After an absence of almost 5 years, Triathlon Canada’s National Championships return to British Columbia!  On Saturday, September 10th, the Dodge City X Triathlon will host the first ever National Cross Championships. Already renowned for its outstanding mountain bike and trail running culture, the Town of Cumberland will play host to the inaugural event in 2022 and 2023.  Today, we sit down with Race Director Ryan Parton to learn more about the event, and the town it’s hosted in.

Triathlon BC (TriBC): After hosting a successful Provincial Championships in 2019, the Dodge City X Triathlon was one of the few events that made a come back in 2021. Now in 2022, we’re thrilled to see the event take on the National Championship title, the first Cross Triathlon Championships in Triathlon Canada’s history.  Will the race course be the same as past years, or will athletes be facing a new system of trails?

Ryan Parton (RP): After two years of running our event we changed the route for our 2021 race and will use that same course in 2022. It’s a fantastic course with a good long climb, followed by a short technical section and then a long, flowy descent that’s absolutely brilliant. We were told by an XTERRA pro athlete last year that it’s their favourite course they’ve ever seen.

TriBC: The Dodge City X Triathlon is dubbed to be ‘Canada’s Toughest Off-Road Triathlon.’ For the uninitiated, how would you describe Cross Triathlon, and, perhaps more importantly, how would you summarize the Cumberland course?  Is it technically demanding?

RP: Cross triathlon is so much more than just taking traditional triathlon off-road. I find there’s much more sense of camaraderie between the athletes and it’s a much more laid-back vibe. Après race is my favourite time, just hanging out at race central, listening to music and chatting with new friends. As for the course itself, there are definitely some technically demanding sections, but there’s also lots of no -technical climbing that will reward fitness and some equally long flowy descents. 

TriBC: The course features a lung busting 1,000m elevation gain, how does this break down over the bike and run?

RP: This one’s a bit tougher for me to answer in Mexico, so I’m going to use my one free “pass” on this one if that’s ok.

TriBC: Can you share any tips or advice for racers that have never ridden the Cumberland trail system? Are there any special features they should be incorporating into their training?

RP: Cumberland is home to more than 170 trails cutting through more than 100 kilometres of temperate rainforest, rock bluffs and surprisingly scenic clearcuts. When planning our route, we tried to showcase some of the best of this world-class network while avoiding any overtly dangerous or challenging features. Other than a good fitness base, you’ll want to practice maintaining speed and picking lines through root gardens, which may be greasy in September, and you’ll do well to get comfortable going fast downhill on blue singletrack. As long as you’re an intermediate level rider you’re going to love this course!

TriBC: What’s the best thing about the Dodge City X Triathlon?

RP: The opportunity to discover Cumberland if you’ve never been. It’s a super-chill community full of people who love to play in nature. Otherwise it’s just the fun, super-chill vibe at Race Central after the race.

TriBC: Now a little about you, if you don’t mind.  What brought on the idea of Cross Triathlon?

RP: Back in 2017, I learned that a local Triathlon BC board member was looking for someone to put on a cross Tri in Cumberland. I knew nothing about putting on a race, but I knew lots of people in the local triathlon, trail running and mountain biking communities so I told her I’d try to find someone to take it on. The more I thought about the race though, the more fun it seemed, and so eventually I stopped looking and decided to race direct it myself. I was surrounded by so many enthusiastic people who supported me, and together we put on Cumberland’s first Dodge City X in 2018.  

TriBC: What’s the best and worst part of Race Directing?

RP: The worst part is the night before the race when you’re exhausted from setting everything up but you can’t sleep because you’re thinking about all the little things you think you forgot. The best moment is right after I blast the horn to start the final swim leg. That’s it — the race is on and all of our stellar volunteers are doing their things to make this whole crazy thing a reality. It’s so amazing to watch everyone enjoy the fruits of all your labour.

TriBC: When you’re not acting as a Race Director, what are you most likely doing?

RP: My day job is Recreation and Culture supervisor for the Village of Cumberland, and most of my evenings are spent at home with my wife and two boys. Most weekends you’ll find me in the trails on my bike, and I still try to get out for the odd run here and there too. 

TriBC: The Village of Cumberland, about 100km north of Nanaimo, is quickly becoming a destination for the outdoor enthusiast, are there any must do attractions in the area?

RP: Other than the world-class mountain biking and trail running, Cumberland is also just  a really cool place to hang out. You won’t find any chain stores, but there are lots of cool local shops, many featuring art and other items from local artisans. And there’s no shortage of places to eat, from tacos and burritos to fresh pizzas, gourmet burgers and pub fare. Before you hit the trails on your own, ask the guys at Dodge City Cycles for some of their favourite loops — and don’t be afraid to leave them a “tip” from the cold beer store down the street!

Having been on the ground at the 2019 Dodge City X Provincial Cross Triathlon Championships, we can attest to the cool, chill vibes the Town of Cumberland exudes in spades, and the outdoorsy athletes that compete in Cross Triathlon. The coffee shops and local food fair is enough of an excuse to book your visit. Add to that, the amazing trail network, the lake swim AND the fact that the Dodge City X Triathlon has been awarded the National Cross Triathlon Championships – and with it, World Championship qualifying spots(!) – and all of a sudden, that dreamy idea of racing is now at the top of the bucket list!

Check out the Dodge City X Triathlon and make sure you register early. This event may just sell out!