A Fruitvale resident started training for off-road triathlons only four months ago. Little did he know that in such a brief time his zeal and competitive edge would take him to the pinnacle of his sport on Sunday.
Chris Kent hopped a flight to Maui last week to enjoy his honeymoon with wife Heather Johnson, but while he was at it, he decided to knock off the Xterra World Championship race as well.
“I’ve never competed at this level,” said Kent before leaving last week. “I’ve done triathlons for 11 or 12 years, but this is my first year of doing cross-country triathlons – Xterra.”
The 48-year old triathlete qualified for the race after finishing third in his age group, 45-50, at the Canadian championship in Whistler last month.
The couple had already planned to go to Maui for their honeymoon and to watch the race.
“We chose our honeymoon for this time with very tongue-in-cheek that if I got a spot, I’d race it and if not I’d get to watch it, so it worked out very well.”
The Xterra off-road triathlon in Kapalua, Maui, combines a 1.5-kilometre rough water swim, a 30-km mountain bike ride with a 3,000 feet elevation gain and 10-km trail run in what is described as a tropical roller coaster ride through pineapple fields and forests.
Kent didn’t have huge expectations going into the race, he was just happy to compete amongst the world’s best.
“I would like to place in the top half of my age category, but being this is my first one and I’ve only been riding (mountain bike) for four- and-a-half months, I’m just happy to be here,” Kent said.
Kent’s wife is also a competitive triathlete who won the BMO Okanagan Marathon earlier this month. The couple spend much of their time training together and enter team races like the Trans-Rockies race in Colorada, a six-day, 200-kilometre ramble over mountainous terrain.
“I couldn’t imagine having a partner that didn’t do this as well, I don’t know how a partner could understand or accept it,” he added.
Kent, a mechanical designer, also received some local help from sponsors IO Designs, the Rossland company he works for, and Gerick Cycle and Sports in Trail.
Kent almost accomplished his goal of finishing in the top half of his age group.
He placed in 40th spot out of 60 on Sunday and from the sounds of it he doesn’t plan on going back to road triathlons anytime soon.
“I love it, it’s so much more fun than road tri’s (triathlons), I haven’t even been on my road bike since I’ve started doing this.”
Seven-time winner of the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong, also participated in the race and finished in 20th place among the pros.