The 2011 Pharmasave Sprint Triathlon in Christina Lake last Sunday drew 40 youth and 94 adult athletes from all over the Kootenay Boundary and beyond, but Rossland athletes really shone.
A “sprint” triathlon is a short circuit relative to other triathlons. For the adults, it was an 750-metre swim in Christina Lake, a 20-kilometre bike, and a five-kilometre bike. On the other end of the spectrum, a full Ironman is a 3.8-kilometre swim, a 180-kilometre bike, ended with a marathon 42-kilometre run.
In the adult team category, Edmonton’s Laureta Boychuck was joined by Rossland’s Keith Robine for the bike and Jennifer Ellis for the run. Together they put “Splash, Flash & Dash” in first place by a mile, literally, with a combined time of 1:29:08.
In the individual events, Rossland’s Seth Bitting, an orthopaedic surgeon and triathlete with 15 years racing experience, outpaced the opposition in the men’s 19-to-39 category, crossing the line in 1:12:44, nearly six minutes ahead of Gray Creek’s Juergen Baetzel. Baetzel valiantly closed the gap by more than a minute in his final 19-minute dash.
Bitting tends to race longer distances and said, “because it’s shorter, the intensity is a lot higher. It’s fun for me to do a race where you’re essentially going as hard as you can the whole time. In longer races, you’re always holding something in reserve.”
He still had enough in the tank to bike home that day via Orient, Wash., south to the Columbia River, and back up through Northport and Waneta to Rossland, a distance of 140 kilometres.
When Bitting moved here, a number of triathletes were training independently. He and others formed the High Altitude Triathlon Club (HATC) to support each other and to introduce as many people as possible to the sport.
In the 40-to-54 division at Christina Lake, other HATC members include Rossland’s Carolyn Buehler and Fruitvale’s Carol Corbett, who punched it out to the finish line just three seconds behind Buehler’s punishing 1:27:58.
“I can’t beat her in the swim,” Corbett said, “I can beat her in the bike and run.”
“She pushed me, we pushed each other,” Buehler said. “She didn’t get a long bike ride to catch up.” Both women typically race longer distances.
“I was really pleased with my time, that’s the best I’ve had,” Buehler said. “I beat last year’s by two minutes.”
Ahead of both women by three minutes, Nelson’s Denise Uhrynuk was almost caught by Buehler on the ride, but outran her in the end.
All three of the HATC athletes have hardcore plans for the summer. Buehler will be at the Fernie Tears and Gears on Sept. 11, a mountain bike and trail run duathlon, and then she’ll be at the multisport Kaslo Suffer Fest on Oct. 1 and 2.
Carol Corbett’s training has been geared towards half and full Ironman competitions. Last year she ran her first Ironman in 12 hours; this year she plans to drop half an hour off her time.
“You’re tired,” she said, “but I felt pretty good. The next day felt really good. I couldn’t say I was even stiff or sore. Emotionally, it colours your world for months, it was a really amazing experience to do it.”
Bitting, who was a gymnast on Canada’s junior team before books and exams got in the way, finds the diverse training a “lifestyle” that fits in flexibly with his family and allows him to focus his “competitive tendency.”
This summer he heads into a “big racing block” of Olympic distance and half-Ironman races, but “the focus is a long course world championship in November, in Henderson Nevada. It’s a four-kilometre swim, a-120 kilometre bike, and a 30-kilometre run. I’m building towards that,” he said.
In the same race as Bitting, Joe Kerby and Justin Livingstone did Rossland proud with times of 1:21:52 and 1:39:29, respectively, landing them in fourth and seventh places out of nine competitors total.
The competition was just as stiff in the men’s 40-to-54 category, with Grand Forks’ Frank Phipps taking gold in 1:15:40.
Rossland’s David Knight entered the race as the swimmer on a team, but by the time he finished the swim he decided to bike and run the rest: He finished sixth, with 1:44:43 despite making do with a mountain bike instead of a road bike.
“It’s my first triathlon,” he said. “The girls wanted to go in it, so I said I’d do it as a team. Then I decided to keep going.”
In the same race as Corbett and Buehler, Caroline Rousselle took fourth, just three minutes behind Corbett, and Danielle Daroux took 10th.
Rossland’s Gabrielle Jangula beat off eight other competitors in the 19-to-39 women’s race, sailing through the finish line in 1:32:36.
Thorge Hoerer, the only man in the 13-to-18 category, blazed through in 1:35:46, a time that would have earned him seventh place in the men’s 19-to-39 category.
In the team event, second place team “No Pressure” was a spectacular effort by two 54 year olds, Colleen Bick of Walhachin and Barbara Shields of Rossland covering both the bike and the run.
Jillian Sibbald and Ann Quarterman of Rossland joined Deb Korn of Fruitvale to take a respectable fifth place. “The Quarterman’s Team” was in 14th place after the swim, but Quarterman fought the team back to seventh on her bike, and Sibbald jumped up two more places to end a full minute ahead of the sixth place team.
Janice Sisson-Pommier, 50, ran the “Nurses in Motion” up to ninth place after Trail team-mate Patricia Bruce, 57, swam and biked into 11th place. Sisson-Pommier blitzed the road in less than 26 minutes, ripping past Rossland’s “Barely There,” Christina Lake’s “Magnificent Moms,” and finally edging out Grand Forks’ “The Pharmers” by six seconds.
An eighth-place finish was stymied by Castlegar’s Rebecca Anderson, whose mad, 22-minute dash for “Earth Wind and Fire” brought the team up from 13th.