NOTTINGHAM, England — The U.S. team of Kirsten Kasper, Eli Hemming, Katie Zaferes and Matt McElroy raced to a gold medal Thursday at the first stop of the inaugural 2018 ITU World Mixed Relay Series in Nottingham, England, as McElroy broke the tape nearly 30 seconds ahead of his closest competitor.
In the mixed relay format, each athlete completed a 300-meter swim, 7-kilometer bike and 1.5-kilometer run before passing off to the next teammate. The U.S. covered the course in a combined time of 1 hour, 21 minutes, 16 seconds. Great Britain took silver with a time of 1:21:45, and France rounded out the podium in 1:21:57.
Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) started the team off strong in the first leg, leading after the swim with Spain’s Anna Godoy Contreras and France’s Cassandre Beaugrand close behind. Beaugrand caught to Kasper as the two built a small lead together on the bike, and then Beaugrand pulled ahead on the run to give France the lead at the first handoff.
Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.) was next for the U.S., but France’s Pierre La Corre held onto the lead. Hemming was chasing hard though, heading into the tag zone right alongside New Zealand’s Tayler Reid and Great Britain’s Thomas Bishop.
Next up was Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.), as she turned in a massive effort that brought the U.S. back into the lead. Zaferes caught France’s Mathilde Gautier during the swim, and continued to build a gap on the rest of the chasers through the bike and run. By the time she handed off to McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.), she had a gap of 30 seconds on Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle running in second place.
“It was clear what I needed to do and what the goal was, to catch (Mathilde),” Zaferes said. “I didn’t think I would do it on the swim, but I’m really happy that we came out of the water together.”
McElroy held onto the lead on the final leg, ceding virtually no time to two-time Olympic medalist Jonny Brownlee of Great Britain. He broke the tape with a 29-second advantage over Brownlee. France’s Leo Bergere outsprinted Australia’s Ryan Bailie through the finish chute to claim the bronze medal.
“I think it just comes down to the hard work I’ve been putting in in training,” McElroy said. “On the bike I just put my head down and tried to get as aero as I could, and just smashed it.”
The ITU World Mixed Relay Series was launched this season to showcase the fast-paced race format ahead of its inclusion as a medal event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The series continues with the ITU Mixed Relay World Championships in Hamburg, Germany, on July 15, and concludes with a stop in Edmonton, Canada, on July 28. The U.S. earned its first ITU Mixed Relay World Championships title in 2016, and took silver in 2017 behind Australia.
The ITU World Triathlon Series now heads to Leeds, England, with the fourth individual stop of the WTS season set for Sunday. Click here to view the elite start lists.
2018 ITU World Mixed Relay Nottingham
4x300m swim, 7k bike, 1.5k run
- United States (Kirsten Kasper, Eli Hemming, Katie Zaferes, Matt McElroy), 1:21:16
- Great Britain, 1:21:45
- France, 1:21:57
- Australia, 1:21:58
- The Netherlands, 1:22:02
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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).