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Racers embrace the rain at Wasa Triathlon

BIRD IN FLIGHT: For the second year in a row, Jon Bird of Calgary is the Olympic Distance winner at the Wasa Triathlon. The 21st edition of the popular endurance race, which draws competitors from all over Western Canada and the U.S., took place Saturday and Sunday, June 14 and 15. - Trevor Crawley photo
BIRD IN FLIGHT: For the second year in a row, Jon Bird of Calgary is the Olympic Distance winner at the Wasa Triathlon. The 21st edition of the popular endurance race, which draws competitors from all over Western Canada and the U.S., took place Saturday and Sunday, June 14 and 15.
— image credit: Trevor Crawley photo

Rain didn't scare away the competitors on Sunday morning, as athletes came out to test their endurance at the 21st annual Gerick Sports Wasa Triathlon.

Athletes locally, regionally and abroad descended onto the course Sunday morning, braving a light spittle of precipitation that eventually cleared up as the racers transitioned from the swim to the bike to the run.

The course is made up of two distances: the Sprint, which is 750-metre swim, a 20-kilometre bike, and a five-kilometre run, while the Olympic is twice as long as each leg of the sprint course.

The sprint distance was over relatively quickly, with Calgary's Willy Gonzalez coming across the finish line first with an overall time of 1:05:30. Gonzalez earned his time with a 13:19 swim, a 30:12 bike and a 19:21 run.

Tana Seeley of Polson, Montana, was the highest finishing female, coming in with a final time of 1:15:01, posting a 15:08 run, a 33:22 bike and a 21:52 run.

Mike Taylor was the highest-finishing Cranbrookian, coming in at 11th place with an overall time of 1:16:17, while Baylie Migneault was the top Kimberlarian at 1:24:56.

In the Olympic distance, Jon Bird defended his title from last year, coming in as the first overall winner again with a time of 1:52:58. The Calgarian posted a swim of 19:24, a bike of 56:25 and a run of 35:19.

"[I'm] extremely happy," said Bird. "This is an early-season test, it's a beautiful race to come out to, nice water, great course, the organization is always impeccable—they really take pride in taking care of the little things—and that's really rare in races, so I enjoy coming out here and bringing a big contingent from Calgary."

Despite a light rain at the start, the conditions actually played into his favour a bit, continued Bird.

"I quite like racing in this, just because it's very hard to overheat, you can pretty much redline yourself and you don't blow out, which is really nice," he said.

It was right from the beginning of the event in the swim where Bird made sure to make his push to take a quick lead.

"My plan was to really go after it in the first bit of the swim, try to open up a gap and just make it a little bit tougher for guys," Bird said. "I find if they can sit on you for the whole swim, it kind of plays to their favour and you end up doing more work.

"...That bike, it was tough heading towards Cranbrook. A little bit of headwind, a little bit of rain, it wasn't great, but it's the same conditions for everybody. Coming home, just hustling at 60K an hour, and that was super fun, and you just got to stay upright because you're moving so fast.

"The run's always good. There's always so many aid stations here and the aid station volunteers are so awesome. It's rare that you're by yourself for very long, you have a cyclist with you, which is pretty cool."

Sharon Styles from Carstairs, Alberta, came in as the top female finisher with a time of 2:11:29.

Chris Kostiuk was the top local finisher out of Kimberley, with a time of 2:21:38, good for 30th overall, while Tim Fix was the highest placing Cranbrookian at 2:23:44.

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