Alex Arman topped the podium in the men's Standard-Distance Duathlon National Championships.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships got off to a thrilling start Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as Alex Arman and Kirsten Sass claimed overall Standard-Distance titles and Todd Buckingham and Cassidy Hickey took top honors in the Non-Drafting Sprint. The run-bike-run event drew athletes ages 14-85 from across the United States to race for national titles and World Championship qualifying spots.
Duathlon Nationals is the first USA Triathlon-produced National Championship to take place since August 2019, with the majority of the 2020 season canceled due to COVID-19. The race was held with COVID-19 safety measures in place according to USA Triathlon’s Safe Return to Multisport initiative, including self-screening and temperature checks upon entrance to the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater; face coverings at all times except while actively racing; contact reduction for athletes, staff and volunteers; and increased cleaning and disinfecting onsite by ByoPlanet International.
The Standard-Distance event featured a 10-kilometer run along the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk and Jack Warner Parkway; a 39.6-kilometer bike traversing Jack Warner Parkway and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., and another 5.4k run finishing inside the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.
Athletes went off in small groups, 5-10 at a time, to reduce congestion on the course. That format played into race strategy, as racers in each age group had the option to choose their starting position relative to their closest competitors.
Arman broke the tape in the men’s race, taking the overall title in 1 hour, 53 minutes, 46 seconds. The victory is Arman’s second at Duathlon Nationals, as he also captured the Standard-Distance overall title in 2018. He shared the podium with runner-up Nick Aguila (Manchester, N.H.), who finished in 1:54:56, and third-place finisher Adoh Doherty (Taunton, Mass.), who finished in 1:55:14.
“I decided to start a couple groups back just so I would have someone to chase the whole time. I didn’t get to the front of the race until transition two,” Arman said. “By the time I got into the lead, I was running scared, which really paid off. For me, 2018 was a good year of racing, and 2019 was a little disappointing. So, I was super motivated going into 2020, and of course with all of the challenges there, I had a full year of self-encouragement and self-motivation, just pushing myself all year. I was happy to get back today and happy with the win.”
Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.) was the women’s Standard-Distance champion, capturing her fifth overall title at Duathlon Nationals. One of USA Triathlon’s most decorated amateur athletes, Sass is also a five-time Age Group Duathlon World Championships gold medalist.
“Man, it feels so good to be back racing. This is my first race since February of last year, so it was hard to even know what to expect going into it, but it was so good to see familiar faces out on the course and to have that cool race atmosphere. You learn not to take it for granted after a year like last year,” Sass said. “Overall, I was really happy with my race. It was really hard to tell where you were on the course because of the wave starts, so you really just had to run your own race and see how it ended up. I’m thrilled.”
Taking second overall for women in the Standard-Distance race was local athlete Deanna Newman (Birmingham, Ala.), a nurse at St. Vincent’s Birmingham. Newman finished in 2:14:35, and Kristen Hetzel (Los Angeles, Calif.) rounded out the podium in 2:17:39.
In total, 34 national champions were crowned in the Standard-Distance event, including seven who defended their age-group titles from 2019 (Duathlon Nationals was not held in 2020): Lee Piercy (Folsom, Calif., M45-49), who went back-to-back as the men’s Masters champion; Newman; Kirsten Chapman (Edmond, Okla., F55-59), who repeated her women’s Grand Masters title; Paige Orcutt (Morrison, Colo., F30-34); Sass; Lockett Wood (Lyons, Colo., M80-84); and Sharon Roggenbuck (Hillsborough, N.C., F80-84).
In the Non-Drafting Sprint, which featured a 5k run, 20k bike and 2.9k run, both Buckingham (Big Rapids, Mich.) and Hickey (Parker, Colo.) successfully defended their overall titles from 2019.
For Hickey, the win was a three-peat, as she also took the Non-Drafting Sprint title in 2018. The youngest overall champion of the day, 18-year-old Hickey broke the tape with a time of 1:08:18. She had a gap of more than 90 seconds on runner-up Celia Dubey (Tarpon Springs, Fla.), who crossed the line in 1:10:04. Sarah Barber (Boise, Idaho) took third overall in 1:12:24.
“It was so weird not racing for so long, and then coming out here and being like, ‘Oh, I’m not nervous! I don’t know what’s going on,’” Hickey said. “I don’t think it’s set in yet that this was a Nationals. But I’m so glad it was able to happen. Thank you to USA Triathlon for being able to hold this — awesome course, awesome environment.”
Notably, Sass doubled up after her victory in the Standard-Distance, placing fourth in the Non-Drafting Sprint in 1:12:38.
Buckingham’s victory is his fifth career Duathlon Nationals overall podium. In 2019, he won the Non-Drafting Sprint and took second in the Draft-Legal Sprint. In 2018, he was the Draft-Legal Sprint champion and the Standard-Distance runner-up. Buckingham had a dominant race Saturday afternoon, clocking an overall time of 57:24. He was the only athlete to finish in under an hour, crossing the line more than three minutes ahead of his closest competitor.
“I wanted to be conservative on that first run because later in the race it would just get hotter —but there was another guy out there (Blake Lowery) who was really pushing the pace, so I just tried to stay with him and make sure he didn’t get too far away,” Buckingham said. “The community here is part of the reason I keep coming to these National Championships. Testing yourself against the best in the country is just the boost that you need. I don’t know that I would have biked or run as fast as I did today without the competition.”
