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Former Virden resident takes on Triathlon Worlds

Terri Wolfe's first time international level in triathlon.

Competing for her country at the 2022 World Triathlon Sprint and Relay Championships was a bit surreal for former Virden resident Terri Wolfe.

It was the first time that the daughter of Dave and Martha Wolfe, who now reside in Belmont, had the opportunity to compete at the international level in triathlon. She was able to do so on home soil – as the championships were held in Montreal, June 24-26.

“I actually went out to Montreal last summer and raced at the same venue, so sometimes it felt like just another race as it was already familiar,” said Wolfe, who is a Winnipeg educator. “But then I looked at my uniform and realized, no, out here I'm Canada! I was part of an amazing team of athletes from across the country that were representing Canada to the world, and that's something you can't really put into words. I was part of something greater than just me.”

She said it was amazing hearing cheers of “Go Canada” as she went by on the course.

“I think one of the highlights for me was coming down the chute to the finish line,” Wolfe said. “A fan was holding out one of those miniature Canada flags so I could carry it across the line. That was a really special moment for me.”

While she had fun competing, Wolfe said that the people – hands down – were what she enjoyed most about the event.

“From people I knew from back here in Manitoba, to people I knew from far away but had never met, to people I met competing last year and got to see again, to people I didn't know at all. While we were all there to compete against each other, we were also all there to support each other,” she said. “I didn't personally come across any negativity. It was just a huge worldwide family of people brought together by a sport we love.”

As it was her first time on the world stage, Wolfe went into the championships with no expectations regarding her performance. The event consisted of a 750-metre swim, 19.2 kilometre bike ride, and a five-kilometre run. She completed the event in 1:23:43. That placed her 37th in the female 45-49 age group competition.

“I'm not disappointed, but I do hope to someday have the chance to improve on that,” Wolfe said.

She faced some challenges along the way. For example, Wolfe had recently recovered from illness before the event. It was the first triathlon she had competed in where drafting in cycling was legal.  Wolfe rode on a heavier, borrowed bike because hers could not be used in a draft legal race. The story of how Wolfe got her bike underscores her statement about the great people involved in the sport.

“I borrowed a bike from a friend from Ottawa, whom I still have never met in person, that was transported to Montreal by a friend from Toronto that I met last year at the Montreal race. Did I mention how amazing the people were?”

In the days leading up to the race, the swim portion was up in the air. The high amount of rain forced the city to open the sewers into the river to reduce flooding. This meant the E. coli levels had to be monitored. They were low enough for the swim portion to take place.

In the cycling leg, Wolfe was able to take advantage of some drafting but not as much as she would like.

“I was with a pack early on, but purposely dropped off as I knew that the rules state that you can't draft off of athletes on a different lap, and when I saw their age groups, I knew that they were already on lap two, while I had just started,” she said. “Then later on, my stomach was turning, and I was very grateful when a group of Americans passed me as I was able to hop in with the group, increasing my speed and reducing my effort.”

The run course was a flat, out and back layout. Wolfe had to deal with heat and an unhappy stomach.

She was pleased to be able to participate. Wolfe had tried to qualify in 2018 but missed by one spot.

“Even though I had placed third overall in the women, I was second in my age category, and only the top spot went. As it turns out, the woman who beat me wasn't at worlds, so the spot would have rolled down to me, except that's not how it was done.

“Because of that, I travelled to Montreal last summer in hopes of snagging a spot, but since very few races were being held, Triathlon Canada decided to cancel all qualifications last year and rather open any remaining team spots to a first come first served lotto. When they made that announcement, I decided that if I placed in the top three in my age category in Montreal (which would have granted me a spot on Team Canada), I would throw my name in. I placed second in my age group out there, so when spots were opened, I tried and succeeded in getting one! It was my first time qualifying, but certainly hope it won't be my last!”

In early July, Wolfe won her age group at the Peace Garden Triathlon. That earned her a qualifying spot for the next Worlds, but, as the event will be held in Germany, Wolfe declined due to the cost.

Triathlon is one of the multi-talented Wolfe’s passions. She played tackle football for the Manitoba Fearless before retiring due to an injury. This past season she helped coach the squad’s defensive backs. The Fearless made it to the Western Women’s Canadian Football League finals for the first time. Wolfe intends to continue coaching as she has found it incredibly rewarding. At the team’s home opener, she was able to put one of her other talents on display – singing the national anthem.