Local Triathlon History

Ottawa is one of Canada's triathlon hotbeds, with a history that goes all the way back to the 1970's, not long after the sport was born. The region is home to classic races and many athletes who have made their mark on the local, national and international triathlon scene. This is our page through which to celebrate this history and pay tribute to those that played a role. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any additional information. Many thanks to all who have already contributed to this article.

Timeline

1979
  • Colonel By Tri first takes place, featuring a 5 k paddle/20k bike/5k run. The race was done in pairs, and you were allowed to draft your partner. Perhaps the first triathlon to take place in Canada. Transition zone was at the Rideau Canoe Club.
1980
  • (June 28) Smith's Falls Triathlon takes place with 12 participants, each paying an entry fee of $3.
  • Organized by Andrew Comstock (age 17) and Bernard Merkley (age 18). They continued to direct the event for another 11 years.
  • They were inspired by an article in Runners World about the Hawaii Ironman. Bernard's older brother Peter challenged them by saying if they organized a race, he would enter.
  • Believed to be the first swim/bike/run triathlon ever in Canada, it was won by Dave Dyer.
  • The race started at 2:30pm and featured a 400m swim (advertised as 800m), then a 40k bike to Perth and back, then arrived back in time to run the Pioneer Track Club 10k race at 4pm. There was actually a short break after the bike as they waited for the start of the 10k race; a good thing since it was hot on the day.
1981
  • Dr. Don Johnson, Dave Dyer, Kirk Defazio, and Ron Phillips become first locals and quite possibly the first Canadians to compete in the Hawaii Ironman.
1982
  • National Capital Triathlon, started by Dave Dyer. First winners were Bruce McNicol and Marie-Josee Cossette, 2km swim, 55km bike and 15km run. The event was supported by the OAC and Rideau Canoe Club. The latter of which was host of the event.
1983
  • The Winterlude Triathlon started, organised by Andrew Barron, a former national team speed skater.
  • The first OAC Triathlon takes place in July in Gatineau Park under the guidance of Race Director Mike Collingwood. The OAC Tri, now named in honour of Mike, is the longest continually run triathlon event in Canada. (SF had a year or two off in the early 90's.) They decided to move the event as far away in the schedule and geographically as they could to protect the National Capital Tri, which Mike also helped to organize.
  • The first Deep River Triathlon takes in August. It too has continued every year since, without a break.
  • Dorothy Dickie of Nepean becomes the first local woman to compete in the Hawaii Ironman. She then did it again in 1984.
1984
  • Sharbot Lake Triathlon first takes place, organized by Rudy and Joan Hollywood
1985
  • Vincent Lo Monaco of Ottawa completed Ironman Japan in 13:30, one of the first Ironman competitions (along with New Zealand that year) to take place outside of Hawaii.
1986
  • The National Capital Triathlon Association, among its activities, puts on a promotional transition event in a local mall.  Athletes had to take off a wetsuit, pedal briefly on a trainer then do a short run to the finish. (Thanks for Paul Hardy for sharing this.)
1987
  • Mike Scott takes over as Race Director of the National Capital Triathlon from Dave Dyer.
1991
  • Terry McKinty of TBM takes over ownership and directorship of National Capital Tri, the Colonel By Canoe Tri and the Smiths Falls Triathlon

Builders

Rudy Hollywood
  • Started TriRudy.com newsletter in __. The daily mailing is now a source of information and inspiration to over 5000 triathletes from Ottawa and further afield.
  • Organized first Sharbot Lake Triathlon in 1984
Mike Collingwood
  • Race Director of the OAC Triathlon from 1994 through 2006.
  • A tireless volunteer who contributed countless hours each weekend at races all over the region.
  • Mike passed away in December of 2006. The OAC Tri is now named in his honour, The Mike Collingwood Memorial Triathlon.
Terry McKinty
  • Owner of first TBM and now Somersault Promotions, the company behind the majority of multi-sport events held in the region over the last 18 years.
John Balint
  • The founder and driving force behind Ottawa's Kids of Steel race series.
Graeme Beasley
  • A National Duathlon Champion and dominant local athlete, Somersault's July race is named in honour of Graeme to remember his spirit and sportsmanship.

Athletes

Our region has been home to many outstanding triathletes over the years. The following athletes have either competed as professionals or had long and successful careers as amateurs.

Bruce McNicoll
  • The first great local triathlete. Won the National Capital Triathlon in 1983, '85, '87, '89, and '91 as well as the OAC Tri a number of times as well.
Lynne Bermel
  • Ironman Triathlete in 1990's, two-time Ironman Champion and regularly placed in top five
Ian Fraser
  • A professional athlete for five years and Champion at Muskoka Long Course champ and Subaru Series
  • Member of the Canadian National Elite Triathlon team from 1994 to 1997.
  • Coach and owner of Cyclelogik
Rick Hellard
  • Raced on the French professional team based in Salon de Provence in 1989/90/91
  • Has been to the World Short Course Triathlon Championships as an Elite 3 times
  • Currently coach with Zone3Sports and still actively competing
Sharon Donnelly
  • Three-time National Champion
  • PanAm Gold Medalist
  • Member of the Canadian Olympic Team in Sydney 2000
Dave Harju
  • Two-time Ironman Wisconsin champion
  • Two-time Canadian Long Distance Champion
John Westal
  • Raced in France, late 80's/early 90's
Phil Hunter
  • Raced pro in early 90's
Jamie Stephenson
  • National Junior Champion in 1993
Mike Greenberg
  • National Junior Champion in 1994
Marc Pelletier
  • One of the first Ottawans to race the Hawaii Ironman.  He finished 68th in a field of 965 finishers in 1985.  His time was 10:31:24.