Local competitive paddler Stu Robinson of Compass Adventures tests out some gear. The Vancouver Island PBR Grand Prix is an off-road triathlon with a paddle leg as the water discipline.

Paddle, bike, run: triathlon with a twist

Vancouver Island PBR Grand Prix replaces swimming with paddle leg

  • May. 11, 2016 11:00 a.m.

Terry Farrell

Record staff

Marc St. Jules’s latest venture is much more than simply an Island version of the triathlon.

It’s the next chapter in the evolution of multi-discipline racing.

St. Jules has created the Vancouver Island PBR Grand Prix – an off-road triathlon, with a paddle leg as the water discipline.

“A lot of triathletes don’t really like the swimming component – it keeps it a real short season,” said St. Jules. “You’re bound to outdoor triathlons when the weather is nice – June, July, August. With the swim being the hardest leg for a lot of people, you’re bound to going to the pool (to train) with chlorine and busy lanes and limited pool hours and schedules. So we have kind of taken that triathlon concept and traded the aqua leg with a paddleboard or a kayak.

“Paddleboarding has exploded. There are only three paddleboard races (in B.C.) and they sell out in a matter of hours. There’s a big following – it’s the fastest-growing watersport – but there’s not a whole lot of options for these recreational people to compete against like-minded (athletes).”

St. Jules is known around the world for his St. Jules Method Performance products and Stabilizer Training Methods that go with the products. Notables include Manchester United, Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Suns, Cincinnati Reds and the Seattle Seahawks, who purchased close to the entire St. Jules line a few years back.

Closer to home, St. Jules is the owner/operator of The CAVE Fitness in Comox.

“My background is definitely with the gyms, but really, I am all gymmed out, so I am branching out into this kind of stuff – the biking, the kayaking, and now the paddleboarding.”

He said the climate and surroundings of the Comox Valley is the main reason he moved here, and this new PBR Grand Prix is the perfect fit for Vancouver Island.

“Right now we are getting into biking and paddling season, but really, all four seasons are (conducive) to this kind of challenge. Even in the winter here, you can compete outdoors,” said St. Jules.

Races in the PBR format will all be 15 kilometres in total length, with distances for each discipline varying somewhat, depending on the location.

Races will have two discipline divisions – one for paddleboards, one for kayaks. The bike leg is a mountain bike race, off-road, through challenging terrain. The running will also be off-road, through trails.

There will also be gender divisions – solo male, solo female, and co-ed team. A co-ed team can consist of three people doing one leg apiece, or two people with one person doing two legs.

Races will cap out at 25 men, 25 women for each discipline division, and 25 co-ed teams for each discipline division.

The first race in the series is The Antler, in Gold River, May 21. It features a 2.5 km paddleboard or kayak, 7.5 km mountain bike ride and 5 km run.

“Gold River is the ultimate destination to start the Island Series and set the pace for this brand new, multi-sport race series,” said St. Jules. “I’ve lived in all the recreation hot spots in B.C. and from a logistics standpoint, you can’t compete with Gold River.

“There’s a reason Explore magazine named it a top 10 town in Canada for recreation and lifestyle. This is going to be the hottest place to be for May long weekend and such an incredible deal: $75 includes your race fees, t-shirt, camping and post race festivities with award winning band WiL (www.ibreakstrings.com).”

At present there are four tour stops planned for the 2016 season (Campbell River, Hornby Island, Shawnigan), but St. Jules is hopeful he can put together seven races for the inaugural season – one in each of his designated Island regions.

“We have slotted for seven, and then the Grand Prix finals,” said St. Jules. “The intention is to have one in each region and then take the top teams from each region to compete for the grand prize, which is $10,000 in cash and prizes.”

The series is attracting the attention of some of Canada’s top athletes, past and present, including Olympic gold medalist and paddleboard fanatic Simon Whitfield, three-time Olympian and world champion mountain biker Geoff Kabush, and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Colin Angus.

One of the biggest side benefits of these races will be the community causes the series supports. Each race will have a beneficiary cause, within the community of the event.

“Although the series is attracting elite competitors with its grand prize purse of over $10,000 in cash and prizes, the intention is to create awareness for environmental issues and raise money for the host community,” said St. Jules. “For instance, with The Antler (the inaugural race of the series, May 21 in Gold River), the proceeds are being kicked back out to Antler Lake, for signage, trail maintenance, a dock,” said St. Jules. “But we also want to make it affordable, so we are offering free camping up there for everyone who is entering the race. And they can stay all weekend if they want.”

The tour has a true Island “feel” to it, not only with the paddle discipline, but also with the community benefits.

“Paws for Nature, Racing for Change is our slogan, our header,” said St. Jules. “Eventually, if we have these things going every month in a community somewhere on the Island, with the Chamber of Commerce getting involved and a fundraising component, there will be all kinds of effects. If you are involved in the race, well guess what? You’re probably going to start riding your bike to work, or running. You’ll start paddling more. So it’s going to get people active, healthy, connecting with nature, less time in their vehicles. So it involves my passion for ‘green’ fitness solutions.”

Visit www.pawsfornature.com for more information.


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