Nathan Champness crossing the finish line at the Fresh Air Kelowna Cherry Blossom Triathlon in early May.

Nathan Champness crossing the finish line at the Fresh Air Kelowna Cherry Blossom Triathlon in early May.

Champness on a roll

As the Okanagan’s triathlon season hits full stride, Vernon’s Nathan Champness is looking to do the same.

As the Okanagan’s triathlon season hits full stride, Vernon’s Nathan Champness is looking to do the same.

After a solid offseason and a two-win, two-loss-spring that culminated in a B.C. Amateur Duathlon title in Penticton on May 10, the 30-year-old is looking to ratchet things up a notch heading into this weekend’s Oliver Race.

“I’ve been looking forward to this all offseason.”  says Champness.  “I raced over each of the main four triathlon distances (sprint, Olympic, half-iron, full-iron) last year, and came away with a thick book of notes.  We’ll see how good the studying was this summer.”

In addition to the many fitness and technical details which needed work over the winter, Champness has been adding to his support network, which already included the Starting Block (Saucony) and Breakaway Health and Fitness.  The new additions include Sun Country Cycle (Felt Bicycles), Re-Cycled Accessories, and Save-On Foods.

“It’s been very exciting talking to the owners and managers of each of the businesses. They’re all on different levels of operation, but they’ve all contributed to the community in some way and are consistently trying to find ways to make that commitment stronger, and in that way be of greater benefit to Vernon.”

That sponsorship is perhaps most important to Champness, who looks at the community support given to hockey in Vernon and sees potential for much of the same in triathlon.

“I would love it if we can eventually take all the amazing support I’ve received over my triathlon career and ultimately set up some sort of development pathway for aspiring young triathletes.  It’s a fantastic sport that gives kids tremendous opportunity to develop themselves, both in fitness and in character.  We’re seeing huge interest in the newly-formed Tri Monsters (North Okanagan Youth Triathlon Team), and potential for great things down the road.”

Right now, for Champness, that road heads through the 2014 triathlon season, leading up  to the Challenge Penticton in August.

He won the Fresh Air Kelowna Cherry Blossom Triathlon in early May.

Champness took the men’s race in one hour, three minutes and 28 seconds. Kelowna’s Jake Van Allen needed his race best 17:47 run split to fend off fellow Kelownian Chad Reid who arrived in third a mere 18 seconds behind.

The inclement weather did little to spoil the enthusiasm of this well attended and unique event, which featured a 700m pool swim at the H2O Aquatic Centre before athletes exited the pool and onto their bikes for a three loop 21km ride up into East Kelowna.