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Local athlete featured on OLN reality show.

By Kara-Leah Grant Local athlete Leah Powell is one of 16 women competing on OLN’s upcoming reality television show, The Women’s Power Challenge.

By Kara-Leah Grant

Local athlete Leah Powell is one of 16 women competing on OLN’s upcoming reality television show, The Women’s Power Challenge.

Created by Doubletime Productions, the show features athletic British Columbia women competing in a variety of challenges designed to test their speed, strength and endurance. At the end of each episode, the woman who placed last in the event is eliminated and the winner gets an advantage going into the next round.

"I live with Rob Boyd and he knew the show’s producers, Sandy Parmelee and Gail Lenarduzzi, so he had heard about this new show they were putting together," says Powell, who works as a server at Sushi Village.

"They told him they were looking for athletic women and he mentioned my name to them because he knew how hard I had been training. I thought the idea sounded great and said I’d love to do it," says Powell.

After a successful audition with the show’s producers – an audition that included carrying a 50 pound weight – Powell was chosen to compete on the show.

The show airs for 13 weeks, and each episode features one event, such as canoeing, running, mountain biking and wrestling.

"My favourite event was the one I won," says Powell. "It was the hurdle event, with five track and field hurdles, two high and three low. You had to take each hurdle and place it at certain cones in a certain order and then run back and do the event and cross the finish line. That bought back my track days!"

Powell says the hardest aspect of filming the show was the short time frame they had to do it in.

"We competed in five events a day and it was very difficult," says Powell. "We are all fit, but we don’t do five events at our hardest in one day!

"Plus they were long days, and we had to do it all over again the next day. You are sore in places you wouldn’t normally be sore because these aren’t events you normally train for."

Normally Powell trains for off-road triathlons.

"I trained very hard over the winter because my goal was to compete in the Nissan Xterra Off-road Triathlons," says Powell. "I had three jobs and I trained two times a day, but I had no time to mentally prepare myself last winter."

Despite being unable to compete in triathlons this summer, Powell has competed in several running events, including the 5 Peaks Mountain Series and a Nissan Xterra 10 km run, where she placed second.

"I was really givin’ ’er that day. The girl that beat me was five seconds ahead – not even," says Powell.

"It’s unfortunate that because of the sponsorship clash with Whistler-Blackcomb the Xterra Race Series is all in the States now."

This winter, for the first time in the 12 years that Powell has lived in Whistler, she is only going to work one job. She has finally given up bar work to get away from the booze and the smoke.

"I am going to keep training because I really want to do the off-road triathlons. They are Olympic distance – 1.5 km open water swim, 30 km to 40 km mountain bike ride and a 10 km trail run – really Whistler style in my eyes," says Powell.

Powell’s passion for fitness comes not through the desire to be number one, although she is competitive, but because she loves feeling physically fit and strong.

"I am competitive but I train for my own personal satisfaction," says Powell. "We only have one body and one life and you don’t know what can come up, which is why I think it’s important to be strong mentally and physically."

The Women’s Power Challenge premieres on OLN on Oct. 16. The producers invited all the women who competed to attend an advance screening of selected episodes in September.

"I was nervous about seeing the show because you say you are going to do it but it doesn’t sink in immediately that people are going to watch you on television," says Powell. "I had a month a half to think about it and worry if I looked like an idiot."

After seeing the show, Powell says some of the events look far easier than they actually were.

"In the first event, I had more lactic acid throughout my entire body than I have ever had in my life," she says.

"Some events people might be ‘oh come on! Go, go, go!’ I don’t think they’ll understand quite how physically challenging they were – especially because we filmed them all in three days."

Powell is tight lipped about where she placed in the show.

"You’ll have to watch to find out," she says with a grin.

But she does say she would definitely do it again next year if she had the opportunity.

"I would train more before, especially weight training, but I think I was right up there with the other athletes," says Powell. "Sometimes it was your event and sometimes it wasn’t and somebody had to go."