QUEBEC – Canada’s toughest triathlon was a mere warm-up for Alberta endurance beast Jordan Bryden, who’s got the world’s best on his mind.
Earning silver at Sunday’s (July 3) Canada Man Xtreme Triathlon, the professional triathlete and national champ from Canmore finished the 226-kilometre energy-drainer with a staggering 4,000-metre elevation gain in record time.
“I was really focused on chasing that podium,” said Bryden, following his first triathlon of 2022. “I used this race as a good stepping stone for the rest of the season.”
Part of the XTRI World Tour, Bryden crossed the finish line at the Canada Man at 10:52:49 – more than seven minutes faster than the previous course record in Lac Mégantic, Quebec.
A 4:30 a.m. gunshot started the triathlon’s 3.8 km swim, where Bryden finished the swim in 54 minutes and 18 seconds. In the 180 km cycle along the paved Route des Sommets, Bryden was firmly in second place and rode to five hours, 20 minutes and 54 seconds. The final portion of the triathlon is the 42 km road and trail run, which finished at the summit of Mont-Mégantic at the astronomical observatory. Bryden held onto second place, finishing the leg at a time of four hours, 33 minutes and six seconds.
In first place was Quebec’s Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches at a scorching time and new course record of 9:40:01. In third was Nick Cosman at 10:57:04.
The XTRI race series, which has events in 16 countries, is designed after the Norseman triathlon for being notoriously difficult.
“I’ve been racing in triathlon for over 20 years and this [Canada Man] is just a different challenge; you’re really battling yourself in a lot of ways,” Bryden said.
The final 11 km of the technical race were the most stressful part for Bryden. Trail running uphill to the finish line and constantly stepping up on big boulders, the six-foot-five athlete said the cross-country part is very different than anything in Canmore.
“Unfortunately, I just had zero trail running training in my legs going into this,” he said.
In 2019, Bryden won the Ultraman World Championships and finished third in Canada Man, getting a crash-course lesson in the Quebec race. After darting out to a 20-minute lead, Bryden got caught and passed on the final stage that snakes up to the observatory.
With the pandemic, Bryden hasn’t competed much since 2020. Other challenges that came from the pandemic, such as finding proper training venues and disappearing sponsorships, contributed to some motivation loss.
Three years since he last competed in the Canada Man, Bryden anticipated every twist and turn along the way, finishing more than 20 minutes faster than before.
“It’s been rewarding trying to work your way back to the top,” he said.
Bryden’s exceptional top-two result qualifies him for the exclusive XTRI’s 2023 World Championships in Norway.
"With only 250 total spots – pro and age group – up for grabs each year it is one of the most coveted 'bucket list' races in the world in our sport," he said.
Before then, Bryden will have a slight change of pace toward the end of the 2022 season.
This Sept. 16-18, he’ll be organizing the Canmore Crux Triathlon and Gravel Bike Race, a new off road triathlon stage race.
“I haven’t heard of anything that’s taken triathlon in that way where it’s gravel and there’s this big gravel movement going on in cycling at the moment,” said Bryden. “It’s a nice way to get everyone out there and involved in this cool spot.”