By nature, top level athletes remain constantly focused on their search for improvement.
As an entity, the Conquer the Crater race weekend in Sudbury is not a whole lot different.
Preparing for the fifth year of the multi-faced event that forms an integral part of the XTERRA race circuit and serves as a wonderful fundraiser for the Miles Against Cancer campaign, the weekend of fun and fitness is set to invade Kivi Park on the weekend of July 21st to the 23rd.
"We try and incorporate the feedback (or participants) as much as we can," noted race coordinator and co-founder John Macdonald, who along with spouse Tracy Hayes have been at the forefront of these efforts since the very beginning.
"Each year, we like to add a few things."
There is certainly some momentum to build on in these parts.
Based on comments from participants that were shared in providing coverage of the 2022 Conquer the Crater as well as the opinions that made their way to Macdonald and his crew, the northern Ontario entry into the racing calendar for those of this particular ilk has definitely gained some traction.
"Just the amount of people who were from out of town and who really enjoyed the event - for me, that was big - just knowing that there is a draw for folks to come to Sudbury," said Macdonald.
"They swam in a gorgeous lake, biked and ran on some amazing trails - and the weather, if anything, was too hot - which is hard to complain about in this region."
"People were able to take a breath and just enjoy themselves."
A fitness-committed physican herself, Hayes shares the sentiments of so many of her fellow competitors.
"I think people are excited to be out and competing in person; that goes without saying," she said. "But you look at the ultra runners who tend to go to events together. It's a very collegial family-type of weekend style."
It's also a sector that wished to incorporate some camping into the Sudbury and area excursion, with Hayes and Macdonald only to happy to assist.
With the addition of a team division for the sprint triathlon and a sprint distance for the duathlon along with a few other tweaks, the 2023 Conquer the Crater registration pool has already surpassed the previous year, with more than a week still remaining for those last minute local entries.
"This year, it seems to be from all over," said Macdonald. "We have a lot from southern Ontario, a lot from Québec. Last year, we had a big contingent from Québec and they loved the terrain, how different it was from the Eastern Shores, from Tremblant."
And while he is more than happy to discuss all facets of the race weekend, from the specifics of the multitude of athletic offerings to the beer garden and music festival that sees their group parnered with Stack Brewing this summer, Macdonald never loses sight of the end goal.
"At the heart of the event, it's still a fundraiser for Miles Against Cancer," he said. "Four more families recently had children diagnosed with cancer. There is still lots of need - and we've increased the automatic support that we provide to families from $2000 to $3000."
Providing that kind of assistance can only be achieved being remaining consistently vigilent towards constant improvement - and that is something that both athletes and organizers alike can relate to.