The first significant rain in some time on the West Shore played havoc with participants in the fourth annual Metchosin Triathlon on Sunday.
Even overall race winner Liam Chambers found himself with a somewhat elevated heart rate as he traversed the winding 20-kilometre cycling route along East Sooke Road.
“It started to hammer down rain at the end and that was interesting, but it was a lot of fun,” he said. He added that the hilly bike portion was the most challenging part of the course. “A lot of the corners I was going around (thinking) ‘don’t crash, don’t crash.’”
One participant wasn’t so fortunate, as he crashed on the road portion of the race and was taken away by ambulance suffering a possible broken collarbone.
The victory, coming in one hour, eight minutes and seven seconds, was the first ever in triathlon for the 24-year-old Chambers, a high-level soccer player with Saanich-based Gorge FC who only took up the multi-discipline sport this year. The Qualicum Beach native was coming off an eighth-place overall finish (third in men’s age 20-24) at the sprint distance in the Self-Transcendence Triathlon July 31 in Saanich, after testing the waters with races at Shawnigan Lake and Esquimalt earlier this summer.
As with the past three Metchosin races, athletes began with a 750-metre open water swim, completing a loop around the island in Matheson Lake. They then headed south for the out-and-back along East Sooke Road. The final leg was perhaps the gentlest on participants: a 5K run along a portion of the mostly flat Galloping Goose Trail.
Chambers finished more than two minutes ahead of second-place overall finisher Rob Fraser, who timed in at 1:10.23, while Sam Kehler was next in 1:16.12. Rounding out the top five were Allan Bieber in 1:17.52 and Sean Lloyd in 1:20.24.
Top women’s finishers were Carla Hardman in 1:35.55, Erin Ellis in 1:40.13, Amy Francoeur in 1:45.05, Nicole Eby in 1:47.41 and Rebecca Shatz in a time of 2:06:54.
Although pleased that those who competed once again were happy with the course and the organization of the event, race director Adrian Walton voiced concern at the continued declining numbers. Peaking at just over 100 in 2013, participation fell to an all-time low of 55 this time around, which was ironically Walton’s registration objective when the race was first created.
He surmised that its placement on the competitive calendar between the Self-Transcendence and next weekend’s MEC race in North Saanich may have something to do with it, or possibly the 7 a.m. start. He noted the race committee will no doubt look at ways of reversing the trend moving forward.
That said, there were plenty of high notes to this year’s race, Walton said.
“It seems to me that the success is that there were so many people (for whom) this was their first race, and that’s how this race has traditionally been. That’s always been the goal … is that it’s inviting for first timers,” he said.
Full results can be found at metchosintriathlon.ca.