Some unexpected rain hammered the Xterra Whistler course on Sunday, giving an advantage to local athletes used to riding in the wet at Lost Lake.
Squamish's Brandi Heisterman, a member of the national off-road triathlon team, was leading after the swim and bike leg, but it was Whistler's Adam Ward who was first to the finish line.
"I loved it," he said. "Lost Lake was the perfect place for the swim, and the bike and run courses were great I thought. I was actually a bit surprised to finish first, because of the lap system there was always someone in front of you, but I also had a bit of good luck there. One of the other (Championship distance) racers had a flat on the bike section so by the time I was starting my second lap he was just warming up on his first lap and we rode together. He had fresh legs so he pulled me along a bit, which made a huge difference."
Even though Ward broke his chain he still posted the fastest bike leg of the day.
"I broke my chain on a punchy little climb, but it didn't really make too much of a difference. I was about two kilometres out and it was pretty much all downhill from there anyway anyway. I just took one foot out, left one foot clipped in to push, and coasted to the transition."
He felt good at the start of the run, and he quickly reeled Heisterman and another racer to take the lead.
Ward said he liked the Lost Lake course, although he didn't have a problem with last year's more technical course on Whistler's West Side either. "I thought they were both great courses actually, and both were challenging. This one was a little less technical but the pace was a lot faster, and you were also doing something. The run course was a little different, there weren't many hills and it was hard to know where the trail went sometimes — you'd go left at a fork and find yourself on a lookout over the river — but it was nice too, and it was really fast."
Next up for Ward is the Kelowna Apple Triathlon in August. He's not planning to go to Xterra nationals in Canmore this year, or return to Xterra Worlds but will try again in the future. "I have a trip to New Zealand that's a week before the Xterra Worlds, so I had to make a decision. And (Xterra) is not going anywhere," he said.
For Heisterman, placing third overall was also a bit of a surprise. While she's a strong technical mountain biker and enjoyed the more technical course last year, she also knows that Lost Lake can be punishing. "Lost Lake is no easy feat," she said. "It's bumpy and there are lots of bridges. When the rain came the rocks got slippery, the bridges got slippery, and there are lots of punishing little climbs. So yeah, it was a good ride, really fun."