Can you imagine corralling a 1,300-pound animal at full sprint?
Running with a 1,300-pound bison is not your average college extracurricular. Yet, each spring in late April as the semester draws to an end, students line up with hopes of being part of one of the University of Colorado-Boulder’s proudest traditions.
This year, 35 current and incoming students came out hoping to be handpicked to earn the coveted title of being one of the school’s “Ralphie Handlers.” Ralphie is the name of the bison, or buffalo as is the school mascot, that has led the home team onto the field at football games for the past 52 years.
As you can imagine, the university can’t let the large animal run by itself across the field. That’s where the handlers come in. They run by its side as Ralphie reaches speeds of up to 19 mph in a horseshoe-shaped route before being directed into a trailer by handlers who hold onto ropes on Ralphie’s harness.
“We have two people up front; they’re typically our faster people,” program director John Graves told Runner’s World. “They’re helping to control Ralphie’s direction as she runs around the field.” In back, you’ll find the biggest, strongest handler. “His job is to slow her down a little bit.” Two other handlers run on either side of her to help both direct and slow her down.
USAT COLLEGIATE CLUB AND HIGH SCHOOL NATIONALS TUSCALOOSA, AL APRIL 27-28, 2018
Go to any high school or collegiate contest and you notice the unmistakable energy of youthful athletes and fans. School chants, fight songs and air horns fill the air, while flags, mascots and costumes create a visually vivid landscape. This weekend’s USA Triathlon Collegiate Club and High School Nationals delivered an experience that was exponentially more electric than your typical collegiate competition. A rolling sea of team tents covered 1100 athletes from 109 colleges. Schools from coast to coast brought their school spirit, competitiveness and the best demonstrations of sportsmanship at what is arguably the highest level of competition for High School and Collegiate triathletes.
While they competed fiercely for individual and team standings, athletes gave each other high-fives and hugs at the start and finish lines. They encouraged each other on the course and celebrated in the post-race ice bath pools. For all the competitive grit, sprint finishes, and gut-wrenching efforts, the culture of triathlon was evidenced in encouragement on the course and concern at the medical tent.
Due to heavy rainfall in Tuscaloosa the past two weeks, the Holt Dam spillway gates were opened by local officials to avoid flooding. Heightened volume in the Black Warrior River necessitated that the gates remain open through race weekend, resulting in overly strong currents that were deemed unsafe for swimming. USAT officials announced a course change mid-week. All races will be shifted from a triathlon (swim-bike-run) to a duathlon (run-bike-run) to ensure athlete safety.
Colorado teams had a great showing. At the Olympic distance, CU’s Men’s and Women’s teams came in second to the Naval Academy and UC Berkeley respectively. CSU Women placed 5th and Men 9th. USAFA Women came in 11th and Men’s 12th. Colorado School of Mines Women came in 47th and Men 55th. Combined scores put CU in 2nd, CSU in 7th, USAFA 9th and CSM in 49th.
CU Buffs Roy Madrid and Timothy Winslow finished 2nd and 3rd behind the University of California’s Sean Harrington, who took the Men’s race with a 1:33:58. The Women’s champion was Stephanie Murphy of US Naval Academy and CSU’s Katrina Lems was Colorado’s first Woman in 8th place. In the High School contest, Austin Podhajsky and Jack Deweerdt from Parker, Colorado took 2nd and 3rd respectively behind the Male winner Drew Shellenberger. Cassidy Hickey of Parker, Colorado took 2nd behind the Female winner Gillian Cridge.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon today announced its roster of 2017 Age-Group Triathletes of the Year, an award presented annually by Garmin and selected by USA Triathlon’s Age Group Committee.
Nick Noone (Boulder, Colo.) claimed top honors for overall Men’s Age-Group Triathlete of the Year, while Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.) earned the title of overall Women’s Age-Group Triathlete of the Year for the third consecutive year and fourth year in total (2013, 2015-2017).
Noone’s 2017 season began with an individual Olympic-distance victory at April’s USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a performance that helped the University of Colorado to its eighth straight team title. He went on to claim the overall win at IRONMAN Santa Rosa in May, his first foray into the full-IRONMAN distance. In June, Noone claimed the men’s 18-24 age group title and placed ninth overall at IRONMAN 70.3 Victoria.
“With a 2017 season full of highs and lows, this is a humbling award to receive,” Noone said. “Many thanks to USA Triathlon, my family, and my CU Boulder and EMJ teammates.”