USA Triathlon’s largest and longest-running national championship event returns to Cleveland’s Edgewater Park next month, with the most accomplished amateur triathletes in the nation set to compete for national titles and world championship berths on Aug. 10-11 as part of the 2019 Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships.
Thousands of age-group triathletes from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. are expected to compete in the event, which first debuted in 1983 and was previously held in Cleveland in 1992 and 2018. Age Group Nationals is consistently one of the top-five largest triathlons in the United States and last year’s event was the second-largest Age Group Nationals in the event’s history with more than 5,400 participants. The largest field to date was in 2014, when 5,789 athletes registered to race in Milwaukee.
“Triathletes of all ages from across the country make the trek to Age Group Nationals each year to test their skills against an immensely talented and competitive field,” said Brian D’Amico, USA Triathlon’s Director of Events. “It is a great source of pride to welcome these triathletes back to this two-day event year after year, and as we host this field in Cleveland for a second consecutive year, we’re grateful to all our partners in the local community, including the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Cleveland Metroparks, and the City of Cleveland, who are helping us ensure every competitor has a memorable race experience.”
The races will start at 7 a.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 10, with the Olympic-Distance National Championships, where athletes will race across a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run course. Action will then resume at 7 a.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 11, with the Sprint National Championships, covering a 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run. Both events will be centered at Edgewater Park, a 147-acre lakefront with 9,000 feet of shoreline.
National titles are on the line both days, as are coveted spots on USA Triathlon’s Team USA, comprised of the nation’s top amateur athletes who represent the U.S. at ITU Age Group World Championship events. The top 18 finishers in each age group of Olympic-Distance Nationals, after applying the age-up rule (rolling down to 30th place), will earn the right to represent Team USA at the 2020 ITU Standard-Distance Age Group World Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, set for Aug. 20-23, 2020.
Three Americans on the podium and a third straight World Triathlon Series (WTS) victory for Katie Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.) made it an incredible weekend for the USA Triathlon women in Yokohama. Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.) earned silver for the second WTS medal of her career, while Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.) continued her impressive 2019 season with a bronze medal to help the red, white and blue round out the podium. It was the fourth U.S. podium sweep in ITU World Triathlon Series history and the first since 2016.
With a perfect start to 2019 — securing wins in Abu Dhabi, Bermuda and Yokohama — Zaferes has a commanding lead in the WTS Standings with 3,000 points. Spivey is tied with Great Britain’s Jessica Learmouth for second with 2,458 points. Rappaport is now in seventh after her podium finish.
Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.) was the fourth American to crack the top 10 in the women’s field, finishing ninth overall.
Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.) was the top U.S. finisher on the men’s side, placing 15th overall. France’s Vincent Luis broke the tape.
World Triathlon Series opener features thrilling sprint-distance course
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Eight American athletes are set to compete in the ITU World Triathlon Series opener in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Friday, taking on a stacked international field.
The sprint-distance race, which covers a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run, is held on the iconic Yas Island. The course is built for fast and furious racing, with portions of the bike and run taking athletes around the Yas Marina Formula One circuit. The elite men race first at 4:36 a.m. EST (1:36 p.m. local time), and the elite women follow at 6:36 a.m. EST (3:36 p.m. local time). Both races will be broadcast live online at triathlonlive.tv.
Five U.S. women will toe the line on Friday, including 2016 U.S. Olympian and 2017 WTS overall bronze medalist Katie Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.). Zaferes had a stellar 2017 season that included two regular-season WTS podiums in Edmonton and Yokohama, in addition to her silver-medal performance at the Rotterdam ITU World Triathlon Grand Final.
Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) and Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.), who finished fourth and 10th respectively in the 2017 WTS rankings, will also look for strong season-opening performances. Kasper earned four top-five finishes on the WTS circuit last year, including a bronze in Yokohama.
Cook was also consistent in 2017, earning a season-best fourth-place finish at ITU World Triathlon Edmonton and placing ninth at the Grand Final in Rotterdam. She and Zaferes are the only two Americans on the start list who have reached the top step of the WTS podium, with Cook winning ITU World Triathlon Edmonton in 2016 and Zaferes taking the win at ITU World Triathlon Hamburg in 2016.
Also set to compete are Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.), who earned her first WTS medal with a silver in Leeds last year, and Chelsea Burns, who cracked the ITU Triathlon World Cup podium for the first time in 2017.
