It all started in Smiths Falls 40 years ago when the first triathlon was held along the banks of the historic Rideau Canal. On June 22, 2019, the Town of Smiths Falls will once again welcome hundreds of participants to the Smiths Falls Classic Triathlon, where participants can challenge themselves by running, cycling, and swimming the scenic course through the community.
The Smiths Falls Classic Triathlon has proved it has staying power – after 40 years it is the longest continuously running triathlon in Canada, and shows no signs of ending anytime soon. The town of Smiths Falls has historically been a hub for innovation and progressive thinking, so it’s no surprise that the community was one of the early adopters of this competitive swim/cycle/run race.
“You can still see this kind of progressiveness in the community today,” Jennifer Miller, Smiths Falls Manager of Economic Development & Tourism said, “Our community has a history of embracing new ideas, the triathlon is yet another example of this. We’re happy to once again be part of this historic event.”
Ian Fraser is a partner with Somersault Events, the group that has been organizing the Smiths Falls’ race for the past 25 years. He explained that over the years the number of participants for the event has varied, mirroring the ups and downs of Smiths Falls’ economy.
“There’s a bunch of things that impact numbers for the event, and it really ebbs and flows, some years we’ve had as many as 1,000 participants, while others it’s down in the 200 range,” Fraser said, “This year we’re expecting higher numbers than normal.”
With something for everyone, the Smiths Falls Triathlon offers three different options for triathlon competitors, suitable for varying ability levels. The Sprint Triathlon & Relay will feature a 500-metre swim, 21-kilometre cycle and five-kilometre run; the Super Sprint Triathlon will feature a 200-metre swim, 21-kilometre cycle and five-kilometre run; and the Try-a-Tri is perfect for beginning triathletes, offering a 200-metre swim, 21-kilometre cycle, and 2.1-kilometre run.
The Smiths Falls Triathlon also features two duathlon swim/cycle events, a Sprint Duathlon featuring a 2.1-kilometre run, 21-kilometre cycle followed by a five-kilometre run while the Sprint Swim/Cycle features a 500-metre swim and 21-kilometre cycle. A two-kilometre kids’ run for children 11 years and younger is also available for young athletes interested in getting started in racing.
“The course in Smiths Falls has a lot to offer for this race, it’s a really beautiful course,” Fraser said. “The swim portion takes place in the Rideau River at Lower Reach Park, just above the locks, and it’s very scenic.”
The two-kilometre run is held at Lower Reach Park, along the waterside trail, while the five-kilometre run includes Lower Reach Park but then loops up Beckwith Street South into the downtown, before turning on Chambers Street and then looping back along Queen Street. Cyclists will enjoy the picturesque cycle route, which runs 10-kilometres out from Smiths Falls along Jasper Avenue, a fast and flat road with wide shoulders and smooth pavement.
According to Fraser, one of the unique elements of the Smiths Falls Triathlon is that it is an evening race, with a 6 p.m. start. This eliminates the early morning that typically accompanies an event like this, and offers a much more pleasant temperature range as well.
With this year marking the 40th year for the event, Fraser is expecting a good turnout to the Smiths Falls triathlon, and said he’s hopeful and optimistic about the future of this long-running event, and a return of the record numbers experienced in past years.
“I’m confident we’ll be talking about the 50th anniversary in a decade,” Fraser said. Registration for the Smiths Falls Classic Triathlon ends at 6 p.m. on June 16, and registrations can be made through the Somersault website at www.somersault.ca/triathlon/smiths-falls.