Annamarie Strehlow, a Milwaukee native, earned the women's overall Olympic-distance national championship title.
MILWAUKEE — The nation’s fastest amateur triathletes took to Lake Michigan and the streets of downtown Milwaukee Saturday at the 2021 Toyota USA Triathlon Olympic-Distance Age Group National Championships, as 31-year-old Milwaukee native Annamarie Strehlow and 25-year-old Benjamin Stone of Indianapolis, Indiana, took overall national titles.
First held in 1983, Age Group Nationals is USA Triathlon’s longest-running National Championship event. The 2021 edition welcomes a record field of more than 6,000 athletes across three days of competition, which began Friday with an Open Water Swim competition. Participants hail from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., as well as nine countries and five territories.
Milwaukee hosted Age Group Nationals for three consecutive years from 2013-15, holding the previous participation record of 5,789 from 2014. USA Triathlon returns to the city after two years in Omaha (2016-17) and two in Cleveland (2018-19), with athletes eager to race again after the 2020 event was canceled due to COVID-19.
Saturday’s course featured a 1,500-meter swim in Lake Michigan, followed by a 40-kilometer bike traversing the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge and the Lake Freeway. Athletes then completed a 10-kilometer run through Veterans Park and Lincoln Memorial Drive, ending with a sprint down USA Triathlon’s red-carpet finish chute adjacent to the Milwaukee Art Museum and Discovery World.
In the women’s race, Strehlow took top honors with a time of 2 hours, 7 minutes, 58 seconds. The Milwaukee native had the fastest bike split of all women in 1:01:08, an average of 24.39 miles per hour. She then used a sub-40-minute 10k run to move into the lead, passing overall runner-up Michelle Stratton (Naperville, Ill.) in the final 3k. Stratton, 30, crossed the line in 2:08:15, and 44-year-old Ginger Reiner (Lincoln, Mass.) was third overall in 2:10:32.
“The swim was great — flat, water was like glass. Into the ride, this is my hometown, so I know these roads really well. It was fast and flat, and same thing going into the run,” Strehlow said. “I knew there was going to be some really good competition, but my goal was either top-five or to win it, so when I saw Michelle with about a mile to go, I really just tried to push it. It feels incredible to be here in Milwaukee and to be a champion in my hometown. I saw my family out of the swim, out of the bike and out of the run. It's one of the only races that I’ve had so much support, so that really pushed me to the finish.”
Reiner successfully defended her women's Masters title from 2019, while Grand Masters honors went to Juliana Nievergelt (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) in 2:21:27.
The men’s overall victory went to Stone in 1:50:41. He had the day’s third-fastest swim, then rode the sixth-fastest bike split and ran the eighth fastest 10k of the overall men’s field. That was enough to cross the line nearly 90 seconds ahead of runner-up Daniel Moore (Melboure, Fla), 27, who finished in 1:52:09. Taking third overall was 25-year-old Ari Klau (West Hartford, Conn.) in 1:52:41.
“I had made this my goal to win this last year, but that didn’t happen because of COVID-19, so I’m just happy to be here racing against the best athletes in the U.S.,” Stone said. “I’ve won a couple races this year, but this was definitely the most exciting finish line I’ve run down this year. I can’t really put it into words right now; I’m just ecstatic and super happy.”
James Hallberg (Longmont, Colo.) earned the men's Masters title with a time of 1:57:49, while Tony Schiller (Eden Prairie, Minn.) successfully defended his men's Grand Masters title in 2:08:15.
Brett Collins (La Grange, Ill.), the men’s 35-39 age group champion in 1:57:52, said the pause on racing during the COVID-19 pandemic made him more dedicated to the sport than ever before.
“I think COVID solidified my passion for the sport. I feel like it kind of set people one way or the other — either caused them to bite their teeth and dig in harder, or kind of back away. I was one of the ones that bit harder,” Collins said. “I hope I made my family proud. It’s a team effort. My wife makes a lot of sacrifices, I’m up at 5 a.m. to get my workouts in, so I wanted to make it worth it for them.”
Jenna Horner (Eden Prairie, Minn.) took the women’s 20-24 age group title with a time of 2:11:10, placing sixth in the overall field. The 2020 graduate of George Washington University, where she competed on the collegiate club triathlon team, said it was rewarding to be back to racing.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day,” Horner said. “I’ve really struggled the last few years with the swim, and I think that was my best swim ever, so I set myself up for success with that. It feels great to be back to this energy and atmosphere — I think I really struggled through last year without it. I love coming to Age Group Nationals, it’s one of my favorite races.”
In total, 30 champions were crowned in their respective age groups on Saturday, four of whom defended their national titles from 2019: Reiner (F40-44); Schiller (M60-64); Gregory Taylor (Yankton, S.D., M65-69); and Robert Plant (Woodside, Calif., M75-79).
