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If the Rideau Canal is not open for skating yet, why don't we just rollerblade instead?


Jonathan Knowles: Some of my own personal favourite events in Canada - the Hillside Festival outside of Guelph, the Exclaim! Hockey Summit of the Arts, Toronto’s Festival of Beer (which Scott Rondeau co-founded), all run rain or shine. They are not rescheduled, dramatically altered or cancelled due to poor weather.


Yet, as great as these events are, how much do they actually have in common with our race? Are these events actually ‘peers’ of the Carleton Cup? Not in the sense of being a skating race that takes place outdoors, they’re not.


Probably the oldest and most famous outdoor skating race in the world is the Elfstedentocht, or “Eleven-Cities Tour”, held in the Friesland province in the Netherlands: This race runs irregularly due to warm weather, and in fact has taken place only 15 times since 1909. Read that again! When it is too warm for the race occur, and in fact the race is cancelled more often than not, there is no discussion about changing it to include kayaking instead of ice skating. This is a skating race, and therefore if it is not possible to skate, then the race doesn’t take place. End of discussion!


"Dude, relax! It's just a skating race."


True, the Ultimate Canadian Triathlon is just a skating race. Yet we’ve always claimed that we are about something bigger than just skating, running and drinking. One of the central ideas of the environmental movement is the idea of interdependence between all living things - the earth is one organism! There is a connection between ourselves and all creatures in our ecosphere and with the planet itself. Separation is an illusion - we are all one. When the seasonal migratory patterns of waterfowl are disrupted by the warm weather, this is not something we are removed from given that we are both inhabitants of the same planet. For all our glib talk around the water-cooler about how great it is to play golf in January, the truth is a lot of us are feeling uneasy in the pit of our stomach with the bizarre weather, and have a nagging sense that something is not right.


In as far as the Cup is concerned, we have always placed our focus on an honest approach to winter. Hibernation and denial is no way to cope with our traditionally brutal climate and the toll it takes on all of us. The Cup is not about pretending “it’s not that bad”, the Cup is about honesty! Winter is an ordeal, and the relationship that we all have with our climate is central to what defines us as Canadians. The slow death of winter is not something to be celebrated, not something to mayonnaise over as though nothing is wrong. Why celebrate when many of us are feeling a great sadness of spirit?


Oh, and please don’t “dude” me on this.

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