While others are still sipping their morning coffee or commuting to work on Wednesday, Karsten Madsen hopes to already be crowned the Multisport Cross Triathlon World Champion.
“Especially being Canadian and on home soil, I think I have the opportunity to do that,” he said while relaxing at the Starbucks near Front Street, days before the race in Penticton.
The odds are in his favour to at least be the top Canadian. The Guelph, Ont. product has not lost to another Canadian since 2014, and it’s something he takes pride in.
Rewind to Aug. 26 of 2016, Madsen came to the Peach City and won the Challenge Penticton Cross Triathlon championship to qualify for the world championship. When asked about his season starting from that point, he reflects with honesty.
“It’s funny, at that point, when I won that race, I felt very invincible,” the 25-year-old said. “It was a long streak of winning that I had. After that race, I had a bit of a tough time in a race in Utah, another tough time at the World Championships for Xterra in Maui. It kind of really shook me going into off-season.”
A year ago, he felt he was on right on track to have that championship medal around his neck. Fast-forward to this year and a running issue that required rehab started shaking his foundation. But, as with anything, racing can be filled with ups and downs.
Last May after doing an Xterra race in Alabama he got a good test, finishing second behind Josiah Middaugh, who was second in last year’s International Triathlon Union Cross Triathlon World Championship. It was at that point Madsen knew he was doing the right things, working on sustained climbs and dealing with heat. He made a shift in his life, knowing he had to leave Guelph to put in extra work. That shift took him to Barbados, where he trained with Jason Wilson, who competed in the Rio Olympics, and Matthew Wright. He ended up loving training in Barbados and will continue to do that. The work he did with his coach Craig Taylor also helped.
After experiencing massive highs from winning races last year, this year was the expectation to win. He had the attitude to bring his “lunch pail, your work boots, kind of go to work.”
“It was kind of more the mentality this year. Last year it was more like, trying to think it’s like a fairy tale to win,” he said.
Madsen believes the blue-collar work ethic will be a factor Wednesday.
“There are legitimately five guys who have a shot at winning,” he said. “Another 10 could be a Cinderella story.”
The field includes defending champion Ruben Ruzafa, of Spain, Middaugh of the U.S., France’s Brice Daubord, who was fourth last year, Australian Ben Allen, who finished fifth, as well as American Branden Rakita, who finished ninth last year. The race for the Cross Triathlon crown begins at 7 a.m.
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