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Kamloops resident Jackson wins national mountain bike championship; Pendrel fourth in final Canadian championship race

'Made myself a believer today.'

Jenn Jackson was succinct in an Instagram post.

“Made myself a believer today,” she wrote, the words accompanied by a photo of her crossing the finish line in first place at the national cross-country Olympic (XCO) mountain bike championships in Baie-Saint-Paul, Que.

Jackson, a 26-year-old Barrie, Ont., product who has been based in Kamloops since 2020, posted a time of one hour, 21 minutes and 34 seconds, finishing 12 seconds ahead of Laurie Arseneault of Quebec.

Nine riders completed the race, including Catharine Pendrel, the six-time national XCO champion who placed fourth on Friday, finishing one minute and 43 seconds off the pace set by Jackson.

Jackson moved in with Pendrel in 2020.

“She messaged me one day and she was like, ‘If I can get a job in Kamloops, can I live in your basement? We’re like, absolutely,” said Pendrel, whose husband/coach, Keith Wilson, is also Jackson’s coach.

“Within a week, she was driving across the country.”

Pendrel, who will turn 41 on Thursday and gave birth to daughter Dara in January, has trained as much as possible with Jackson.

“I still tear up when I see these post-race shots of Jenn Jackson as our new national champion!” Pendrel wrote in a Facebook post, which included a photo of her and Jackson embracing after the race.

“Jenn rode with so much heart and skill and took the race to us right from the whistle. I have seen how hard Jenn has worked for this ride over the past two years and glad she will be entering the off-season with a lot more belief of what is possible.”

Pendrel and Jackson (who in May told KTW of her goal to win nationals) lived together in a house in France this past summer, making it home base for training during the meat of their European riding schedule.

“A lot of us had really targeted World Cups this season,” Pendrel said. “For Jenn, winning nationals was this huge goal and something she had a really, really, really deep desire to win. It’s the ride we expected we would see from her this year.”

The event marked Pendrel’s last ride at the Canadian championship, as she plans to end her competitive Union Cycliste Internationale career after this season.

“My day didn’t go as well as I had hoped, which was a disappointing way to finish off the UCI season, but to be honest it does make it easier to step back from racing when I see other women stepping up to carry the flag,” Pendrel said.

Pendrel, a two-time world champion, wrapped her World Cup career on Sept. 19 in Snowshoe, West Virginia, placing 15th at the sixth and final stop on the circuit, her best finish of the World Cup season.

The three-time World Cup series champion competed in five of six events this year and placed 25th in overall standings.

Pendrel has one more race weekend on her schedule this season, the Epic Rides Oz Trails Off-Road event that wraps up on Oct. 17 in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Jackson, who is also scheduled to race in Arkansas, competed in all six World Cup events and finished 31st overall.

Pendrel and Jackson will feature on Episode 18 of Kamloops Last Week, which will be released on Wednesday evening on YouTube and major podcast providers.