The Year in the Life of a Professional Triathlon Coach
This holiday season I have had the tremendous pleasure to meet up with many old friends and acquaintances. Usually, the most common response I get from each of them is: "Kyle! It looks like you've been having lots of fun!" It's got me to reflect upon my career and the amazing joy and blessing it is to be a full-time professional triathlon coach.
The year in the life of a triathlon coach is exciting, and this past year has been no exception. Through the ups and downs, this past 12 months have been abounding in adventure. Here are my top 10 moments of 2017:
10. The Announcement of Super League Penticton
Watching Super League Hamilton Island was one of the most enjoyable spectacles of the professional triathlon world in 2017. The first installment of the event was fast-paced, exciting to watch, and something new. I was so caught up in the excitement of the event that I had to watch it a second time with a couple of my assistant coaches who missed the event live.
Needless to say, I was thrilled when the announcement was made that one of the qualifier events for the second season's championship race was going to be in Penticton. Even more excited when I heard that there was going to be an Age Group event, I registered right away.
Sports evolve and change. I believe that this new format of triathlon racing is intriguing to the masses and may become a big stepping stone to bigger and better spectator-friendly events in the sport.
9. Hiring my Youngest Brother as an Intern for the Summer
My youngest brother, Dixon, has always been my closest family member. Although we are nearly a decade apart in age we've gotten used to the constant slew of questions from random strangers asking if we are twins.
This past summer, my brother was looking for a fun and engaging job. I needed a bit of help with T1 Triathlon and the Kronos Triathlon Club taking care of social media and some administrative tasks. I hired him on as an intern and we spent the summer together travelling across the country from race to race, watching too much Youtube, and of course countless miles cycling.
It was truly a memorable summer, and one my baby brother and I won't soon forget.
8. Representing Canada on the World Stage
I've had the privilege of representing Canada at two Age Group World Championship Events prior to this year (London, England 2013 & Edmonton, Canada 2014). Being able to once again wear the red and white this year in Penticton was very special for me. After a very tough year with many life changes (birth of a baby girl) and some health problems, it was an amazing experience to fight my way to a top 10 finish at the ITU Multisport Aquathlon World Championships.
7. Getting to Watch the Amazing Stefan Daniel Take the World Title
I have had the privilege to get to know Stefan over the past couple years and have him join our swim group on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. He is an amazingly talented athlete and a huge motivation to our performance athletes in the Kronos Triathlon Club.
After watching Stefan get the silver medal at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, it was emotional to watch the joy on his face as he crossed the line a World Champion at the ITU World Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands this year. I was able to catch up with his family and Carolyn Murray, his coach out on the run course. It was an absolute brilliant run and an absolute treat to witness.
6. Getting Back to Racing with Two Fellow Coaches
I was SOOO against it at first, but Kronos Triathlon Club coaches, Lisa Mensink and Cody Rowan, somehow convinced me to do Calgary 70.3 with them as a 3-person team.
Cody was very persistent and even convinced Lisa and I to take on some of our young performance athletes at the Heart of the Rockies event in Invermere, BC, as a warm up.
Calgary 70.3 is a beautiful race and such an amazing event. Lisa was fortunate with the shortest leg, the swim. Cody took the most enjoyable leg, the bike, which left me with the half marathon run. I was a little nervous, to say the least. Despite my nerves, the run went well and I was able to surprise myself with a great run. Thanks to the brilliant talent of my teammates we managed to pull of the team event win.
5. Kronos Takeover at the Canada Summer Games
The 2017 edition of the Canada Summer Games went to the blistering hot (no, really - it was!) city of Winnipeg. In 2016, our performance squad traveled to the Peg to tackle the Games test event. The purpose was to prepare our athletes for the Canada Summer Games this summer.
Our Kronos performance athletes have always impressed me with their determination and pure grit. Through injuries and mishaps, three of our athletes qualified for the Canada Summer Games - and what an inspiring group of athletes: Chris Gregor, Emma Skaug, and Mary Hnatyshyn.
Despite crashes on the bike and intense heat, our athletes competed against the country's best and proved to everyone that they deserve to be listed among the best athletes in our great nation. These athletes are truly inspiring to me as a coach, and amaze me day in and day out. Mary raced to a 9th place finish after a crash on the bike resulting in TWO BROKEN ARMS! Absolutely inspiring!!
4. Meeting Three of the Top Triathletes in the World This Year
Ever since first seeing Kristian race in-person in Edmonton 2014, I have been unbelievably impressed by his raw talent and brilliant racing. I knew then that within the coming years he would be a force on the ITU circuit. Blummenfelt's year has been incredible, and has been really fun to watch him race.
After his incredible 2nd place finish at the ITU Grand Final in Rotterdam, I got the chance to meet him and get a selfie. I was unbelievably star-struck - such an inspiring athlete.
Oh, yes - I also got to meet Mario and Flora.
3. Watching my athletes on the podium
One of the greatest things about being a coach is getting to watch the improvements and performances of your athletes. I am so proud of each and every one of them.
This year was a fantastic one with many athletes making multiple podiums. Both Eric Dokter and Catherine Alcorn continued to impress me each and every race with their consistent racing and podiums this season. It was wonderful to see Yume Kobayashi with international success with a podium in Switzerland prior to World Championships in the Netherlands. Tyler Chuang responded to injury this season with a spirited performance at the National Championships ending with a podium finish.
2. ITU Grand Final in Rotterdam
The 2017 ITU Grand Final and Age Group World Championships were in Rotterdam, Netherlands this year, and T1 Triathlon had athletes in full force. The only thing better than getting to race is getting to travel and race. Rotterdam was a fantastic host to the end of an amazing triathlon season.
From watching my age groupers in action to experiencing the elite races, the week in Rotterdam was well worth the hassle of the return flight (ended up taking me two days to get home from the Netherlands - another story for another time).
1. Becoming a Triathlon Dad
From my perspective, being a father (or mother) is the absolute most rewarding thing in life. This spring, Shurri and I welcomed our baby Kyri into the world. Despite the challenges that came with her being 6 weeks premature and spending the first few weeks of her life in the NICU, we have been on cloud 9 since her arrival.
She is the newest unofficial member of the Kronos Triathlon Club and one of my biggest fans (I am definitely her biggest fan!). I just can't wait to get her into her first triathlon!