Vernon's Nathan Champness clenches his fists and look skyward as he wins the first ever Fresh Air Kelowna Cherry Blossom Triathlon.

Champness triumphs at first Cherry Blossom Triathlon

First annual three-stage race begin with swim inside H2O, followed by bike and run

The inclement weather did little to dampen the spirits of competitors last weekend at the first edition of the Fresh Air Kelowna Cherry Blossom Triathlon.

Athletes from B.C., Alberta and Washington gathered for the inaugural event, which featured a 700-metre pool swim at the H2O Aquatic Centre, followed by a 21 km bike ride up into East Kelowna.

A fast, furious, and very scenic, 5 km run completed the trio of disciplines, with athletes making their way around the Capital News Centre marsh trails, Michaelbrook Golf Course and the Mission Greenway before crossing the line back outside the H2O.

The event was directed by local Olympians Malindi Elmore and Graham Hood, along with James Young of the Kelowna Triathlon Club, no strangers to the racing scene.

The competition was fierce with Vernon’s Nathan Champness taking the title in the men’s race with a time of one hour 3 minutes 28 seconds.

Second-place finisher Kelowna’s Jake Van Allen needed his race best 17:47 run split to fend off fellow Kelown’s Chad Reid who arrived in third, a mere 18 seconds behind.

Penticton’s Jen Annett overcame a blistering 1:30 swim deficit, laid down by Kelowna’s Carmelle Guidi-Swan, to take the women’s title in a time of 1:12:13. West Kelowna’s Claire Young arrived in third place with a scorching 20:28 run split.

“It was an amazing day, I feared the worst when I woke up to the rain but the competitors and volunteers were incredible,” said race co-director James Young. “Despite the conditions athletes were smiling, spectators were going crazy, the volunteer enthusiasm was huge and the athletes fed off of that. It was just a great event; a great buzz and a joy to organize. A big thank you to our title sponsor ‘Fresh Air’ too, they played a huge part in making this a success.”


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