Jeremy Briand and Karol-Ann Roy celebrated the first elite Canadian Championship titles of their careers on Sunday. The National Triathlon Championships were held in conjunction with the two-day CAMTRI races at the Kelowna Apple Triathlon in the Okanagan Valley.
Briand, who hails from Montreal, executed his race tactics to perfection against a deep international field of 30 athletes who qualified for a spot in Sunday’s sprint race final following a super sprint semifinal heat on Saturday.
The 24-year-old clocked a winning time of 52:11.0 in a sprint finish over fellow Canuck Russell Pennock (Calgary.)
“It feels unreal,” beamed Briand. “I’ve had a lot of injuries over the past few seasons so winning Nationals was a big goal of mine, and I am over the moon.”
Briand got a boost of confidence following a huge day on Saturday where he posted the fastest time out of all of the three super sprint heats, giving him first spot on the start line in the finale.
“I knew the swim would be critical for me because the field knew I was a good runner,” added Briand. “I played my cards well and was able to have open water for the whole swim.”
Briand was part of a large group who stampeded onto the shores of Lake Okanagan following the 750-metre swim and into Kelowna’s downtown core for a 20-kilometre ride on the bike. The large pack stayed together for both of the laps on the bike, setting up a foot race for the medals.
Briand and Charles Paquet, of Port Cartier, Que., pulled away from the field for the majority of the five-kilometre run, but a hard-charging Russell Pennock, of Calgary, came from back in the pack and was slowly closing the gap on the two front-runners, one stride at a time.
Competing in his first set of triathlon races in nearly three years, Pennock – a 23-year-old cross-country runner with the University of Calgary Dinos who has been training at Triathlon Canada’s National Performance Centre – caught Briand and Paquet in his final rip around Kelowna’s City Park, setting up an 800-metre fight for the podium. Pennock made a move while cornering into the finishing stretch, but Briand would have nothing of it, and responded with a golden sprint to the line.
“I had a really rough T2, but I was able to get the time back on the run,” said Briand. “I know sprinting is one of my strengths, so I was able to take advantage of that today.”
Pennock stopped the clock for the silver medal at 52:14.0. Paquet, who turns 22 next week, snagged the bronze with a time of 52:19.0.
Earlier in the day, Karol-Ann Roy continued a breakout season by locking up her first Canadian title with a fifth-place finish in the women’s CAMTRI sprint race.
“I am super happy with my race and to be the first Canadian to finish today,” said Roy, who was recently named to Canada’s 2019 Pan American Games squad.
With a lead group of athletes off on their first of two laps on the bike course, the 26-year-old from Laval, Que. hopped onto her bike out of first transition, and hammered the pedals to keep her podium hopes alive.
“The first five minutes on the bike was the key for me today. I was able to make up the gap and get to the front for the whole bike,” said Roy. “That set me up for a really good run so I’m happy.”
Roy led a trio of Canadians, while crossing the line in fifth place overall with a time of 59:12. She was joined on the National Triathlon Championship podium by Kyla Roy (Winnipeg) who finished sixth at 59:22.0 and Ellen Pennock (Calgary) in seventh place at 59:24.0. Roy and Pennock finished as the second and third-fastest Canadians respectively.
Hannah Knighton, of New Zealand, was the CAMTRI race winner with a time of 58:22.0. Marissa Ferrante, of the United Sates, punched the clock at 58:29.0 for the silver medal, while Hiraku Fukuoka secured third place with a time of 58:46.0.
Triathlon Canada also awarded the Under-23 and Junior National Champions. Kyla Roy and Charles Paquet were the top U23 Canadian finishers. Alexandrine Coursol (St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Que.) and Brock Hoel (West Kelowna, B.C.) captured the Junior crowns.
Nearly 130 elite, under-23 and junior-age athletes from all corners of Canada were placed into three heats for the men and two women’s heats for a series of super-sprint distance qualification races on Saturday, which consisted of a 300-metre swim, eight kilometre bike and 1.5-kilometre run course.
The top-nine, along with the three next three quickest times overall in the field of 73, in each of the men’s heats secured a spot in the men’s final. The top-14 athletes in each of the two women’s heats, along with the next two fastest times overall in the field of 55, earned a spot on the line for Sunday’s National Triathlon Championship final.
Complete Men’s Results:
Complete Women’s Results: