Wanting to test himself against the best, Penticton’s Jeff Symonds took on Challenge Bahrain .
He also wanted a chance at the $500,000 US prize purse that paid out $100,000 to the winner.
Symonds placed seventh, earning $6,000 among a star-studded field of the world’s most decorated triathletes.
“It was good. In that field I was happy,” said Symonds, who finished the 1.9 kilometre swim leg in 21st place in a time of 22 minutes, 45 seconds, then climbed to 13th place after completing the 90-km bike course in 2:06:32. He overtook six more athletes on the final leg, finishing the 21.1-km half-marathon run in 1:12:27.
The two-time Challenge Penticton champ said competitors were multiple Ironman champions.
Symonds said the temperatures in Bahrain, an island off the coast of Saudi Arabia, was in the high 20s. He added it wasn’t too bad, but it was hot on the run. He described the swim as beautiful with massive buildings surrounding the athletes.
“The bike was just fast,” he said. “Almost a big loop of the island. The whole run was flat. The run went through Al Areen Wildlife Park (where he saw an ostrich).”
Germany’s Michael Raelert won the men’s event (earning $100,000) in a time of 3:36:04, followed by another German, Andreas Dreitz, with Tim Reed from Australia taking third place. The women’s event was won by Denmark’s Helle Frederiksen in 3:55:50, with Great Britain’s Rachel Joyce and Jodie Swallow filling the minor spots on the women’s podium.
“Kevin and I are deeply proud of Jeff’s achievement,” said Michael Brown, in a statement on behalf of himself and Kevin Cutjar, co-owners of the Penticton event. “Achieving seventh place in this world-class field – one of the strongest ever assembled for a race of this distance – is well deserved for this hard-working athlete.”
Brown attended the Bahrain event to support Symonds and build awareness of Penticton’s own Challenge Family triathlon.
Symonds said all the top athletes were flown out to Bahrain and put in five-star hotels.
“They really took good care of us,” said Symonds, adding that singer Akon performed after. “They really wanted to show the world they could host an amazing triathlon. They didn’t really spare too much expense. It was amazing.”
Next up for Symonds could be Challenge Dubai in February.