Despite being Canadian, my first sport was NOT hockey: it was cross country skiing, and I did it semi-competitively through high school. At about that time I continued my quest for athletic coolness by not playing football or basketball, but by getting into badminton. This competitive shuttlecock-bashing (fastest smash recorded is 493kph, btw) continued right through university. The highlight of that career was getting trounced by Olympian Mike Beres and almost scoring a point.
Towards the end of high school I also picked up a decent road bike and joined the local club. I never did any bike races but did ride extensively, culminating in a 2-day double-century ride in Ohio (that's 100 miles, so 160km on back-to-back days).
I started strength training while at Uni as it dovetailed nicely with my program of studies, which eventually wound up being Kinesiology. Upon graduation I found work in the fitness industry in Toronto, becoming certified as a personal trainer. Living and working in downtown Toronto, I discovered it was much safer and saner – not to mention more affordable and fun – to commute by inline skate rather than in a car. I also earned the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and to this day have a respectable pile of their Strength and Conditioning Research journals.
My last few years in the industry were spent teaching certification courses for Can Fit Pro – the largest fitness industry organisation in Canada – as well as a more thorough course at Ryerson University. My desire was to work with athletes, but that was a miniscule market in Canada, so when the Dot-Com insanity came I hopped on board and took a programming diploma and started working as a freelance code-monkey.
During this time I was introduced to the nascent sport of Adventure Racing and quickly went all in. I started actually running – which I had never done before - as well as mountain biking and paddling. After becoming the de facto navigator for my team, I started doing lots of orienteering to get better with my map and compass skills. My AR career continues to this day and has run the gamut from 4 hour team orienteering adventure runs to week long multisport expeditions in the Rocky Mountains.
It was about 10 years ago that I had my first encounter with the future OCR stars of today, as Eric Batty went flying past us on the biking leg of a multisport race. A few years later, as I had got myself into solo off-road multisport races I saw him again whooshing past on the mountain bike leg of a race put on by international AR star Bob Miller. This time he was racing with what appeared to be a blonde Corey Feldman, but turned out to be Ryan Atkins...
to be continued.