Joanna Brown had the run of her life to match a career-best, fourth-place finish in front of a boisterous Canadian crowd at the World Triathlon Series in Montreal on Saturday.
Racing as the lone Canuck in the international field, the 25-year-old narrowly missed the podium after a spirited run down the streets of Old Montreal.
“I was pretty happy with that race today. It felt very good to be up there and chasing for a podium,” said Brown. “I was determined to show off the work that I’ve put in all year and I always enjoy coming to Montreal. The crowds were amazing and there were so many people cheering for Canada today.”
Brown clocked a time of 2:00:39 under ideal race conditions in the Olympic distance race. It was her best finish since a bronze-medal triumph at the Commonwealth Games in the spring. The Carp, Ont. resident was also fourth at this same World Triathlon Series Montreal event last year.
“I really like the different elements of the course in Montreal – from the steep ramp out of the water to the punchy hills on the bike and the technical corners,” she added. “It’s a real mix of different elements and offers and exciting course for athletes and spectators.”
Coming out of the two-lap, 1.5-kilometre swim in Jacques-Cartier Basin in 24th spot, the Canadian remained calm on the bike, while settling into a chase pack that caught a trio of leaders midway through the eight-lap 40-kilometre course that winded through the streets of Canada’s oldest city.
“I had a bit of a rough swim and got caught up in a physical fight at the first buoy. Once I got through the melee I had a bit of clear water and was able to work my way up a bit on the second lap,” added Brown.
Brown was part of a powerful group of 13 leaders who pulled away from the field before wheeling into second transition. The Canadian played things smart, capitalized on having fresh legs when foot hit the pavement.
“I knew that I had some extremely strong cyclists around me, and I was happy with the pace. I knew that we were catching the leaders. The pack I was in got whittled down so I conserved my energy and stayed safe in the bunch,” said Brown.
The long-legged Canuck picked off five of the world’s best in a gutsy and steady effort on the 10-kilometre run, surging from seventh to fourth spot in the final five kilometres, but ran out of real estate in her quest to get on the podium and add her name into the history books. Paula Findlay and Kirsten Sweetland are the only two Canadians to have ever climbed onto the WTS podium.
“I felt really good on the run today. I knew the back half of the run I was going to be strong and I stayed patient,” she said. “I kept building each lap and kept my eyes forward.”
Great Britain’s Vicky Holland had a golden visit to Canada. After winning the Edmonton stop on the WTS earlier in July, Holland was tough as nails again on Saturday, winning in Montreal with a time of 1:59:29.
Katie Zaferes, of the United States, was second at 1:59:51, while Georgia Taylor-Brown, of Great Britain, finished 16 seconds ahead of Brown for the final spot on the women’s podium at 2:00:23.
It was a breakout performance of sorts for Brown. Despite her medal-winning performance at Commonwealth Games, she has struggled to demonstrate the elite fitness that enabled her to rattle off a handful of top-10 results last year, including a fifth-place finish at the Grand Final.
“I’m ready to go to Worlds. I’ve put in a ton of work, and am feeling confident with my ability to have a solid race in the Gold Coast,” said Brown.
The men’s race is set for Saturday in Montreal. The World Triathlon Series Grand Final will take place in Gold Coast, Australia, September 12-16.