USA Triathlon Operation CO>COVID-19 a Success!

By Khem Suthiwan

Their journey began the evening of Friday, June 19th at 6:30pm MT, at the Utah-Colorado border just west of Grand Junction. Their goal, to complete a 483-mile relay ride across the state of Colorado while raising money for the USA Triathlon Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund and the Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado.

Over the course of 483 miles, the riders averaged 20 mph, climbed nearly 23,000 feet of elevation with their highest point at Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet of elevation. Just before 8:00pm and beating the sunset, all nine riders joined together for the final mile to the Kansas-Colorado state line.

We were able to catch up to them within a few hours of the finish. All the athletes and crew were in great spirits, looking forward to seeing the state line.

At a rider exchange spot with about 20 miles to go, a deputy from the Sheriff of Cheyenne County pulled over with flashing lights. His first words were “You guys are obviously part of some sort of bike team.” The crew immediately jumped in to tell the deputy about the relay ride, and that if he wanted to talk to someone in charge, the CEO (Rocky Harris) is coming down the road about to finish his current leg of the relay. Many laughs were exchanged and his handcuffs made an appearance for fun. At the next rider exchange stop, the deputy offered up a donation to the crew. A great gesture to an already amazing day.

The participating riders included:

• Kyle Coon, Tokyo Paralympic Hopeful 
• Hailey Danz, Rio 2016 Paralympic Silver Medalist and Tokyo Paralympic Hopeful
• Kendall Gretsch, PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Nordic Skiing Gold Medalist and Tokyo Paralympic Hopeful
• Kevin McDowell, Tokyo Olympic Hopeful
• Jack O’Neil, U.S. Paratriathlon Junior Development Team Member
• Melissa Stockwell, Rio 2016 Paralympic Bronze Medalist and Tokyo Paralympic Hopeful, Team Toyota Athlete
• Renée Tomlin, Tokyo Olympic Hopeful
• Alex Libin, Elite Triathlete and Guide for Kyle Coon 
• Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon Chief Executive Officer

The team had set a goal to raise $20,210 in reference to the postponed Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will take place in 2021. At the time of their finish, $21,568 had been raised with donations still rolling in. Donations are still being accepted at usatriathlonfoundation.org.