It was a duel to the final at this year’s Tin Man Triathlon as the Pacific Christian School tradition continued.
As the photo shows, it was Grade 12 student Jordan MacDougal eking out a victory at the finish line. MacDougal, who was the narrow favourite to win over Grade 12 classmate Sheldon Schaafsma, spent the entire race at the head of the pack with Schaafsma.
John Stewart’s popular triathlon class has run over a decade and this was as close a finish as Stewart’s seen. The race used to start at Saanich Commonwealth Place, where the students train throughout the year, but moved a few years ago. The 300-metre swim is now an open-water course at Thetis Lake. Students transition onto their bikes and ride the Galloping Goose and then Lochside Trail to Saanich Road, where they dismount at the second transition, and run back to the school. Other students and teachers await the athletes with the school mascot and a barbecue.
“Right from the bike [MacDougal and Schaafsma] were together,” Stewart said. “They were paced by PCS teacher and Ironman finisher Ralph van Bruggen, they hit the same lights [time spent at intersections is calculated and deducted from the racer’s overall time], and they came up the hill together on the final run.”
The trick on the final stretch of running is that the athletes have to pass through a fence gate wide enough only for one. Getting through first gave Schaafsma a short lead to the finish, but MacDougal made up the gap, barely.
The triathlon also marked the beginning of the Anita Truter era, as the Grade 8 was the top female finisher and fifth overall. Yes, fifth overall, against young men up to five years older.
However, the biggest winner on the day was Hannah Yin. At the start of the year, the youngster could barely swim.
“Until then, [Yin] really had only put her face in the water to wash it,” said Stewart, adding Yin was little better on a bike. “What [Yin] went through to finish this race was incredible. Everyone was behind her, and was inspired.”