The Smiths Fall Classic triathlon is the oldest triathlon in Canada to feature the standard swim/bike/run format. It started out as part of the Smiths Fall Settlers Days festival by Andrew Comstock and Bernie Merkley. At the time these two triathletes were just teenagers and wanted to create a fun event for kids to race and participate.
Comstock would organize the event for 11 years before it eventually landed in the hands of the late Terry McKinty. Shortly after Terry & Christine founded what would become Somersault Events. Building on the history of triathlon that began in Smiths Falls, Somersault has grown to 11 events, including 9 triathlon events ranging from Kingston to Ottawa along the Rideau Canal corridor.
Before Smiths Falls began triathlon was virtually non-existent in Canada. While multi sport events similar to triathlon had been organized since 1974 (beginning in San Diego), Smiths Falls was the first to establish on Canadian soil the now standard Swim/Bike/Run format first created for the Ironman Hawaii (now Kona) event. This set the stage for events like the National Capital, the Carleton Place Triathlon, the Canadian, the Early Bird, and other important races established in the early days of triathlon in Canada.
The ITU came into existence in 1989, nearly 10 years after the introduction of the Smiths Falls triathlon. The popularity of the sport grew throughout the 80s across the globe with many of triathlon’s classic distances established in this period.
By the 90s the sport had grown in popularity to warrant a national federation in Canada. When formalized elite competition began in the 1990s, Canada set the benchmark earning two silver medals, one gold, and one bronze at Elite World Championships between 1991-1995. Canadians earned a further six medals at the Pan Am games between 1995 and 1999. And finally in 2000 Simon Whitfield won a historic Gold medal in the first ever triathlon to be held at the Olympics.
One of the initial catalysts for triathlon’s popularity in this country was two 17 year olds in a small town outside of Ottawa who wanted to emulate the famous event held in Hawaii.
Smiths Falls was originally settled by Thomas Smyth, a loyalist who was granted 400 acres of land in the area after being ejected from the newly founded United States for supporting the crown in the revolutionary war of the mid 1700s.
Smiths Falls grew in prosperity when Colonel By constructed the Rideau Canal system, running through the heart of Smiths Falls. The town grew further when the Canadian Pacific railway chose the town to be part of its major lines.
Smiths Falls has some of the best roads for cycling in the Ottawa region. Motorists are generally friendly and give plenty of space. Most of the major roads have broad shoulders and smooth pavement and there is no shortage of quiet roads to ride.
Thanks to Cyclelogik for putting together these Smiths Falls riding routes for us!
This out & back takes you from Lower Reach Park (where the Smiths Falls Classic is held) to Murphy’s Point Provincial Park.
The jewel of this ride is the 11k stretch along Elm Grove Road leading to the provincial park. A very smooth rolling road with great shoulders and little traffic provide a great place for triathletes to test their legs. For a total of 22k of riding along this road, it’s the perfect sprint distance effort!
A long fast stretch along Kitley Line 3 is the ideal country road for riding. Very little traffic and lots of protection from the wind. This route takes you out and away from the bustle of town.
Golf Course Rd is a fun rolling road that runs straight out of Smiths Falls leading into a winding and rolling route along Bay Rd. These two roads when ridden together make for a fun and fast ride.
From here you jump across the Rideau Ferry bridge. Continue all the way to Perth for a longer ride with a lunch stop in town or cut up through Beveridge Locks and loop back to Smiths Falls.
Looking for places to run? Smiths Falls boasts some of the nicest pathways and trails in the area!
A section of the Cataraqui Trail features in the Sydenham triathlon but also runs through Smiths Falls. Catch the trail just off Lombard Street as you head south from Smiths Falls. It’s one of Smiths Falls most popular out & back trail run routes.
Lower Reach Park is the setting for The Smiths Falls Classic and features a short loop perfect for brick run if you happen to be doing some training in Smiths Falls!
Downtown Smiths Falls is something to see! There’s no shortage of shops and parking to check out. But if you’re in the mood for a run, the downtown area of Smiths Falls features broad sidewalks and a handful of challenging hills. Go for your run and finish up at one Smiths Falls many downtown cafes and bakeries!
Join us on June 22, 2019 at Lower Reach Park and take part in Canadian triathlon history as we celebrate the 40th edition of the Smiths Falls Classic! See you all there!
The Somersault Event Series is the pre-eminent event series in Eastern Canada consisting of triathlon, duathlon, and running events for all ages and abilities.