Sooke Athlete qualifies for Team Canada

Melanie Cunningham is training to complete for Team Canada in London’s World Triathlon Age Group Championships.

Some people just don’t know when to quit. Stubborn. Also known as persistent. And that can be a good thing.

Still recovering from knee surgery, operated on last October, 60-year-old Melanie Cunningham is training to complete for Team Canada in London’s World Triathlon Age Group Championships, under the Sprint category. The sprint involves a 750-metre swim, a 20-kilometre bike ride, and a five-kilometre run. Currently, she can complete this circuit in less than two hours, with her best time clocking in at 1:45.

In order to compete, Cunningham had to qualify in Edmonton in July last year. To qualify, entrants had to rank within the top ten in their specific age group. But, laughs Cunningham, it sounds more impressive than it really was: “There were only three in my age group to compete.” So really, all she had to do was start, and finish.

This is not to downplay Cunningham’s accomplishments. Her recovery from surgery “has been slower than anticipate,” she said. “But I’ve been able to run and spin, and while running is still challenging, I’m doing a run/walk now.” She’s also been incredibly active for the past 20 years. She ran her her first marathon in her early forties and has 10 marathons under her belt. And in 2009 she completed a half-iron-man.

Representing Team Canada requires more than sheer athletic ability. Besides funding her own travel to the tryouts in Edmonton, she will be funding her own participation in London. A rough financial estimate, which includes the Team Canada uniform, registration, airfare and accommodation — if she wants to stay with the Team — will require at least $3,000. To help offset the costs, Cunningham is actively seeking a sponsor.

The 2013 ITU World Triathlon Age Group Championships takes place at Hyde Park, in the heart of London, from September 11 – 16.  Cunningham, who hails from England, will arrive a week earlier to visit with family. Then, it’s off to the races, putting the training that she does with the Team X Triathlon club from SEAPARC, to the test.

Melanie and her family lived in Sooke for 17 years. They moved around Vancouver Island for a bit, and recently returned to their Canadian home, Sooke, last December.