Home > Feature

Russell Pennock: Stepping up to the WTS circuit

Russell Pennock racing at the ITU Grand Final in Chicago last year.
Russell Pennock racing at the ITU Grand Final in Chicago last year.

Russell Pennock is a young man on a mission. The 21-year-old has established himself as a force among the U23 triathletes in North America and now he wants to start proving himself on the WTS stage. He won the Richmond CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon in April and has been consistently placing in the top 10 at junior/development races for the past few years. He balances his 16 to 20 hours of heavy training each week with school, studying biomechanics at the University of Calgary and hopes to spend the next few years finishing up his degree and qualifying for the next Olympic games in Tokyo.

Pennock has been working closely with his coach, Bart Ujack, since 2014. Initially, Ujack would oversee each workout session but now Pennock gets a weekly workout plan from him and trains more independently.

“I spend a lot of time at the Talisman Centre, a multisport complex here in Calgary that draws lots of triathletes. There’s always a coach and some junior triathletes there for me to train with if I want, but usually I’ll just swim with the group and then bike on my own and run with the University of Calgary cross-country team,” he explains.

Blending independent training with carefully chosen training partners has paid off for Pennock, who made his WTS debut earlier this year at Abu Dhabi and placed in the top 30.

“I wasn’t even expecting to race a WTS event so early in the year,” he says. “But the opportunity presented itself and I took it. I went to Scottsdale, Arizona to train before the race and get ready for the heat which helped a lot. I learned a lot from the whole experience. It’s interesting because you can have people who place in the top 10 consistently come out and just have a bad race. Everyone’s fit, it just comes down to who has the best day. It was a good experience for me.”

Pennock then used Richmond CAMTRI sprint as a shakeout race before the world cup events he hopes to have a  strong showing at for the rest of the year. He wasn’t expecting the win, and says it was fun to share the podium with Matt Sharpe, a good friend and training partner. He’s hoping the momentum continues for the rest of the year.

“WTS Leeds is up next for me and then I’ll be heading to Des Moines, Iowa for contintental U23 championships,” he says. “My ultimate goal this year is to make it back to world championships in Cozumel this year. Based off the results I’m seeing, I think it should be possible.”

Though he’s still always trying to strike the perfect balance between training, school and a part-time job, an incredibly humble Pennock believes he’ll get to where he wants to go with his triathlon career if he continues to work hard.

“Training can be overwhelming for sure,” he says. “Especially being in school, it gets difficult. Around midterms I really had to dig deep to get it done. I’m really looking forward to finishing up in school over the next couple years so I can focus more energy on triathlon.”

If Pennock can produce consistently strong results with other full-time commitments, it will be exciting to see what happens when he can dedicate even more to triathlon.

We wish Russell the best at his upcoming race, WTS Leeds.