Amateur Triathletes Race to 8 Sprint Triathlon World Titles, 19 Medals

By USA Triathlon | Sept. 15, 2016, 9:04 p.m. (ET)

Eli Hemming posts top U.S. finish among U23 men

thomas barton

COZUMEL, Mexico — More than 250 age-group triathletes represented the U.S. on Thursday at the ITU Sprint Triathlon World Championships, bringing home eight world titles and 19 total medals.

Sprint Triathlon Worlds was contested over a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run at the Marina Fonatur. Thursday’s gold medalists for USA Triathlon’s Team USA were Thomas Barton (25-29, Miami, Fla.), Susan Griffin-Kaklikian (60-64, Castle Rock, Colo.), Philip Friedman (60-64, Erie, Pa.), Jim Sumara (65-69, Jacksonville, Fla.), Paula Larsen (70-74, Delafield, Wis.), Patricia Ryan (75-79, Medford, Mass.), Arby Kitzman (75-79, Morro Bay, Calif.) and Winston Allen (85-89, St. Augustine, Fla.).

Larsen and Allen successfully defended their 2015 world titles, while Griffin-Kaklikian and Kitzman won their second gold medals of the week after winning their age groups at Aquathlon Worlds yesterday.

“I love the competition, whether it’s playing golf or I’m running or whatever,” Kitzman said. “I just feel so fortunate at my age that I can compete. Maybe part of that is the training and conditioning that we do. It’s such a positive influence.”

The U.S. also won five silver medals and six bronze medals in the sprint event. Silver medalists for Team USA were Kirsten Sass (35-39, McKenzie, Tenn.), Kirk Framke (40-44, Denver, Colo.), Michele Tuttle (50-54, Columbia, Md.), Michael Collins (50-54, Irvine, Calif.) and Stephen Chase (75-79, Nantucket, Mass.). Bronze medalists were won by Stacy Sweetser (40-44, Amherst, N.H.), Rebecca Smith (50-54, West Chester, Pa.), Ellen Hart (55-59, Denver, Colo.), Steve Gallagher (60-64, Winter Park, Fla.), John Strait (70-74, New Port Richey, Fla.) and June Black (75-79, Austin, Texas).

The Sprint Triathlon World Championships were contested as a draft-legal event for the first time, meaning athletes could ride in groups on the bike rather than keep a distance of three bike-lengths between them and their fellow competitors. The draft-legal format is commonplace for elite, junior and under-23 triathlon events, but is rarely seen at amateur triathlon events in the U.S.

“The race was great. I was really nervous beforehand, because I had never done a draft-legal format,” said Hart, who has experience with nearly all triathlon distances and formats. “It actually turned out pretty well. I think I came out of the water near the front, but I was in a group of about three or four people. It was totally awesome, because we just worked together, the four of us, even though we were from different countries. That’s sort of the spirit of the world championships.”

Many athletes expressed positive thoughts about the draft-legal format, which will continue to be featured in Sprint Triathlon Worlds in 2017 when the World Triathlon Grand Final and World Championships moves to Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

“This was my first draft-legal race, and I thought the bike was just exhilarating,” said Carl Regenauer (50-54, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), who finished 17th in his age group and also competed in Chicago last year. “It was safer than what I was expecting. I started with another American, the two of us trying to form a group, by the time we ended up at the finish, we had 20. It was fast, and I had legs left for the run. It was a great experience.”

Later in the day, the under-23 men took to the race course for their own world championship event, covering a 1,500m swim, 40k bike and 10k run under the hot Mexico sun. Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.) was the top American in 13th place, while William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas) finished 27th and Rudy von Berg (Boulder, Colo.) was 32nd. The Netherlands’ Jorik Van Egdom won the race, his second U23 world title of the year after winning the Duathlon Worlds title in Spain in June.

After a 90-minute delay in the start of the race due to heat, Huffman was the first athlete out of the water and was part of a lead group of nine athletes who had an advantage for the early part of the bike. Around the halfway point, the lead pack was caught by a large chasing group of 20 men, including Hemming, and the large pack stayed together until the final lap of the run. Then, four athletes, including Van Egdom, broke away to start the run with a gap on the majority of the field. Hemming made up lost time on the run, breaking out of the top 20 and posting his best career world championships finish.

“I sat in [on the bike], which is really hard for me, because the bike is my favorite,” Hemming said. “I’ve spent some time trying to acclimatize to heat, and it finally seems like it worked, at least a little bit. It wasn’t my best run, but I’m very happy.”

The U23 women will be in action first thing on Friday morning, with the junior men and women scheduled to compete in the afternoon. More details on the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Cozumel are available at cozumel.triathlon.org.

2016 ITU Sprint Triathlon World Championships
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
Complete Results

United States Medalists
M25-29
1. Thomas Barton (Miami, Fla.), 59:48

Female 35-39
2. Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.), 1:05:23

Female 40-44
3. Stacy Sweetser (Amherst, N.H.), 1:11:25

Male 40-44
2. Kirk Framke (Denver, Colo.), 1:00:11

Female 50-54
2. Michele Tuttle (Columbia, Md.), 1:13:40
3. Rebecca Smith (West Chester, Pa.), 1:13:56

Male 50-54
2. Michael Collins (Irvine, Calif.), 1:00:34

Female 55-59
3. Ellen Hart (Denver, Colo.), 1:16:19

Female 60-64
1. Susan Griffin-Kaklikian (Castle Rock, Colo.), 1:21:31

Male 60-64
1. Philip Friedman (Erie, Pa.), 1:08:07
3. Steve Gallagher (Winter Park, Fla.), 1:08:45

Male 65-69
1. Jim Sumara (Jacksonville, Fla.), 1:15:16

Female 70-74
1. Paula Larsen (Delafield, Wis.), 1:34:24

Male 70-74
3. John Strait (New Port Richey, Fla.), 1:21:10

Female 75-79
1. Patricia Ryan (Medford, Mass.), 2:24:43
3. June Black (Austin, Texas), 2:32:30

Male 75-79
1. Arby Kitzman (Morro Bay, Calif.), 1:29:50
2. Stephen Chase (Nantucket, Mass.), 1:36:34

Male 85-89
1. Winston Allen (St. Augustine, Fla.), 2:22:04

2016 ITU Men’s Under-23 World Championships
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run
Complete Results
1. Jorik Van Egdom (NED), 1:52:39
2. Manoel Messias (BRA), 1:53:00
3. Bence Bicsák (HUN), 1:53:02

U.S. Men
13. Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), 1:55:11
27. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas), 1:58:02
32. Rudy von Berg (Boulder, Colo.), 1:59:22

About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).