Peter Reid attributes so much of his success to Victoria.

In Quebec, he had been an ironman triathlete flirting with first brushes of success and knew he needed something to get him to the next level. That something was Victoria’s temperate coastal climate that allowed year-round training. So he packed up his stuff and drove across the country to Vancouver Island. Intending to stay for one winter, he ended up never leaving. Victoria, it turned out, had something even more valuable than warmer weather.

Reid could be sitting in a Fairfield coffee shop in the Cook Street Village and run into a melting pot of some of Canada’s best international athletes all living and training right there. Imagine comparing notes with world champion cyclists Alison Sydor or Roland Green and Olympic rowers Derek Porter or Silken Laumann. It was this kind of environment that pushed Reid to become a world champion athlete himself.

Born in Montreal, Reid was brought up as a downhill ski racer and made it as far as the Quebec ski team. He discovered cycling when doing cross-training for skiing in the summer and realized immediately he was a natural. Just as he was about to take the next step in cycling, perhaps going pro, he dropped it to focus on school and get into university.

While attending Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, a friend persuaded Reid to train for a triathlon together. He felt a true sense of accomplishment in finishing the race, plus there were lots of good-looking girls around. Reid was hooked instantly.

He moved up to the Ironman distance—3.86 km swim, 180.25 km bicycle ride, and a full 42.2 km marathon run—and began pushing the limits of what he previously thought his body capable of. Before he graduated, a fire within him smoldered to see how far he could go in the sport. A third-place result in a big race in Nice, France sealed the deal. Hence, the move to Victoria.

There, his career took off, to the point where, today, few athletes ever in this, arguably the most grueling of all endurance tests, can boast a better resume. After fourth-place finishes over the unforgiving world championship course in Kona, Hawaii, Reid broke through at the 1998 world championship. Despite an eight-minute lead, Reid was so certain someone would pass him, he looked over his shoulder a reported 42 times during the final two miles. But that ‘someone’ never materialized. He crossed the finish line walking on air, a world champion.

Twice more, in 2000 and 2003, Reid would win the world championship, as well as claiming three second-place and one third-place finish at the event. He won the Ironman Canada event twice, Ironman Australia three times, and the Ironman Austria and Ironman Lanzarote once each.

He also owns the third-fastest Ironman triathlon time ever completed at seven hours 51 minutes 56 seconds and the fastest-ever time in the run portion with a time of two hours 35 minutes 21 seconds. A four-time Triathlete of the Year winner (1998-2000, 2003), Reid was named Canada’s Athlete of the Year in 1998.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.