When Saanich’s Brennen Smith hit the finish line of the World Triathlon Grand Final in Chicago on Sept. 17 he started drinking a bottle of Gatorade.
It took him three hours to finish it.
It was a “light case” of heat stroke but nothing that was going to keep Smith from running a Grand Final triathlon at full bore.
Despite the suffering, Smith, an 18-year-old who lives in Royal Oak, won silver in the 16 to 19 age group of the World Triathlon Grand Final in Chicago on Sept. 17.
“I felt strong even though I was fighting it,” Smith said.
Regardless, it’s not ideal to throw up during a race. While on the run course, Smith’s body rejected the water he’d managed to drink during the bike.
The stroke started while the athletes, clad in black wetsuits, stood under the the sun in 30 C heat to wait for the race to begin. (Athletes couldn’t enter the water to cool down as other races were starting concurrently.)
He finished the sprint distance (750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and 5km run) race in one hour and 44 seconds. It was 11 seconds back of winner Timothy Winslow of the U.S. and 11 seconds ahead of the bronze medalist, another U.S. athlete, Jack Toland.
It’s the biggest win of Smith’s young career, a bookend to a strong summer, and the stroke leaves him wondering how much more he could have given.
Already this summer Smith finished fourth at the Western Canada Summer Games, second at the Kelowna Apple Triathlon (junior elite sprint) and ninth in the Edmonton stop of the World Triathlon Series (junior elite).
“I’m really excited with how [the Grand Final] went, a great end to the season,” Smith said.
Smith came out of the swim in the lead group and it was quickly down to two in the lead. He was running well when he was caught with two kilometres remaining by Winslow.
“The swim went really well, I found some solid feet in the water [someone the same speed] and managed to stick right behind them,” Smith said.
Once on the bikes, Smith and his fellow leader managed to “drop” their fellow cyclist. The two then made use of the non-draft rules as best they could, taking turns passing each other while “making small drafts” in each pass.
“It’s actually hard [to adhere to the draft rules], you have to keep your distance,” Smith said.
Winslow eventually overtook Smith for the gold medal with the seventh best run split, 17:56, to Smith’s 10th best split of 18:10.
Last year Smith relocated from Saskatchewan to a home near Saanich Commonwealth Place to focus on triathlon. This fall he plans to stay while studying long distance through Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. He’ll even compete for the Thompson Rivers WolfPack in the Canada West cross-country season, eyeing the B.C. provincial championship.