Canada’s Ellen Pennock and Andrew Russell thrilled the hometown fans lining the streets of Kelowna, B.C. while running to gold at the ITU Premium Pan American Cup on Sunday.
Calgary’s 19-year-old Pennock, who had little expectations heading into the race while fighting a back injury, shook off any negative pre-race thoughts while plunging into the waters of Lake Okanagan for the 1.5-kilometre swim to start off a memorable afternoon highlighted with her first international victory as an elite athlete. The rising star in the sport of triathlon clocked a golden time of 2:10.04 in the women’s race.
“I’ve always done the Kelowna race and always remember watching the big girls,” said the bright-eyed Pennock, whose previous best was a fourth-place finish earlier this summer at a World Cup in Edmonton. “There’s great music and cheering and it is always so much fun here. To win is just awesome. I am so happy and it is great for my confidence.”
The rookie on Canada’s National Development Team came out of the water with the lead pack where she worked well with the other top girls on the 40-kilometre bike course. Coming out of second transition in third spot, the top-notch runner took advantage of her comfort zone, where she wasted no time blasting to the front of the pack of the 10-kilometre run and never looked back.
“My back felt good after the swim and it was no issue after the bike,” said Pennock. “I found my running legs today and it just feels really great. It has been a long year, but I’m so excited for the rest of the races this summer.”
Anna Battiata, of the United States, finished second at 2:11:02, while Edmonton’s Chantell Widney grabbed the bronze with a time of 2:11:42.
Meanwhile, Andrew Russell, of Revelstoke, B.C.,completed the golden sweep for the Canucks after winning the men’s race.
The 30-year-old, who was coming off his first international victory at a Continental Cup race in Magog, Que. just weeks before the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, clocked a winning time of 1:56:21.
“That was one tough, hot race,” said Russell, who is a longtime training partner to Simon Whitfield. “I ran like I stole something today and it was a great feeling to win close to home with so many family and friends there to watch.”
Coming out of the water well back of the leaders, the hard-nosed Canuck dug deep to bridge the gap on his own to the front group at the top of the climb on the challenging bike course. Once completing the epic bridge, Russell worked well with a pack of 10 riders for the remainder of the 40-kilometre trek on the bike to set up his run for the top of the podium.
“The diesel engine started to kick in after four kilometres (on the run), and I was able to bring Andrew McCartney back to me after the first lap. He made me work all the way,” said Russell. “I really had to bury myself today to do that solo bridge. It was one of the hardest moments of my career, but it paid off.”
Victoria’s McCartney finished second at 1:56:30, while Joe Maloy, of the United States was third with a time of 1:57:45.
On Saturday, the nation’s top juniors battled it out in Kelowna for the men’s and women’s national crowns. Tyler Mislawchuk, of Oak Bluff, Man., and Amelie Kretz, of Blainville, Que., won the junior men’s and women’s races respectively. Mislawchuk completed the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and 5-kilometre run course in a time of 56:11, while Kretz led the junior women with a time of 1:01:22.
For complete results of the 30th Pushor Mitchell Apple Triathlon in Kelowna, B.C., please visit www.raceheadquarters.com.
Complete ITU World Cup Results (1km Swim, 40km Bike,10km Run): www.triathlon.org
Top-Five Women’s Results
1. Ellen Pennock, Calgary, CAN, 2:10:04
2. Anna Battiata, USA, 2:11:02
3. Chantell Widney, Edmonton,CAN, 2:11:42
4. D’Ann Arthur, USA, 2:11:49
5. Marissa Ferrante, USA, 2:12:25
Top-Five Men’s Results
1. Andrew Russell, Revelstoke, B.C., CAN, 1:56:21
2. Andrew McCartney, Victoria, CAN, 1:56:30
3. Joe Maloy, USA, 1:57:45
4. Matt Sharpe, Victoria, CAN 1:57:55
5. Aaron Thomas, Victoria, CAN, 1:58:34