Next Sunday more than 60 swimmers, runners, and cyclists will participate and compete in the annual Body Quest Paradise Triathlon.
The event begins at 8 a.m. at Octagon Pond in Paradise, NL, and is already set to be a great time. This will be an amazing year in terms of athletic opportunity for those of the LBGTQ2A+ community, as it will be the first time ever that an Open (non-gender/non-age specific) category will be an option for competitors.
The Outport recently had an opportunity to sit down and speak with Paradise Triathlon board member and race coordinator, Christopher Lee, who says the creation of this new category will enable those who either do not identify with a specific gender, or those who simply want to compete without subjecting themselves to specific labels and enjoy the sport at its purest, to come out and participate.
“I want to be able to say that anybody, no matter their age, gender, sexual identity, competitive status, or basically any walk of life, can have the opportunity to try this sport and feel comfortable in their own skin and identities,” he said. “We are hearing more and more in the media about diversity, and we are hoping to bring that to our event on Sunday, in hopes that we can say that our organization is as inclusive as possible to all types of athletes.” He also stated that there will be two separate triathlons taking place at the same time, a Sprint triathlon and an Olympic distance.
The Sprint involves a 750m swim, 22km bike, and a 5km run. The Olympic distance event is 1500m swim, 44km bike, and a 10km run. They have also created for the first time an Athena and Clydesdale category for women over 165lbs and men over 220lbs. These weight classes are defined by Triathlon Canada and are purely optional, as no one is expected to attend a weigh-in to participate.
The Tri Group explained further that the event will be the first of its kind here on the island and that sport diversity is something that is starting to really emerge when you look at the events around the world. They went on to say that the category isn’t solely for LBGTQA2+ people, but for those who also want to have a more relaxed competitive event, to those who just want to come out and enjoy the sport to its fullest. They also wanted to stress that no matter which category the athlete chooses, no one is going to be required to provide proof of any kind, such as gender or weight. It’s not about division, it’s about opportunity.
Lee also noted that team options are also available for those who don’t want to run the full event solo. If a team wishes to sign up under any available category they can, except they are going to be swimming the Olympic Qualifying standard race. These teams can now be of mixed gender and age, of 2 or 3 participants, with the hopes that it will attract more people who would otherwise not have an opportunity to compete.
The races begin 8 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28, with a reception and awards ceremony to follow. Registration for this event closes at 6 p.m. Aug. 26. For more information please visit www.paradisetriathlon.com or like them on Facebook at Body Quest Paradise Triathlon.
Good luck to all athletes participating, from all of us here at The Outport.