SARASOTA, Fla. — The U.S. team of Renée Tomlin, Jason West, Taylor Spivey and Morgan Pearson won the gold medal Sunday afternoon at the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI Mixed Relay American Championships at Nathan Benderson Park. The fast-paced event made for an exciting close to the Sarasota-Bradenton Triathlon Festival, a weekend of racing that also included an ITU Triathlon World Cup, ITU Paratriathlon World Cup and the USA Triathlon Age Group Draft-Legal National Championships.
The relay was held as a duathlon (run-bike-run) instead of a triathlon (swim-bike-run) after heightened algae levels in the lake due to recent weather conditions forced a cancellation of the swim leg. The adjusted course required each athlete to complete a 750-meter run, 6.1-kilometer bike and another 1.5-kilometer run before tagging off to the next teammate, with the fastest combined time winning the race.
Triathlon mixed relays, one of the most spectator-friendly race formats in the sport, will be contested as a medal event for the first time at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Sunday’s races allowed top contenders from across North, South and Central America to compete head-to-head in the increasingly popular discipline.
The race was a battle between Team USA and Team Canada from the start. Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.), the women’s individual champion in Saturday’s ITU World Cup, led off for the U.S. The race format played to the former collegiate 800- and 1,500-meter runner’s strengths, and despite a mechanical issue with her bike in transition, she still tagged off to West in second behind Canada’s Joanna Brown.
On leg two, West (Boulder, Colo.) stayed on the heels of Canada’s Tyler Mislawchuk during the first run. The two worked together on the bike, and West was just a few steps behind the Canadian when he tagged off to Spivey for the third leg.
Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.) laid down the hammer on the bike to stay in touch with Canada’s Desirae Ridenour, then pulled into a narrow lead on the second run as she sprinted toward the tag zone.
Pearson (Boulder, Colo.) took off on the anchor leg with a four-second head start on Canada’s Matthew Sharpe. The two worked together on the bike course, both knowing the victory would come down to the final 1.5k run. Then it was Pearson who dug the deepest, outrunning the Canadian to break the tape with a five-second lead.
Team USA would take the title in a combined time of 1 hour, 7 minutes, 40 seconds. Canada earned the silver in 1:07:45, and the Brazilian team of Beatriz Neres, Reinaldo Colucci, Luisa Baptista and Manoel Messias rounded out the podium in 1:08:00.
For Pearson, the relay was the cherry on top of an already successful weekend. The first-year elite, who was introduced to triathlon just last year through USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program, placed fourth individually in Saturday’s ITU World Cup.
“I was really happy with how I was able to compete after being pretty tired this morning, and just get it done in the heat again,” Pearson said. “I’ve done relays before, but never with this team. They were good teammates, and a team victory is always a little sweeter.”
Tomlin, who heads home with two gold medals on the weekend, was pleased with how she handled the mid-race mechanical issue.
“Today was kind of right up my alley. I had a bit of a mistake in the first transition where dropped my (bike) chain, so I lost that lead with Joanna, but I was able to get it back a little bit on the run and put Jason in the best position I could for what happened in T1,” Tomlin said. “It’s such a good experience, working through the little mistakes or little things that could cost you.”
A second U.S. team also competed Sunday, represented by Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.), Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.) and Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.). The team finished sixth with a combined time of 1:09:19, though only one team from each country was counted in the official results.
Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI Mixed Relay American Championships
4x (750m run, 6.1k bike, 1.5k run) | Complete Results
1. Team I United States (Renée Tomlin, Jason West, Taylor Spivey, Morgan Pearson),1:07:40
2. Team I Canada, 1:07:45
3. Team I Brazil, 1:08:00
4. Team I Mexico, 1:08:50
5. Team I Argentina, 1:10:01
Team II United States (Chelsea Burns, Seth Rider, Tamara Gorman, Tony Smoragiewicz), 1:09:19
Team II Mexico, 1:09:32
Team II Canada, 1:10:22