Cathy Kowal, a local First Nations police officer, is taking on the challenge of her life next year when she competes at the national “Ironman” triathlon in Penticton, B.C. in an effort to raise money for cancer.
“This one has a lot of personal meaning me,” Kowal said Friday. “My father was diagnosed with cancer in February and passed away in August.
“And that’s why I decided to do this. As anybody who’s been through it knows, it’s very hard to watch someone you love die,” she added.
Kowal will be among 50 police officers from across Canada that will compete in the triathlon, which will take place Aug. 25. They’ll be known collectively as the “Ironcops.”
“Police in Edmonton contacted Ironman Canada and asked them to save 15 spots for officers to register. Fifty responded,” Kowal said, noting there will be four other officers from Ontario, 21 from Edmonton, five from Quebec, eight from Winnipeg, three from Calgary, six from Halifax, and two from British Columbia.
“Because there were only 15 spots, people closest to B.C. had to enter other officers,” noted Kowal, who couldn’t register and pay the $1,500 entry fee in person.
But another officer agreed wait in line for hours to do so after they had waited in line to register themselves.
While the triathlon is still 10 months away, Kowal said she’ll need all that time to get ready. “This is going to consume me in terms of training and fundraising,” she remarked. “It’s huge.”
The triathlon—which will sport 1,800 participants—consists of a four-km swim, 180-km bike ride, and 42-km run.
“The way I look at it, I’m a third of the way there,” noted Kowal, who’s confident in her running ability. “But swimming is probably my weakest event—I‘ll have to really work on that.
“I’m absolutely looking forward to the challenge of it all. I just want to do it in under 17 hours before they close the gate,” she added, referring to the event’s time limit.
Kowal said details about the fundraising are still sketchy but added some other local police officers are helping her out.
“I know the community is hit up quite hard by different fundraisers but I have to try,” she remarked, noting fundraising events could include a black-tie charity dinner.
Back in January, Kowal participated in a fundraiser marathon for arthritis at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., finishing 185th out of 740 runners. She also raised about $6,000.
She then brought along four Rainy River First Nation youths to the ninth-annual “Run for the Meatball” fun run in Thunder Bay last spring.
Kowal also earned a gold medal in the 25-30 age division in a half-marathon at the World Police and Firefighter Games in Indianapolis, Ind. in June, and since then has competed in a couple of other competitive running events.