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“We all want to win”: The 2018 Canadian National Triathlon Championship preview

Tyler Mislawchuk and Joanna Brown are in Kelowna to defend their National titles

Kelowna, British Columbia

This weekend is the Canadian National Triathlon Championships in Kelowna, BC.¬†Canada’s top elite and junior triathletes will be competing for the chance to be crowned the 2018 national champion.

Defending champions, Tyler Mislawchuk and Joanna Brown are aware that everyone will be gunning for them. “This has been one of my major goals this year, and everyone competing wants it (national title). I’m stoked to go out there this weekend and make it happen,” says Mislawchuk.

Some of the top contenders in the elite race include names like Matthew Sharpe and Amelie Kretz. Last year in Ottawa, Sharpe finished third at nationals – his first race back after a broken collarbone. “Last year was a good result considering the circumstances. But this year I’m in the mindset of winning,” says Sharpe. Recently Sharpe has had a good run of results. “A 17th in Edmonton was really good for me, and I’ve had some success in the shorter races at the Super League Triathlon qualifying rounds. This weekend I’ll look to continue that momentum,” says Sharpe. Kretz is also looking to improve upon her fourth at last year’s Nationals. “Last year I was pretty sick with gastro heading into the race weekend. So, for this weekend I look to stay healthy and go for the win,” says Kretz.

The format of racing this weekend includes a super sprint semi-final on Saturday and a sprint final on Sunday. Sharpe, Kretz and Mislawchuk echo each other saying, “This style of racing is really cool, it adds another element of recovery and strategic racing to the weekend.” The course Saturday will be technical with lots of corners and turns. “On the bike, there are 16 turns/u-turns in just 8K of riding,” says Mislawchuk. “With so many loops on Saturday, the course will be really fast and exciting for the spectators watching,” says Kretz. Then on Saturday it’s a one loop bike and run. “Sunday is a bit different, but it features a tough 2K climb in the bike. This is going to make things interesting. I’ll look to make an impact here early in the race. If you can’t handle this climb you’re not going to win,” says Mislawchuk.

In terms of contenders for the national elite title this weekend, Sharpe says you got to mark the top guys but also keep an eye on the juniors. “Obviously there is Mislawchuk who is looking to defend, but he’s going to have to deal with us; Lepage, Paquet, Forbes, myself and others. And there’s a good crop of juniors out there that’ll be looking to test us ‘old’ guys.” Liam Donnelly, one of Canada’s top junior triathletes and a member of the Guelph Triathlon Project, says that being able to train with some of Canadians elites day in, day out has given him a lot of confidence going into Nationals this weekend. “However, as composed as I’ll try to be, it’s still going to be a surreal experience lining up beside Olympians and WTS regulars,” says Donnelly. Nationals will give Donnelly and other top juniors the opportunity to see where they stack up against Canada’s elite.

On the women’s side, Kretz will take on defending champion, Brown, and last year’s second-place finisher, Paula Findlay. “Every Canadian triathlete has this race marked down. We all want to win,” says Kretz. Included on that list of contenders is a junior triathlete, Desirae Ridenour. “My individual racing goals this year are to win nationals (junior) and aim for the podium at worlds,” says Ridenour.

This weekend the weather may play a factor in the racing. Interior BC has once again been hit with hundreds of forest fires this summer, and the smoke from these fires finds its way to the Okanagan Valley and sits there. “It’s a bit smoky here. Kelowna is beautiful, but at the moment you can’t see very much,” says Mislawchuk. With no rain in the forecast, fingers are crossed that the wind will pick up in the coming days to help move the smoke out.