By Warren Henderson/Kelowna Capital News
For pretty much every stroke, pedal and step of the way on Sunday, Andrew Russell’s thoughts were with one very special person.
The 30-year-old from Revelstoke dedicated his final appearance at the Pushor Mitchell Apple Triathlon to his terminally ill mom, Ann Russell.
And he couldn’t have asked for a better result on a scorching Kelowna afternoon as Russell captured the elite Olympic distance race in one hour 56 minutes 21 seconds.
Russell, who trains in Victoria, finished the 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike, and 10 km run nine seconds ahead of fellow Canadian Andrew McCartney of Victoria.
“It means a lot to me,” said an emotional Russell minutes after the race. “It’s my seventh year in the elite and to win here as close to home as possible, it’s a really special moment.
“I really did it for my mom, she’s quite sick. And this is the end of my short-course career, so there’s no better way to finish it off.”
For the first time in five years, the Apple Triathlon didn’t serve as the Canadian championships. Coupled with the Olympics being held earlier this month, some of the biggest names in Canadian triathlon, including Simon Whitfield, Kirk Jones and Paula Findlay, didn’t compete in Kelowna.
Still, it didn’t take any of the sheen off of Ellen Pennock’s win in the women’s elite race on Sunday.
In her first try at the elite level, the 19-year-old Calgary native and University of Victoria student won the 2012 Apple title convincingly in 2:10:04. American Anna Battiata was second in 2:11:02. Pennock first began coming to the Apple as a 14-year-old when she took part in the Kids of Steel camp.
“In the past, I competed in juniors and always just watched the big girls race,” said Pennock. “I was so revved up to compete in the big race for the first time, it was cool to have all the spectators, all the cheers, it was really fun. It was nice to win.”