John Connor didn’t waste any time representing Canada in Hawaii recently.
At the Oct. 28 Xterra World Championship in Kapalua on the island of Maui, Connor, 16, was one of 11 boys from around the world competing in the triathlon championship.
He sped to a very respectable sixth-place finish over the tough terrain, finishing in three hours, four minutes and 36 seconds. Also represented in his category were Mexico, Austria, France and Guam, as well as Hawaii, Rhode Island and California in the U.S.
Of the total number of 630 participants of all ages who finished the course, Connor placed in the top fifth, at 120th.
The event, which is described on the Xterra website as the world’s premier off-road triathlon, combines a 1.5-kilometre rough-water swim, a 30.4-km mountain bike ride and a 9.5-km trail run, “best described as a tropical roller-coaster ride through pineapple fields and forests.”
A tsunami warning for the Hawaiian Islands was cancelled early the morning of the race, but the waves were still big – quite an initiation for a guy from the Interior of B.C. who hadn’t swum in salt water before.
“They were a pretty decent size when we were racing,” says Connor. “I’d raced in waves before, but it was my first time swimming in the ocean when I got to Hawaii. It was fun.”
Although rough, the water was warm, so wet suits weren’t required.
The hardest segment for Connor was the run, he says.
“It was long – it was a good run. There were places where it was pretty technical – roots, steep cliffs, you go under and around big logs.”
To add to the challenge, the temperature was hot – over 30 degrees Celsius.
And the bike segment was the highlight.
“I’m more focused toward mountain biking. You kind of relax and enjoy it more.”
Connor is a competitive mountain biker as well as a cross-country skier, having skied in the 2012 Ski Nationals in Quebec in March.
To qualify for the Xterra Worlds in Hawaii, he competed in the Canadian National Open Championships in Canmore on Sept. 2.
He says during the three days following the Hawaii competition he was feeling pretty rough, pretty sore, but he quickly recovered.
Now his sights are set on the Ski Nationals once again, as well as the Xterra Worlds in 2013.
This year he didn’t really start triathlon training until his biking season ended in mid-August.
“I’ll start training a bit earlier maybe… After the race I thought, ‘yeah, I should try this again, and focus a bit more on this,” he smiles.
Twenty-nine-year-old Gomez Noya from Spain, a silver medallist in the 2012 Olympics, was the overall winner in Hawaii, completing the course in two hours, 26 minutes, 54 seconds.