The Squamish Triathlon: A Memorial to Bob McIntosh, is turning 15 on July 15, and to celebrate this milestone the Pique has put together a list of the top 15 reasons to take part in this year's race.
1. Bob McIntosh — Before his untimely death on New Year's Eve in 1997, Squamish's Bob McIntosh was a hometown hero. He competed in events across North America and took part in two events as a member of Team Canada. In 1997 he was the team captain for the race in Perth, Australia.
More than just a racer, he was a family man with two kids and a vision for his community.
One of his dreams was to host a triathlon in his hometown. After he was murdered while trying to help break up a high school party at a neighbour's house, his friends hosted the first Squamish Triathlon in 1998 as a tribute.
2. It's for a good cause — The Squamish Triathlon has always been a non-profit event, with proceeds going towards the Robert W. McIntosh Scholarship Fund. Each year two (and sometimes three) students from Squamish that demonstrate abilities in academics, athletics and citizenship received a scholarship to put towards their continuing education. Since 1998, 26 students have received awards. As well, money from the race has gone to improve the Cheekeye Fan Trail and other trails in the area, which are used by the community and schools for recreation.
3. Two words: Alice Lake — Alice Lake is one of the best and warmest lakes to swim in throughout Sea to Sky country. It has a nice beach start. There's shelter for runners on wet days, and on sunny days athletes can enjoy the sunshine while they wait for the 1,500 metre swim to start.
4. The bike leg is awesome — The bike course has had a few changes over the years, changing from an out-and-back course on the Squamish Valley Road to a loop course that includes a lane of the Sea to Sky Highway. Riders seem to like the change — they pass cheering spectators fou1r times, and the views are stunning in all directions. The ride down from Alice Lake can be hair-raising at high speeds, but crossing the highway at full speed is an exciting way to start your 37km ride.
5. The run is unique — Unlike most sanctioned triathlons and events, the 10km run leg of the Squamish Triathlon takes place mainly on dirt and gravel instead of pavement, following trails in the Cheekeye Fan area. On a hot day the runners get shade, on a wet day they get shelter and the ground is much easier on the knees.
6. The run has been upgraded — Half a kilometre of the run course, which athletes will pass by twice, has been upgraded for a smoother experience. It's also something new for repeat competitors.
7. The relay — The Squamish Triathlon is one of the first triathlons in B.C. to really embrace the relay concept, with teams of two and three breaking up the swim, bike and run legs. It opened triathlons to more recreational-level athletes as well people that aren't up for a full Olympic distance event. On the other end of the spectrum it's also extremely competitive for the fast teams, and some of the closest races to the finish have been relay teams looking to win. Some years there are more relay competitors than solo racers.
8. Great schwag — The Squamish Triathlon has always stood out for the great schwag it hands out to competitors, handing out technical tops instead of cotton t-shirts and other practical gear. For the 15th anniversary, participants get a black and white commemorative shirt.
9. Cash prizes — This year the top three male and female runners will earn cash prizes — $500 for first, $300 for second and $200 for third. Not all races hand out cash prizes, and not at these amounts.
10. Training and tune-up for Xterra Whistler — The Xterra Whistler off-road triathlon takes place the weekend after the Squamish Triathlon. For athletes, Squamish provides a chance to practice the swim distance and transitions before resting up for Xterra.
11. Training for Ironman Canada — Currently there are 14 athletes from Sea to Sky registered for Ironman Canada on August 26. It helps to have a few warm-up events under your belt before going the full distance, and Squamish is the nearest and best opportunity to prepare.
12. Great food — One of the highlights of the Squamish Triathlon is the excellent post-race food that's available, with a good variety of things to eat while you sit on the grass and catch your breath.
13. Plenty of parking — The Squamish Triathlon is capped, and as a result there's always lots of parking around Don Ross Secondary School. Trucks and buses also make it easy to get your gear and your body (or bodies) to the start at Alice Lake.
14. Security has been beefed up — Organizers heard that racers are concerned about bike security, and the prospect that someone could steal their valuable bikes so this year bikes will be more secure than ever before.
15. Because it's 15 — In the past 15 years this event has grown from a small memorial event into a Triathlon B.C. sanctioned race.
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