Kasper Claims Silver, McElroy Bronze at Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup

By USA Triathlon | March 10, 2018, 4:33 a.m. (ET)

MOOLOOLABA, Australia — Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) claimed silver and Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) took bronze today at the Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup, leading a solid U.S. effort that resulted in a total of five top-10 finishes. 

The course in Mooloolaba, a scenic town along Australia’s Sunshine Coast, covered a sprint-distance 750-meter ocean swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run. The home country’s Emma Jeffcoat came away with the women’s victory in a time of 59 minutes, 35 seconds. Kasper followed in 59:51, and Italy’s Angelica Olmo rounded out the top three in 1:00:00 flat.

Jeffcoat led the talented field of 32 women out of the water in 8 minutes, 23 seconds, and Kasper was 20 seconds behind with a large group right on her heels. A pack of about eight leaders formed on the bike, with Kasper, Jeffcoat, Australia’s Nicole Van Der Kaay and New Zealand’s Elise Salt all battling for a strong position out front. 

It was Jeffcoat who ultimately pulled away, entering the second transition as the race leader. She didn’t give anything up on the run, charging through a 17:34 5k to take the win. Kasper crossed the line 16 seconds later for the silver, her first ITU World Cup medal of the season and seventh of her career.

“On the bike, I tried to get the girls to work for the first two laps. We eventually got rolling, and then I just tried to sit in because I knew it would come down to the run,” Kasper said. “Emma was the one to beat today, she was full-on right from the start, so I just tried to give it my all.”

Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.) also raced well., coming through in seventh with a time of 1:00:29. Also racing for the U.S. was Chelsea Sodaro (Poway, Calif.), who took 21st in 1:03:52.

In the men’s race, the leader out of the swim was Max Stapely (ITU) in 7:39. With most of the field just a few seconds behind, however, Stapely joined with a lead group of about 25 on the bike. The pack stayed together for most of the course, but New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde made a breakaway on the final lap to put himself in the lead heading out of the second transition.

The medals would come down to the run, as McElroy, South Africa’s Richard Murray, Australia’s Matthew Hauser and several others took off in pursuit of Wilde. It was Murray who had the legs to pull away, running a 14:54 5k to take the win in 53:09. Hauser came through in second in 53:13, and McElroy completed the podium in 53:17. 

The World Cup medal is McElroy’s career fourth, and marks his first time back on the podium since the New Plymouth ITU World Cup in April of last year.

“To be on the podium again this year and to start the year off with a third-place finish, it was good,” McElroy said. “On the swim, I got a good wave coming in and caught about 20 people — my background is in surfing, so it was the perfect course for me. I caught Hauser in the last 3k and then he pulled away, but I was able to knock off a New Zealand guy and get third.”

Also racing for the U.S. was Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.), who placed an impressive seventh in his ITU World Cup debut with a time of 53:42. Pearson is competing in his first elite season after winning the overall men’s title at the USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint National Championships last August.

Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.), held onto a top-10 finish in 53:52, while Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.) took 17th in 54:21.

The ITU Triathlon World Cup season continues with another sprint-distance race in New Plymouth, New Zealand, on March 25.

Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run

Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Emma Jeffcoat (AUS), 59:35
2. Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), 59:51
3. Angelica Olmo (ITA), 1:00:00

U.S. Finishers
2. Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), 59:51
7. Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.), 1:00:29
21. Chelsea Sodaro (Poway, Calif.), 1:03:52

Elite Men — Complete Results

1. Richard Murray (RSA), 53:09
2. Matthew Hauser (AUS), 53:13
3. Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.), 53:17

U.S. Finishers
3. Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.), 53:17
7. Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.), 53:42
10. Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.), 53:52
17. Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.), 54:21