elite pro­file

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - CONTENTS - By Shawn Skene

Chantell Wid­ney

Chantell Wid­ney had the sea­son of her life in 2013. The tal­ented mul­ti­sport ath­lete grabbed third place at the itu Cross Triathlon World Cham­pi­onships last year at The Hague, Nether­lands. The 33-year-old fol­lowed that per­for­mance with a podium fin­ish at Xterra Italy one week later. Adding a win at Xterra Can­more, and an­other podium plac­ing in Utah at the Xterra US Cham­pi­onships in Septem­ber, pro­vided an ex­cel­lent gauge of things to come at the Xterra World Cham­pi­onships in Maui in Oc­to­ber, where she placed sixth. Wid­ney’s sixth place fin­ish capped off a bril­liant sea­son and pro­vided plenty of op­ti­mism for 2014 and be­yond.

From hum­ble be­gin­nings

Chantell Wid­ney, now liv­ing in Ed­mon­ton, was raised in New Sarepta, a quaint ham­let nes­tled in cen­tral Al­berta that has a pop­u­la­tion of 500. The prairie com­mu­nity was where Wid­ney es­tab­lished her foun­da­tion in ath­let­ics as she par­tic­i­pated in most of the sports of­fered at school and in the com­mu­nity. While at­tend­ing the Univer­sity of Al­berta and work­ing on her ki­ne­si­ol­ogy de­gree, she dis­cov­ered her nat­u­ral run­ning abil­ity on the track where she spe­cial­ized in the 800 m and 1,500 m and even­tu­ally took up crosscountry run­ning.

Over­com­ing a se­ries of run­ning in­juries in 2006, Wid­ney started to swim and bike to main­tain fit­ness. With no back­ground in swim­ming, Wid­ney was forced to start her swim train­ing in the slow lanes, but quickly de­vel­oped an ef­fi­cient stroke.

Hooked

Even­tu­ally, one of Wid­ney’s coaches con­vinced her to en­ter a triathlon in Ed­mon­ton. On race day, Wid­ney showed up with a bor­rowed bike from her coach’s wife. Open­ing the race, Wid­ney strug­gled out of the wa­ter with a six-minute deficit to over­come on the bike and run. De­ter­minedly, Wid­ney pow­ered her way to the front of the race and used her run­ning prow­ess to win. From that mo­ment on, Wid­ney was cap­ti­vated by triathlon life­style de­spite find­ing her first race dif­fi­cult.

“It was so hard on the run; I just could not be­lieve how hard it was,” said Wid­ney, de­scrib­ing how she felt af­ter her first triathlon ex­pe­ri­ence. How­ever, she quickly dis­carded any neg­a­tive mem­o­ries of the race and pro­ceeded to tackle train­ing in earnest for her next triathlon, all at the age of 26. Wid­ney was now able to ramp up her to­tal train­ing vol­ume, fu­elling her suc­cess. “I could now just train more,” she ex­cit­edly re­call­ing her start in triathlon. Train­ing in three sep­a­rate dis­ci­plines was in­trigu­ing as well as at­trac­tive to Wid­ney, and a mul­ti­sport ath­lete was born.

Now, Wid­ney has raced in the itu Con­ti­nen­tal and World Cup cir­cuit for six years, as well as mak­ing ap­pear­ances in cy­clocross and cross-coun­try ski races. She boasts stand-alone run PBs of 34:20 for 10 km and 16:16 for 5 km.

Be­hind Wid­ney there is the tire­less sup­port of her hus­band and their five-year-old daugh­ter. Through­out her ca­reer, run coach Glen Play­fair has been in­stru­men­tal in her run suc­cess, as has strength coach Linda Blade. Most re­cently triathlon coach Patrick Kelly has been over­see­ing Wid­ney’s train­ing and her re­cent suc­cess can be di­rectly at­trib­uted to the vet­eran coach’s abil­ity to tap into an ath­lete’s skills, while tak­ing ad­van­tage of their strengths.

Swim­ming was the least nat­u­ral sport of the three for Wid­ney who has ex­celled in the wa­ter con­sid­er­ing she had no sig­nif­i­cant time in a pool un­til she was 26. Wid­ney loves rid­ing tough ter­rain, “I like hurt­ing on the bike,” she says, while run­ning is close to her heart. “Run­ning is so raw, you need so lit­tle equip­ment and you just head out the door.” Her men­tal game is where she fo­cuses on get­ting into her zone and ig­nor­ing the thoughts of bet­ter­ing any­one around her.

Big plans for 2014

The multi-tal­ented Chantell Wid­ney is shoot­ing to make not one, but three world cham­pi­onship races for the 2014 race sea­son. She is hop­ing to ex­cel at the itu World Duathlon, World Cross and Xterra World cham­pi­onship races this year. We’re sure we’ll hear more from Wid­ney this year.

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