With numbered bibs pinned to their toques and parkas, competitors warm up at the starting line of the Carleton Cup before setting off on their skates down the Rideau Canal, competing fiercely to win what has been dubbed “The Ultimate Canadian Triathlon”.
Now in its 26th year, the Carleton Cup, stays true to its “skate, run, drink” motto, consisting of a 7.8 km skate on the canal, quick sprint through the streets of downtown, and victory pints of Labatt 50 at the Auld Dubliner Pub in the Market.
Organized in 1989 by students at Carleton University as a way to make frigid Ottawa winters more enjoyable, the Cup has grown to become a one-of-a-kind event that raises money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF).
This year the Cup raised over $2,500 for the CFF Ottawa Chapter, but Scott Rondeau, director of the Cup, believes they can do better.
“We had 67 people compete this year,” he said. “If everyone raised $100 we would have raised 6,700 for cystic fibrosis in Ottawa.”
First year competitor and top fundraiser Katie Roberts said she raised over $250 for the CFF.
“I know a lot of people with cystic fibrosis. I have a soft spot for the foundation,” said Roberts. “My goal was to raise as much money as I could and I’ll definitely be back next year.”
As competitors dash down the canal, it is easy to pick out who will win the coveted skate topped Carleton Cup, but that’s not the only award competitors are vying for.
Many hope to earn “pioneer” status, a title given only to those who complete the race in a unique and unusual fashion.
Some of the Carleton Cup favorites include two contestants portaging a canoe down the canal in 1995, and a contestant who completed the race in a bikini in 2003.
The Auld Dubliner erupted in cheers as Rondeau announced the top place finisher.
“For his third win over all, second consecutive year, back-to-back baby, Scotty MacEntire, great job buddy,” said Rondeau.
MacEntire completed the race in less than 20 minutes.
For some, the cup has become a celebration of what it means to be a bona fide Canadian in the face of winter.
“There’s a real feeling of camaraderie,” says Jonathan Knowles, co-founder of the Cup. “A realization that winter is easier to take if you embrace it instead of hibernating and pushing it away.”