Illness prevented me from covering the debut of Challenge Penticton.
I kept myself in the loop, however, through Twitter and TV.
Waking up Sunday morning I watched the start as I was curious to see how many spectators lined Okanagan Lake. Then I returned to my bed.
Between watching movies, TV and playing FIFA 12 on my PS3, I grabbed my phone and scrolled through Twitter to check messages posted by Sophia Chadwick, the girlfriend of eventual Challenge Penticton champ, Jeff Symonds. Prior to starting the race, Symonds joked that Chadwick was hijacking his account.
Between her posts and Challenge Penticton’s, it provided me with intrigue throughout the day.
It got me thinking: Why on earth do you need to actually head downtown or any other location to watch these athletes in action when you can be kept in the know through social media, then stretch out on your couch or comfy recliner and watch on TV as the winners near the finish line?
Well, if you love watching triathlons, you miss out on the atmosphere.
What made it interesting for me was following Symonds as well as Jen Annett and Janelle Morrison. Locals performing well on their home turf always makes for a better story. Symonds is also a very nice person, which tends to have you hoping that person will win.
As I read each message, his lead grew. A part of me was surprised, but that was mainly because I didn’t know what to expect of Symonds. I constantly wondered if he would maintain his lead, especially after his terrible bike crash. This course has been known to get to the best athletes. Just when you think a contender has a shot at winning, something happens and another person prevails in pursuit of crossing the finish line first with a massive crowd cheering them on. During an interview with Annett, she said the toughest part of the triathlon for her is the final seven kilometres of the run.
As I read a post on Twitter saying that Symonds was on Lakeshore Drive making his way to the finish line, my sole focus shifted to the tube. As Symonds crossed the finish line full of excitement and jacked up from what he accomplished, I also thought to myself, what a different view I have from high above. I could see the throng of media and volunteers at the line. Kind of weird not being there as I had been for five Subaru Ironman Canada triathlons.
If you are the type of person who does not handle large crowds well, I definitely recommend following Challenge Penticton athletes the way I just did as it provides a different perspective.
However, I agree with most people that you get the best experience of enjoying a sporting event by being there.
Before I end this, I want to offer my congratulations to Symonds on his incredible performance. Same to the other winners and finishers, including my friend Kevin Laycock, who was part of the relay team, Blood, Sweat and Beers.
Emanuel Sequeira is the sports editor of the Penticton Western News.