CANMORE, Alta – It will be a big step up in competition for Kahlen Anderson, but the youngest triathlete Alberta is sending to the Canada Summer Games is eager for the challenge.
After back-to-back weekends of conquering land and water, the Canmore teen was named to Team Alberta for the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games from August 6-21 in southern Ontario.
“I’ve only ever raced at a provincial level before, so this will be exciting to race at the national level,” Anderson said.
There are three triathlon events at the summer games – sprint, super sprint, and mixed team relay – and the competitors, between ages 16-21, are competing during the first week.
At 16 years old, Anderson has been training in triathlon for five years. She’s worked her way up into being a member of Alberta’s junior triathlon team, prior to being selected to Team Alberta.
“I’m kind of going more for the experience,” said Anderson. “There are some girls there who have a lot more national experience than I do, so I think it will be good just to get that under my belt so when I am their age I can be more competitive at the national level.”
Earlier this month, Anderson competed at two summer games qualifying events in Lethbridge on June 12 and Calgary on June 19. The combined times of each triathlon determined which three males and females would attend the Canada Summer Games.
“Before the Lethbridge [qualifier] race, I wasn’t really sure who was going to be there, so I was pretty nervous and wasn’t even that sure that I could even qualify,” Anderson said.
Her doubts were quickly erased, though, after she won gold at the Kids of Steel sprint triathlon (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) at a time of 1:13:16.0.
Anderson was toe-to-toe with Calgary’s Payton Sheehan after swim and bike, but once the race switched to running, Anderson left her counterpart in the dust. The provincial bronze medallist in 3,000m track opened up a 90-second advantage on Sheehan to cruise to victory.
With one big sigh of relief, Anderson just needed to perform well a week later at the super sprint triathlon in Calgary to set herself up for Niagara.
And she didn’t disappoint.
“Going into the Calgary race, I felt a lot more confident that I could qualify,” she said.
The fast Canmorite finished third – only behind her Team Alberta peers Sophia Howell and Asia Kern – at a time of 40:44.9 (300m swim, 8km bike, 1.6km run).
The Bow Valley Riptide athlete was jockeying for position in the top three after the swim, but lost time and was caught by the pack in biking.
Falling back on running, the track star made up time once again on the feet.
“I was able to out run the people I was biking with,” Anderson said. “I did well pacing myself and then pushing hard at the right times.”
Between now and the Canada Summer Games, Anderson will keep up her fitness level at various triathlons, including the PTO Canadian Open in Edmonton in late July.