The U.S. women will be up against stiff competition, as 2017 world champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda and 2017 WTS overall silver medalist Ashleigh Gentle of Australia lead the start list. Defending WTS Abu Dhabi champion Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand, Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth, Canada’s Joanna Brown and the Netherlands’ Rachel Klamer will also be medal threats. Visit wts.triathlon.org for a complete women’s start list.
Representing the U.S. in the men’s race are Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.), Ben Kanute (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.). McDowell will look to build on a successful stretch of late-season racing in 2017, which saw him earn podiums at ITU Triathlon World Cup races in Huelva, Spain, and Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida.
Kanute had a strong fall season in non-drafting races, placing second to Spain’s Javier Gomez at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in September and earning the overall win at the Island House Triathlon in November. He will look to improve upon his 16th-place performance at last year’s WTS Abu Dhabi stop.
Smoragiewicz is making his second career WTS start in Abu Dhabi; in his debut on the circuit last year in Edmonton, he placed 27th. Smoragiewicz was the top U.S. man at the 2017 ITU Under-23 World Championships last September, placing 13th.
The men’s international field is stacked, with 2017 world champion and 2016 WTS Abu Dhabi champion Mario Mola of Spain holding the No. 1 spot. Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway, the 2017 world bronze medalist, and Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist, are also both set to compete.
Visit wts.triathlon.org for a complete men’s start list.
ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi is the first of eight stops on the regular-season WTS circuit before September’s ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia.
Forty-four ambassadors selected to help grow multisport participation in their local communities
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon today announced its first-ever Ambassador Program, comprised of 44 multisport athletes who have represented Team USA in international age-group competition. USA Triathlon Ambassadors will provide resources, advice and inspiration to aspiring athletes in their local communities, using their collective stories and experiences to grow multisport participation nationwide.
Ambassadors are tasked with hosting at least three presentations in their communities over the course of the year, which may include school visits, skills clinics and Q&A sessions. These events are meant to introduce prospective and beginner triathletes of all ages to the sport, as well as provide helpful resources for training and racing. Each ambassador will also nominate a support team to help plan the presentations and build interest in the multisport lifestyle.
Of the 44 ambassadors who successfully applied through a comprehensive nationwide selection process, 30 are women and 14 are men. They hail from 20 different states, with California being the most-represented, and range in age from 17 to 87. Ambassadors were selected based on their background in multisport — with the prerequisite of having competed for USA Triathlon’s amateur Team USA — as well as their commitment to the program and innovative ideas for recruiting new participants.
“We are excited to unveil the USA Triathlon Ambassador Program,” said Lauren Rios, USA Triathlon’s Team USA and Research Coordinator. “Our inaugural team of ambassadors is made up of incredibly passionate athletes who have amazing stories to tell. We are confident that this group will inspire the masses to give our sport a try, and support many new triathletes on their journeys to the start line.”
In addition to the presentations, USA Triathlon Ambassadors will also be available on a regular basis to answer training and racing questions via email or social media.
Some ambassadors will focus on specific disciplines of multisport, including triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon or aquabike, while others will focus on topics such as weight loss or mental training.
Sending out a massive thank you to my family – especially Jane, Abby & Renee for the support as I traveled to yet another race…but this time with a focus on trying to get the best out of myself on the course at the 2017 ITU Aquabike world championships in Penticton, Canada.
Last year when the ITU announced the inclusion of Aquabike (basically triathlon without the run – just swim 🏊🏼 & bike 🚴🏻) at this year’s long distance & multisport world champs in Canada I knew I had to go for it.
Way back in 1998 I had placed 2nd in my age-group at the XTERRA World Champs in Maui, and I always wanted another chance at an age-group world title. (Yeah, I’m nuts.)
To qualify for the race this year, we had to qualify in November of 2016 at the USA Triathlon Aquabike national champs at the MiamiMan race in Florida. I had kept in touch with a former roommate from my graduate school days coaching the CU Triathlon Club team at CU-Boulder who is now Dr. Timothy James in Portland, OR – and convinced him to join me & try to qualify.
Even though I was pretty shot from an exhausting 2015-2016 Olympic cycle getting athletes ready to compete in Rio, and then hitting the presentation circuit last fall to share some of the work we with coaches at USA Cycling & USA Triathlon coaching clinics, as well as to business folks sharing our development & use of technology from IBM to help our Team USA women’s team pursuit squad earn Silver in Rio I found just enough fitness to quality for Penticton, as did Tim. I was 4th in my age-group there…good enough, but I knew I could do better.
