HMCS Brandon sailor wins national title

SLt Emily Wood on the bike portion of the CAF National Triathlon.

SLt Emily Wood on the bike portion of the CAF National Triathlon. Photo by Michel Hurtubise

Peter Mallett, Lookout Staff ~

SLt Emily Wood claimed her second national sports title in less than a year after the sailor from HMCS Brandon captured first place at the CAF National Triathlon Championships.

The July 8 event, co-hosted by the municipalities of Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., brought together over 100 military triathletes from across the country.

SLt Wood finished with a top time of 2:23.42 for females competing in the Olympic Distance category, a gruelling race course that includes a 1.5 kilometre swim, 40 km cycling course and 10 km run.

SLt Wood, 25, who works as a bridge watchkeeper, was also a midfielder for the MARPAC’s women’s soccer team that captured the CAF national title at camp Borden in September 2015.

If that wasn’t enough for the family trophy case, she also collected four gold medals at the CAF Swimming Nationals at Markham, Ont., in April 2016.

She says the latest victory came as a surprise because she had not raced in a triathlon for the past seven years since quitting the sport after high school, and had not done very much training for the race.

“It was pretty exciting when I found out I had won and was happy to see I still had something in me since I had been out of it for so long,” said SLt Wood. “I used to do triathlons all the time but I have been taking a break because of school and work commitments, and also because it is hard to train for a triathlon while you are at sea. I didn’t know I had won until the results were posted later that day because the weather was so miserable and everyone had left the race site.”

SLt Wood and the other nine competitors from the base were forced to contend with heavy rain and severe thunderstorms while competing in this year’s event. According to team manager and triathlete A/SLt Sam Kehler, the torrential downpours that had occurred throughout the day and left a great deal of standing water on the cycling and running courses also helped make the victory even sweeter for the MARPAC team.

“We all knew Emily was a super fit and dedicated person and would do well at the event, but the race conditions were among the worst I have even seen,” said A/SLt Kehler. “We were ecstatic for her when we found out she had won.”

A/SLt Kehler, 26, who is currently on his MARS III AT NOTC Venture, was recently voted Breakthrough Athlete of the Year at the 2015 base sports and athletic awards luncheon. He completed the Olympic distance course in 2:14.12, good for 12th overall and third in his age category.

A/SLt Kehler then built on his success at the CAF nationals and recently captured first place overall in the Langford Triathlon on July 17 with a time of 2:09.18, his first ever triathlon victory.

AB Marjolaine Plante, HMCS Ottawa, who was named Female Athlete of The Year at the base sports awards, finished fourth overall amongst women with a time of 1:18.34 in the Sprint Category – which involves shorter distances 750 m swim, 20 kilometres of cycling and a five km run.

Meanwhile in the men’s Spring Category 2Lt Oliver Woodbridge – who previously worked at MARPAC HQ but was recently posted to 15 Wing Moose Jaw- completed the Sprint Course with a time of 1:08.14, good enough for fourth overall on the Sprint Course.

Most of the athletes from the base had a strong showing in the competition, said A/SLt Kehler, who was making his third appearance at the national triathlon competition, but was the first time he competed in the Olympic distance category.

“The results for our triathletes have been improving over the years and we are always looking for more athletes to come out and get involved,” he said.

A/SLt Kehler said that the size of this year’s team had doubled compared to participation numbers on the MARPAC team last year. He said the MARPAC team is currently in discussions with Personnel Support Programs and base officials for a training camp and sanctioned triathlon race for competitors on the West Coast ahead of next year’s national triathlon competition.

Team manager and triathlete A/SLt Sam Kehler.

Team manager and triathlete A/SLt Sam Kehler.

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