Triathlon strengthens bond between Bruce Hamlyn and his daughter Allison

Chris Quigley cquigley@thewesternstar.com
Published on August 1, 2014
Running on the trail system on Thursday are Bruce Hamlyn and his daughter Allison. Both of them are preparing to take part in the Marble RV Corner Brook Triathlon event this Sunday.
— Star photo by Geraldine Brophy

Of all the rewards Bruce Hamlyn has received from the sport of triathlon, passing on his passion for the race to his daughter Allison may be the most gratifying for him.

“Nothing could be more important than bringing it to my own daughter,” said Hamlyn. “Encouraging other people to have a better lifestyle and take all the good things that triathlon does give, that’s what it’s all about for me at this stage of my life.”

This year’s Marble RV Corner Brook Triathlon begins 9 a.m. Sunday with the full distance race of 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-km bike ride and 10-km run. The short course triathlon or sprint (500-metre swim, 20-km bike, 6-km run) follows, as does the full duathlon and short course duathlons, which both eliminate the swim portion and add an extra run.

The 56-year-old Hamlyn has been involved in every Corner Brook triathlon since it began in 1982. He won the inaugural race and has been a mainstay ever since, also competing in triathlons around the province and Atlantic Canada.

“Really, it’s the fitness aspect at this point in my life,” he said of what keeps him going. “It used to be the competitive side of things that mattered to me, but now it’s just a matter of fitness.”

He said he’ll continue to race as long as he can — “It’s always going to be another four or five years,” he said. — and Allison’s ever-increasing interest keeps pushing him.

“She keeps me motivated,” he said. “Keeps me moving.”

Allison began participating in the Kids of Steel race when she was three years old and continued with it every year until she decided to enter her first sprint race when she was 16.

The now-21-year-old will be competing in her sixth sprint on Sunday, though she was hoping this would finally be the year she’d tackle the full distance course. Unfortunately, necessary distractions like university got in the way of proper training for such an ordeal.

“I was really planning on it,” she said. “So hopefully I’ll do it next year.”

The triathlon has been a huge part of her life, with some of her earliest memories involving her dad reaching out for her and her older brother Brett from the crowd as he neared the end of the race.

“I know there was a picture in the newspaper ... I must’ve been probably six or so,” he said. “We’d finish the race with him, hold hands and cross the finish line. That always really stood out to me.”

Both Hamlyns agree the running portion of the race is their least favourite — each described it in separate interviews as “a struggle.”

“We’ve got that in common,” Allison said with a laugh.

Their love of the sport as a whole is another thing they have in common. It’s something that’s strengthened the bond between father and daughter.

Whether they’re going for swims together in the evening, watching a triathlon on TV or simply discussing the latest on Canadian triathletes Simon Whitfield or Kirsten Sweetland, it’s something they both enjoy.

“It’s always a nice conversation we can connect on together,” Allison said.