Canada’s Paula Findlay took a small, yet significant, step forward in her long rebuild to elite form by winning the silver medal at the Elite Sprint PATCO Premium Cup Race hosted by the Pushor Mitchell Apple Triathlon in Kelowna on Sunday.
Competing in her first race since being sidelined since with March with a stress fracture, the 25-year-old Edmontonian enjoyed a solid outing on the picturesque Kelowna sprint course to finish as the lone Canadian one the podium in second spot at 59 minutes 52 seconds.
“I’m just so happy to return to racing and be able to finish the race,” beamed the relentless redhead, who racked up five World Triathlon Series victories before a nagging hip injury led to a heartbreaking Olympic debut in 2012 and a series of injuries she has had to battle through both mentally and physically.
“I’m trying to work my way back up there. I know I have a lot of work to do. It just feels so good to be racing again. This (Kelowna) is my favourite place to race so I’m happy I was able to return here.”
With the stress fracture limiting Findlay to swim and bike training for the majority of the last year, the determined Canuck’s game plan was simple on Sunday.
“Coming into the race I knew I had to stick with Katie (Hursey). She is one of the strongest cyclists in the sport and I knew if I stuck with her it would be a good place to be,” said Findlay. “We opened a huge gap off the bike because we worked really well together. We were relentless. We were rotating and surging and motivated and it was a great bike.”
Findlay led the field out of the second transition where she tested her run fitness for the first time. The American Hursey caught Findlay just one-kilometre into the five-kilometre run and never looked back, charging to the gold medal step of the podium with a time of 59:36.
“I was really happy to have Paula there with me all day,” said Hursey. “We were extremely motivated and worked so well together. I love this course. I think it plays into my strength and it is very hard.”
Erin Dolan, also of the United States, rounded out the women’s podium in third spot at 1:01:22. Victoria’s Alison Hooper was the next best Canadian in fifth spot with a time of 1:01:45.
The Canadians were shut out of the podium in the men’s sprint race. Victoria’s Andrew McCartney was in the medal mix through the swim and bike legs, but ran out of gas after charging onto the run course and dropped to fifth spot at 55:17 when all was said and done.
Tommy Zafares (28), of the United States, ran away with the gold medal after crossing the finish line with a time of 54:24 in his first trip to Canada.
“The course was great and really suits me,” said Zafares. “I knew there was lots of fast runners so I swam and biked as hard as I could to open up a gap on the run. There was lots of give and take but we worked well together in the pack.”
Two Aussies grabbed the final two spots on the podium. 17 year old Calvin Quirk locked up the silver medal at 55:00, while Daniel Coleman posted a bronze-medal time of 55:08.
Many of the best athletes on the planet will now head to Stockholm, Sweden for a World Triathlon Series race, August 23-24, before the world descends in Edmonton for the TransCanada Corp. World Triathlon Grand Final, August 26 to September 1.
Triathlon Canada is the governing body for triathlon in the country. Recognized as an Olympic medal sport since 2000 and Paralympic medal sport as of 2016, Triathlon Canada’s mandate is to promote, foster, organize and develop the sport of triathlon, and its related disciplines, in Canada. For more information on Triathlon Canada, please visit us at www.triathloncanada.com on the Internet.
Calgary’s Russell Pennock capped off a perfect season on the National Junior Series with his fourth straight win at the Pushor Mitchell Apple Triathlon on Saturday, while Samantha Klus won her first title of the year in the women’s race in Kelowna, B.C.
The 17-year-old Pennock, who rattled off three straight victories including the national championship title earlier this summer, took advantage of one of his best 750-metre swims of the season and ideal race conditions en route to climbing to the top of the podium. Pennock came out of the water in third spot, and moved into the front of the pack by the end of the 20-kilometre bike before separating himself from the field for all four laps on the five-kilometre run to take the victory with a time of 55:30.
“That was my last National Junior Series race so I wanted to make it a fun one and I did,” said Pennock, whose sister Ellen was cheering on the sidelines fresh off competing for Canada at the Commonwealth Games.
“It was nice to have Ellen back and cheering for me. It was a solid swim today. I had to catch Myles Zagar on the bike. He is such a strong swimmer, and then I really just enjoyed those final four laps as a junior on the run.”
Nicolas Gilbert, of Trois-Rivieres, Que., was the next best finisher in second place at 56:14, while Montreal’s Jeremy Obrand won the race for the bronze medal after stopping the clock at 56:22.
Pennock was unbeaten in his first three junior races this season including the Canadian Junior Championship title in Magog, Que. He will now head to Edmonton to represent Canada at the World Junior Championships.
“This (Kelowna) is probably my favourite triathlon. It is such a great race, but I’m super excited to race in Edmonton.”
Ottawa’s Samantha Klus also capped off her junior triathlon career with a victory. A third-place finisher at the national championships, Klus moved up two spots into fifth following a strong transition from the swim onto the bike course where she eventually led the top juniors in the country into second transition. Battling stride-for-stride with Manitoba’s Kyla Roy, Klus finished on top when the dust finally settled at the finish, clocking a time of 1:03:56.
“We didn’t work as well on the bike as I would have liked, but it feels good to be on top,” said Klus. “This is my favourite race. It is such a beautiful race and so organized. It was a fight to the finish today and I’m glad to get my first win.”
Winnipeg’s Roy settled for second spot at 1:04:02, while Annie-Kim Labarre, of Joliette, Que., ran to the bronze medal with a time of 1:04:11.