COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Four elite triathletes — two men and two women — will represent the U.S. at the inaugural ITU World Mixed Relay Series event this Thursday in Nottingham, England. Then on Sunday, an 11-strong U.S. contingent will head to Leeds, England, for the fourth individual race of the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Series.
Accenture ITU World Mixed Relay Nottingham
The ITU World Mixed Relay Series was launched this year in an effort to showcase the fast-paced mixed relay race format ahead of the sport’s inclusion as a medal event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Nottingham hosts the first stop of the series this week, followed by the ITU Mixed Relay World Championships in Hamburg, Germany, on July 15. The series finale will be held in Edmonton, Canada, on July 28. At all three events, teams can earn points to bolster their nations’ Mixed Relay Olympic qualification ranking.
Nineteen teams are set to compete in Thursday’s relay. Each athlete in a team of four will complete a spectator-friendly 300-meter swim, 7-kilometer bike and 1.5-kilometer run before passing off to the next teammate, alternating men and women. The race is set to begin at 1:36 p.m. ET (6:36 p.m. local time), and fans can follow the action live at triathlonlive.tv. Start lists will be announced following the athlete briefing on Wednesday, and will be available at triathlon.org. The four athletes representing the U.S. will also be announced on USA Triathlon's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
The U.S. enters the race as the No. 2-seeded team after placing second to Australia at the 2017 ITU Mixed Relay World Championships in Hamburg. The U.S. has been historically strong in the mixed relay format, winning a world championship title in 2016 and taking bronze in 2013. The Netherlands, bronze medalists at the 2017 world championships, are No. 3 on the start list. Great Britain and Canada are also strong contenders at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.
AJ Bell ITU World Triathlon Leeds
Six U.S. women and five U.S. men are set to compete Sunday at ITU World Triathlon Leeds, an Olympic-distance race featuring a 1,500m swim, 38.6k bike and 10k run. The elite women start at 8:06 a.m. ET (1:06 p.m. local time), and the elite men follow at 10:51 a.m. ET (3:51 p.m. local time). Both races will be broadcast live at triathlonlive.tv.
Katie Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.) and Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) lead the women’s start list at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Zaferes and Kasper are currently second and third in the season-long ITU World Triathlon Series (WTS) rankings, trailing only Bermuda’s Flora Duffy. Duffy is not on the start list this weekend due to a foot injury.
Zaferes has had a strong start to the 2018 season, earning a bronze medal at the April WTS stop in Bermuda and a silver last month in Yokohama, Japan. Kasper has also raced well over the past few months, taking fourth at two WTS races in Abu Dhabi and Bermuda in addition to claiming two medals — one gold, one silver — on the ITU Triathlon World Cup circuit.
Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.), who earned her first career WTS medal with a silver in Leeds last year, will look to climb the podium again. Spivey has momentum on her side after taking silver in a photo finish with Austria’s Lisa Perterer at the Cagliari ITU World Cup in Italy last Saturday.
Also racing for the U.S. women are Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.), Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.) and Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.). Cook and Knibb have both reached the WTS podium in the past; Cook claimed the win at ITU World Triathlon Edmonton in 2016, and Knibb took silver in Edmonton last year. While Burns has yet to reach the WTS podium, she is a two-time ITU World Cup medalist.
Click here for the complete women’s start list.
The U.S. men will be up against a strong international field, with Spain’s Mario Mola, Australia’s Jacob Birtwhistle and South Africa’s Henri Schoeman leading the start list. Mola tops the WTS season rankings currently, while Birtwhistle and Schoeman hold the third and fourth spots.
Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), the top-ranked American man, is coming off a career-best fifth-place ITU World Cup finish in Cagliari last weekend. His highest finish in a WTS race to date is 11th, which he earned in April in Bermuda. Ben Kanute (Phoenix, Ariz.) has also had a successful early season, earning victories at the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup in March and the non-drafting Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon last weekend.
Also on the start list is Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.), who earned two consecutive ITU World Cup bronze medals earlier this season in Mooloolaba, Australia, and New Plymouth, New Zealand. He took 17th at ITU World Triathlon Yokohama in May, a career-best WTS finish.
Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.) are set to compete as well. McDowell is a four-time ITU World Cup medalist whose best career WTS finish was 11th last year in Gold Coast, Australia. Pearson, in his first year racing as an elite, was the top U.S. male at ITU World Triathlon Yokohama (14th) and has two top-10 finishes in ITU World Cup races.
Click here for the complete men’s start list.
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 events and connects with more than 400,000 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).