Next weekend is the Welland Multisport race weekend. On Saturday the 23rd there is the duathlon, triathlon and the try-a-triathlon. On Sunday, there's a half ironman, a half ironman duathlon and a half ironman swim-bike.
Welland is where I grew up. I live a few towns over now but can be out the door and sitting in my parents' kitchen within 25 minutes. It's a town full of memories and familiar faces.
I'm not sure how long these races have been going on in Welland but this will be my third year participating. I competed in the duathlon twice and will be trying the tri this time around. Every time I go, I'm shocked at the number of athletes that descend on my little hometown. I guess technically it's not that little, but it certainly doesn't feel like a big metropolis like Toronto or Montréal and it doesn't have the name recognition of Niagara Falls. It's just...Welland.
And yet hundreds upon hundreds of people have signed up. At last check, over 400 were doing the half ironman alone. That just seems crazy to me.
This will be a year of firsts in Welland.
My running/cycling friend Vince is doing his first duathlon. He's been doing some pretty dedicated training sessions to prepare for the event - including weekly brick training. I'm not sure if he was disgusted or impressed when I told him that I just kinda winged my first duathlon and had never once tried doing more than one sport within a 24-hour period - never mind back to back.
Doug is also doing the duathlon but he's a pro at these now so I'm not too worried about him.
My little sister Gabrielle and I are trying the tri together. She arrives next Thursday from Israel, we're doing a quick open-water swim on Friday, I'm giving her some pointers on transition zones over dinner at my parents' and then we race the following morning. She has never even seen a triathlon before and has no idea what to expect so this should be fun.
Janice and Klari are also trying the tri. They've both done a duathlon before but three sports in one event is new for them too. The three of us are heading out for our first open-water swim practice tomorrow morning. Janice is hoping she is able to actually swim 400m as she has not had much pool time of late. Klari will be trying out her new wetsuit for the first time and I will be testing out my tri outfit and learning (hopefully) how to sight. Doug is coming along to laugh at us, take pictures and call 911 if needed.
We will all have stories to share when the races are over. We will all secure personal bests (which I one of the reasons why I love first time races) and we will all learn a lot of things we wished we had known before the gun went off.
And hopefully we'll all be back next year to do it all again.