Saanich continues to be a draw as triathlon central with yet another transplant earning success.
Twenty-seven-year-old Lauren Babineau won the 2016 Olympic distance provincial championship as the top female finisher at the Apple Triathlon in Kelowna on Aug. 21.
Babineau finished the 1.5-kilometre swim in 25 minutes and 49 seconds, coming out of the water eighth in the women’s field. But Babineau took over first in the bike, with a 40km ride of 1:08:00, and stayed in first with a 10km run time of 41:54.
It’s the biggest win of Babineau’s career, which has lurched forward since moving here from Belcarra two years ago to train with her coach Carolyn Murray, a 2008-Olympian and member of the Elk Lake-based LifeSport Coaching.
“I’m very happy to have the result, it’s a good indicator of where I’m at,” said Babineau.
The Kelowna race went very well for Babineau, she was six minutes ahead of the second female finisher. It’s part of a successful season that included a successful jump up to the half-Ironman (1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21km run) level as well. In June, Babineau was 11th at the Victoria Ironman 70.3 and seventh at the Whistler 70.3.
It’s an ideal buildup for the Grand Final World Triathlon Championships in Cozumel, Mexico, on Sept. 18, Babineau said.
“Of course it’s good to get on the podium, but [Kelowna] is also a good comparable race to Cozumel. This was a hot race, it was 30 degrees. That I’m able to win at the local scene gives me my confidence pants. Once you put on your confidence pants, you can do a lot.”
Cozumel is also a comparable course, she added, in terms of the bike route.
For now, Babineau will continue to balance a life of training while working in sales.
“I’m trying to keep my doors open, training to the best my ability and seeing how that fares out,” she said. “It’s step-by-step. If I do well in Cozumel, and I’m able to come out on the podium, that will be an indicator I should go into the pro level.”
As a resident in the Marigold neighbourhood, Babineau is a short ride to Saanich Commonwealth Place, where she shares the water with elite athletes and Olympians. She’s also done track sessions at the same time as two-time Olympian Brent McMahon, who is regularly completing Ironman races under eight hours.
“I came for the mild climate, to be able to train outside all year round, and it’s just an ideal place to train with so many well-known athletes,” Babineau said. “It’s a really great community, a welcoming atmosphere of hard-working, keen athletes.”
Greater Victoria athletes actually swept the Olympic distance podium at the Apple Triathlon, with another transplant, Shawn Wilyman, who moved to the Island from the Prairies, winning the men’s provincial championship.