Colert Beach was buzzing bright and early Saturday morning as the annual Morden Triathlon took place at Lake Minnewasta. Over 150 athletes from across Canada and a number of northern United States participated in the various triathlon and duathlon events. A triathlon is the combination of a swim, bicycle and running distance, while a duathlon will generally offer the non-swimmer a run, bike, run alternative.


Joshua Malenchak of Morden finished first in the Foilman

Joshua Malenchak has been training since last fall to compete for the first time in front of his hometown crowd. The Morden native took first place in the Foilman, the competition's second longest distance. He handedly completed the 950 metre swim, 45 kilometre bike ride and 10.5 km run.


"I got my sleep last night and everything. I put myself into having a good race, and it definitely turned out to be a good race," explained Malenchak who had tested the waters of the Riding Mountain triathlon in the past, but set the Morden event as his first serious competition. He talked about the feeling of winning in front of the home crowd, "It feels really good because these are people that I've spent years around. Just excited and happy with everybody who supported me. My parents, I want to say thanks to them because they make this kind of thing happen for me."


Malenchak noted that overall he had a strong race but figured the bike portion was where he had his best showing, giving him the necessary lead needed to win the event.


"I've tried to train in different conditions, whether it's storming or nice, or windy. Definitely having calm water in lake was nice, and then not having any real wind on the bike.  Those are the things that make a nice little difference so that you are not sucking in water with whitecaps, or you're not getting blasted by the wind.  Those definitely made for a smooth ride, so it was nice."


The day was definitely a favourable one for competitors, with cooler temperatures in the morning and a few gentle showers while many competitors were out on the run course.


Les Friesen: 2016 winner of the half Ironman distanceSteinbach's Les Friesen managed to beat the showers as he finished first in Manitoba's only half-iron man distance. A 1.9 km swim followed by a 90 km bike ride, finished off with a half-marathon 21 km run. Why does he compete in these races?


"I guess a lot of us tri-athlethes are all a bit crazy. Just seeing how far you can push your body. So yeah, we're crazy." Friesen managed a personal best 4 hours 18 minutes on the course and is setting his sights on making the Ironman World Championship happening in Kona Hawaii this October.


While Friesen comes with 10 years of experience on the Ironman track, Morden athlete Kelby Loeppky tackled the massive distance for the first time after introducing herself to the sport just one year ago.


"It feels pretty great. I'm pretty to excited to have finished. I started training with Third Wave Tri Club last summer and really got into triathlon. So I did the sprint (the shortest distance available at the Morden Triathlon). After that I decided to train for the half Ironman. So I started doing that in August of last year." 


When asked her thoughts as she crossed the finish line of her first Half Ironman, " Pretty exciting. I've been waiting for this moment for a while, envisioning it."


Sunday was also a big day of competition featuring the Kids of Steel Triathlon with  around 80 youth competing in various distances based on their age. Race Director for both events, Colin Sibilleau, noted that triathalon race numbers around the province are down this year due to the wet weather, but Morden's numbers held steady this year.


"The fact that we're not losing (people) means that we have a very solid support base."