PENTICTON, B.C.—Two hometown athletes, Jeff Symonds and Jen Annett, were crowned king and queen of long distance triathlon in Canada on Sunday in Penticton, B.C., capping off a successful week of racing at the inaugural Challenge Penticton – a unique multi-sport event that hosted five national championships over the last week.
Symonds accomplished his dream with a comeback victory to lock up the men’s national title and earned a spot for the 2017 ITU Multisport World Championships Festival, which will be held on the same course. Symonds completed the come-from-behind victory with a time of five hours, 32 minutes, 39 seconds (5:32:39.0) over the three-kilometre swim, 120 kilometre bike course and 30 kilometre run.
“It is unbelievable to win here. Growing up in Penticton this is everything. This is all I ever dreamed of in elementary school,” said Symonds, who broke his arm earlier this year, and was racing this distance for the first time. “It has been a tough year and a tough week for me. Today I was just thinking of all the people that didn’t give up on me and supported me. The triathlon community in Penticton is amazing, and it’s a huge honour to be a part of it.”
Symonds didn’t give up on himself either. Coming off the bike five minutes behind the leaders, Symonds took advantage of strong mental fitness to keep his eyes focused on the top step of the podium.
“I just stuck to my guns. You have to be honest with your weaknesses and have faith in your strengths. My running is what got me here. It is my bread and butter and I had confidence in my run today.”
Symonds overcame American Drew Scott for top spot on the podium. Scott, of Boulder, Colorado held on for the silver medal with a time of 5:37:26.0. Calgary’s Jordan Bryden finished eight minutes off the pace in third with a time of 5:40:46.0.
“I been really happy with the work I’ve been doing. I have been finding my confidence. My plan in the swim was staying as smooth as possible,” said Bryden, who finishes second in the National Championships. “On bike Jeff and I made decision to pace it as best as possible. When we hit the run it was a matter of staying tough and find a good balance between the half Ironman effort and Ironman pace. It was really important for me to get on the podium, and keep my progression is really exciting.”
Meanwhile, Jen Annett completed the golden sweep for the hometown athletes after a thrilling sprint finish in the long distance National Championships. Annett clocked a time of 6:13:49.0 in the women’s race.
“It is amazing winning in my hometown. I didn’t think I had it. Liz (Lyles) is such an amazing runner. Those last five kilometres were so tough. I saw a dollar sign on her butt and I didn’t want to lose it. Sometimes you hit a gear you never knew that you had. It is amazing.”
Annett battled back after a challenging swim where she headed into second transition in second spot after the 120 kilometre bike ride.
“My swim was terrible but I took it steady on the bike and stuck to the plan,” added Annett. “I felt amazing going off on the run. It is the best I felt this year. I stayed in my own race until the last kilometre or so, and decided to kick it up. It was very close for last seven kilometres. I have never been that close, nor have I had to have a sprint finish.”
Lyles, of Reno Nevada, was second to cross the line with a time of 6:14:19.0. Victoria’s Karen Thibodeau was third to cross the line, and second best Canadian, with a time of 6:20:29.0.
“My swim felt great and my bike was good too. First half of the run felt good and then started to come undone a bit,” said Thibodeau. “I love the non-wetsuit swims. It was choppy water, which is a double bonus for me. I wanted that second Canadian spot so I’m happy.”
The long distance race capped off a thrilling week of racing, with five national championship titles up for grabs in men’s and women’s racing during the weeklong multisport festival.
Other elite national title winners included:
Aquathlon (1km swim, 5km run)
Men’s Champion: Jeff Symonds, Penticton, B.C., 31:32.0
Women’s Champion: Karen Thibodeau, Victoria, 34:35.0
Duathlon (10km run, 40km bike, 5km run)
Men’s Champion: Evan Bayer, Calgary, 1:49:36.0
Women’s Champion: Kim McMullen, North Vancouver, 2:12:47.0
Cross Triathlon (1.5km swim, 27km mountain bike, 10km run)
Men’s Champion: Karsten Madsen, Guelph, Ont., 2:02:49.0
Women’s Champion: Katie Button, Victoria, 2:28:16.0
Aquabike (3km swim, 120km bike)
Men’s Champion: Scott Dean, Coquitlam, B.C., 4:22:07
Women’s Champion: Tamasin Reno, Vancouver, 4:27:35
Complete Results: http://challenge-penticton.com/about/results/
It is the first time ever Triathlon Canada has held the Canadian National Multisport Championships, bringing the triathlon community together to celebrate the achievements of five race disciplines.
Coined Challenge Penticton, athletes also raced for qualifying spots to the inaugural ITU Multisport World Championships Festival to be held in Penticton, B.C., August 18-27, 2017. Each of the age group divisions also offered 10 qualifying sports in each event for both men and women.