After a disappointing cancellation last year, the Apple Triathlon is returning to the streets and waters of Kelowna on Saturday.
“It’s pretty exciting to see Kelowna be back and be putting on the race that I know Kelowna is capable of putting on,” said Kim Van Bruggen, Triathlon Canada CEO.
Van Bruggen, a former triathlete, says triathlon is a sport woven in Kelowna’s DNA.
“Kelowna was really integral to the development of the sport here in Canada,” she said.
This year’s race marks the 36th in its history. After last year’s cancelled event and a hiatus in 2017, athletes and organizers are excited to be back in action.
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“It feels great,” said Nikki Skaug, a five-year veteran in triathlon.
“I love being around the environment of triathlon because people are so friendly and supportive.”
One athlete, Brock Hoel, has watched other triathletes swim, bike and run their way to glory in the past. But now the 18-year-old Kelowna man wants his title shot.
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“I never race for second place,” he said, “so I’m going to do my best on Sunday to raise that banner.”
Hoel says he won’t stop there.
“After this race, I have about a month and a half until worlds,” he said.
“This is a stepping stone in my season to see how my fitness is, and then prepare for worlds.”
Hoel’s interest in triathlon started when he was nine years old — he remembers the feeling of inspiration he got from watching athletes compete in the past.
Now chasing a Canadian championship, he realizes what it’s like inspiring the next generation of triathletes in Kelowna.
“It’s exciting and also a little bit weird for me,” he said.
“I don’t think of myself as an older person, but I have really developed in the sport. And now that I’m in that position, I’m going to do my best to be the best role model that I can.”
Racing starts on Saturday with kids and youth events, and finishes on Sunday when the national champions are crowned.