We caught up with defending champions Evan Pardi, Vicki McCloskey, Kerry Farrell and Karah Osterberg, who share their own race experiences and tips for newbies leading into the 2017 USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships in Bend, Oregon.
Evan Pardi, Arizona
USA Triathlon: Congratulations on winning the 20-24 division at Duathlon Nationals in 2016! What was the highlight?
Evan Pardi: The highlight for me was having the race come here to the beautiful Pacific Northwest where I call home and being able to see all of my friends from around the region come out to compete. Going to packet pick-up and getting a hug from Jeevan Philip from Washington as soon as I stepped out of the car just immediately made me realize how awesome our community is.
USAT: Having competed in Bend last year, what advice do you have for first-timers to the area?
EP: Bring clothes for all conditions. Weather up in the high desert is variable at best, it could be very cool or very warm. You may need gloves on the bike or you may need an extra bottle or two. On the bike course, be super aware of the turnaround point. Last year I blasted through the one at the base of the climb and had to re-enter in the same spot costing me some time. Also, Oregon has the finest, most innovative and tastiest craft beer in the world. Sample some.
USAT: What has your training looked like to prepare for this event?
EP: Most of my training has been focused on 70.3 racing but I have mixed in some run-bike-run workouts here and there. I also made sure to do an off-road duathlon down in Arizona as well. My main focus this year has been increasing my sustained power on the bike and I hope to see some positive improvement in that area out on the race course.
Vicki McCloskey, New Hampshire
USAT: How long have you competed in duathlon, and what do you like best about the sport?
Vicki McCloskey: I started competing in triathlon when I was 60 and a few years later began duathlon. I love to have a goal and enjoy training to reach that goal. Training, running and biking make me feel good, keep my body strong and my attitude positive. I really love the fact that there is no swimming in duathlon. I remember my first duathlon and I was standing at the start in my running shoes and not a wetsuit. I was so excited!
USAT: You’ve competed on both the national and world stage. What does it mean to you to represent Team USA?
VM: It is an amazing feeling to represent the USA at Worlds. Being part of Team USA is a rare privilege and a great honor. My heart filled with pride when the spectators in Spain were cheering “USA” when our team walked by. And it’s an exciting adventure to travel to other countries to compete in duathlon.
USAT: What advice do you have for first-timers at Duathlon Nationals?
VM: My advice to first-timers: respect your fellow competitors, be kind, run hard, bike fast, encourage others, and enjoy the experience.
Kerry Farrell, Washington
USAT: Why are you looking forward to returning to Bend, Oregon?
Kerry Farrell: Bend is the perfect place to hold this event. Dry, sunny side of the mountains. Warm but not too hot and low humidity.
USAT: What inspires you to compete?
KF: Duathlon feeds into my detail-oriented nature as there's a lot to consider before a race: peaking, tapering and all the little things that go into a duathlon particularly in transition. As a youth, I had all this energy but never quite knew how to manage it in a positive way. When I first started riding a bike I knew that was it.
USAT: How would you describe the duathlon community?
KF: I told my girlfriend last year at the awards ceremony that it was such an honor to be in a room with all these incredible, dedicated and determined athletes!
Karah Osterberg, Illinois
USAT: What are you most looking forward to about competing at the 2017 USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships?
Karah Osterberg: I am looking forward to seeing how much I can improve racing the same course two years in a row. I spent the winter training hard indoors for IRONMAN Texas and it helped me build up a huge base going into my racing season. I also am looking forward to trying to defend my title! I would love to stand on the top of the podium again.
USAT: Do you have any tips for athletes competing at Duathlon Nationals for the first time?
KO: Just to have fun with it and enjoy what you are doing. It is incredible to get to travel around the country and race in gorgeous places for all of the national championships! Soak in the environment while also pushing your limits.
USAT: What's the next big race on your 2017 schedule after Nationals?
KO: This is the first year I am competing in two IRONMANs in one year. In September, I will be competing at IRONMAN Wisconsin and shooting for a spot to the IRONMAN World Championship. I also am racing Olympic, Sprint and Long Course Nationals along with some other smaller races.