Triathlete sacrifices all for shot at world title

Courtenay triathlete Tenille Hoogland competes next week at the half-Ironman world championships in Las Vegas.

Courtenay triathlete Tenille Hoogland visits with Simon Brampton and the 'monster' at Simon's Cycles in Comox. Hoogland competes next week at the half-Ironman world championships in Las Vegas.

Courtenay triathlete Tenille Hoogland visits with Simon Brampton and the 'monster' at Simon's Cycles in Comox. Hoogland competes next week at the half-Ironman world championships in Las Vegas.

By Scott Stanfield

Record Staff

Tenille Hoogland did what she had to do in order to train as a professional triathlete.

She left a government job in Ottawa, sold her belongings and moved to Courtenay, where she can live with family members, and swim, bike and run while enjoying the splendour of the Comox Valley.

Mornings are generally spent at the Lewis Centre outdoor pool, where she loves the odd 30-metre lengths and the absence of lane ropes during a 90-minute swim. She was pleasantly surprised with the Vanier track, considering the conditions of athletic facilities at most towns. As for cycling, she has become familiar with just about every roadway in and around the Valley since moving here in July.

“I do it full-time,” said Hoogland, 33. “This is all I do.”

Her training has paid off.

Come Sept. 11, she will represent Canada in Las Vegas, Nev. at the 70.3 World Ironman Championships, a half-Ironman consisting of a 1.9-kilometre swim, 90k cycle and a half-marathon. She will then set her sights on the International Triathlon Union long course worlds, also in Vegas, in early-November.

Hoogland’s strengths are in the water and on two wheels while she “hangs on” in the run, which has been hampered by plantar fasciitis and other issues. The discrepancy was evident at the Viterra half-Ironman July 31 in Calgary, which she won by six seconds over Sara Gross after building a commanding lead in the water and on her bicycle.

It was her first win at the half-Ironman distance. As an added bonus, Hoogland is the first Canadian to win the Viterra competition that TSN aired on Sunday.

The Calgary race was the third half-Ironman Hoogland crammed into a period of three weeks in order to prepare for worlds.

But cramming is nothing new to the late bloomer who discovered her chosen sport many years later than most of her competitors.

Is age a concern?

“I’m in my prime,” said Hoogland, noting women peak later than men in her chosen sport. “I’m just getting started… Until I’m satisfied I just keep going.”

Until July, Hoogland had moved every two weeks while following a rigorous racing and training schedule. She divides her time between the Valley and Austin, Texas, where she is coached by Zane Castro, whom she found through her previous coach in Ottawa. But since Texas is “way too hot” this time of year, the Valley is her chosen training locale for the time being.

Aside from facilities, Hoogland requires massage therapy, physiotherapy, chiropractic realignment, supplement support and a bike shop, all of which she has found in the Valley.

“It’s not everywhere you go that people can grasp the challenges of an elite athlete,” she said.

The Victoria-born Hoogland lived in Calgary until age 11 before moving back to B.C. After graduating from Port Moody Secondary, she returned to Calgary for a stint, lived overseas and spent four years in Ottawa working for the federal government. She has taken a two-year leave from her job.

Hoogland’s background is synchronized swimming. After reaching the top of the sport in B.C. in 1994, she trained full-time the following year with a Calgary club. Her goal was to compete at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

“I think it was too overwhelming for me,” she said, noting the commitment prevented her from attending university. “I got lost in it. It’s tough to compete in a judged sport.”

After stepping away from sports for nine years — during which time she obtained a masters in public administration from Queen’s University — Hoogland put a “toe in the water” by joining a masters swim club in Ottawa. Then she started competing in triathlons, which are more in sync with her character.

“It’s against the clock,” said Hoogland, who describes herself as a Type A personality. “It’s like unfinished business.”

She competed in her first sprint triathlon in 2005, and became a full-time professional athlete in 2010. When racing at the Olympic distance she had hoped to make the Canadian team for the 2012 London Games but did not make standard. She then switched to the non-Olympic half-Ironman distance.

She gets by on her savings, race earnings, and the hospitality of family and friends who have provided rent-free accommodations the past year-and-a-half.

“I can’t overstay my welcome,” said Hoogland, who has “lived in too many homes to count in Austin.”

No wonder she is craving a home base, which she seems to have found in the Valley, though she is nervous about the winters.

“Which is why I’m a fairweather Courtenay resident,” quipped Hoogland, noting 35 Celsius temperatures in Vegas. “One of the challenges living north is when you race in the south you’re not used to heat as much, but at the same time you can get good training.”

She crashed on her bike at the recent Sooke International Olympic Distance Race, throwing out her hip and limping her way through the run.

“So that wasn’t such a great day,” she said.

But the sweetness of the Viterra victory still resonates.

“It was such an incredible thing to be able to be part of and do,” Hoogland said.


















Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Inside the new shop operated by Wachiay Friendship Centre. Jared Kotyk (left), Jan Kotyk, Paloma Joy, Tim Gagnon, Jonah Hill, Jennifer Corbett and Tally, the shop dog. Photo supplied
Wachiay opens store-front arts shop in downtown Courtenay

There’s still tailor-work in the back of old AnnSew site, with the store in front

CSWM is planning to increase the space for loading bays at the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre. Record file photo
CSWM plans increase to number of Comox Valley landfill bays

The expansion prompted in part by COVID-19 spacing requirements

Cumberland is demanding a major clean-up at a Derwent Avenue property. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland orders massive clean-up at downtown house

Uninsured vehicles, illegal structures have been subject of multiple complaints

Andrea Cupelli of the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness told council the coalition’s needs assessment for non-market housing continues to grow throughout the region, as well as within Comox. . File photo
Coalition to end homelessness asking for additional funding from Comox

The coalition’s needs assessment for non-market housing continues to grow

Work on the first phase of renovations at the Village of Cumberland office is nearing completion. Record file photo
Cumberland office close to re-opening after reno

First phase with COVID measures should be done this month

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Most Read