An unlikely performance gave Penticton’s Jen Annett a third-place finish in Ironman Canada Whistler on Sunday.
Annett, who finished 18th overall, completed the 42.2 kilometre run in three hours, 16 minutes and three seconds. On her Twitter account, Annett posted the she was the fastest on the run portion.
“It was absolutely amazing. I didn’t think I had it in me to pull that kind of run off. I’m not a runner,” said Annett, while traveling back from Whistler. “Usually the bike is my strength and my game plan is to get far enough ahead on the bike that I can’t get caught on the run. It was kind of opposite yesterday. I took it easy on the bike.”
After completing the swim in 1:02:01, Annett finished the bike in 5:32:14 making her total time 9:55:06.
Annett scared herself a bit on the run as she reached a pace that was much faster than she thought she could do. Annett was initially undecided about entering IMC. She changed her mind after a poor performance in Ironman Coeur d’Alene on June 28, where she finished 28th overall among the women’s pro field, finishing in 11:12:52.
“I had a really bad experience. The whole race fell apart. It definitely lit a fire under my butt. The next morning I was like I’m going to Whistler. I need to redeem myself.”
She got it. Annett described the Whistler course as beautiful, but said a curve ball was thrown with the weather.
“It was about 9 degrees and absolutely pouring rain,” she said. “It was cold, very cold. There was a ton of people that dropped out.”
Following her performance in Coeur d’Alene, Annett began to wonder if she wanted to pursue the sport at the top level and if she had it in her. She reached out to friend Jon Caron, a local coach, as she wanted to see where she should go with her next step.
“I have been self coached the last two years,” said Annett, adding she knew she needed direction doing two Ironmans in four weeks. “He gave me a plan for yesterday and I stuck to it. It was really hard for me to hold back on the bike (she laughed). It worked out in the end.”
Among the athletes who pulled themselves out of the race was two-time Valley First Challenge Penticton champ Jeff Symonds. After completing the swim in 51:53, Symonds pulled out on the bike after nearly two hours.
He said it was a not a good day for him.
“It’s tough when I think of the time and energy that I invested into the race to have it go that way,” he said. “Story of my day was not warm clothes and froze. I was shivering so bad the bike was shaking and it was not safe for me to be out there. In order to stay in contention for a top placing, I take gambles and the risk of crashing and injury just seemed too great. It took 10 months, brutal months (physically and mentally) to come back from my 2013 crash and I put my safety first and dropped out.”
Symonds also did it to ensure he would be ready for the Ironman World Championships in 11 weeks. Symonds added that the upside of dropping out is it puts him in position to return to defend his Valley First Challenge Penticton title.
Symonds praised Annett’s performance and said he was “stoked” for her.
“She picked up the torch for us Pentictonites!” he said.