Ask any triathlete out there about the World Championships and usually Kona comes to mind. As the 303 Team will be headed to Kona in the next week, we wanted to bring light to another race that packs a lot of punch as well. With over 4,000 athletes of all ages from all over the world funneling into action filled races over an entire weekend, it’s the ITU World Grand Final.
Competitors at the ITU World Grand Final are a mix of elite professional athletes, age groupers, and juniors. The weekend of racing includes the age group draft-legal sprint race, non-draft standard (Olympic) race, Elite Professional, Paratriathlon, and Mixed Relay races. That is a lot of racing packed into three days.
A few differences at ITU Worlds vs. Kona include each age group competitor had to qualify through their country’s triathlon federation (USAT Nationals in our case), placing in the top of their respective age group (roll-down slots allocated accordingly). No celebrities or comped entries here. (see Team USA Qualification criteria here) In addition, each athlete represents their country and wears the team issued race kit.
This year Team USA sent about 700 athletes to Lausanne and the amount and access to support was exceptional! From all the USAT Staff, Coach, massage therapists, bike mechanics, and even a chiropractor! These folks literally set up shop at the “team hotel” and were busy all weekend to make sure our athletes had everything they needed for race day!
The Team USA experience at ITU World Grand Final as a spectator exceeded my expectations. Unlike with iron-distance races where athletes are gone for hours on end before gracing spectators with their presence, ITU racing events are action packed with lead changes around every corner. Spectators are so rowdy you’d think you were watching the Tour de France wrapped up into a Liverpool-Manchester United soccer game. Even the festivities leading up to the weekend of racing were rooted with the feel of the Olympics. Countries showcasing their pride during the Parade of Nations, team social events and group workouts, and so much more.
So while handful of athletes are turning their attention to Kona in a few weeks, there are even more athletes that are equally as accomplished and spirited (if not more) to the core in their training and racing with the hopes of qualifying for USAT Nationals and the ITU World Championship. Who will make it to Edmonton, Canada and represent Team USA for 2020?
Our Team USA Coloradans had amazing performances and we’d like to recognize those top 10 finishes.
- Jonathan Mason (3rd – M40-44 Sprint Draft Legal)
- Stephanie Meisner (9th – F45-49 Sprint Draft Legal)
- Kirk Framke (5th – M45-49 Sprint Draft Legal)
- Peter Valentyik (6th – M50-54 Sprint Draft Legal)
- Sandy Vanderstoep (3rd – F75-79 Sprint Draft Legal)
- Jack Welber (4th – M80-84 Sprint Draft Legal)
- Lockett Wood (6th – M80-84 Sprint Draft Legal)
- Laura McDonald (5th – F35-39 Olympic)
- Steph Popelar (3rd – F50-54 Olympic)
- Judith Laney (2nd – F65-69 Olympic)
- Barbara Kostner (10th – F70-74 Olympic)