Try the Island – Pt. 3

For part 2 of this story, click here.

Between the time when I was on Metro Morning, July 4th, and the time when (spoiler alert!) I would eventually get to the island, I had a bunch of other things to do. I was working with my girlfriend (Sabina)’s brother Benji at the time, painting houses, and also had a 3-week trip to Nova Scotia planned to visit my family and grandparents shoehorned in as well. So I knew that it was going to be tough.

But there’s a bit of a side-story that really opens up the perspective on how and why I ended up fulfilling my promise to Mr. Galloway. So let’s travel down that avenue!

I’ve been struggling on and off with concussion symptoms for the past few years, after suffering several concussions playing rec sports. It has unfortunately come to the point where I can no longer play hockey, or any other sport where there is a potential for even moderate head contact. After a long process of coming to grips with the fact that I could no longer get the competitive juices flowing out on the ice, thinking about the other athletic pursuits that I’ve previously enjoyed, I came around to triathlons as a new vehicle for achieving a feeling of self-motivation and success. I have to thank Brandon, a great guy from Edmonton that I met on our recent trip to Nepal (which I will certainly be writing about later on this month), for the inspiration here. Brandon is an impressive triathlete in his own right, and talking to him while hiking in the Himalaya about how he got involved in the sport inspired me to explore this new athletic challenge.

So, since returning from Nepal in June, I’d been looking for a triathlon to sign up for. And as it turned out, I had a family connection to a triathlon series that had a race on Toronto island in late August! Tim, my girlfriend Sabina’s mom’s boyfriend (how’s that for a mouthful, eh?) tipped me off to Multisport Canada, an organization that puts on a fantastic triathlon series every year. And he graciously arranged for me to be entered into the Toronto Island Sprint triathlon, a 750m swim / 20km bike / 5km run event on the morning of August 20th (thanks so much John!). My brother was also entered into the race, so it was a bonus to have a built-in training buddy who lived only 15 minutes away (and equidistant to our nearest city pool).

I trained over the month and a half leading up to the race, trying to balance my desire to do my best with the understanding that, as my first race, I should be sure to limit expectations and treat it as an exploratory attempt. As the race weekend approached, I found myself having to continually remind myself that I was doing this for fun, and that I shouldn’t worry about my result.

The race morning arrived, and I biked down to the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal for 6:15 am on the Sunday, to meet my brother Jeremy to pick up our race kits, get our race numbers sharpied onto our arms and legs, and get on the ferry over to the island to get set for the 8 am start time.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty of the race (though if you want to scrutineer my results, you can find them here), but I will say that it was an incredible event. I had some moments of panic out in the waves of the open water swim, but once I got over those nerves, it was pretty smooth sailing. I finished strong with the swim, and moved on to the bike and the run, the two disciplines that I knew I would excel in (since they were the two with which I had the most experience). A small hiccup with fueling – taking too much water and energy gel in close proximity to having to run – notwithstanding, it was a perfect day, and I crossed the finish line content with my performance and happy to have experienced the entirety of Toronto Island for the first time in such a dynamic and unorthodox way.


Photo by the wonderful, lovely, and doting Sabina Staempfli, who sacrificed her Sunday morning to encourage Jeremy and I through the bike and the run.

To conclude (and at this point I feel the need to point out that if it weren’t for my self-imposed 500 word guideline and 28 minute writing limit, I would say plenty more), it was a great day, and a confirmation that triathlon is a sport that I see a future in.

Not to mention a self-admonishment that I was a fool for waiting this long to visit Toronto Island.

This post is the third installment in my project, “500 in 28”. For the next 28 days, I’ll be spending 28 minutes a day writing 500 words. See here for my first post explaining the project.

1 comment
  1. Congrats, Geoff!! It is a good discipline – both writing regularly and the training for the triathlon! xo

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