July 6, 2014 will be remembered as one of the most important dates in the history of the Sulong Triathlon Group (STG). The First Kildonan Park Fiesta Family Duathlon was held. It was the culmination of thousands of work-hours by Triathlon Manitoba, sponsors, volunteers, family and friends.
The idea came from STG Vice President Norman A. Garcia, who came to me and asked if the group would be up to the challenge. I was reluctant at first, seemingly overwhelmed by the prospect of organising an event of this magnitude. I can’t remember when I decided to accept the task but it is all water under the bridge now and here is how it came to fruition.
I started planning as early as the first half of 2013. Communications between Triathlon Manitoba, triathlon clubs, triathletes and potential sponsors took place regularly. The first step was to acquire the event sanctioning submission packages and go through more than 100 pages of rules, regulations and forms. Talking to Kevin Freedman, Executive Director of Triathlon Manitoba, fellow triathletes, friends and conducting regular meetings allowed our group to become aware of the coming assignments to be accomplished in order to run the event successfully.
The next year and a half was all about coordination. Logistics was the most arduous stage of the planning process. Once I was comfortable with the steps involved, I delegated duties between my skilful group members, which reduced my workload remarkably. Norman, Peter, Mervin, Dan, Jullie, Armand and Max were all so eager to lend their time and ideas about how to make the event a success. The most time consuming phases of the process were the identification of volunteers and getting the word out there.
Personally, I believe that this event wouldn’t have been as successful without the help of my wife and daughters. I talked to them about the race and got their feedback almost everyday. There was never a doubt in my mind that I would entrust the registration table duty to my wife, Joanna. Fifty per cent of how I think and talk is because of her. My daughters Jackie and Mandy gave me insights on our youth today – independent, engaged and energetic.
Race day was beautiful. The weather forecast called for a 25-degree Celsius temperature, sunny with 10 kph winds. I drove the truck and trailer to Kildonan Park at six in the morning with Mervin and his family not far behind. There were already some enthusiastic and selfless volunteers at the venue, waiting to do their duties. Unloading the bike racks and setting up the registration table was the first order of the day. Situating the sound system, race kits, food, prizes and medal boxes was next. Kevin, two volunteers and I went around the park to set up “Race in Progress” signs. After talking to the race directors everything was set.
Almost 100 children and their parents participated in the race. The youngest was three-year old Cliver Francisco. There were medals and leis given to everyone. Almost everyone received prizes from sponsors who set up their booths, athletic therapy tables and a drink van. We had a small barbecue for the volunteers and those who decided to hang around afterwards.
This event would not have been possible without the help of Triathlon Manitoba, sponsors, volunteers, family, friends and most importantly, the community. On behalf of the Sulong Triathlon Group, I thank you all.