Penticton's Jeff Symonds and Jen Annett pleased the local crowd by capturing the wins on their home turf.
August 29, 2016 | NEWS|
It was no surprise to see Davide Giardini (ITA) lead the men’s race out of the waters of Lake Okanagan with a clear lead of over two and half minutes on Bryan Rhodes (NZL), home favorite Jeff Symonds (CAN) and Jordan Brydon (CAN).
Giardini enjoyed the lead for much of the first two loops of the bike until he was joined by Drew Scott (USA) in the late stages of the 120 bike course. Scott and Giardini dismounted their bikes together and headed into T2 with over five minute leads on Symonds, Brydon and Nathan Killiam (CAN). The question now was whether the leaders had enough of a lead on Symonds, one of the best runners in long-distance racing who enjoyed the “home field” advantage.
Scott took it out hard early and went to the front of the race as Giardini faded. Behind him Symonds reduced his deficit to 3:38 in the first 7.5 km of the run and dramatically dropped the difference to less than a minute with 15 km remaining. Now it was no longer a question of “if,” it was a matter of “when” the lead change would occur - it happen swiftly as Symonds ran his way into the lead at 17 km.
Now Symonds could smell victory and he put his run in overdrive in order to taste the win in front of “his” crowd. Symonds outran the field by more than seven minutes and went on to claim the win over Scott and Bryden, who rounded out the podium.
The Women’s race had Mel McQuiad (CAN), Karen Thibodeau (CAN) and Christen Brown (USA) running up the sandy shore with eight seconds of each other. Jenny Fletecher (CAN) and Liz Lyles (USA) were four minutes back, with local favorite Jen Annett (CAN) coming out of the water in sixth looking at a eight minute deficit, but ready to enjoy her strength on the bike.
McQuiad recently returned to racing after recovering from an accident that left her ankle shattered and requiring surgery to place pins and plates to hold it together. The three-time Xterra world champion lead for the entire 120 km of the bike with Thibodeau, Brown and Lyles floating behind her. Annett was flying through the field and would eventually reduce her deficit to 30 seconds, coming off the bike just behind McQuaid in second and cheered on by many of her local supporters.
In what appeared to be a predetermined move, McQuaid started the run, then slowed and pulled out early, likely as to not to stress her mending ankle. Annett would then take the lead and made quick work putting in time on the field, with the exception of Lyles.
With 5 km to go Lyles made the pass for the lead, but could never shake Annett, who stubbornly hung on just behind the American. It looked like Lyles "burned up all her matches" to catch Annett and now couldn't put any significant time on the Canadian. Late in the run, Annett repassed Lyles and pulled away for the win by a 31-second margin over Lyles, while Thibodeau would finish off the podium.