Imagine traveling halfway around the world for a race, only to find it might be cancelled at the last minute.
That was the ominous scenario Whitehorse’s Colleen Latham faced hours after arriving in Asia for the Hong Kong Triathlon, thanks to typhoon Megi, which looked like it was on its way to menace the peninsula.
However, with a last-minute change of direction from Megi, the event went on (almost) as planned and Latham took eighth in the female elite open category on Saturday.
“Basically at Category 3 they start shutting down businesses and tourist locals, and they discussed with us that we may not be doing the triathlon at all,” said Latham of the typhoon. “And of course my bike didn’t show up until the next day, so there was that added pressure of not having a bike there.”
Because of a shortened preparation-time for organizers, some minor last-minute alterations were made to the course, but at least the race maintained its status as a triathlon.
“If the Category 3 had stuck, they were thinking about taking the water part away, so we would have done a duathlon,” said Latham.
For Latham, the top Canadian in her category, the race was a little more exciting than most, ending in a sprint to the finish with seventh-place finisher Irina Kirchler from Austria.
“I caught up with her on the run and we did the switch, back-and-forth for the last kilometre,” said Latham. “In the last 180-degree turn she cut me on the inside and we basically sprinted all the way to the finish. I just couldn’t catch her. So it was very exciting this time for me.
“Quite a few on the bottom I caught on the bike because my swim is my weakness. If I can, in the next six months, somehow get my time down (in the water), it puts me in the top five for some of these races.”
Now in the offseason, with a four-month break from competition, over the coming winter Latham will create a schedule for the spring, hoping to qualify for a world cup event in Edmonton.
“It’s a goal for next July because Edmonton is finally, after three years, hosting another world cup,” she said. “They open up, I believe, eight spots if your country hosts it, for females to compete.
“It’s something I’m looking at. Right now I’m sitting at a priority four, so I have to get those standards and then race a couple of races next spring with great results – a top-five finish. And then I’ll get a chance to race in my own country, which would be awesome.”
Another goal for next season is securing a spot on the Canadian team, but first she must attain the team’s time standards.
“My road standard is fine, it’s the swim I have to do a lot of work on,” said Latham. “They don’t really have a bike standard because the courses are all so different.”
Latham was the overall winner of the Whitehorse Triathlon in June and was fastest in the Olympic women’s division in 2009.
At the Pushor Mitchell Apple Triathlon, Canada’s national championship, in Kelowna, BC, in August, Latham finished 15th overall and 10th out of Canadians in the women’s elite division.
She was also the fastest woman on Leg 9 at the Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay in September.
“I think, to end the year, it was a good one,” said Latham of Hong Kong. “I pretty much reached my season-end goal, and I was happy about that.”
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