Hometown Hero Shines in Ironman's Return

·2 min read

Home is where the heart is and for Penticton’s Jeff Symonds it’s also where the people he loves the most live.Fittingly, it was the 36-year-old professional triathlete who crossed the finish line first Sunday at the return of the Subaru Ironman Canada to the Peach City after a decade-long absence.Hundreds of people lining Lakeshore Drive could be heard cheering long before Symonds was even visible to those anxious spectators waiting at the finish line including his wife and parents.With arms raised in his traditional victory pose, Symonds held up the ribbon signalling an end to 8:38:02 hours of swimming, biking and running the 226.3km (140.6-mile) course.Unlike his other pro events, this time around it had nothing to do with the prize money because there wasn’t any, being an age-class-only event with no other professionals taking part.“It just means everything,” Symonds said afterwards about the crowd support. “There’s just been so many people here who have helped me along in my journey through the hard times and I wanted them to be a part of it.“Racing in my hometown just means so much to me. Yeah, there might not be any prize money but I would even pay a lot of money to race in my hometown and have this experience.

Someone especially happy with Symonds accomplishment this sunny Sunday was his father Brian who was at the end with his mother Diane and Jeff’s wife Ellen.“I am just so proud of Jeff,” said Brian, tears coming to his eyes. “This has been a lifelong dream for him to race in his hometown.“I’m not surprised (at the crowd’s vocal reception) he’s been so active in the community helping kids out and I know he did it for them, I know he did.”And speaking of kids, Jeff starts his new job next week as a teacher in Kelowna.“When you trade off doing a race that has prize money versus making an impact in the community being a teacher is the same thing, what’s rewarding for me is being able to make a difference,” he said about his decision to teach compared to a more lucrative career.

Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Penticton Herald