UPDATED — Annett defends Classic title

Penticton athlete Jen Annett won the women's spring division title for the second year in a row Sunday.

Penticton's Jen Annett prepares to cross the finish line in defence of her women's title as the winner of the annual Peach City Classic triathlon Olympic distance Sunday morning. Nearly 350 athletes took part in the Olympic and sprint division competition in the Okanagan's oldest triathlon. Nathan Champness of Vernon was the men's Olympic distance winner.

Penticton's Jen Annett prepares to cross the finish line in defence of her women's title as the winner of the annual Peach City Classic triathlon Olympic distance Sunday morning. Nearly 350 athletes took part in the Olympic and sprint division competition in the Okanagan's oldest triathlon. Nathan Champness of Vernon was the men's Olympic distance winner.

Living up to her reputation as champion was a key motivator for Penticton’s Jen Annett in defence of her 2013 Peach Classic Triathlon title Sunday.

Wearing bib No.1 and having the single digit emblazoned on her right bicep kept her going on more than one occasion in the final stages of the race.

“I definitely hit a couple spots where I wanted to walk but I didn’t. I had a little bit of pressure being given bib No.1 and lots of people are like ‘oh, you’ve got to live up to that’,” said Annett, whose characteristic cycling strength in the second stage of the race pushed her too far ahead of the crowd to be caught. “My legs weren’t there today and I definitely felt it in the run but I didn’t care what my run time was as long as I could keep them (other female racers) behind me.”

She finished in 16th place overall in a time of two hours, 24 minutes and 11 seconds, just over a minute faster than runner-up Carmelle Guidi-Swan of Kelowna.

On the men’s side, Nathan Champness clinched top spot with a time of 2:03:22 in front of runner up Justin Birks of Penticton who finished with a 2:08:39.

Joe Radench of Grande Prairie, Alta., was third at less than a minute behind.

Champness found the race route especially to his liking.

The course is fantastic. It’s nice and hilly and it’s short enough that my attention span doesn’t get lost. It’s one of my favourites,” said the Vernon athlete, who was second in the swim and run and first in the cycling stages. “The thing about Penticton is that they really know how to put on a race because just at the point where you think you’re going to get tired there’s more spectators and more volunteers cheering you on, you’re never alone.”

The feel-good story of the race was Rob Smith’s win in the shorter distance sprint division. Waiting at the Lakeshore Drive finish line for him were his grandparents George and Joan Smith of Heart’s Content, Nfld. which has a population of less than 500.

“It was nice to get them here to finally see me. It will probably the last time they’ll ever get to see me race so I wanted to perform well for them,” said Smith, as he posed for pictures with an arm around each grandparent following the win.

The Coquitlam athlete timed out at 1:07:53, less than a minute ahead of runner-up Jeffery Cameron of Kelowna. The Olympic course is a 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-km bike ride and 10-km run. For the sprint it is a 750-metre swim, 20-km bike ride and five-km run. The sprint consists of a 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre cycle and five-kilometre run.

A total of 198 competed in the Olympic division and 149 people in the sprint.



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