Canada’s mixed relay team. Photo courtesy Triathlon Canada.

The World Triathlon Series has wrapped up in Edmonton with Canadians making gutsy performances amidst stiff competition.

Victoria’s Matt Sharpe finished 17th and Joanna Brown, from Ontario, was the top Canadian woman finishing 23rd in the individual race.

“The Edmonton course is one of the most underrated courses on the circuit,” said Sharpe in a statement, who finished in 52:39. “I was up in front in the swim where I should be and then I struggled in the first three laps of the bike. I just hung on and did what I could in transition. Once you then get onto the run you never really feel good after a bike like that, so I died after the first lap.”

Sharpe was seventh out of 750-metre beach start swim. Grinding through the first half of the six-lap bike course, Sharpe maintained pace with a large pack of 29 riders that strung out along steep climbs and hairpin turns on the bike course along Edmonton’s River Valley. He was ninth out of the second transition, but the pace was too much, and he dropped back into the pack.

“I died early in that run, but when you have every square inch of the course saying, ‘Go Canada’ it lifts you to another level,” added Sharpe. “I used the crowd and the other athletes around me to keep me going and went all out to the end.”

Canada’s Tyler Mislawchuk (Oak Bluff, Man.) also had a solid swim where he came out of the water in eighth. Staying with the large pack on the bike, he pulled out of race in the first lap on the run course.

Team Canada returned the next day to compete in the Mixed Team Relay. The young and highly-talented squad consisting of Brown, Mislawchuk, Desirae Ridenour, from Cowichan Bay, and Sharpe posted their second seventh-place finish in three races during the Olympic qualification period for the new exciting event. The Canadians clocked a combined time of 1:22:01 in front of thousands of cheering fans alongside Edmonton’s picturesque River Valley.

Brown took the opening leg of the four-person mini-triathlon that sees each athlete complete a 300 metre swim, 6.6 kilometre bike and 1.6-kilometre run around Edmonton’s Hawrelak Park.

“I love racing for Canada and I knew I had a job to do today – to lead the team off the best I could,” said Brown, who has struggled to find her top gear this year and was coming off a 23rd-place finish in Friday’s individual race. “I gave myself some time to be mad yesterday and was super motivated to see what I could do today.”

After a 16th place swim, Brown was a magician on the bike course where she climbed her way into fifth spot heading into transition two.

“I know I’m super fit and just haven’t showed it so I wanted to have fun with it today and race for the team. I was tactical on the bike, saved my energy when I needed to and ran the way I knew I could,” she said.

Brown tagged off to Mislawchuk in third spot. By the time the 23-year-old Olympian made his way to the water, he was in first spot, but was back in fourth heading onto the bike. Working his way in the elite pack of seven on the bike, Mislawchuk dug deep to keep pace with the leaders.

“It was an average day. I wanted a lot more, but just tried to give the team all I had, keep it in the race and stay in contact with the leaders,” said Mislawchuk.

Things began to take shape in the third leg when Ridenour took the reigns in seventh spot. The 18-year-old made up three spots on the field when she pulled herself out of the water, pedalling out of first transition in fourth place.

The American and Great Britain team broke away from the pack in the final lap of the bike in the third leg. Ridenour continued the fight despite getting dropped off the back of the top group. She tagged to Sharpe in seventh for the anchor leg. The 27-year-old swam, biked and ran solo the whole way while holding the seventh spot.

Recently named an official medal discipline for the 2020 Olympic Summer Games, the mixed team relay lived up to its billing on Saturday as one of the most exciting, spectator-friendly events in triathlon.

Canada’s best finish at a Mixed Team World Championships came in 2009 when the team led by Simon Whitfield won the bronze in Des Moines, Iowa. Team Canada had a fourth-place finish in the mixed team relay at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, as well as the fifth-place finish at the 2017 Mixed Relay World Championship in Hamburg, Germany.

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