Penticton triathlete Jen Annett coming out of turn two at Ironman Arizona where she finished in third place. Submitted photo

Annett finishes season on the podium at Ironman Arizona

Penticton triathlete sets new course record on the bike

It wasn’t just the swim, bike, run routine of training that helped Penticton’s Jen Annett earn third place at Ironman Arizona — she had a secret weapon.

A space heater.

Training for 33 C Arizona heat during the gloomy, sometimes snowy last month in Penticton, Annett had to find a way to acclimatize for the Nov. 19 race.

“A lot my training has been indoors the last couple weeks leading up to the race. I would crank the heat in the house so it was like a sauna, run on the treadmill inside and have that space heater cranked while keeping myself contained in one room,” she said.

That type of strategic planning may have also helped propel her to earn the women’s record on the bike course, unbeknownst to her at the time. Annett emerged out of the Tempe Town Lake nine minutes behind the women’s professional leader. Unsure of whose feet she was following after getting into the murky water, a wide turn by the leader of the pack she was in turned the 3.8 kilometre swim into a little bit longer of a route.

Disappointed with the time on the clock (1:01:44, 12th in her division), three minutes slower than last year, Annett said she knew she had to have patience with a long race ahead of her, including a fairly flat bike course — her strongest of the three events.

“On this course you never leave the aero position, so no sitting up or anything. It is quite a bit different than back home where we have mountains. I knew once I got on the bike that unless something really bad happened I would be catching those girls.”

Related: Local triathletes ready to take on the world

Cutting the lead so quickly in the first half of the 180 km ride, Annett didn’t realize where in the pack she was

“I knew I was making up time, but didn’t realize I was in fourth and then I passed the top three who were all grouped together. I had the lead and didn’t know it. Unfortunately, I pulled those three girls out to the final turnaround and until I really pulled ahead of them,” said Annett. “I had a two or three minute lead coming into transition but didn’t realize it until a lady running with me into the change tent was cheering me on saying ‘first place female.’ That gave me a huge boost of confidence and a smile to fly out of transition and onto the run with.”

Tearing up the bike course, Annett finished with a 4:38:17 race time (15th overall). Annett held two of the female pro’s off for about 13 of the 42 km on the run but knew it would be tough fending off some of the world’s fastest women in triathlon — Kaisa Sali (Finland, fifth at 2017 Kona World Championship) and Helle Frederiksen (Denmark).

“Kaisa is known for her running and Frederiksen is also one of the fastest out there in 70.3 races and they were chasing me down. I’m surprised I held them off for 13 km. I was trying to stay with them the best I could but after seven long distance races in six months I couldn’t,” said Annett.

She crossed the finish line in third place with a total time of 8:59:27. Sali took first place with a time of 8:51:54 and Frederiksen second with a time of 8:55:35.

Annett’s season is now over until April 2018 when she will race Ironman Texas and reach for her goal to race at the world championship in Kona. Looking back on this season, Annett was humble in her accomplishments, her first sub-nine hour Ironman performance and four podium finishes (Arizona, Victoria, Coeur d’Alene and Whistler).

“Lots of people are calling it a breakthrough year for me. I made a lot of gains, especially in the fields I was competing against in those races. However, I am modest because those girls are people I look up to and they are amazing. I still think they are a world above me, but I am making my way up to that level. Standing on a podium with two of the fastest girls in the world gives me hope and hopefully proves that I am making a lot of gains.”

Symonds just misses podium in Arizona

Jeff Symonds finished in fifth place in the men’s professional division at Ironman Arizona with a time of 8:20:38.

Symonds came out of the swim in fourth place with a time of 49:39 and fell to sixth place as he rolled into transition on the bike with a time of 4:34:12.

In his strongest portion of the race, Symonds pounded the pavement with a split time of 2:52:54. He missed the podium by just over five minutes, crossing the line at 8:20:38.

Canada’s Lionel Sanders finished in first with a time of 7:54:10, followed by fellow Canadian Brent McMahon with a time of 8:07:40. France’s Jeremy Jurkiewicz finished in third with a time of 8:15:22.

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