LONG BEACH, Calif. — Ten U.S. elite paratriathletes earned national titles on Sunday at the 2021 Toyota USA Paratriathlon National Championships, concluding the third day of triathlon racing action at the Toyota Legacy Triathlon in Long Beach. The race was held at Alamitos Beach, the proposed site of the triathlon competitions for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Los Angeles 2028.
Also held Sunday was the Americas Triathlon Cup Long Beach, featuring elite triathletes and Paris 2024 Olympic hopefuls.
For the second time in history at the Toyota USA Paratriathlon National Championships, the race featured a professional prize purse of $36,750, provided in equal parts by USA Triathlon, Toyota and the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF).
Paratriathletes on Sunday raced a course covering a 750-meter swim, 22-kilometer bike on Shoreline Dr. and a 5-kilometer run along the coast on Shoreline Way.
Paratriathlete competitors included Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 qualifiers Eric McElvenny (Pittsburgh, Pa., PTS4), Kelly Elmlinger (San Antonio, Texas, PTS4), Amy Dixon (Encinitas, Calif., PTVI) with guide Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.), and Brad Snyder (Baltimore, Md.) with guide Greg Billington (San Francisco, Calif.).
A rising star, McElvenny covered the course in 1 hour, 5 minutes, 6 seconds to earn his first paratriathlon national title, taking the win in the PTS4 category. A relative newcomer to short-course triathlon racing, McElvenny earned his first World Triathlon Para Series medal earlier this year in Leeds, England, and took the win at the Americas Triathlon Para Championships Pleasant Prairie in June.
“This was a wonderful course, it was a hard day as expected and nothing is better than crossing (the finish line) first. This is an amazing feeling,” said McElvenny, who had his right leg amputated after stepping on an IED while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan. “(The last two years) have just been a great opportunity – getting the chance to race with some of the fastest guys in the world has been an amazing experience. I have this really cool privilege and honor to represent USA and then race and compete in Tokyo.”
In the men’s PTVI category, Snyder and Billington held off Aaron Scheidies (Seattle, Wash., PTVI) and guide Ben Collins (Seattle, Wash.) to win the national title, clocking a time of 1:00:14. Schiedies and Collins finished in 1:00:25. A five-time Paralaympic gold medalist and two-time silver medalist in swimming from the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games, Snyder made the switch to paratriathlon in 2018 and earned his first elite victory at the 2021 Americas Triathlon Para Championships Pleasant Prairie. Snyder is a Team Toyota athlete, and Billington is a 2016 U.S. Olympian in triathlon, placing 37th in Rio.
Dixon, with her guide Sass, earned her second national title in the women’s PTVI category, finishing with a time of 1:21:28. She also won the national title in 2019.
In the women’s PTS4 category, Elmlinger claimed her second national title with a time of 1:14:03. She won her first national championship in 2018 in just her second triathlon since becoming an amputee. Elmlinger served for 10 years as a U.S. Army medic, with three back-to-back deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. She had her leg amputated in 2016 due to synovial sarcoma, a rare form of soft tissue cancer.
A gold medal winner this year at World Triathlon Para Series events in Yokohama, Japan, and Leeds, England, Elmlinger now has her eyes set on next month’s Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“For me, it’s a dream come true. It’s a goal achieved. I’ve always been an athlete. I’ve always wanted to be at the top level. I’ve spent over 20 years serving in the military and representing the United States,” Elmlinger, a U.S. Army veteran, said. “To have that service continue in a different capacity, that’s the biggest thing for me. I still get to put on the red, white and blue and that’s just awesome for me.”
The top-performing athletes in Saturday’s race who were not already members of the Toyota USA Paratriathlon National Team will be considered for the Toyota USA Paratriathlon Development Team Program, designed to identify and develop athletic potential leading toward the Paralympic Games Paris 2024.
Making the development team is a goal Zachary Stinson (Chambersburg, Pa.), who won the men’s PTWC national title with a time of 1:07:24.
“I am hoping that after today this will point me in the right direction and I can work my way up. Right now, it’s all about getting my name out there and winning this was a big step in the right direction,” Stinson said.
Karen Sternfeld (Chicago, Ill.) won the women’s PTWC title.
Cahin Perez (Christiana, Tenn.) and Juansca Rodriguez (El Paso, Texas) won national titles in the men’s and women’s PTS2 classification, while Chris Marston (Mechanicsville, Va) claimed the national title in the men’s PTS3 classification. Leah Kaplan (Spokane, Wash.) won the women’s PTS5 national title.
For more information about the Legacy Triathlon and Toyota USA Paratriathlon National Championships, visit thelegacytriathlon.com.
2021 Toyota USA Paratriathlon National Championships
750m swim, 22k bike, 5k run
Male PTVI: Brad Snyder (Baltimore, Md.) and guide Greg Billington (San Francisco, Calif.) 1:00:14
Female PTVI: Amy Dixon (Encinitas, Calif.) and guide Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.) 1:21:28
Male PTWC: Zachary Stinson (Chambersburg, Pa.) 1:07:24
Female PTWC: Karen Sternfeld (Chicago, Ill.) 1:46:54
Male PTS2: Cahin Perez (Christiana, Tenn.) 1:25:21
Male PTS3: Chris Marston (Mechanicsville, Va) 1:18:10
Female PTS3: Juansca Rodriguez (El Paso, Texas) 1:27:49
Male PTS4: Eric McElvenny (Pittsburgh, Pa) 1:05:06
Female PTS4: Kelly Elmlinger (San Antonio, Texas) 1:14:03
Female PTS5: Leah Kaplan (Spokane, Wash.) 1:36:52
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).