The group who partook in the July 18 triathlon are (top row, from left) Lenora Poulin, Kim Hollmann, Brenda Deschenes, Rachel Deschenes, Steve Link, (bottom row, from left) Heather Link, Erin Wilkins and Emma Link. Missing from the photo are Darby Link and Emily Taylor. (Submitted photo)

‘COVID-friendly’ summer triathlon organized by young Hope resident

Start small, Emma Link recommends, and don't forget triathlons are supposed to be fun

With the COVID-19 pandemic spelling an end to most outdoor sporting events this summer, a small group of Hope residents still managed to get together for a COVID-friendly triathlon.

Emma Link, a graduate of Hope Secondary home for the summer from her studies at the University of Saskatchewan, organized a July 18 triathlon for family and friends that included a 700 metre swim, a 10-kilometre bike ride and a five-kilometre run.

“Coming back to Hope, when COVID hit, I was looking for something different to do. I was antsy to get outside and keep doing triathlons,” she said. The plan was first to do a triathlon by herself, then it expanded to include her family (Link’s dad had previously participated in triathlons) and then the plan opened up to some of their friends.

The planning started by gauging distances and finding the best spots to partake in the various components of the three-part race. The swim started at 7 a.m. at Kawkawa Lake, “obviously the pool is closed right now, so the lake it was,” Link said. “Then I just used Google Earth to plot the distances.”

The road around the airport is approximately five kilometres, so the second and third components (bike and run) were held here.

Some completed the entire triathlon, others took part in various components, and all did an amazing job Link said. “I think my biggest part was just making it accessible for everybody because I wanted everybody to be able to do it and have fun while doing it,” she said. The feedback was so positive that another triathlon is likely to happen in the future.

The triathlon was kept “COVID-friendly” by only having people in Link’s family and friend bubble participate, as well as practicing physical distancing, washing their hands, sanitizing and keeping the event outdoors.

“It was really nice just to have that community feel to it…so we could interact with people, even though we’re staying our distance and could all just be active together,” Link said. “That’s the biggest part of sport to me is the community of it, just being together and being active with other people. It’s nice to go outside and to do it with somebody, and it’s just really fun to get active again.”

Link is going into her second year in the field of kinesiology – she’s got her eye on a career in physiotherapy. Having joined the triathlon club in university, she has participated in a few indoor events so far and had plans to do more this summer. That was, of course, before the pandemic started in earnest.

Her recommendations for newbies in the triathlon world is to start small, and to remember that it’s actually supposed to be a fun endeavour.

“I know when people think of a triathlon, they think of Ironman, which is a gargantuan race,” she said. “Starting small is the best way of doing it and practicing the individual chunks, so that you can feel confident enough to put them all together and that you won’t be exhausted at the end of it.”

“Yeah, and just have fun, it’s supposed to be fun.”

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