Triathlon inclusive to all fitness levels

Athletics: Fourth annual Natural High event is multi-dimensional

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 02:43 pm

A competitor exists the water portion of the Natural High Triathlon last year at the Crystal Shores Lake in Okotoks. The 2014 event runs June 5.
A competitor exists the water portion of the Natural High Triathlon last year at the Crystal Shores Lake in Okotoks. The 2014 event runs June 5.
Remy Greer/OWW

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This one isn’t just for the professionals.

Fitness enthusiasts of all levels in the foothills have an opportunity to scratch one item off their bucket list right in their own backyard when the fourth annual Natural High Charity Triathlon sprints into Okotoks on July 5.

“You don’t have to be in tremendous shape to do the sprint-distance, let alone the tri-it distance, it’s a workable distance for everybody,” said event organizer Andrew Gustafson with Natural High. “We have some very good racers, but we don’t have a huge field of very good racers. This is definitely a fun race, a great one for people to come out and try because they’re not mixed in with the pros.

“We just love people coming and participating, supporting a charity, having fun doing it and accomplishing something that’s on a lot of people’s bucket lists.”

The triathlon is a sprint distance race starting and finishing at the Crystal Shores Beach House in Okotoks. The race features a 500m swim in the Crystal Shores Lake, followed by a 20km bike ride and closes with a 5km run to the finish line.

“Some people are worried about doing an open-water swim for safety. We have eight lifeguards above the water and two divers in the water underneath, it’s a very well managed, safe course,” Gustafson said.

“The bike goes around a big square and back to the Beach House and the run itself goes around the lake and back out at the fire hall and down Milligan (Drive) a little ways until the rec centre and then back.”

Experienced triathlete Shannon Winslade is using the Okotoks triathlon as a training race for big events such as the Olympic distance World Championships in Edmonton in September.

“It’s nice to come out and support the community,” said Winslade. “It’s great to race with friends, other people that don’t necessarily race triathlons, they might just do one a year and only do it because it’s in town here.

“The swim is set up as a short two-loop swim rather than a lot of triathlons who would have one loop for a 500m swim. They try and set up it so that it’s pretty friendly for everyone, even someone that has not done it before.”

For the less ardent athletes looking to dip their toes into the competitor waters of a triathlon, the event is offering the Shoppers Drug Mart Tri It Triathlon (250m swim, 10km bike ride and 2.5km run) distance for a second time.

“Often times people will try a pool-based triathlon as their first one. A real triathlon is done in open-water,” Gustafson said. “This is an opportunity for people to get that experience without a ton of distance.

“It certainly caters itself 100 per cent to the first-time triathlete.”

Furthermore, there are two and three person relay team options available for both the full triathlon and tri-it distance as well as the Scotiabank Kids Triathlon in three unique age groups (6-9, 10-13, 14-15) with varying levels of difficulty as well as the Okotoks Ford Kids Fun Run.

Once the race is finished, Mr. Mike’s serves up burgers to cap-off the festivities with a BBQ event.

All the proceeds from the event go to its regular charity KidSport Okotoks, after last year’s donations went towards flood relief in the wake of the pernicious flooding on June 20th.

“One-hundred per cent of the proceeds from people’s race entry fees go directly to KidSport,” Gustafson said.

“How much money we raise for KidSport is very dependent on how many participants we get. In the next couple of weeks we’re still taking late entries and we would love to see the number grow by a fair amount.

“Even if people aren’t triathletes or interested in doing the race they can still come out and their kids can do the race or they can just come and enjoy the culture and experience of a triathlon right here in Okotoks and make a donation.”

For those wanting a warm-up, event organizers are holding a trial run of the swimming portion of the triathlon on July 3 at Crystal Shores Lake.

To find out more about KidSport Okotoks go to

Registrations for the Natural High Triathlon will be taken until July 4 and can be completed by logging on to or by emailing


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