KELOWNA – The man most Canadians associate with the sport of triathlon is still the man.
Victoria’s Simon Whitfield held off friend, training partner and rival Kyle Jones on Sunday at the Pushor Mitchell Apple Triathlon to win the national men’s title for an unprecedented 10th time.
Whitfield – a two-time Olympic medalist – narrowly edged out Jones in last year’s race, but dominated the 2011 field on a hot, muggy afternoon finishing the 1.5-km swim, 40-km bike and 10-km run in one hour 54 minutes 12 seconds.
Jones finished in 1:54:36, while American Gregory Billington was third in 1:54:46.
Jones had beaten Whitfield in two previous races leading up to the Apple, making him the only Canadian in the last decade to best Whitfield.
But on Sunday, it was the 37-year-old veteran who held the upper hand. The two were neck-and-neck over the first two legs before Whitfield left Jones in his wake on the run.
“It is nice to get one on Jones because he has been bloody strong this year,” said Whitfield. “We had some fun banter throughout the week. We have become like brothers. Every workout we are side-by-side so we know how much it will hurt to win.”
While Whitfield’s victory came as little surprise, Sarah-Anne Brault shocked the women’s field by winning her first-ever Canadian championship.
The 21-year-old Winnipeg product pulled off an unlikely upset as she overtook world No. 3 Paula Findlay of Edmonton during the run.
“I felt pretty good today, but I am so surprised,” said Brault. “Paula took off after the transition. She’s the best in the world. I never once thought I could catch her or win. I had no idea how the run would go, but I just kept to my pace.”
Brault took gold in 2:04:41. Findlay, who is regaining her fitness after a recent hip injury, finished in 2:05:35.
American Lindsey Jerdonek took the bronze in 2:06:03.
Ellen Pennock and Francis Lefebvre won the junior elite women’s and men’s races at the Canadian championships Saturday at the Apple Triathlon in Kelowna.
Calgary’s Pennock clocked a 59:53 over the 750-m swim, 20-km bike and five-km run, while Lefebvre, of Laval, Que., claimed the junior men’s title in 56:05.
In the Olympic age-group race, Penticton’s Tom Evans set the pace for the men with a time of 1:58:21, with Calvin Zaryski of Calgary second in 2:02:00.
Nathan Champness of Vernon, the top local, was third overall in 2:01:42.
Kelowna’s Malinda Elmore was first in the women’s Olympic race in 2:12:12, while Vancouver’s Stephanie Kieffer was second in 2:13:28.
Vernon’s Sarah Clark was the top local female, finishing 15th in the women’s field in 2:21:19.
For complete Apple Traithlon results, visit www.raceheadquarters.com.