40th Edition

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The Esprit Triathlon throughout the yearsThe Esprit Triathlon throughout the years

40 years of triathlon history-The Esprit Triathlon throughout the years

The roots of the Esprit Triathlon trace back to 1984, when founder Danny McCann embarked on a mission to create one of the province’s first triathlon in a time when triathlons were a rare spectacle in Quebec and where the best-known long-distance triathlons in North America were the Ironman races in Hawaii and Penticton, B.C. Eager to provide a platform for athletes to compete locally in this growing sports, McCann launched what was then known as the Montreal World Triathlon.

While the swim portion of the Esprit Triathlon has always been held at the Olympic Bassin at Parc Jean Drapeau, the first three editions of the Esprit saw the bike course whizz through the city of Montreal all the way to the Olympic Stadium, where athletes would lap around the Olympic stadium. Remembering the first years of the event, Danny McCann said “I am still stunned nobody got hit by a car. We had a police helicopter overhead, 60 police officers on the ground stopping traffic, 1,200 barricades and 150 volunteers just on the bike course. These were the years my hair turned gray.” Responding to participants feedback, the Formula 1 track became the new heart of the race making the course one of the world’s fastest bike courses.

1991 heralded a new era for the triathlon, prompting the renaming of the event to the “Esprit Triathlon” in recognition of the event’s name sponsor. That year also marked the introduction of the first long distance triathlon where athletes had to complete a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride, and a 42.2km run. This rigorous distance became a staple of the event, etching its mark until 2014.

By 1999, the Esprit Triathlon had gained national and international acclaim. When Munich withdrew from hosting the World Triathlon Championship, the International Triathlon Union entrusted the Esprit’s organizers to host the championship alongside the Esprit Triathlon. The event witnessed Dmitriy Gaag (KAZ) and Loretta Harrop (AUS) clinch victory and marked Simon Whitfield’s qualification for the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

In 2009, Danny McCann’s immense contributions were honored as he was inducted into Triathlon Canada’s Hall of Fame. His dedication was further celebrated at the Triathlon Quebec 30th Anniversary Gala in 2018, where he was hailed as an ambassador for the sport of triathlon.

Over the years, the Esprit Triathlon has garnered numerous accolades for its quality organization and participant experience. The event has hosted multiple Canadian Championships and elite-level events. Attracting athletes from various backgrounds and skill levels, the event remains a beacon of innovation and inclusivity. In 2024, the Esprit will mark its 40-year anniversary by joining the Challenge Family which will bring the event to the world level. Please join us in 2024 as we host a new chapter of the event, and we mark this anniversary with several key events like the Standard Distance Canadian Championships, the Canadian Multi-sport Championships and the Junior & U23 Canadian Championships for Elite athletes.

**Fun Fact:** Since 2014, the Esprit Triathlon’s motto has been “Carpe Diem” (seize the day). Founder Danny McCann stumbled upon this iconic Latin phrase on a hot-dog stand during a trip to Italy, and it swiftly became the event’s guiding ethos, encapsulating the essence of seizing opportunities and embracing every moment.