Jeff Symonds and Jen Annett are part of a star-studded group of triathletes for Team Canada.
Triathlon Canada Nation will lead more than 1,000 Canadians to the start line at the first-ever Multisport World Championships in Penticton, B.C., August 18-27, 2017.
One dozen Canucks (six men and six women) will be focused on seeing the Canadian flag raised above the podium in the long distance event. One of the most successful Ironman athletes in the world over the last three years, Lionel Sanders of Windsor, Ont., will headline an impressive six-pack of Canadian men who have all medalled at long distance races internationally. Sanders will be joined by Trevor Wurtele (Kelowna), Symonds, Cody Beals (Fergus, Ont.), Steven Kilshaw (Victoria), and Calgary’s Jordan Bryden.
“It’s cool,” said Symonds. “It’s guys I have been racing against for quite a while, some of them the last 10 years. It’s kind of cool to be in a sense teammates with them … to come up through the ranks with them and now competing at the highest level.”
Six powerful British Columbia women will be a force to reckon with in the long distance World Championship race. Six-time Ironman winner, Heather Wurtele of Kelowna, and bronze-medal winner at the 2013 Long Distance World Championships, Rachel McBride of Vancouver, will lead the charge for the red and white. They will be joined by Annett, Karen Thibodeau (Victoria), Melanie McQuaid (Victoria), and Fawn Whiting (Vancouver).
“I’m excited to be able to be representing Canada,” said Annett, who will also compete in the Ironman 70.3 world championship in Chattanooga, two weeks later. “To be able to represent Canada at this level, it’s definitely a good team that I am on.”
Annett has been inspired by those athletes to work hard and be up there with them, especially Wurtele.
“Heather is a phenomenal athlete,” said Annett, who grew up in Kelowna.
Canada will field the nation’s top professional athletes for the historic event that will crown World Champions in six of the International Triathlon Union’s premiere events – duathlon (sprint and standard distance), aquathlon, cross triathlon, long-course triathlon, and aquabike. All races include elite, under-23, junior, Para-triathlon, age group and open wave categories.
“The eyes of the triathlon world are going to be on Penticton, and Canada, for 10 days in August with more than 3,000 athletes representing 50 countries around the globe,” said Kim Van Bruggen, chief executive officer, Triathlon Canada in a press release. “Team Canada is on a mission for medals and will be well represented in this quest in all race categories with an impressive list of our top professional and National Team athletes, who have all won titles around the world, leading the way. Team Canada is ready to put on a show in this ground-breaking event that will have a massive impact on our sport.”
In the past, World Championship races for each discipline were held individually around the world. Canada was selected out of four bid cities to host to the inaugural event in Penticton given its long history of hosting major international triathlon events.
“Our sport has evolved tremendously over the last decade and now boasts multiple race disciplines and formats,” said Van Bruggen. “Bringing all of these disciplines together in one single venue provides an opportunity to showcase this growth, generate additional excitement around these prestigious World Championship titles, but most importantly, give athletes the opportunity to compete in more than one championship race in the same year at the same venue.”
Two of those elite athletes taking advantage of being able to start in multiple races are McQuaid and Bryden who will suit up in the cross triathlon race. McQuaid will be joined by four other Canadian women including: Annie Bergen (Kelowna), Zoe Dawson (Squamish), Katherine Carter (North Vancouver), and Katie Button (Sechelt). Bryden will be joined by Karsten Madsen (Guelph, Ont.), Jean-Philippe Thibodeau (Quebec City), Darren Smith (Victoria) and Nathan Killam (Vancouver) in men’s cross triathlon action.
Thibodeau and Killam will also represent Canada in the aquathlon with National Team athlete Matt Sharpe of Victoria and John Rasmussen (Ancaster, Ont.). Rasmussen is scheduled to also hit the start line with Edmonton’s Jesse Bauer in the Duathlon World Championship race.
The Multisport World Championships also gives many of Canada’s under-23 and junior athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic pathway additional international race experience close to home. Victoria’s Holly Henry will suit up in the junior division of the long distance and cross-triathlon races.
Desirae Ridenour, of Cowichan Bay, B.C., who won last weekend’s CAMTRI Junior North American Championships in Magog, Que., will compete in the aquathlon. Jackson Konkin, of Trail, B.C, who had a career-best eighth-place finish in Magog will also hit the start line for the aquathlon. Both athletes will also compete in the junior duathlon event. Paralypmic silver medallist, Stefan Daniel of Calgary, along with National Development Team member, Brennen Smith of Regina, will both compete in the under-23 division of the duathlon.
A team of 1,000 Canadians who share a passion to swim, bike and run, will discover what they are made of while toeing the line in age group racing for each of the World Championship disciplines.
Each of the competitions will start and finish in the heart of Penticton with the spectator-friendly courses featuring a variety of terrain that takes athletes past some of the Penticton’s many vistas, wineries and landmarks, as well as the downtown area, adding to the overall festival atmosphere.
“I truly believe, given their rich history with triathlon, there is no better place in the world to give the nod to hosting this prestigious inaugural event than Penticton,” added Van Bruggen. “The sport of triathlon has its roots deeply entrenched in North America with areas like Penticton leading the way in Canada. I know the organizers and volunteers are ready to put on an incredible event for all of the athletes as they welcome the world to Penticton in 30 days.”