Charlie Barnes – Athlete

Portrait by Robert Howson

Charlie Barnes is an inspiration to all that know him and compete against him.

He fell in love with track and field in high school and university. From 1958 to 1961 at McGill University he won many track races. But it wasn’t until 1999, at age 62, that Charlie competed in his first triathlon race in Milton. And that’s when he became dedicated to the sport.

In 2003 his son-in-law, who was a Type 1 diabetic, tragically died of hypoglycemia at age 40. Three weeks later his seven-year-old grandson was also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Charlie decided that year, to run the Toronto Marathon and raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Every summer, for 15 years, he continued to compete in triathlons, run marathons and cycle in 100 mile rides asking people to support his races by donating to JDRF. In 2009 he cycled in an eight rider relay from Halifax to Victoria and by 2017 had raised more than $100,000 for JDRF.

During this time Charlie qualified three times for a place on Team Canada to race in the International Triathlon Union World Finals. His goal … to win a medal for Canada. In 2011 in Beijing he placed fifth in his age group 70 to 74. In 2013, in London, England he placed fourth in the 75 to 79 category. In 2017 in Rotterdam he finally secured his medal, a bronze in the 80 to 84 age group!

Overall Charlie is an inspiration, mentor, and supporter of triathletes of all ages. He was a founding member and coach of the Guelph Triathlon Club; served on its executive for two years; helped with TriKids races in Fergus and Elora and always was willing to help out as a volunteer and mentor.

Most notably, Charlie demonstrates that it is never too late in life to get involved in sport, to compete, and reach audacious goals. His next goal is the World Triathlon race where he wants “Gold in 2022” when he will be 85!

Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame – Athlete category – May 15, 2019