After a horrible few months overcoming an injury, Jeff Symonds said taking first place at the Peach Classic Triathlon is a big step.
“It has been a tough year with a lot of ups and downs and a broken arm,” said Symonds after crossing the finish line at Sunday’s Olympic distance triathlon with a winning time of 2:00:47, almost 13 minutes ahead of second place. “The Penticton triathlon community has been great to me and have helped me get back on track. It’s a long road back to the top of the mountain, but today was a big step.”
In early May, Symonds suffered a radial head compression fracture to his left arm while training for Ironman Texas.
“I was in Texas getting use to the heat and was out checking out the run course and slipped. It was really bad luck and a really awkward fall,” he said.
While he continued to train, with the hopes of being on the starting line, Symonds said it felt like a wooden dagger jabbing into his forearm with each stroke while trying to swim. The result was a DNS (did not start) entry into the official results list.
With a few smaller races since, Symonds said there is no place like home to get his mojo back. The five-time Peach Classic winner, two-time Challenge Penticton champion and 2015 Ironman Melbourne Asia Pacific champion said he owes it all to the local triathlon community and well-known race announcer Steve King.
“Steve has been helping me with the emotional stuff that came because of the broken arm and some other personal things I was dealing with. It is also really cool that the triathlon community has picked me up. They not only celebrate my successes but are there when I need help,” said Symonds.
While the Peach Classic win was not his best time on the course, he did set the pace for all the olympic distance competitors. Symonds finished the 1.5 kilometre swim in 19:48, the 40 km bike in 1:03:13 and pounded up the hills with ease to finish the 10 km run with a time of 35:54.
Next on his race calendar is the Ironman Calgary 70.3 which takes place on July 24. Qualifying for the Ironman Canada World Championship in Kona, Hawaii is still on his mind — especially after qualifying last year only to have his bike break (leaving him with one functional pedal) but still finishing 23rd overall. On the other hand, there is the race he has beaten twice —Challenge Penticton — and the added incentive of it being a qualifier for the ITU World Championship held in Penticton in 2017.
“It’s hard not to want to race in your hometown and Challenge is coming up. I can’t qualify for Kona and do the Challenge though. My heart is in Penticton, so we will see what happens,” said Symonds.
For now he is just looking forward to “rocking” Calgary 70.3.
“I’m just loving every day and how can you not when you are living in Penticton and you can bike and run all the time?” said Symonds. “Life is awesome.”
Kelowna’s Gary Wade finished second in the Peach Classic olympic distance with a time of 2:13:22. In third was Ian Crosthwaite of Kelowna with a time of 2:14:11.
For full race results click here.
Penticton’s Jen Annett captures women’s race
It took Penticton triathlete Jen Annett almost to the turnaround on the run to realize there was only one person in front of her to the finish line — Jeff Symonds.
“I saw Jeff on the turnaround and was counting people. I saw him and was like OK, I guess I am in second,” which she said came as a shock to her. “I knew I would eventually get run down by some of the guys just because they are faster, but I’m pretty happy with the results today.”
Annett came out of transition from the bike in second place overall — in both the men’s and women’s field. Not too shabby considering she has done three half-Ironman’s in the last five weeks, the most recent being only two weeks ago.
“The run for sure is the hardest on this course. You hit Vancouver Hill right off the bat. I do love this run though. I am on the trail five times a week but it is definitely not a course you will get a personal best on,” she said.
Annett got passed three more times in the last few kilometres to the finish line, but held on to be the first woman with a time of 2:15:08 and fifth place overall.
Coming out of Okanagan Lake 12th overall (third female) with a time of 24:18, Annett pushed her bike to take her to second overall (first female) with a time of 1:05:09. Her run time was 44:15. She clocked the fastest times on the bike and run for the women
The second place female, Carmelle Guidi-Swan of Kelowna, came in over 10 minutes later with a time of 2:28:09. She was first out of the water followed by Sonja Futehally of Victoria, who was the third female to finish.
Annett said she will now switch her focus to preparing to compete in Challenge Penticton in August, also looking to qualify for the ITU World Championship held Aug. 18-27, 2017.
“There is going to be a lot of women coming here that this is really their speciality. I hope to do a top five or six, but it definitely won’t be an A race for me in terms of my fitness,” said Annett. “This year I really put myself against these world class athletes so I can gauge where I am at in my career.”
Annett, who finished third amongst the women’s field at the 2015 Ironman Whistler, said the qualifications taking place this year and the ITU World Championship Festival in 2017 will be a great addition to what Penticton already has.
“It is so much fun for me to race in Penticton because I am a local competitor, but it is just a great race for any athlete because of all the support you get on the course from the spectators. This year, and next, is also going to be amazing for the spectators to see all these great athletes,” said Annett.