for drawing decent turnouts because there’s only so many triathletes to go around. Then there’s all sorts of other walking, running and other events around the Island trying to attract people.

Whether the Cowichan Challenge sticks with the May date remains to be seen.

“We go from year to year,” noted Taylor. “We try to coordinate it through Triathlon B.C.”

One thing that never changes is the Ceevacs Roadrunners’ amazing volunteer component, with more than 70 again this time. “You have about as many volunteers as athletes,” Taylor indicated.

The absence of one long-time Ceevacs’ volunteer who always offered his services at the event was definitely felt with the recent death of Ian Milne. The core group was thinking about him since he did so much at the Cowichan Challenge.

Cowichan Search and Rescue was chosen as the event’s charity. “We collected donations on-line and we give a portion of the proceeds,” said Taylor.

Joel Lutz (men’s 45-49 division) was the overall standard course winner in 2:13:26. Richard Light (men’s 45-49) placed second in 2:25:31; Takuma Cottle (men’s 20-24) third in 2:27:01; Rob Grant (men’s 50-54) fourth in 2:30:11 and Nadia Langenberg (women’s 20-24) fifth in 2:34:07.

The team called 3 Fast 3 Furious won the standard relay in 2:29:22.

The sprint division winner was Daniel Hobden (men’s 25-29) in 1:16:13. Rounding out the top five were: Brett Barrington (men’s 25-29) in 1:19:35; Chantelle Giesbrecht (women’s 35-39) in 1:23:19; Brad Speirs (men’s 65-69) in 1:23:37; and David Janzen (men’s 25-29) in 1:23:50.

The Partridge Family team topped the sprint relay in 1:25:58 and Kimblerley Vaulkhard (women’s 35-39) was the winner of the aquabike competition in 2:15:32.

The competitor in the field farthest from home was Kevin McLachlan of Whitehorse, who’s here acting in Mamma Mia! at the Chemainus Theatre. He did the triathlon in the morning and went on stage for an afternoon performance.

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Claire Moller heads for the home stretch on the run in the Cowichan Challenge. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Wayne Newman heads for the trail on the running portion of the Cowichan Challenge. (Photo by Don Bodger)

They went that way, I presume, says Bonnie Potter after coming off the trail and into the roadway during the Cowichan Challenge run. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Pam Stockton, left, and Debbie Greene make the turn on the Cowichan Challenge running route. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Peter Jenson from Tsawwassen, right, the oldest competitor in the Cowichan Challenge at age 75, on the bike. Left, ‘They went that way’, I presume, says Bonnie Potter after coming off the trail and onto the roadway during the Cowichan Challenge run. (Photos by Don Bodger)

Dan Varga faces an uphill battle on the bike near Richard’s Trail. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Uphill grind slows the pace for a member of the 3 Fast 3 Furious relay team on the bike. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Race director Robin Taylor. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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