Set in beautiful Pike Lake and featuring an exciting Pro Chase format that forces a battle of the sexes, the inaugural Saskatoon Triathlon, the newest addition to the Subaru Western Triathlon Series, took place Sunday, June 30. The biggest triathlon event ever hosted in Saskatchewan turned out to be an enormous success.
Saskatoon is renowned for its ability to celebrate the summer, and a trip to the city for the race won’t disappoint. Athletes can stay in the historic Delta Bessborough, the official race hotel, and soak in Saskatoon’s great active-living vibe. The South Saskatchewan River f lows right through the city and the River Valley Park system offers extensive trails for biking, running and walking.
The race starts in the beautiful Pike Lake, then athletes ride to downtown Saskatoon and then head out onto the trail system run course. Although many fans positioned themselves to watch the run at River Landing with its conveniently large seating area, athletes can be seen anywhere along the trail system. Being able to follow athletes in full view is a rare and exciting bonus.
In the Pro Chase Brent McMahon, Magali Tisseyre, Jeff Symonds, Andrew Russell, Karen Thibodeau and Sara Gross were among those to go head to head. The pro women had a 12:30 head start, but with such a deep field the pro men had to be at the top of their game to catch them. Eventually, Tisseyre and McMahon battled for top spot in a race that came down to the final kilometre.
Tisseyre took the lead early, exiting the swim in 22:00 and then riding 53:45 to secure a 4:11 lead over the Canmore, Alta. based Thibodeau. As she left T2 Tisseyre was 5:30 ahead of McMahon, but the Olympian pushed hard right from the moment he left T2 and, at the end of the first 5 km lap, was just 2:40 behind. He continued the charge and within sight of the finish line just across the South Saskatchewan River, McMahon passed Tisseyre and continued on to take the win in 1:43:29.
“It’s a little easier when you have a carrot to chase. Magali had an awesome race, I didn’t think I was close until the last couple kilometres,” said McMahon. “It was a fun race, a fast race, a beautiful spot, a great place, I look forward to coming back.”
Never giving up for one second, Tisseyre continued to hammer hard and finished just 14 seconds later. Penticton, B.C.’s Jeff Symonds completed the top three with a stellar run of his own.
“Brent is just unstoppable. When I saw him at the last turnaround I knew I was done,” said Tisseyre. “I got the best out of myself because of my great competition so it was a great day out there.”
The Saskatoon event served as the provincial championship for the age group competitors, with 26 qualifying spots for the age group national team competing at the world championship next year in Edmonton. Saskatoon’s Tim Pierce (1:58:35) and Regina’s Emanuela Bandol (2:13:33) won the Olympic distance race, while Regina’s Shawn Wilyman (1:27:30), and Jackie Hatherly (1:32:24) earned sprint distance honours.