Vernon’s Nathan Champness rushes out of Okanagan Lake.

Vernon’s Nathan Champness rushes out of Okanagan Lake.

Champness rules

Vernon’s Nathan Champness was grateful for getting pushed in the 20th annual Kal RATS Sprint Triathlon Sunday at Kin Beach.

Vernon’s Nathan Champness was grateful for getting pushed in the 20th annual Kal RATS Sprint Triathlon Sunday at Kin Beach.

Champness topped the field of 156 in 58 minutes and 35 seconds. Jake Van Allen of Kelowna was runner-up in 59:37 and Justin Birks of Kamloops third in 1:00:34.

“I knew Justin Birks would be strong on the bike and that Jake Van Allen would come on hard on the run,” said Champness. “I mis-timed my swim-to-run transition and started the bike without the lead I wanted, and so had to dig deep to re-establish it. I paid for it on the run but managed to keep it together on that tough course.

“My thanks to Jake and Justin. I really enjoy competing hard on home turf and they gave me that opportunity.

“It was also a blast watching Vernon women go 3-4-5 (Alesha Miller, Tara Ivanitz and Laura Medcalf) in the women’s race. With the Kids of Steel Tri (Saturday) being so successful, we local adult competitors need to give the young athletes a high standard to aspire to.”

Scott Tremblay of Kaleden, in 1:01:19, and Andrew Sellars of Vernon, 35 seconds back, rounded out the top-five. Sam Lazar of Armstrong was eighth, in 1:04:20 and Vernon’s Warren Yablonski 17th, in 1:09:08.

Todd Benson of Vernon placed 18th, and second in men’s 40-44, in 1:09:11.

Janis Neufeld of Nakusp topped the women’s division in 1:07:48, almost a minute faster than Carmelle Guidi-Swan of Kelowna.

Miller was 21st, in 1:11:01, followed by Ivanitz, in 1:11:32 and Medcalf, in 1:12:09. Alanna Simms of Vernon was the sixth fastest female, in 1:13:19.

Jennifer Jakobi of Vernon was 38th overall, in 1:15:38.

“We had 146 individual finishers and eight relay teams,” said RATS director Craig Johnson. “The race continues to feature many beginner/first-time triathletes, but also attracts some of the fastest triathletes in the valley like our own Nathan Champness.

“It was the 20th annual event put on by the Kal RATS (running and triathlon sports) and supported by the work of dedicated and hard-working volunteers. We are grateful for the community support of many local businesses and individuals.”

Vernon’s Chris Spooner was 34th overall and fifth in the men’s 45-49 group, in 1:124:26, while Jade Kersey of Vernon was 35th, in 1:14:42.

Added Champness: “Challenge Penticton is the big event of the season; up to then I’ll do whatever I can fit in around work (GNC LiveWell and the Starting Block). I hope that winds up being a lot as I love racing, and it’s always a chance to give my sponsors some exposure.”

The 30-year-old carries sponsorship from The Starting Block (Saucony), Breakaway Health and Fitness, Sun Country Cycle (Felt Bicycles), Re-Cycled Accessories, and Save-On Foods.