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Dozens of hardy Winnipeggers braved the cold to run, cycle and skate on the Assiniboine and Red Rivers so homeless people could stay warm.
The first Beat the Cold Winter Triathlon kicked off at The Forks on Sunday at 9 a.m., with 200 participants first running five kilometres on the Assiniboine River, next cycling five kilometres on the Red River, and finishing off with a five kilometre skate on the Red.
The participants didn't just have a chance to do this at temperatures hovering around -22C, with the windchill making it feel like -31C, they also helped people who are going through the winter season while homeless.
The more than $10,000 raised by the event goes directly to 1JustCity to help up to 25 homeless people get a warm place to sleep inside Augustine United Church from January to March.
'The weather is not the boss of me. Stick it to the weather today' - triathlon participant Edward Friesen, originally from Belize
Participant Sean Ledwich finished the event with a time of 57 minutes and 30 seconds.
"The running was the hardest for me," Ledwich said afterwards.
"I'm in good health, but I dabble in everything but I'm a master of none. For me, it was good to get the run done early.
"It was very nippy out in the morning, but then the Sun came out just before the race and it was fine. When you're exercising in the cold you warm up fast."
Ledwich raised $500 for the event - with half of that coming from his girlfriend Kristy Muckosky.
"She encouraged me to go into the event and she put me at my goal of $250 right away — I'm pretty proud of that — and then family and friends donated money as well."
The fastest male was Marc Fornier with a time of 46 minutes and 39 seconds while the fastest female was Megan Van Heyst at 57 minutes 35 seconds.
Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud, 1JustCity's executive director, said the fundraiser raised more than enough money to keep their overnight warming centre open through to the end of March.
"(The triathlon) sold out twice - we had 150 participants and opened it up to another 50 more and that sold out," she said.
"That's great because our emergency warming centre has been at capacity almost every night. We told people this was Beat the Cold so others won't have to and it has been so successful we definitely will be looking at doing it again next year."
Luke Rempel, the race's organizer, said "everything went fantastic, both from a running point of view and a fundraising point of view."
Rempel said the event was originally supposed to be last Saturday, Feb. 9, but the organizers decided to reschedule it when faced with a temperature of -29C and a windchill around -38C.
"We didn't think that was safe," he said. "We didn't want anyone to get frostbite. This was much better."
Another participant, Edward Friesen, said he originally grew up in the balmier temperatures of Belize before coming to Winnipeg.
"I came from the tropics and now I'm doing this," Friesen said laughing.
"The weather is not the boss of me. Stick it to the weather today."
Friesen said that for him the skating was the toughest of the three parts of the triathlon and what resulted in him finishing towards the end of the event.
"I do triathlons in summer," he said. "Compared to the rest of these other people here, my skating would be a one (out of 10)."
Meanwhile, Chelsea Thomson, a spokeswoman at The Forks, said the triathlon was just one of several events and activities happening at the site this Louis Riel long weekend.
Thomson said that on Sunday alone there were people riding fat bikes while touring warming huts on the frozen river, running clubs were running, while elsewhere people were enjoying free horse drawn carriage rides and fashioning jewellery out of old bicycle parts.
"I think we had the healthiest city in Canada today," she said.
"The nice thing is it is sunny during the day, but at night the temperatures are low enough we can repair the ice after a busy day."
— With files from Trevor Hagan
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.