Column: The Wellness Triple Challenge: balancing kids, work and exercise

Our plans to see the sights around St. George, Utah last week were entirely scuttled by the IRONMAN race taking place.

Roads were closed, police roadblocks detoured us at every corner, the city streets were jammed. We surrendered to the inevitable, and opted to turn the IRONMAN finish zone into our destination.

Kids were crawling all through the downtown splash pad and water park as uber-athletic types wheeled their bikes around, flashing muscles and finisher medals.

The occasional “ordinary” family sat amongst it all — wide-eyed and apparently unfamiliar with most forms of aerobic activity — but they hadn’t made moves to pack up and relocate. They were continuing to picnic in the swirl of the Cirque de Superhumans, and I thought: I wonder what will stick? One Sunday, will one of these kids choose a bike ride instead of a box of donuts?

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Marc Cousineau moved his family to Pemberton in September 2013. With kids aged 7, 6 and 2, it was make the leap or wait until the other side of the high school years.  The amenities weren’t the same as they’d enjoyed in Toronto. “There are less easy opportunities for kids in a smaller town.”

But the lifestyle for a family of active mountain-lovers was a fit.

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Cousineau and his wife Heather Monroe aren’t the type to sit around waiting for someone else to make things happen. They don’t seem to sit around much at all —Cousineau is training for two 50-km running races this summer, a format he got into after Heather entered her first last year, and won her category.

“The world’s best trail runners could live here and have everything they need. You can do 50 km trail loops from your door. There’s a lot of really good trails here.”

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But it wasn’t running races that inspired Cousineau and friend Christine Cogger to start the BarnBurner Triple, a rootsy three-loop trail run based out of the downtown barn set for Pemberton on June 20. It was the tale of a classic European cyclecross race that a friend of Marc’s had entered. “Each 10-minute lap would go through this 5,000-person, smoky, beer-filled beer hall and the riders would have to hold their breath as they blasted through. I thought, ‘That’s so cool.’ I’ve done so many races in the wild where no one sees you, but I’ve done some road cycling criterium-style races that are held downtown amongst about 2,000 people and the vibe was so cool.”

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Cousineau and Cogger don’t run together often, but with their racing, marketing and events backgrounds, they’d often talked about putting together a trail running race in Pemberton. After one run, they sat down at the kitchen table and sketched out a circuit.

But even though they hope the Barnburner Triple will put Pemberton on the annual race calendar and attract trail runners to our stout, but sweet terrain, they’re also dedicated to providing for the little ones, with a free trail run for kids.

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Both have three children under 10. “Our lives revolve around how we can do what we need for the kids, and still get to exercise. If I get out three days a week, that’s a success. Some weeks, it’s just one. Life’s just too busy — too many kids, too much work and real world responsibilities. But we came here, in part, for the active lifestyle, and we want that for the kids as well.”

So when the Cirque de Superhumans sets up at the barn in downtown Pemberton on June 20, why not be part of the festivities?


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Photos from the Barnburner Triple on instagram – Give ’em a follow. They’re fun.