Tucked in the valley near Kimberley and Cranbrook, the Wasa Triathlon has been going on for 30 years – and consistently racing since the beginning of the event shines a relay team made up of three friends with the average age of 80 yrs old! With a team name that started 47 years ago, these three have been through an incredible amount of events and competitions together. We caught up with Bill, Bruce and Fred to get a race recap of their day at Wasa, and to share a bit of their amazing sport history.
TEAM FUNGUS FROM CRANBROOK, B.C.
a short history by Bruce Williams – Capt FUNGUS
In 1976 I was checking in my Relay Team for the Kimberley, B.C. to Cranbrook, B.C. 20 mile relay. The recorder asked me what the name of our team was and I asked – “Do we have to have a name “? The answer was YES it’s mandatory so I answered – for some unknown reason – just call us TEAM FUNGUS. We’ve gone by that name ever since. FOR 47 YEARS NOW ! Fred Clark, Gary Billmark and I have been the team ever since with replacements and additions as the years went by.
We have entered every relay competition, Triathlons and Individual competitions ever since including Ride and Tie (two runners and one horse).
We did the Wasa Triathlon 30 times – Relays in Washington – and the Calgary Marathon – and in the Ride and Tie we were Canadian and Idaho Champions.
Many great stories accompany the 47 years of participation and competition – mostly humorous – with a super bunch of men and women – a wonderful achievement!
This year our total age for the 3 of us in the Wasa Triathlon was 240 years !! We hope it won’t be the end.
A pictures from the past…
Team Fungus Team leader, Bruce Williams, has climbed Fisher not once, not 20 times but 50 times – yes 50 times – no other comment will I make. Bruce calls Fred ‘n I his two sherpas…hmmmm. but with Bruce being leader of such a group we go along with him as we don’t want to get cut from the team.
Perry Creek Ride n Tie – started by Fred in our younger years. Team consists of one horse and two runners.
Fred, Bruce, Gary n our trusty mounts…Fred’s horse being Alberto, an Arabian and very fast. Our horse was Rajean, a pregnant sway back mare….loaned to us by Fred…possibly so Bruce and I wouldn’t beat him n his partner John, also a member of team Fungus…. in the Perry Creek Ride n Tie event…lol’s…… As we required more time in the vet check for Rajean’s heart rate n respiration to drop before we were allowed to continue on….There are so many stories about Ride n Tie….the training, the actual events…..and as Bruce said mostly humorous ….but also some serious but not fatal..right Bruce??? lol’s
a short recap by Gary Billmark
Wasa Triathlon – 30th anniversary, Sunday June 11th, 2023
So…Team Fungus entered the standard or Olympic distance Team Relay – with Team members being none tother then Captain Fungus Bruce Williams – 10 km road runner specialist, Fred Clark – 40 km cyclist, and Gary Billmark – 1.5 km swimmer.
First things first, pre-race swim warm up….to make sure all is a go…Yup, I’m ready…water was warm, actually too warm. Rae my partner taking pictures…. trying to get that perfect shot of me as I complete the swim…unfortunately she could not figure out which swimmer was moi.
But also sadly I had a breathing issue n decided to do only one of the two required laps. Hell I’m coming up 81 in a week or so I figure at my age 750 m should be ok…Not so…read on.
Fred heads out on the bike, and Bruce is showing us how he does push ups in a chair….not bad for a young 82 old. He also is explaining how we should cheer him on as he crosses the finish line.
Bruce …wake up, u have to run soon, when rocket man Fred comes into transition…he is presently on the bike course….he is also known as The Thetis Island flash….personal trainer is Dave Steen….Need I say more.
Bruce on his way to transition….note the jump in his step..well maybe not much of a jump.
Of course we must first check in with Bill Dove…. Transition supervisor…Bill u look very official or should I say a man of authority…Yes Bruce…Fred will be here soon, be ready!
Did u know the following….
Steve King has been a race/event announcer and event emcee/commentator for over 35 years as a result of being a race director, reporter, statistician and still a very active competitor who was inducted into the BC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012. A TV COMMENTATOR for CBC, TSN, CTV, ESPN, Rogers Sportsnet, Shaw Cable…
Steve has covered the following over the years…AS A ON-SITE PLAY-BY-PLAY RACE ANNOUNCER:
World Triathlon Championships from 1988-1994, Ironman Canada, Nice Triathlon, B.C Winter and Summer Games, Vancouver International Triathlon, Vancouver Marathon, Victoria International Triathlon, St. Croix Triathlon, Texas Hill Country Triathlon, Kananaskis Relay, National 10km road race Championships, Canadian National Triathlon Championships, Vancouver Sun Run, Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Vancouver Int. Half Iron Triathlon. As well as ….. yes the Wasa Triathlon…..How fortunate we r to have Steve n Jean come to Wasa for so many years…thanks Steve, Jean
Back to the race…
Yes Bruce ….Fred is coming….be ready!!!!!
There he is… running to rack his bike….or is he limping??? Bruce get the timing chip/strap off of Fred’s ankle….faster. Come on Bruce…hurry up the tri will be over in a few hours…as Fred looks up n sings….
“Um diddle diddle diddle, um diddle ay Um diddle diddle diddle, um diddle ay”
Fred quit that damn singing……
Help me Fred….I can’t bend down far enough to put the strap on…..
Finally….go Bruce go….see you at the finish line….Faster…..you are looking great….no where near age 82 for sure…..
Fred…have a cool Pepsi. What happened…u say u actually fell off your bike???? No way… Ok….Let’s get our former ER nurse to check u out….What do u think Louise??? Leg…knee, elbow, head……hmmm… To the lake Fred, wash all the areas that u have road rash on. Looking better already……Well maybe not….
Must be ok…still has the Fred Clark smile on his face…..Back to the chairs…to wait for Bruce…..
There he is….just a smoking it …..go Bruce go…..What an athlete….our team leader n runner…..
Fred, all smiles with Bill… as we walk to the finish line to greet “the man”…..
Team time 3:37:11…..
What a great time for Team Fungus …combined age of 240 years….Wow
Then the thud… u r disqualified.
Really…what…just because I, the swimmer decided to do only one loop in the swim (instead of two)….oh well Team Fungus knew I screwed up… At least we still participated…
But we also remembered that something similar had happened once before to one of us…no names mentioned, when one of us thought he had won a 10 km road race ….only to learn that he had missed a section of the race….
But hey…we r Team Fungus n can live with these setbacks……
A great picture of us at the finish line…. each wearing original finisher shirts from the first three Wasa triathlons…. the original T shirts with the Original Team fungus… older, not old, guys now…
The years being ’93, ’94, ’95
Team Fungus would like to thank Barb, Just Liquid, all the volunteers, sponsors as well as Steve and Jean for doing such great work at the finish, Tri B.C.…well done as usual. Another enjoyable day making the Wasa triathlon such a successful event..
Finally to finish off our day …..Our celebration…after at Bruce n Denny’s. With Rae and Pat..a friend of Bruce n Denny’s from years ago when they all lived in Germany.
Bruce holding the special cake … with the words….
Three true friends enjoying a special day together…. A day to remember
Thanks Bruce, Denny