© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
Prince Albert triathlete finished ninth overall at the Canada Summer Games on Tuesday, a remarkable feat for someone doing just her eighth race.
A late start in triathlon apparently hasn’t slowed Anne Charles.
The Prince Albert triathlete, who studies at the University of Saskatchewan, placed ninth in the women’s race at the Canada Summer Games on Tuesday.
It was her first chance to race against many of the 16 to 20-year-old junior elites on a national stage.
“Generally people start when they’re 16 but I started later,” she says. “I don’t have as much experience as a lot of them.”
It didn’t matter on Tuesday.
Charles did the 750-m swim in 10:17, the 20-km bike in 33:37 and the five km run in 19:23 for a 1:05:01 finish. It put her less than two minutes behind the winner and 63 seconds off the podium.
The 19-year-old St. Mary grad swam with the Prince Albert Sharks swim club for 12 years, competing for nine. With a comfort level in the water -- traditionally seen as the most daunting of the three events by newcomers to the sport -- she had a great background.
“That’s definitely the strongest part of my triathlon,” she said before she left for the Games.
Coupled with the fact that she competed in cross-country running races at St. Mary, Charles only needed to pick up the bike, which is widely viewed as the easiest of the three to gain speed on.
With her summers out at Waskesiu, she spent a lot of time on the road bike she received for her 17th birthday.
Her family’s support was much more involved than just equipment, however.
“My mom (Dulcie) and my sister (Christina) have been a huge influence on me getting into the sport,” Charles says. “My mom won Frank Dunn back in the day so she definitely encouraged me. I train with my mom and my sister a lot.”
With Anne missing the Frank Dunn Triathlon for the first time in seven years so that she could head to Quebec, Christina put the Charles family back in charge of the women’s race, winning by more than three minutes.
With the encouragement of members of the local triathlon community like Marty Houle and Mark Nagy, Anne began to realize that she had a talent for the sport. Charles says that she was approached by the coach from the Saskatchewan Triathlon Centre in Saskatoon to join the team after just her second race.
She qualified for the Canada Summer Games by finishing in the top three among the Saskatchewan competitors at a race in Birds Hill Park in Manitoba in June.
The training isn’t for the faint of heart. Each week, the team would swim six times a week, do three track workouts and ride two or three times.
“You have to be pretty dedicated and willing to work,” she says.
Charles won her age group at the inaugural Subaru Saskatoon Triathlon in June in what was going to be a busy summer of racing.
But a bike crash that left her with a concussion in early July restricted her activity, meaning the Summer Games would be just her eighth race ever.
After returning from a team training camp in Arizona, she was feeling tired but strong.
“I’m excited to go see what I can do,” she said prior to leaving.
She’ll get another chance to race on Friday morning when she participates in the team relay.
Charles doesn’t hesitate when asked about the sport’s appeal.
“I love feeling the burn when you’re going hard,” she says. “After you got out and have a hard workout, you have to feel proud of yourself. I watch my mom and my sister do it so much too. Why do the sport? In some ways it found me.”