With a goal of increasing the awareness of the Church in this area, the second annual LDS Biathlon was held in the Calgary Alberta Region, attracting more than 275 members and 123 non-members.
The recent event was organized by Steve Miller, Calgary West Stake mission president; counselor Tom Saunders; and William Tanner, Calgary West stake high councilor."It's one of the few biathlons in Canada to be held on a day other than Sunday," said Miller, an orthopedic surgeon. "This allows both member and non-member families to participate."
"We were extremely encouraged by the number of non-members taking part this year," Saunders said. "It gives them a close-up view of who and what we are."
The biathlon is not only an individual event, but also involves families in a way that brings out a spirit of teamwork and endurance. It's also a way of involving Church members in their community through association with non-members with similar interests.
"We organized this event not only to involve as many non-members as possible," Miller said, "but also to provide an opportunity to compete against oneself without the intense competitive attitude present in many team sports."
"It makes our missionary efforts that much easier too," said Saunders. "When you're involved in the community to this extent, it really generates a warmth and camaraderie amongst all the participants and volunteers that easily translates to a better understanding of the Church and its principles."
Miller said it took the cooperation of city and county officials to lay out a challenging course without disrupting normal traffic flows in the area to a great extent.
Miller also saluted the homeowners in the district who saw more than 1,800 biathletes, volunteers and spectators engulf their neighborhood.
The course was laid out around a golf and country club and the surrounding community immediately west of Calgary, and comprised a three-kilometer (two-mile) run followed by a 20-kilometer (12-mile) bicycle ride and ending with a five-kilometer (three-mile) run to the finish line.
The biathlon was unique in that it involved a large cross section of ages, talent and fitness. Participants ranged in age from 8 years old through retirees.
Trophies were awarded in 31 divisions from the overall individual winner to winners in relay and family categories.
Geoff White and Carol Nunro were men's and women's overall winners. Both are non-members and live in the Calgary area. White is a ranking triathlete and participates in many similar events across Canada and the United States.
Jamie Lawrence, 13, of the Calgary Alberta North Stake, won the men's individual junior trophy, completing the grueling course in just over an hour. Christy Lawrence, 12, of the same stake, was not far behind, taking the individual junior women's award.
Forty-five families participated in this year's event. Calgarian Fred Layton and his two sons, Jason and Adam, won the family division, completing the course in 1:14:44.
A new computer tabulation system, written and installed by Paul Koegler, a computer programmer and member of the Calgary Alberta West Stake, compiled all the results within five minutes of the last competitor crossing the finish line.
The LDS Biathlon is one of the larger runs in Canada attracting competitors from across the region.
The annual event is sanctioned by the Alberta Triathlon Association with major sponsorship from the Church in Calgary and various city businesses.