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PO2 Craig Blake remembered at annual Fitness Challenge

Members of the local Defence team still showed up for this year’s PO2 Craig Blake Memorial Fitness Challenge despite the threat of nasty weather. / Les membres de l’équipe de défense locale se sont présentés cette année au le Défi du conditionnement physique à la mémoire du M 2 Craig Blake malgré la menace d’un mauvais temps. CPL AMELIE GRAVELINE

PO2 Craig Blake remembered at annual Fitness Challenge

By Joanie Veitch,
Trident Staff

Despite warnings of a hurricane looming off the coast, more than 90 racers showed up for the 2022 PO2 Craig Blake Memorial Fitness Challenge at MacDonald Beach in Shearwater on September 23.

The winning team in the military unit category: Bryan Cole, Isaac Marianov, and Trevor Reid from HMCS Montreal. CPL AMELIE GRAVELINE

“I was watching the weather forecast pretty closely, right up to the last minute,” said Kevin Miller, PSP Fitness and Sports Coordinator, who sent out a final status update email the night before, letting participants know “the event is on”.

The annual challenge is held as a tribute to PO2 Craig Blake, a Navy clearance diver with Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2010. A father of two, PO2 Blake was an avid triathlete who placed family and fitness at the centre of his life, said Wally Bukowski, sports store technician at 12 Wing Shearwater and emcee of the event.

“I know Craig is smiling down at us right now. He would have loved this,” Bukowski said, as the dark skies cleared a little during his opening remarks and athletes got ready to begin the challenge — a 300-metre swim, a 6.5-kilometre trail bike ride, and a 2-kilometre run.

The top three finishers in the individual category were Kharim Schliewinsky, who was also the fastest in the masters age group, with a time of 29.42; Ryan Comeau at 32:01 and Emilie Beland as the fastest woman, with a time of 35:24. Cynthia Steele was the fastest woman in the masters age category, coming in at 50:16.

HMCS Montreal was the first unit team to cross the line, finishing with a time of 27:39, with Bryan Cole completing the swim, Isaac Marianov on bike, and Trevor Reid doing the run.

The top team in the open team category was “For Old Time’s Sake”, who finished at 28:27, with Mark Littler doing the swim, Josh Oldford on bike and Mike Burke completing the run.

As she does every year, Priscilla Blake, PO2 Blake’s wife, also took part in the event, doing the 6.5-km bike ride for team “We Thought You Said”, along with Erin Foster as the swimmer and Sherri Samson doing the run.

PSP staff were on hand to set up the event, providing prizes for the winners, as well as refreshments and snacks for participants.

Top results are as follows:

Open Male 

Ryan Comeau (32:01)

Marcel Porelle (33:09)

Vincent Leblanc Lavallee (33:23)

Open Female 

Emilie Beland (35:24)

Melanie Harding (37:52)

Nicole Winsor (40:46)

Master Male (40+) 

Kharim Schliewinsky (29:42)

Stuart Whittaker (43:07)

Lionel Polegato (45:46)

Master Female (40+) 

Cynthia Steele (50:16) 

Open Team 

“For Old Time’s Sake” (28:27) – Mark Littler, Josh Oldford, Mike Burke

“The Big Foreheads” (30:33) – Heidi King, Tom Malo, Jeff Dubinsky

“Seabed Intervention” 30:55 – Jerome Turgeon, Connor Murphy, Tony Hart

Unit Team 

HMCS Montreal (27:39) – Bryan Cole, Isaac Marianov, Trevor Reid

FDU(A) (28:15) – Claire Bortolotti, Bradley Northrup, Ethan Dekraker

423 MH Sqn (36:45) – Cody Ferguson, Joshua Macleod, Evan Angelo