Three generations of Dickson family participate in Winterlude Triathlon
It was a family affair for Ellen, James and Liam Dickson at last month’s 29th annual Winterlude Triathlon.
Longtime triathlete and mother of three Ellen Dickson was participating for the sixth time at this unique Ottawa race, which combines an eight-kilometre skate on the Rideau Canal, a five-kilometre cross-country ski through the Dominion Arboretum and a five-kilometre run along the sides of the Canal. Ellen’s father, James, 83, was the event’s oldest competitor while son Liam, 14, was the youngest.
“My dad has done at least 25 Winterlude Triathlons,” said Ellen. “He has only missed two or three of them over the years. This was Liam’s first Winterlude Triathlon, as this was the first year he has been old enough to participate.”
Liam started doing summer triathlons in the Kids of Steel series when he was 10 or 11 years old, according to Ellen. He had always wanted to join his mom and grandfather in the Winterlude Triathlon.
“This was Liam’s first year on long (speedskate) blades. Due to the late start of the skating season, he had only been on them once or twice before the race, but he had a great time on race day.”
Ellen and Liam skated, skied and ran together throughout the race, while James went at his own pace.
Though there was a team relay, where each person could do one leg of the event, the Dicksons gave no thought to forming a relay team. “We all wanted to do the whole thing,” said Ellen. “Besides, my dad is too tough for the relay!”
Ellen’s husband Ian Taylor also took part in the race and he, Ellen and Liam all wore hockey jerseys during the race: Senators jerseys for Ian and Liam and a Canadiens jersey for Ellen. “We started wearing hockey jerseys during races a few years ago while at the MorinHeights Viking Loppet,” said Ellen. “We became known as the ‘hockey family.’ They’re not the most practical apparel for racing, but we’re just out there to have fun.”
Ellen and Liam are already making plans to participate in next year’s event, while James is taking it “year by year” according to Ellen. “My dad started running and did his first marathon shortly before he turned 50 and has been going strong every since. A lot of people see him as a hero in the Ottawa multi-sport community. All of the race announcers know him and make it a point to announce his name when he crosses the finish line. I think he’s both mortified and delighted by all the attention.”