Saturday’s race also included a beginner-friendly Time to Tri Open division, which did not require qualification and was separate from the National Championship results. Randy Anderson-Kenney (Waukesha, Wis.) was the first overall Time to Tri female across the line in 2:24:35, while Kyle Hosting (Greenville, S.C.) was the men’s Time to Tri division overall winner in 2:13:06.
Archived video footage of Saturday's livestream is now available at youtube.com/usatriathlon.
The action continues Sunday with the Sprint National Championships, which cover a 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run. In addition to the age-group National Championship divisions, the sprint race will also feature a Time to Tri Open division and a PC Open division for adaptive athletes, featuring several participants from the Wisconsin chapter of myTEAM TRIUMPH.
Athletes, spectators and media can follow the action throughout Age Group Nationals weekend with the USA Triathlon Events App. The app features live athlete tracking, leaderboards, event schedules and more, and is free to download on iPhone and Android devices. For more information, visit usatriathlon.org/eventsapp.
Live updates will be also posted throughout the day @USATLive on Twitter and @usatriathlon on Instagram.
Visit usatriathlon.org/agnc2021 or download the digital event program for complete event information for the Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships.
Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group Olympic-Distance National Championships
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run — Complete Results
Overall Female: Annamarie Strehlow (Milwaukee, Wis.), 2:07:58
Overall Male: Benjamin Stone (Indianapolis, Ind.), 1:50:41
Masters Female: Ginger Reiner (Lincoln, Mass.), 2:10:32
Masters Male: James Hallberg (Longmont, Colo.), 1:57:49
Grand Masters Female: Juliana Nievergelt (Mount Pleasant, S.C.), 2:21:27
Grand Masters Male: Tony Schiller (Eden Prairie, Minn.), 2:08:15
F17-19: Christina Traficanti (Phoenixville, Pa.), 2:27:45
M17-19: Andrew Murray (Pearland, Texas), 1:56:06
F20-24: Jenna Horner (Eden Prairie, Minn.), 2:11:10
M20-24: Matthew Marquardt (Cincinnati, Ohio), 1:52:47
F25-29: Minori Minagawa (Dublin, Ohio), 2:10:50
M25-29: Benjamin Stone (Indianapolis, Ind.), 1:50:41
F30-34: Annamarie Strehlow (Milwaukee, Wis.), 2:07:58
M30-34: Brian Reynolds (Richland, Mich.), 1:54:40
F35-39: Kristine Banks-Smith (Denver, Colo.), 2:10:52
M35-39: Brett Collins (La Grange, Ill.), 1:57:52
F40-44: Ginger Reiner (Lincoln, Mass.), 2:10:32
M40-44: James Hallberg (Longmont, Colo.), 1:57:49
F45-49: Jessica Holmes (Natick, Mass.), 2:11:50
M45-49: Christian Waterstraat (Naperville, Ill.), 2:04:04
F50-54: Deanna Newman (Mountain Brook, Ala.), 2:12:29
M50-54: Stephen Bosic (Waltham, Mass.), 2:04:25
F55-59: Susan Pierson (Green Bay, Wis.), 2:21:53
M55-59: Scott Trappe (Gaston, Ind.), 2:07:22
F60-64: Juliana Nievergelt (Mount Pleasant, S.C.), 2:21:27
M60-64: Tony Schiller (Eden Prairie, Minn.), 2:08:15
F65-69: Carol Gephart (Hamilton, Mich.), 2:30:48
M65-69: Gregory Taylor (Yankton, S.D.), 2:17:40
F70-74: Barbara Mathewson (Virginia Beach, Va.), 2:58:59
M70-74: John Towart (Solana Beach, Calif.), 2:33:27
F75-79: Nancy Mallon (Denver, Colo.), 3:54:48
M75-79: Robert Plant (Woodside, Calif.), 2:48:23
F80-84: Peggy McDowell-Cramer (Santa Monica, Calif.), 3:55:24
M80-84: Raymond Eastwood (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.), 3:36:00
Time to Tri Open Female 15-39: Randy Anderson-Kenney (Waukesha, Wis.), 2:24:35
Time to Tri Open Male 15-39: Kyle Hosting (Greenville, S.C.), 2:13:06
Time to Tri Open Female 40-59: Megan Farley (Elmhurst, Ill.), 2:52:42
Time to Tri Open Male 40-59: Colin Boone (Sioux Falls, S.D.), 2:23:11
Time to Tri Open Female 60+: Linda Johns (Portland, Ore.), 3:21:40
Time to Tri Open Male 60+: Mark Pearson (Grand Rapids, Mich.), 3:29:46
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 4,000 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 World Triathlon Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of World Triathlon and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).