SARASOTA, Fla. — Nearly 400 of the nation’s top amateur triathletes competed for national titles and ITU World Championship spots Saturday morning at the USA Triathlon Age Group Draft-Legal National Championships in Sarasota, Florida. The race kicked off the Sarasota-Bradenton Triathlon Festival, a weekend of competition that also includes an ITU Triathlon World Cup, ITU Paratriathlon World Cup and the CAMTRI Mixed Relay American Championships.
The race featured a 2.5-kilometer run, draft-legal 18-kilometer bike and another 5-kilometer run. All courses at the Sarasota-Bradenton Triathlon Festival were shifted from triathlons (swim-bike-run) to duathlons (run-bike-run) after algae levels in the lake due to recent weather conditions forced a cancellation of the swim leg.
Twenty-six athletes earned victories in their respective age groups, while Colin Wilson and Brooke Kessler claimed the men’s and women’s overall titles respectively.
Top finishers in each age group also earned the opportunity to represent Team USA at the 2019 International Triathlon Union Age Group Sprint Triathlon World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland. For more information about Team USA, made up of the nation’s top multisport athletes who represent the U.S. at ITU World Championship events, visit usatriathlon.org/teamusa.
The draft-legal format, which encourages athletes to ride in packs and work together on the bike course, is similar to the elite style of ITU racing and is gaining popularity at the age-group level.
In the men’s race, Wilson (Coral Gables, Fla.) was the first across the line, earning the men’s 15-19 age-group victory in the process with a finishing time of 52 minutes, 7 seconds. Wilson competes on the USA Triathlon Junior Elite circuit, but struggled with multiple bike crashes during the season.
“I’ve been doing a lot of brick workouts. A month ago, I did a swim-bike-run-bike-run — I didn’t know it would be a duathlon, but I feel like that really helped just getting used to the feeling in my legs and knowing how that was going to be,” Wilson said. “I didn’t really have the best season for junior elite, I crashed twice. So this feels really good, and I’m really happy.”
Taking second overall for the men was Nicholas Seeber (M20-24, Wayland, Mass.) in 52:11, followed by Dallas Handy (M20-24, Wilkesboro, N.C.) in 52:19.
Mark Hecox (Salem, N.H.), who took home the men’s 50-54 title, said he enjoyed working with his competitors in the draft-legal format.
“I really tried to use the mantra, ‘the right pace, at the right place’,” Hecox said. “I really didn’t want to go out too fast, but I wanted to stay in touch with that lead group because in draft-legal, that’s where you need to be if you really want to contend. I had a great group of guys, just very positive sportsmanship all the way around, so it’s refreshing to see that type of camaraderie.”
Kessler (Harpers Ferry, W.V.) was the women’s overall champion, successfully defending her title from 2017 with a time of 1:00:01. She earned the women’s 30-34 age group win in the process. Taking second overall was Lara Gruden (F25-29, Tucson, Ariz.) in 1:00:45, followed by Cassidy Hickey (F15-19, Parker, Colo.) in 1:01:28. The trio worked together for most of the 18k bike course, and Kessler pulled away on the second run to take the win.
“These girls were awesome on the bike. The three of us worked together for a while, and to be able to race like this that’s what it takes. They’re young phenoms in the sport, so I kind of felt like the mom. I’m a mom at home, and now I’m a mom out on the race course!” Kessler said. “It’s tough out here. It’s windy, it’s hot, it’s humid, but it’s a beautiful park and a great day.”
Heather Butcher (Nokomis, Fla.) took ninth overall and first for women 45-49. She said she enjoyed the rare opportunity to experience a National Championship atmosphere in a hometown race.
“I just wanted to experience it,” Butcher said. "Qualifying for Worlds is cool, being on the podium is really cool, but it was really fun to be racing in my backyard with friends.”
Saturday’s racing also included an ITU Triathlon World Cup for elite men and women. The United States' Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.) and France's Vincent Luis took the elite women’s and men’s titles, respectively; click here for complete results.
On Sunday, elite paratriathletes from around the world will compete in an ITU Paratriathlon World Cup starting at 8 a.m. ET. Closing out the weekend at 1 p.m. ET will be the CAMTRI Mixed Relay American Championships, with 20 teams from eight different countries set to compete. Results from Sunday’s races will be available at triathlon.org/results.
For complete event information for the Sarasota-Bradenton Triathlon Festival, visit usatriathlon.org/sbtrifest2018.
USA Triathlon Age Group Draft-Legal Sprint National Championships
2.5k run, 18k bike, 5k run
Age Group Champions — Complete Results
Overall Female: Brooke Kessler (Harpers Ferry, Va.), 1:00:01
Overall Male: Colin Wilson (Coral Gables, Fla.), 52:07
F15-19: Cassidy Hickey (Parker, Colo.), 1:01:28
M15-19: Colin Wilson (Coral Gables, Fla.), 52:07
F20-24: Samantha Downey (McLean, Va.), 1:04:47
M20-24: Nicholas Seeber (Wayland, Mass.), 52:11
F25-29: Lara Gruden (Tucson, Ariz.), 1:00:45
M25-29: Zack Hammer (Chula Vista, Calif.), 53:34
F30-34: Brooke Kessler (Harpers Ferry, Va.), 1:00:01
M30-34: Adam Goulet (Portland, Ore.), 52:35
F35-39: Yelena Maloney (Tampa, Fla.), 1:02:20
M35-39: Benjamin Green (New York, N.Y.), 54:47
F40-44: Jessica Holmes (Natick, Mass.), 1:01:48
M40-44: Jon Noland (Tampa, Fla.), 53:02
F45-49: Heather Butcher (Nokomis, Fla.), 1:02:53
M45-49: Jamie Marchio (St. Augustine, Fla.), 55:55
F50-54: May-Li Cuypers (Largo, Fla.), 1:08:19
M50-54: Mark Hecox (Salem, N.H.), 55:22
F55-59: Alicia Caldwell (Denver, Colo.), 1:09:32
M55-59: Jason Campbell (Oakland, Calif.), 55:37
F60-64: Alison Suckling (Venice, Fla.), 1:20:49
M60-64: Ron Gierut (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), 58:53
F65-69: Laurita Samuels (Fort Pierce, Fla.), 1:25:42
M65-69: Walt Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), 1:06:18
F70-74: Lisl Jackson (Chattanooga, Tenn.), 1:56:25
M70-74: Larry Mayse (Milton, Ga.), 1:11:58
F75-79: Willy Moolenaar (Indialantic, Fla.), 1:48:36
M75-79: Geir Ingolfsrud (Clermont, Fla.), 1:20:22
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 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 at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — 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).