The nature of triathlons has Chris Bowen often challenging from behind, but he's up for the task.
The Whistler Triathlon Club (WTC) member, who acknowledged swimming isn't his strong suit, overcame a deficit of over seven minutes coming out of the water during the Oliver Half Iron event in the southern Interior town on June 3.
Bowen ultimately placed third overall while winning the men's 30-to-34 age category. He credited an increased focus on winter training through a rejuvenated WTC with helping him kick off this season strongly.
"It's a lot more hard work this winter in the swimming pool and a lot more running more consistently," Bowen said. "I managed to improve my result quite a bit from last year."
Bowen was sixth overall in Oliver last year, but managed to shave over 10 minutes off his time even in the face of an objectively tougher bike course.
"They added in quite a few more hills compared to what we had done in previous years, which plays to the strengths of the Whistler athletes, so that was a good help for us because we're always up and down," Bowen said.
He added that race-day conditions were ideal, with mild temperatures and minimal wind. However, a slower swim left Bowen chasing significant portions of the field, but armed with two strong legs on the bike, he managed to leapfrog many of them before the run event.
"The way it panned out is I came out of the swim quite far down and picked up everyone during the bike and came in in fourth place off the bike," he said. "I passed third place quite early on in the run and was able to slowly catch up with second, but not quite enough, over the course of the run."
Bowen is set to take on the full-distance Ironman event here in Whistler at Subaru Ironman Canada next month, which he lists as his main focus for the 2018 season.
Meanwhile, Marla Zucht won the women's 45-to-49 event and Karen Norton was second in the women's 25-to-29 division.
Other participants in Oliver were: Dean Eggleton (fifth in men's 30-to-34); Maridee Finch (sixth in women's 55-to-59); Steve Wheeler (eighth in men's 50-to-54); and Dale Tiessen (ninth in men's 40-to-44).
The same weekend, five Whistlerites finished the Subaru Ironman 70.3 in Victoria.
Marie-Anne Prevost and Jodi Carter placed seventh and 15th, respectively, in the women's 45-to-49 category, while Nina Harmon was 42nd in the women's 30-to-34 event. Tomas Korab ended up 29th in the men's 30-to-34 event and Mark Gershon took 68th in the men's 50-to-54 event.