Couple Travels from Canada to Compete in Luray Triathlon

Laura Jennings and Neil Waite are driving more than 450 miles, from the Greater Toronto Area in Canada, to participate in this year’s Luray Triathlon. For Neil, it will be his third time participating in the race. Laura, who is relatively new to the sport and completed her first triathlon just last year, will be participating in the Luray Triathlon for the very first time.

 Neil is a licensed CPA who was born in Annapolis, Md., and grew up in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia (DMV) area. He moved to Arizona after high school, completed his undergraduate and graduate work at Arizona State University, then transferred back to the DMV to be closer to his parents. In 2017, Neil moved to Toronto to pursue a job opportunity. That’s where he met Laura, who was born and raised in Toronto. The two share a love of the outdoors and travel, exploring with their dogs and planning their next great adventure.

 Laura has always been into fitness and enjoys staying active but had never done any competitive events. “When I met Neil and learned he was into triathlon, I thought it was so cool,” she recalls. “What a badass! When we started dating, we started working out together and it was just a natural transition for me to sign up for one. I haven’t looked back.”

 While living in Arizona in 2013, Neil inadvertently became a spectator of the Ironman Arizona competition. “I quickly decided I wanted to participate in triathlon due to its competitive nature and the physical challenge it presented,” he recalls. His swimming ability, or “lack thereof” as he says, kept him from finishing the Lifetime Tri Tempe. He focused on his swimming skills and trained over the next year, returning to finish the Lifetime Tri Tempe Sprint triathlon in 2015. Then in 2016 he completed his first Olympic distance triathlon. Since then, Neil has completed 11 races in Canada, the United States, Thailand and Norway. That includes completing the Luray Triathlon in 2016 while living in Northern Virginia, and again in 2017 after moving to Toronto.

Neil on top Trollveggan after finishing the Norway triathlon in 2019

Triathlon training can be challenging at times for Laura and Neil. “We live in a busy section of the largest city in Canada,” Neil says. “On the weekends we rack up our bikes on our car and drive an hour into the suburbs in order to escape the chaos.” They live next to a running trail along a relatively quiet road leading out of the city that is great for training. And although the water in Lake Ontario is rather cold, it offers great open water training during the summer months for swimming. In the winter, Laura and Neil train almost exclusively at the local YMCA.

 Laura and Neil completed their first triathlon together in 2018 in Montreal. Since then they have combined their love of triathlon and travel, coining the term “tri-cation”. “In 2018 we decided to book a trip to Thailand and, coincidentally, there happened to be a triathlon happening in Phuket at the same time we were there,” Neil says. “Obviously, we had to sign up for it. We both did the sprint triathlon and even though it was challenging to figure out all of the logistics of renting a bike and getting everything sorted in a different language, so far away from home, it was an amazing and unforgettable experience.” The couple just returned from another race, the Trollveggen Triathlon in Norway, in July, and they plan on more tri-cations in the future.

 The Luray Triathlon is the next race on Laura and Neil’s list. Neil still has friends in the DMV, so traveling to Luray is a great excuse to reconnect and get together, plus he loves the quiet, small town atmosphere. “We are driving down the day before the race with our two dogs, Camden and Indiana, and are staying with friends in a large house near Lake Arrowhead,” he says. They’ll be participating in the triathlon with a few close friends and then look forward to exploring Luray Caverns before making the 9-hour return trip home.

 Laura is looking forward to her Luray Triathlon debut. “This is my first Olympic distance so I am excited for the new challenge,” she says. Neil was happy to improve his time in his second showing at Luray and hopes to do well this year as well. “I do not think I will be winning any races any time soon,” he says, “but I always feel accomplished with finishing.”