Jeff Symonds’ heart was tugging in two directions.
Compete in Ironman Mont Tremblant on Aug.21 or Challenge Penticton Aug. 28?
Both presented a chance to compete in world championships, one in Kona, the other on home soil.
Symonds‘ eighth place finish at Ironman Calgary on July 24 ended up making his decision easier. His desire to return to the Ironman World Championships in Kona will have to wait. Qualifying for Kona required the Penticton native to reach the podium in Calgary, then win in Quebec.
“It’s always where my heart is,” said Symonds of racing in Penticton. “I like racing in Penticton and training here. It seemed like a good fit and I want to qualify for the world championships here next year. That’s the big motivator.”
Symonds had a bad day competing in Ironman Calgary, but that was a good learning experience in what he said has been a tough season. After winning the Peach Classic Triathlon on July 17, Symonds told the Western News following his win that his ups and downs included breaking his arm in early May while training for Ironman Texas where he slipped and fell awkwardly. Symonds said his performance in Calgary was a good sign that things are on the right track.
“I kind of figured out everything I need to improve to do well for the Challenge,” he said. “I made a few mistakes early on in the swim that kind of put me in a bit of a deficit. That is part of racing. I wasn’t as fit as maybe I thought I was or as prepared as I thought.”
He also learned what he needs to do on the bike, but after having the best run in Calgary, he knows he still has that going for him.
When it comes to the long course distance of a three-kilometre swim, 120-km bike and 30-km run for the Challenge Penticton World Championship qualifier, Symonds isn’t sure what to think of it. Yet, that’s what he said makes it exciting for the athletes.
“We haven’t ever raced this distance,” said Symonds, who placed fifth in the half-distance last year. “It’s just kind of figuring out the pacing of it and the strategies of it and see I think because of that, because of the randomness, I think you’re going to see guys going out quite aggressively, but you’re also going to see guys blowing up big on the run. I think it’s going to be very interesting to see for sure.”
Symonds added it’s a matter of coming in and executing the race he wants.
“If I can come in and have a good race, and have the race I’m capable of, then I’m pretty confident that title is going to stay in Penticton,” he said.
Symonds said hosting the International Triathlon Union world championships is a good opportunity to catch some excitement heading in towards next year. Symonds thinks it’s great that this year’s Challenge Penticton features the duathlon, aquathlon and cross triathlon. Having those events allows more people to get involved as they may not be able to train for the long distance for personal reasons.
“Something like the aquathalon, it’s a lot more manageable,” said Symonds. “I have seen first-hand working with Mike Brown (race director) and the team behind Challenge right now. They are doing some great things. They have been working pretty hard to make this an awesome event. I think it’s just going to keep getting better and better. It will be awesome to see.”