Jeff Symonds overcomes cuts and scrapes to win Challenge Penticton

Excitement burst through Penticton's Jeff Symonds as he threw a fist pump as Challenge Penticton's first finisher.

Jeff Symonds of Penticton shouts in celebration of his victory as he approaches the finish line of the Challenge Penticton

Jeff Symonds of Penticton shouts in celebration of his victory as he approaches the finish line of the Challenge Penticton



Bruised and bloodied, Jeff Symonds’ injuries didn’t dampen his celebration of his history-making win at the inaugural Challenge Penticton, Canada race Sunday.

Fists raised and head thrown back, the young, professional Peach City triathlete shouted in joy as he danced the final 30 metres to the finish line in a time of eight hours, 29 minutes and 57 seconds.

Scott DeFilippis of Normandy Beach, N.J., was a distant second, nearly 15 minutes back.

Symonds, competing in only his second long-distance triathlon, suffered serious scrapes to his hands, arms and legs after crashing his bicycle on a steep hill near Yellow Lake.

The 27-year-old later admitted he had concerns about finishing the race but somehow found the will to continue.

“If you lose your concentration, even for a moment, it can be all over, so I was just glad to get up and back on the bike,” he said.

“It (accident) just made it that much more painful and that much more tougher, but it also made it that much more rewarding. I’m never going to forget this one, that’s for sure.

“I grew up watching the race but I never dreamed I would be in this position one day.

“I guess it shows that anything is possible.”

The winner also beat some big names in the sport, including four-time Challenge Roth and two-time Ironman world champion Chris McCormack. McCormack was a second ahead of Symonds in the swim but did not complete the race.

Symonds finished the 3.8-kilometre swim in 0:55:37.

He took the lead on the cycle portion (180 km) and never looked back.As Symonds turned onto Lakeshore Drive from Main Street on the bike he appeared relaxed.

Coming out of the transition area, his face was more determined as he began the final 42-km leg of the race which he ran in a time of 2:47:31.

His cycling time was 4:43:26, fastest overall.

Jamie Whyte of New Zealand was third (8:56:08) followed by Canadians Adam O’Meara of Victoria (9:08:34) and Chillwack’s Anthony Toth (9:10:14).

Sunday was also a special day for another hometown favourite, Jen Annett, competing in her first distance triathlon as a professional.

She wound up third (9:58:23) behind Karen Thibodeau (9:41:42) of Canmore, Alta., and winner Lester Carrie of Australia (9:27:26).

“I had to keep telling myself that it wasn’t any different (as a pro) because really at the end of the day it’s not,” said Annett who crossed the finish line with husband Jason and 15-month-old son Nixon.

“I still had to race to my capabilities. and not anybody else’s race.”

Annett had 10 other women in front of her after the swim but a quick transition time and strong bike ride helped her climb into third spot.

Jennifer Luebke of Bend, Ore. was fourth (10:13:34).

In the relay event, it was Team MitoCanada in first, and 23 minutes shy of breaking the sub-eight hour Guinness World Record cut-off. Team members included Sean Penhale, Scott Curry and Blaine Penny.

 

 

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