Alberta’s Russell Pennock and Quebec’s Emy Legault captured the first men’s and women’s titles of the four-race 2014 National Junior Triathlon Series in Pike Lake, Saskatchewan on Saturday. National Junior Series athletes compete in the sprint distance consisting of a 750 m swim, 20 km bike and 5 km run. Pennock is the 19-year-old brother of National Development Team athlete, Ellen Pennock. The junior athlete battled through windy conditions to win the opening title in 55:54. At just 17, Legault, took the women’s win in 1:02:59.
The swim was very cold which made for a challenging start. “It was so cold today. I couldn’t feel my feet which made it very difficult,” said Pennock. Nonetheless, Pennock worked hard on the bike with Jeremy Briand, of Sainte-Julie, Que., and Regina’s Brennan Smith to bridge the gap on three athletes who stayed away from the pack until the 18 kilometre mark of the bike course.
With the lead group setting themselves up for a five-kilometre sprint finish on the run, Pennock pulled away from Briand and Xavier Grenier-Talavera, of Vaudreuil, Que., to capture the gold medal. Grenier-Talavera ended up in second in 56:17, while Briand was third in 56:26.
“The conditions were so hard to race in today,” said Grenier-Talavera. “I worked hard to stay away on the break on the bike, but we got caught with two kilometres to go. There was cross and headwinds all day on the bike. My legs were cooked, and the winds just made the run harder for everyone.”
Meanwhile, Emy Legault of Ile Perrot, Que., also survived the mental and physical test along with a difficult swim to win the women’s race. “It was a weird swim because I stayed wide on the right,” said Legault. “I felt really good on the run for the first time this season. The hill was so tough on the final lap of the run, but I knew that was it. It was cold and difficult, but I worked hard at turning as many things into positives today.”
Fellow-Quebecer, Elizabeth Boutin, was second in 1:03:20 and Samantha Klus, of Kanata, Ont., rounded out the women’s podium in third at 1:04:04.
The National Junior Series is the nation’s premier development race circuit, which allows athletes and coaches the appropriate focal points for training and monitoring athlete progression. The annual four-race series, which also includes two stops in Quebec and one in British Columbia, is used by Triathlon Canada for World Junior Team and Canada Games selections. The National Junior Series has produced a crop of rising stars for Canada on the international stage including: Joanna Brown; Ellen Pennock; Amelie Kretz; Paula Findlay; and Sarah-Anne Brault.
Canada’s top junior triathletes will now head to Quebec City for the second stop of the Tour set for July 12 and 13.
For more info: www.triathloncanada.com