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Friday, December 9, 2022
Shaw actor completes fundraising Ironman triathlon

'Koovy' McLachlan credits community for helping him reach finish line



What started on Vancouver Island as a morning bike ride to a lake, followed by a swim, transformed over the past year into a gruelling 226-kilometre triathlon that raised more than $4,000 for the MS Society of Canada. 

Shaw Festival actor Kevin “Koovy” McLachlan, 24, decided to use the time during the pandemic shutdown to do something different: Train for an Ironman competition – an extreme form of triathlon. 

On Sunday, Aug. 30, in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Welland, McLachlan completed the four-kilometre swim, 180-kilometre bicycle ride and 42-kilometre marathon run in 13 hours and 58 minutes. 

This formative and informative experience has 100 per cent changed his life, he said. 

“It’s one thing that I could see how fast I could run for 10 minutes or see all these things, but this is truly a mental game and truly about seeing how far you can push your body,” he said in an interview prior to his Ironman.

“I think we as humans owe a certain level of responsibility to ourselves to just see what we can do and that doesn’t have to be some physical manifestation.” 

“We’re so fortunate that we get to challenge ourselves in these kinds of ways and this for me has been a huge challenge.” 

Originally from Whitehorse, Yukon, he completed the musical theatre program at Sheridan College and started his career that has brought him across Canada. 

Last summer, McLachlan was on Vancouver Island working at a small theatre and “as my regular morning routine, I would hop on this old junker bike that I bought off a guy and ride to this lake that’s maybe a 15-minute bike ride,” he said. 

“Then I would just jump in this lake because it was this beautiful lake and beautiful spot in the summer on Vancouver Island.” 

It was a way for him to get outside and stay active, but he didn’t think of it much more than that. 

“One morning I was out there jumping in and this woman said, 'Oh, you must be training for the triathlon this weekend!' and I responded, 'Yeah … Sure!' ” 

McLachlan said he hadn’t done much running since participating in mandatory five-kilometre Terry Fox runs in his high school days, so a triathlon wasn’t really on his agenda. 

But he went home that night and signed up for the triathlon organized by a local community group for the following week, and just thought, “Why not? Let’s see how it goes,” he said. 

“Upon arrival I was so clearly out of my element. Everyone else was in their wetsuits with their fancy road bikes and I was in a pair of old board shorts. The only guy not in a wetsuit by the water.” 

McLachlan participated in the sprint triathlon at that time, which he said is the shortest, most common for participants and involves a 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike ride and five-kilometre run. 

“After that I was hooked. I just had the most fun,” he said. 

McLachlan thought, “One day I could do an Ironman. It would be kind of one of those bucket list things to eventually attempt.” 

“Then when the pandemic hit and we couldn’t get to the gyms and our work was drastically shifting, of course theatre is not something that thrives when you can’t gather in large groups of people, I thought, 'Hey, maybe in a weird way this is presenting the time to let me actually train,' ” he said. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, no one really knew how long things would be closed, so McLachlan just started training, figuring, "in a couple months when things get back to normal, I can race in an official Ironman race in Canada or the United States.” 

Then as time passed and it was obvious that wasn't going to be an option, he thought, "Well, I’m not going to do all this training for nothing.” 

This is when McLachlan started to wonder if he could just organize his own Ironman and make it happen. 

Friends like Emily Lukasik, a Shaw co-worker and people in the community helped support his idea, he said. 

As he followed a four-month training plan, McLachlan thought his triathlon would be his own send-off to the summer and his Shaw job, as well as a great challenge for himself. 

The endeavour grew and he began to realize how much help he was going to need to pull it off. That's where friends and people in town came in.

He also decided another way to help would be to turn his Ironman into a fundraiser. 

“Through the MS Society of Canada, you can start a challenge or donation page,” he said. “My challenge page is called Koovy Does An Ironman, because my nickname Koovy has sort of become my colloquial nickname these days.” 

His goal was to raise $2,260, reflecting the 226 kilometres he would travel. As of Sept. 2 at 2 p.m. the donation total was at $4,505. 

Exceeding his goal and helping the MS Society of Canada is awesome and shows how much community support he received, said McLachlan. 

“The fundraiser extends beyond Niagara-on-the-Lake into my own life, but I’m just so grateful of the amount of people that supported it,” said McLachlan, whose father has MS.

“I recognize that right now is not necessarily a financially lucrative time for people,” he said. "That folks even took a little bit of time to donate helps make it that much more special.” 

The team of more than 20 people who rallied behind him also acted as a reminder not to be afraid to ask for help. He credits his team with helping him to reach the finish line. 

“I was expecting two people at each station and there was at least four or five every time I rounded a corner,” McLachlan said. 

“My friend Jason (Cadieux), who was joining me today for parts of it said, 'You’ve got to enjoy this right now because if you ever do a sanctioned one, you won’t have this sort of support crew with you.' So, I was very thankful for that,” an exhausted McLachlan told The Lake Report Sunday night after completing the Ironman. 

He has only been in NOTL since last October, so "all these new friendships within the community and the theatre makes it really special.” 

“I was expecting to do sections of it on my own and everyone was feeling so generous today that there wasn’t a single part of the race that I didn’t have at least one other person with me. So that was pretty special.” 

Find McLachlan's fundraising page here.