‘Splash and Dash’ around the corner

Joey Payeur

People wanting to get in touch with their inner amphibian side will get the chance early next month.
The inaugural “Splash and Dash Aquathlon” will take place Sept. 8 at 9 a.m. at Pither’s Point.
It will begin with a 750-metre swim along a triangle-shaped course that starts and ends at the government dock.
Competitors then will transition into their sneakers and head off on a five-km run along the waterfront to the Sorting Gap Marina and back.
Organizer Jeff Tilbury has helped set up running and cycling events in Fort Frances in the past, but said “Splash and Dash” is a much bigger undertaking.
“We needed to get approval from the town and look after insurance costs, and we also needed sponsorship,” he noted.
“We have got a very positive response from most of the businesses we’ve approached and we raised enough to cover the cost of insurance,” Tilbury said.
“The idea is eventually to get enough money to get the infrastructure things we need to hold a bigger event like a full triathlon so we can be self-sufficient in the future.”
Tilbury stressed “Splash and Dash” is not just for competitive athletes.
“If you’re just a swimmer or just a runner usually, you’ll want to come and try it out,” he urged.
“The swimming portion is only half in deep water and the other half is only chest-deep,” Tilbury added.
“It’s a relatively safe swim course and it’s going to be closely monitored,” he pledged.
This year’s event is the initial stage of a three-year plan by the organizing committee, which hopes to grow eventually into a full-fledged triathlon club.
“We’ll have the aquathlon this year, and the aquathlon and hopefully a kids’ event next year,” said Tilbury.
“In the third year, we’re aiming to have a full triathlon and maybe a kids’ triathlon, as well.
“Part of the reason we have to wait on having the full triathlon is [that] for the biking part of the triathlon, the best course is east of town,” he noted.
“But with the Causeway under construction until probably the end of October next year, we can’t go that way yet.”
People wanting to take part in “Splash and Dash” can do so as individuals, or come out as a pair and have one do the swim and the other the run.
Prizes will be awarded to the top three male and female individual finishers, as well as the top three teams.
Registration will run from 7:30-8:30 a.m. on the day of the race, with the cost set at $25 per person or $30 for a team of two.
In related news, Tilbury posted a strong performance at Saturday’s Backus Triathlon in International Falls, finishing third overall behind winner Ladd Ojala of Minneapolis, whose time of 1:02.20 also gave him the men’s age 40-49 division title.
Scott Barker of Devlin captured the men’s 20-29 age class in a time of 1:11.04 while Emo’s Gaydonna Baker was tops in the women’s 60-plus category (1:30.29).
A pair of Fort Frances athletes also claimed division titles.
Jennifer Hawley bested the field in the women’s 20-29 age category (1:07.53) while Megan Reid crossed the line first in the women’s 40-49 class (1:12.12).