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There's a first Challenge for everyone

Nathan Champness and Tara Ivanitz after a race. The two are both competing in Challenge Penticton on Sunday.
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August 22, 2014 - 4:00 PM

PENTICTON - Tara Ivanitz sits at the back of the room with a smile on her face as she watches her boyfriend, Nathan Champness sit on a panel at the front of the room filled with professional triathletes who will be participating in Challenge Penticton this weekend.

While her beau is a seasoned athlete, finishing sixth in last year’s inaugural Challenge race, this is Ivanitz’s first iron-distance triathlon — well, sort of. She is only doing the half distance, but said she would rather do a shorter distance well than a longer distance poorly.

There are three goals during a race, she says. One is to finish the race, the second is to get a realistic time and the third is to race like you’re on fire. She wants to achieve two of those goals.

“I think I could finish but it would not be pretty,” she says with a laugh.

Ivanitz grew up swimming in Vernon, and later trained in Vancouver (she and Champness met at the pool they both trained at in Vernon). She competed in the 10 kilometre open water swim at the 2007 Pan Pacific Games and placed sixth at the 2008 summer Olympic trials, but it was not good enough to move on.

At that point she was mentally burnt out from swimming, she says, so she took a break. She said there was an ongoing joke between her and her coach that she should train for IronMan, and here she is ready to compete in an iron-distance race.

Ivanitz was in Penticton last year to cheer on friends Jen Annett of Penticton, her brother, Chris, and Champness. About half way through the race, “Nathan came up with a huge smile on his face… He was the only one still smiling,” she says. Seeing him race inspired her to start training and she eventually did in January.

And Champness has remained as a major motivator for Ivanitz ever since, especially since everyday she gets to see the drive he has for his training and the sport, she says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Meaghan Archer at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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