Challenge Penticton: T-2 Days to Kick-Off

Sitting here in OK Falls, legs up, relaxing as hard as I possibly can before the inaugural Challenge Penticton, I find myself energized and compelled to share some thoughts in the last few days before the big race. Like most triathletes that are burdened with the AAA+++ type personality (and a little lingering ADHD from my childhood,) I find it bloody hard to sit myself still for any extended period of time. Unfortunately for us, these big iron distance races require us to taper our activities and energy so our minds and bodies can be completely rested and sharp as a katana blade, leaving us with too much time and energy to get ourselves in trouble (otherwise known as the ‘Taper Crazies.’)

Legs up resting and recovering (as well as fending off ‘Taper Crazies’)

For me, this is usually the case; I can never seem to sit still for long, and seem to get in to things that wouldn’t be coach approved. BUT, like last year at Ironman Canada (my first and only iron distance race,) I seem to be more focused than usual, able to relax and keep my feet as high as possible. After a long season of intermittent health complications, coupled with a few good blocks of training consistency, I feel strong and rested for this race. Spending a few weeks of training blocks on the course here in beautiful Penticton this summer has me confident in my ability, with the course imprinted in my brain like a mental map; a feature that allows me to race in a bit of ‘automatic mode,’ reducing the amount of mental processing required while racing, (as I don’t have to think about what is coming next on the course,) leaving more room to think about my current condition out there, such as “how do I feel? How is my stomach? Am I thirsty or hungry? When did I feed or drink last? How is my power? Who is around me?” etc. It takes a load off the overwhelming amount of stress you put yourself through in an event of this length.

Made it to page 3 of the Penticton Herald with hometown hero and Powerbar Team Elite Teammate Jeff Symonds.

With this instilled confidence, and keeping my motivational factors in mind, I’m ready to roll for sunday. The weather looks reasonably decent, albeit much cooler than I would prefer, with some cloudy periods and temperatures ranging from 14C-26C. Personally I like it hot as Hades, but have found this year I’m able to perform in cooler temps as well. The swim looks like it’s a 50/50 chance of being no wetsuits for the pros, as it was 23C on wednesday. The temperature cut-offs are 22C for the pros, 24C for the age groupers. It’s been cooler the last few days so I’m hoping it gets one degree cooler. If not, no worries, as I have my fantastic Nineteen Rogue SS speed suit (although it’s undecided whether we’ll be able to wear them for the swim.) If no speed suits allowed, my Champion System suit has a drawstring and will work great for the swim.

LOOK! They gave me a CAR!!!

Driving my ‘new’ car in the wednesday parade

Being the first North American Challenge Series race, Challenge Penticton has been doing it RIGHT so far. I’m impressed by the amount of activities and events they are putting on for the athletes and the community, encouraging participation by everyone (including events for the kids!!) The local community makes a world-class race what they are, and Penticton is no different. Everything from the ‘Official Athlete Lounge’ at Brodo Kitchen (that uses as much locally sourced ingredients as possible,) to the contents of the pro SWAG bag (Stuff-We-All-Get; bottles of wine sourced locally from ‘Therapy Wine,’ local honey, and more.) They also encourage athletes to visit local shops and partake in local activities, as well as including local businesses in the expo and promotional flyers. It’s really a win-win for the athletes and community, the way that Challenge has made all their series world class events (and a reason why this event will have 60,000+ spectators!)

Just some contents of the Pro SWAG bag. Excellent local offerings!

I want to express wishes of luck and throw all my best vibes of excellence to everyone racing on sunday in the inaugural Challenge Penticton, as well as ALL my friends and teammates who are racing Ironman Canada in Whistler; I hope everyone has the best day possible, and has more fun than they thought was possible (people still think I’m crazy when I describe and iron distance race as ‘fun.’) Kick some butt, achieve some dreams, and keep in mind that we love doing this, no matter how much it hurts on race day.

To those who want to virtually follow the race, you have a few options:

– use the Challenge Family iPhone/iPod/iPad app:

– check out the Challenge Penticton website for LIVE updates on race day:

Team Ossenbrink presents from coaches Björn and Stephanie!

You know you love the pain; once you realize that it’s going to hurt and you embrace the suck, you will perform your best and enjoy the pain. Happy training and racing everyone!!


ps. a massive special THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all the supporters, spectators, and cheer squads of all the athletes partaking in these events. Without your support during training and racing, this wouldn’t even be CLOSE to the incredibly positive experience it is. The cheering on course means more than most people understand, us athletes appreciate your die-hard drive to motivate out there!!!

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