Nanaimo’s Ben Rudson is a national champion in triathlon.
Rudson won the Triathlon Canada age-group Olympic standard-distance championship on June 17 in Ottawa, completing the course in one hour, 53 minutes, 12 seconds.
“I came around the final bend and grabbed the banner and it was a pretty special moment,” he said.
He said he felt good about race day, as the course and conditions were near perfect. One of the bigger triathletes at 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, there are certain kinds of bike courses that better suit Rudson’s strengths.
He’d been working especially hard at his swimming in recent months and he “laid down the hammer” at the mass start.
“I took out the first 100, 200 metres really strong; I wanted to break away from everyone in the main pack,” he said. “These swims can get pretty physical, a lot of elbows.”
His swim training paid off, as Rudson said it was a “game-changer” for him to be able to come out of the water in the lead pack.
After the 1,500m swim, he transitioned onto the 40-kilometre bike course with a similar mindset of starting strong.
“I just biked like fury for the first 10 kilometres…” he said. “And basically from then on I was just putting pedal to the metal. I knew that if I could put a sizeable gap into the field, that no one would have the chops to run with me.”
Sure enough, he went into the 10km run with a two-minute lead. He ended up winning the triathlon by a minute and a half.
“Every day at the pool and on the bike and on the run, that’s what you’re trying to visualize. You’re working towards these kind of races and these performances… Rudson said.
“We work so hard here in training … Every day we’re waking up at the break of dawn and busting our butts throughout the day, every day. It’s awesome, but it’s also really challenging. So to have a race like that can just validate all the hard work you’re doing and makes you realize how important it is and how worth it it really is.”
Rudson played hockey and volleyball and graduated from Dover Bay Secondary School before moving to Kingston, Ont. to attend Queen’s University. He only took up triathlon three years ago, finding that he missed competitive sports.
Now he’s a Canadian champ and has earned the opportunity to represent his country internationally at world championships in Australia next year. He’s undecided about competing there, he said, but his win last weekend has him reconsidering his goals and potential in the sport.
“At the end of the day, I’m doing this for fun and I’m only going to do it as long as it’s fun, wherever that takes me,” Rudson said. “But it has opened up some new doors and hopefully, if I can keep racing hard and working hard, who knows what’s going to happen?”