2017 Cross Tri World Champs Penticton Canada - by Hoff
Penticton is a smallish town 5 hours south east of Vancouver that probably wouldn’t be on most people’s list of places to visit when travelling to the West Coast of Canada. The plans were hatched before we’d even raced the 2016 World Champs. Chris was going because his wife originally hails from Penticton and still has family there. He floated the idea with me to bring the family along. I said my wife wouldn’t buy it, but when I asked her she was all for it. So we were in, small details of qualifying which wasn’t much of an issue, they can take 20 athletes per age group and as it turned out Chris and I would be the only two to nominate to go, so that part was easy.

Chris soon floated the idea of a second race, doing Xterra Canmore in the Canadian Rockies two and a half weeks before worlds. This raised the suspicion of my wife, but when I sent her a panorama of Canmore she was happy to stop there too. For those not aware, Canmore is a smallish town 30k west of Banff but much nicer and far less touristy. I had a solid race there, good swim (1500m), then on the bike, someone stood on my camelback in transition and the mouthpiece split and water leaked everywhere which included all of my Pro4mance Prodrate which was my main fuel for the ride. This wasn’t ideal, on top of that my chain got tangled at the end of the first lap and lost 3-4 minutes fixing that. It was a tough 22km course of two laps with lots of climbing, some fast descents and the infamous ‘coal chute’ which I crashed on the day before the race. Chris also had a crash on our recon ride, so it wasn’t a great start. The run was up and down but thankfully mostly shaded as it was a warm finish.

The most amusing part of this race was having to carry bear spray on the ride (in camelback) and run (in your hand). There had been several bears spotted in the area and it was a non-negotiable for all competitors. An experience I won’t forget. We finished the race and had a chat to a few other Aussies in the finishers tent and eventually decided we mustn’t have done that well as the tent was pretty busy when we finished (they had 4 races on and ours took the longest). We figured it probably wasn’t worth staying for the award ceremony and headed back home to take the kids off our wives. An hour after getting home Rosi, as he does, messages us and says “you blokes we’re 2nd and 3rd in your AG, awesome work, did you get medals?” I replied “nah we shot off 10 minutes before the ceremony, sh*t!” So I put my little Emma in the car and shot back up to race HQ only to find the trophies had been packed up, but the Aussie girl (Briony Williamson, the legend who lent me the bear spray) offered to chase them up for us get them to us in Penticton.

We arrived at Penticton about 5 days early, met up with Pete Hepworth our legendary club bike sponsor from Top Gear Cycles!! Pete and I rode the course together on Sunday. It had 800m of climbing in the first 16km, 500m of that coming between 9 and 16km marks. Then it’s all downhill to transition. The bike course followed the local wine trail before hitting the single track at 9km. The single track was technical, windy, rocky, uphill for the first half, and we found ourselves stepping out on quite a few sections. We heard of several people getting flats doing recon rides and this was a concern for race day for all of us (thankfully we never got any!). The downhill section was full of fast sections with loose rocks ever present, plus a few drop offs to keep you on your toes. If you took a wrong turn and lost your wheel, you were going to take off a heap of skin (and maybe break a bone or two), it was going to be important not to sit too close to the wheel in front of you.

Race day came around, it was a non wetsuit swim, which as a better swimmer this is good for me as it makes the non swimmers sink further (and slower). It was a beach start and the first 100m was reasonably shallow and duck diving was a winner to get ahead of the pack. I started in the middle, Chris was off to the left side (he never starts next to me, dunno why?). The gun went off and we both ducked dived our way to the front of the pack, it was a u shaped swim course (1500m) and by the first buoy we’d found a pack of half a dozen. I sat on the feet in front of me and could see Chris a couple of body lengths up doing the same in the same pack. In transition we had our bikes racked next to each other (I know, how romantic) and we shared a few words in transition. Then he took off and I was right behind him.

I overtook Chris 500m in as I tend to be stronger on the bike (and he’s had me on the run the last few times) so I wanted to put some distance between us. Our passing words were “have fun, but be safe”, both of us aware of the dangers of the course. Had quite a few guys pass me on the winery trail and then got into a pack on the single trail. Passed by some more on the single trail but passed a few towards the top who’d gone hard too early. Finally hit the top and the legs felt every bit of the climbing, was behind a Canadian fella and decided to tail him on the descent as I figured he’s a local so should know what’s to come. This paid off as he took me on some good lines and I stayed upright.

We then hit the winery trail, which had a slight descent, and the Canadian fella and I swapped turns drafting off each other, swapping every minute or two as the other fatigued a little. At one stage I said to him “never thought I’d be drafting in a cross tri!” We were doing anywhere between 30-40km, so it was well worth it.

Finally hit the run course which took us through the waterfront and then up a hill and into the local Frisbee golf course, this was mostly uphill before we ascended up to the clifftops on the winery trail we’d ridden earlier. Finally some flat and a chance to hit some pace, actually managed a 4:10 and 4:17 at this stage. Got the to the turnaround just on halfway and coming back at about 700m I saw Chris so knew I had 1.4km on him so unless something went wrong I’d get one up on him again (always important!). Also got my first sighting of Pete as well who was about 500m behind Chris. After this we descended down the cliff face to the water’s edge for a short water run on the sand before returning to the waterfront to hit the finishing chute.
I finished in 2hr 47, Chris was home in 2:54:47, with Pete Hepworth pipping Chris by 16 second with a 2:54:31. I was home in 8th in the 30-34 AG, Chris was 10th in the 30-34 as well and Pete managed a 7th in the 50-54 AG. This was my most complete Cross Tri, had a great swim, solid bike without going too hard which allowed me to have my best run in a cross tri.

The experience of racing an international race with your mates is awesome as is donning the green and gold. Two days before leaving Canada for home I got an email to say I’d been offered a roll down spot from Xterra Canmore to go to Xterra Maui World Champs. This was to be my next goal in the next few years, so to get a spot now was quite unexpected but I’ve taken it. Looking forward to the challenge that the Hawaiian heat and hills will bring. My only regret is that Chris won’t be there as well…going to have to find someone else to heckle and laugh with in T1!

Posted on 16 Sep 2017 by Anna
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