Saturday’s triathlon mixed team relay in Edmonton, Alberta, the third and final stop of the inaugural ITU World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series, was a tight race from start to finish with no fewer than six teams all in the mix for the win. The U.S. led the rankings headed into Edmonton.
In the end, it came down to the final run, and Team USA’s Matt McElroy was fast enough to help his team earn a second-place finish.
Triathlon mixed team will make its Olympic debut in 2020. Teams of four athletes — two women and two men — each complete a mini-triathlon consisting of a 300-meter swim, 6.6-kilometer bike and 1.6-kilometer run, alternating women and men.
In addition to McElroy, the U.S. team consisted of Taylor Spivey, 2014 Youth Olympian Seth Rider and Kirsten Kasper. McElroy was on the U.S. team that won gold in Nottingham, England, in June, along with Kasper, who was also on the team that won bronze in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month.
Team USA moved up and down between first place and sixth throughout the race. However, between the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium and Great Britain, the times were so close throughout that it became clear when the group of five enveloped Great Britain’s Christopher Perham on the final bike leg that it would be anyone’s race.
All six athletes were still together with just one kilometer left to go. The Australians had an edge with Jacob Birtwhistle anchoring them because of his strength on the run, and indeed it was Birtwhistle who pushed the fastest and gave his team the win in 1:19:29.
The U.S. was just behind at 1:19:31, followed by New Zealand at 1:19:39.