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James Loaring: from high-level triathlete to high-level coach

Once one of Canada's top triathletes, James Loaring is now helping others try and get to the top

Two or three times in the last couple of weeks, Guelph triathlon coach James Loaring has been seen running in a few timed events.

“I just like to participate when I can,” he said after finishing a fairly easy run on one of the Saturday park runs in the York Road and Eramosa River Parks. He and members of his LPC triathlon group often use the run as a warm-up for a more intense workout.

It can also be good for his team members see him compete once in a while, too.

“Coaching isn’t always just about being on deck, being in a car or shouting from the sidelines,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just being able to participate in these fun events and these fun runs. I just love to exercise so it’s just more for health and the health benefits of it and the lifestyle of it. I just try to get out and run whenever I can.”

This month he’s run in the 5K park runs as well as the five-kilometre race that was part of the annual Thanksgiving Day Road Races.

Owner and head coach of Loaring Personal Coaching, his LPC Triathlon Club has won the Triathlon Ontario Club Championships five of the last six years including the last two and part of the club’s secret for success is the closeness of the group, coaches and athletes included.

“We definitely play to really build up that culture, that camaraderie,” Loaring said. “Team spirit is a very important part of our club even though a lot of our athletes are sprinkled all over the place. We really try to foster that team spirit. As far as attracting, I guess we might have built (a reputation) over the years for offering a good level of personalized coaching so athletes that are looking for just getting that extra edge and raising their fitness to that next level often tend to reach out to us.”

A former professional triathlete, the very first triathlon Loaring competed in was the Kids of Steel Leamington event in 1993. Two years later he was the Canadian Kids of Steel champion for the boys 15 to 18 class and he also represented Canada at the International Triathlon Union’s world junior duathlon championship that year.

Loaring also won seven gold medals at OFSAA provincial high school swimming championship meets from 1993 to 1996. He was Triathlon Ontario and Triathlon Canada’s age group triathlete of the year in 2002 and started racing professionally the following year. From 2003 to 2007, he competed in numerous ITU World Cup and Pan American Cup triathlons.

He also started coaching during that time and formed LPC in 2007 and was a co-founder of the LPC Triathlon Club six years later.

Loaring is the grandson of Johnny Loaring who won the silver medal in the 400-metre hurdles at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. He was also sixth in the 400 metres and a member of the Canadian 4x400-metre relay team that finished fourth. Johnny Loaring was posthumously inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

How difficult was the transition from competing to coaching for James?

“I get asked that a lot,” he said. “Surprisingly, it wasn’t a difficult transition at all. I kind of just leave my ego at home. It was just a natural evolution for me, a very welcome evolution from being an elite-level triathlete to coaching full time and not training nearly as much as I did in the past. When I do train, it’s play time. It’s fun time.”

The LPC club also runs a few bicycle time trial events just south of the city limits on the Monday of most long weekends during the warmer months and they’ve become very popular with every level of rider competing. The time trials have the main individual event and they follow that with a team event with as many as five cyclists riding closely together over the same course.

“The individual time trial, they call it the test of truth where it’s non drafting and it’s really all about you in terms of pacing so it is a lot of fun shortly afterwards to form these fun team events,” Loaring said. “It offers the opportunity for some of these athletes to practise their draft-legal skills, but also to just work and foster this group cohesiveness because ultimately it’s the final rider within that team that counts for the official time. You have to learn to work together and form a cohesive unit.”

The event isn’t limited to LPC team members. Anyone can race.

“The main reason was that we wanted our athletes to do an occasional really hard bike workout so why not open it up to the whole community so that it will bring out athletes of all levels to this fun, grassroots time trial event. We ultimately want our own athletes to occasionally do a few of these hard time trial efforts and we thought that misery loves company so why not open it up to everyone. It’s just turned into its own fun, low-key grassroots event.”

A Windsor native, Loaring now calls Guelph home. But what brought him to Guelph in the first place?

“I had to see about a girl,” he answered. “I met my wife and Guelph became home. Also the provincial triathlon centre – it was a great coincidence that the provincial triathlon centre Year 1 coincided with me moving to Guelph.”

Guelph has become one of the places to be if you are serious about triathlon. Among the athletes here are Cody Beals, a two-time winner of the Mont Tremblant Ironman, and Jackson Laundry, an LPC member who has scored professional victories.

“(Because) athletes like Jackson Laundry went to the university here and made the decision to stay in Guelph, as did so many others, Guelph has slowly become this hotbed of talent,” Loaring said. “(It’s) certainly not just because of LPC, but certainly because obviously you see what Speed River (Track and Field Club) has done with running, you see what Craig Taylor and the Guelph Triathlon Project have done and other triathlon organizations in the area. It’s really helped to make Guelph a huge hotbed so elite athletes like Jackson have made Guelph home.”

And it’s also location, location, location.

“Geographically, Guelph is central to a lot of races,” Loaring said. “You’ve got the Subaru Triathlon Series that puts on two popular Guelph triathlon events. You’ve got the Multisport Canada Series that has five races, all within fairly close proximity. You’ve got the Toronto Triathlon Festival which is a huge event and it’s only a 45-minute drive.

“Geographically, Guelph is just very well situated to get to a lot of these popular events. Also, it’s just Guelph itself – the community, the trails, the undulating terrain. It’s a beautiful place for walking, hiking, cycling. There are a lot of scenic, quiet cycling roads within close proximity of anywhere in Guelph. It’s just a wonderful place to live for that swim, run, bike, triathlon lifestyle.”