I was very clear about my goal of shooting for the top step of the podium today until Thursday night…when I noticed the name Stephen Sheldrake of New Zealand on the start list. Steven was also an elite triathlete back when I raced as an elite…and he was clearly faster back then. (Like 24 minutes faster than me at a 2002 draft legal ITU race we both did in St. Kitts)
I checked out his results on the ITU website & noticed that he won this year’s world masters triathlon champs in the 40-44 age group as well as winning the Aquathlon (swim + run) world champs here in Penticton on Friday…so Stephen was definitely going to be fast.
Today’s swim was 3K long…and the few swims that I was able to get in “with” the APEX Coaching crew (okay, definitely hanging on for dear life at the back) had prepared me reasonably well. Unfortunately, I didn’t put together my best work in the water and exited in 9th or 10th place in the age group…about 8 minutes behind the leader (Stephen, of course).
I got on the bike and started out hitting my power & speed goals without straining, so I knew things were going well. The long distance triathlon athletes were also on the same course and had started before us, so there was plenty of passing to be done.
About 40km into the 120km bike a tall guy from Canada who was in my age-group went by me. I tried to keep him in sight, but he rolled away through one of the busier parts of the course…and I never saw him again. Dang.
I was pretty sure that there were still other guys in my age-group ahead so I just kept the pressure on the pedals & held a good pace averaging 40 km/hr (24.8 miles/hour for non SI folks).
On the second hilly lap of the bike course I was able to keep basically the same effort while lots of athletes who had been in front of me started to fade. I got stung by a bee on my left inner thigh…and once a very long time ago on a bike ride I got stung by something and had a full emergency room required anaphylactic reaction…so I started getting a little concerned.
Fortunately after a couple of minutes nothing bad happened, so I resumed the flogging full bore. I was absolutely smashing myself in the final 10km hoping that I might see the tall Canadian or Stephen in the distance – as I wasn’t going down without a fight.
By this point my stomach wasn’t super interested in the intensity of effort that I was putting out after nearly 4 hours of racing and there was a bit of a GI rebellion going on. Sorry to anyone that I passed on those final few miles as I was definitely losing some weight along the side of the course.
As I finally approached the finish line, I knew that at least Stephen & the Canadian (McNaughton was his last name…I kept repeating in my mind some stupid car commercial that I’ve heard too many times – “Big Mike Naughton is Ford…” because it rhymed with McNaughton…and my racing brain gets pretty stupid – http://www.mikenaughtonford.com) would have finished ahead of me. I was just hoping that somehow I had finished on the podium.
As I got to the transition there were two bikes on the rack…indicating that maybe I was 3rd. I waited for Tim to finish in the transition area and then we pitted ourselves off in an unofficial and completely stupid & pointless final 50 Meter sprint together down the ITU blue carpet finish line (our official time for the Aquabike was taken just before we entered transition so when we actually crossed the finish line was irrelevant). I’m probably going to be most sore from that tomorrow. And Tuesday. And maybe Wednesday, too.
And 4th is NOT the worst place…as I’ve learned as a coach of many athletes who have finished 4th at major events (like the Olympics), but 4th is one of the most difficult positions to finish.
So, I was a little bummed…but I had given everything I had in me and was okay with 4th. Then, as I looked a little closer I noticed that I was actually 4th overall…and 3rd in the 40-44 age group, so I was psyched again. And as much as I would have loved to be a couple spots higher on the podium, I’m happy with what I did and might even be content. For now.
Which for those who know who ridiculously competitive I am, is definitely saying something. So thanks again to my more than patient wife for letting me indulge my silly competitive obsessions and as well thank you to all the coaches and athletes at APEX Coaching who inspire me and keep me in my place…at least most of the time. I think.
Thanks to everyone at USA Triathlon for keeping things smooth and organized both in the lead up and to everything here in Penticton.
And, much more importantly a HUGE congratulations a couple of phenomenal APEX Coaching athletes: new father Joe Gambles who took a stellar 3rd place in the men’s elite ITU Long Distance Triathlon here today and to Ellen Hart who won her 3rd world title in the women’s 55-59 age group in the Long Distance Triathlon to go with her two Duathlon ( standard and draft-legal) world titles & her silver medal in the Aquathlon earlier this week here in Penticton.