Bruce Stroud, Tom Bamford, and Sandra Boot are collaborating to put on Heart of the Rockies this year. Mr. Bamford bought the event last February. Submitted photo

Happy hearts with Heart of Rockies transition

After 36 years, a new race director will be at the helm this year

After 36 years, a new race director will be at the helm of the Heart of the Rockies Triathlon this year.

Invermere residents Bruce Stroud and Sandra Boot started the local race in 1983 and have managed it ever since. Now, says Mr. Stroud, it is time to let someone else take over the mammoth event that sees more than 350 athletes come to Invermere every July to participate in the run/bike/swim event.

Triathlon enthusiast Tom Bamford is the new race director.

“Tom brings a whole new dynamic to the event as a new personality with great ideas, enthusiasm, and has a long history with the Invermere event,” comments Mr. Stroud. “He’s a veteran of over 100 triathlons. He’s been a race director at other events. And of course, he has a feel for the Valley.”

Mr. Bamford’s history with the Heart of the Rockies is as old as the race itself. At 12 years old, he recalls standing on the sidelines near his family’s cabin in the Valley, watching the first Heart of the Rockies triathlon unfold.

“It looked so cool to me. I decided I’d try to be a triathlete,” he recalls.

He started training, and competed in his first Heart of the Rockies triathlon in 1989. He was hooked, completing more than 100 triathlons since then, including many years at Heart of the Rockies, as well as World Championships and the pinnacle of triathlon traditions: the Ironman. Mr. Bamford has traveled the world for triathlons, but says he has always loved the race that brings him back to where it all began.

When he heard the triathlon was seeking a new leader, Mr. Bamford knew he could not let the race that ignited his passion for triathlons die. The Calgary resident bought Heart of the Rockies from Mr. Stroud and Ms. Boot last February, and has been busy planning for the 2018 race since.

The Heart of the Rockies is branching into new territory this year, adding four new limbs to the expanding Heart of the Rockies tree: Gran Fondo Cycle (60 km loop or 100 km), aquabike (swim/bike), duathlon (run/bike/run) and 5km and 10 km runs. These races add to the roots of the Heart of the Rockies: the long-running individual triathlon, team triathlon, and junior team triathlon. There is also a Young Hearts triathlon, and an open water swim event.

“The trend now is a multi-sport festival,” suggests Mr. Bamford. “We want this to go on for another 30 plus years. To do that, we need to offer more to more people … The effort is to not only bring new options for everyone, but a world-class race experience even though it’s in the Valley, which is a very comfortable, laid-back setting.”

So, what draws racers to the Heart of the Rockies each year?

“I truly think it’s the setting, and the logistics of how it works. You’re at the beach; the weather is always warm, even when it’s raining. You have the mountains, and the curvy course is very scenic,” lists Mr. Bamford. And, he adds, it is just plain fun: “This is recess for grownups. We have a life full of responsibilities. But we get to go out and play recess once in awhile. This is supposed to be a fun time for everyone.”

Mr. Stroud agrees, affirming that the stunning location continues to draw racers to the Valley.

“We have this incredible lake, this incredible surrounding area,” says Mr. Stroud. “It’s the locale; the scenery; the volunteers.”

Mr. Stroud assures they will stay on to help Mr. Bamford as long as they can.

“We are there to mentor, help, and serve. We will be helping for as long as we’re here,” says Mr. Stroud.

Mr. Bamford says that relationship has been vital to the transition in leadership, and is grateful for Mr. Stroud’s and Ms. Boot’s continued help and guidance.

If you would like to volunteer, contact info@heartoftherockiestri.ca.

Visit www.heartoftherockiestri.ca for more information or to register.

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