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Cottage Racing
By:  Megan McTavish   (2004/08/26)


Every year most Ontario cottage associations have a regatta on the Civic Holiday weekend in August. I've been involved in the one at my cottage on Lake Cecebe for many years, starting with the mini swim races, egg toss and log roll as a kid and moving on to my two favourite events now, the canoe race and team triathlon. I always find it a fun way to get some hard training in while on holidays because the motivation to train comes very easily when its all everyone is talking about!

First, to set the scene, my cottage is on an island and is surrounded by cottages owned by my aunts and uncles. In total there are 9 McTavish cottages there. For one reason or another, a large portion of my relatives choose to be there on that particular weekend and the McTavish tally usually totals about 45. Karl and I start the day with the 8km canoe race and we're known as the only ones who canoe to the start rather than getting a tow! After a shaky start a few years ago (a number of swims taken by me and finally a total dump) we have finally started to win but its never easy! Its always fun to watch the younger kids come in, battling hard (this year there were two canoes basically stuck together for the last 500m and the kids were trying to paddle between the canoes....this ended up with paddles crashing and canoes banging against each other as they struggled to the end!)

When the canoe race is over, the sailboat race starts and the family gathers on the dock with the best viewpoint and together migrates around the island. During this time, the recruitement starts for the team triathlon. This is a race that consists of a 3km run, 2km canoe and 800m swim. It is done in teams of four and only one "ringer" (non lake resident) is allowed. Our "ringer" is always Karl. This year Karl and I joined up with my rower cousins Emily and Bryan who tried to transfer that talent to the canoe. Karl ran and I swam. Two other McTavish teams entered as well. We've been trying hard to win for the last three years (we always get beat in the swim) so thought that maybe this would be the year since I have been swimming a lot due to my knee injury.

Karl started us off on the right foot, way ahead of the rest of the field....he has the reputation of being a nut because he runs for an hour before the race.....what kind of crazy would do that??!?! He passed off to Emily and Bryan who paddled hard into the wind. I saw them coming around the corner still far in the lead so I got in the water, ready to swim. Soon we realized they were heading a bit off course and everyone on the dock tried to tell them which way to go....when they realized what was going on they quickly tried to change direction but instead ended up in the water. Meanwhile, the other teams were quickly approaching as they swam to shore with the canoe and tried to right it. Finally I got to start swimming but Bryan had abandoned Emily in order to get their life jackets, paddles etc, which were floating away, and she couldn't control the boat (having a canoe follow each swimmer was a race requirement). Luckily my sister came to the rescue and we were on our way. By the time we got things sorted out, we had been passed by the majority of the canoes. My adreneline was high and I swam as hard as I could though a bit off course thanks to some goggle fogging. Finally we got to the finishing dock and touched in 2nd place. I guess that means we have to try again next year!

The entire family was there, either in the race themselves or in a boat watching. It is great fun and its always good to see people get out and race even if they aren't athletes. One year my uncle who had just turned 70 ran and raced against an 8 year old to the finish...this is the type of thing you see each year.

I'm sure I'll go back next year for a great weekend of fun training and exciting, if not a bit chaotic, racing.


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