Weekend warriors who overdo it while pursuing their favourite sport have an understanding ally when they visit chiropractor Clay Ward.
If you’ve just done the Shoreline Orthodontics Tri-K, the Royal LePage Snow to Surf Relay Race or MOMAR, Ward can feel your pain — because he’s done all of those local events — and won all of them.
Ward, who has owned and operated Dynamic Spine, Sport, & Wellness health clinic in Courtenay since moving to the Comox Valley three-and-a-half years ago, has also enjoyed success on the world stage. He has qualified for the Xterra off-road triathlon world championships for the past three years, placing ninth (of 57) in his 30-34 age group this year.
“My goal is to win my age group,” he said of the gruelling trail run-mountain bike-swim event held each year in Hawaii.
Ward’s highlight so far was winning nationals this year in his age group and finishing second overall amateur at the International Triathlon Union off-road marathon in Penticton.
Born in Nelson, Ward grew up in southern Alberta. “I went to school in Portland and met my wife (Natalie) there. She’s from the Comox Valley, her family settled it in the late-1800s. She’s a Sawchuck but on her mom’s side originally a Piercy,” Ward said.
Ward’s interest in chiropractic began when he was a youngster. “My parents took me (to a chiropractor) when I played sports and I experienced huge benefit from that. It’s kind of directed my path.”
His introduction to triathlons was also a natural one.
“I … started biking when we lived in Portland just as a form of commuting. When we moved to Victoria I thought, ‘Why not play around with triathlons?’ Then a friend of mine, because I was training for these triathlons (while) mountain biking and trail running, said ‘Why don’t you give off-road triathlon a try?’
“I got into it in 2013 and it kind of naturally went well just because of my mountain biking and trail running background.”
That spring he went to the Xterra Victoria qualifying race and punched his ticket to the worlds. He has qualified for the worlds every year since and credits some of that to his community.
“The Valley is an unbelievable place to train. Recreationally, your swimming, biking and running just naturally delivers itself to competition,” he said.
“(We) built a little house out in Cumberland. Having a young family and a business you need to manage your time as precisely as possible. Being able to run and ride out your back door is invaluable.”
Ward also appreciates his many friends, colleagues and clients. “It’s a big enough community but still has that small town feel. “I think if you try your best and genuinely care about people and work hard, you’re rewarded for that.”