'Hairy' finish for Brault

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

KELOWNA, B.C. -- Must have been the red hair.

Winnipeg's Sarah-Anne Brault continued the dominance of redheaded Canadian runners with her upset win at Sunday's Canadian triathlon championships.

The 21-year-old University of West Virginia student finished 55 seconds ahead of international sensation and fellow redhead Paula Findlay of Edmonton.

"It is, it is," Brault said when asked whether the secret of her success was her hair colour. "Apparently, redheads feel no pain. It's not true, though. That hurt."

An hour later, she was still smiling, greeting well-wishers on the Lake Okanagan beach -- taking in the moment of just what she'd managed to accomplish.

Brault was grinning from ear to ear after scoring the biggest win of her young career.

Findlay had come into this race as an overwhelming favourite, having won five of six ITU World Championship Series races before a quad injury that has hampered her recent performances.

Findlay ripped out of the bike-to-run transition area with a comfortable lead and held onto it through the first of four run laps.

But at the half-way point of the run, Brault had build up a 16-second lead that she was determined not to give up.

"It was really scary, actually," said Brault about her emotional state once she took the lead. "It definitely was motivating, especially when I was up there with her. I definitely ran faster because she was right behind me.

"I wasn't supposed to beat her. Everybody races better when they exceed expectations. She was supposed to win. I've gone into races where I'm expected to win and that really sucks."

Findlay, the defending champion of this event, being held in Kelowna for the last time, was unable to mount a challenge and continued to fall further behind.

Brault figured the stage was set for a much better finish when she was right on Findlay's heels coming out of the water. That was a marked improvement from the 2010 event, when Brault was a full two minutes behind the leaders into the swim-bike transition area.

Brault kept pace in a 12-athlete lead pack and then watched as Findlay pulled away.

"She took off out of (bike-run) transition and the whole first lap was five, 10 seconds ahead of me," said Brault. "I was running my own race, honestly. I wasn't, like, 'I'm going to catch Paula, I'm going to catch Paula.' I really didn't think I would. I just ran the same pace and ended up catching her.

"I thought we'd run together and I still thought she'd beat me the whole time. I dropped her and then all of a sudden, she lost a lot."

Brault has no delusions that a fully healthy Findlay would have been able to hang on for the win.

Yet, there's no denying that on this day Brault made her last race of the 2011 season one to remember.

"She'll come back stronger," said Brault. "She's still a legend. She's still amazing. She's still going to go to the Worlds (mid-September in Beijing) and kill it.

"I wasn't supposed to win and that always gives you an extra boost. It was a perfect day for me. There's no other way to put it.

"The whole time I kept thinking she was going to beat me. I don't think it was her best day. She's awesome ... but that's racing."


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