Lowery (Gainesville, Fla.) held on for second overall in 1:00:44. Todd Ricketts (Newark, Ohio) completed the overall podium, crossing the line in 1:03:06.
In total, national titles were awarded to 36 athletes in the Non-Drafting Sprint, including the following athletes who successfully defended their titles from 2019: Hickey; Buckingham; Julie Cushen (San Francisco, Calif., F30-34); Sass; Dubey; Steph Popelar (Elizabeth, Colo., F50-54); and Sharon Gerl (Bend, Ore., F70-74).
The action continues tomorrow with the Draft-Legal Sprint Duathlon National Championships, which feature a 5k run, draft-legal 20k bike and 2.9k run. Racing begins at 7:30 a.m. CT, and live tracking and athlete leaderboards are available on the USA Triathlon Events App.
In all three of this weekend’s National Championship races, top finishers in each age group qualify to represent Team USA in duathlon at the 2021 and 2022 World Triathlon Multisport Championships. The 2021 edition takes place in Almere, Netherlands, from Sept. 3-12, while the 2022 event heads to Townsville, Australia, from Aug. 18-28. For more information about qualifying for and representing Team USA, visit usatriathlon.org/teamusa.
For complete Duathlon National Championships event information, visit usatriathlon.org/du2021.
2021 USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships — Complete Results
Standard-Distance National Champions
10k run, 39.6k bike, 5.4k run
Male Overall: Alex Arman (Boulder, Colo.), 1:53:46
Female Overall: Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.), 2:12:50
Male Elite: Eric Hill (Waukesha, Wis.), 2:04:51
Female Elite: Kari Giles (Austell, Ga.), 2:19:48
Male Masters: Lee Piercy (Folsom, Calif.), 1:56:19
Female Masters: Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.), 2:12:50
Male Grand Masters: Paul Greenberg (Westport, Conn.), 2:11:59
Female Grand Masters: Kirsten Chapman (Edmond, Okla.), 2:29:12
M17-19: Colin Wong (Roseville, Calif.) 1:59:39
F17-19: Margaret Anne Ridlehuber (Tazewell, Va.), 3:04:13
M20-24: Dixon Atkins (Isla Vista, Calif.), 2:03:51
F20-24: Katherine Guo (New York, N.Y.), 2:42:10
M25-29: Adoh Doherty (Taunton, Mass.), 1:55:14
F25-29: Samantha Downey (Denver, Colo.), 2:31:46
M30-34: Alex Arman (Boulder, Colo.), 1:53:46
F30-34: Paige Orcutt (Morrison, Colo.), 2:31:36
M35-39: Chris Gregory (Carpinteria, Calif.), 2:00:44
F35-39: Rendy Williams (Newport Beach, Calif.), 2:23:00
M40-44: Jerry Faulkner (New York, N.Y.), 2:03:08
F40-44: Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.), 2:12:50
M45-49: Lee Piercy (Folsom, Calif.), 1:56:19
F45-49: Erica Ruge (Longmont, Colo.), 2:23:48
M50-54: Thomas Woods (Lincoln, Neb.), 2:05:19
F50-54: Deanna Newman (Birmingham, Ala.), 2:14:35
M55-59: Ronald Reynolds Gambrills, Md.), 2:14:46
F55-59: Kirsten Chapman (Edmond, Okla.), 2:29:12
M60-64: Paul Greenberg (Westport, Conn.), 2:11:59
F60-64: Kathleen Johnston (Nashville, Tenn.), 2:44:36
M65-69: Rob Duncanson (Napa, Calif.), 2:34:29
F65-69: Lorrie Beck (Williamstown, N.J.), 2:41:42
M70-74: Bob Becker (Midlothian, Va.), 2:44:55
F70-74: Sharon Gerl (Bend, Ore.), 3:02:14
M75-79: Finn Hassing (Hickory, N.C.), 3:04:00
F75-79: Nancy Mallon (Denver, Colo.), 4:02:19
M80-84: Lockett Wood (Lyons, Colo.), 3:56:26
F80-84: Sharon Roggenbuck (Hillsborough, N.C.), 4:16:47
Clydesdale 40-59: Lance Fargo (Dover, Del.), 2:26:33
Athena 40-54: Nicole Dieckow (Anniston, Ala.), 2:40:00
Clydesdale 39 & Under: Jonathon Sellers (Indianapolis, Ind.), 2:38:16
Athena 39 & Under: Ashley Miller, 3:22:35
Non-Drafting Sprint National Champions
5k run, 20k bike, 2.9k run
Male Overall: Todd Buckingham (Big Rapids, Mich.), 57:24
Female Overall: Cassidy Hickey (Parker, Colo.), 1:08:18
Male Masters: Todd Ricketts (Newark, Ohio), 1:03:06
Female Masters: Celia Dubey (Tarpon Springs, Fla.), 1:10:04
Male Grand Masters: Greg Pelican (Estero, Fla.), 1:10:42
Female Grand Masters: Patty Peoples-Resh (Redlands, Calif.), 1:16:41
M15-19: Connor Spencer (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.), 1:06:20
F15-19: Cassidy Hickey (Parker, Colo.), 1:08:18
M20-24: Blake Lowery (Gainesville, Fla.), 1:00:44
F20-24: Rita Johnson (Nashville, Tenn.), 1:27:27
M25-29: Clayton Wilson (Greensboro, N.C.), 1:06:50
F25-29: Abigail Busse (Ann Arbor, Mich.), 1:18:51
M30-34: Todd Buckingham (Big Rapids, Mich.), 57:24
F30-34: Julie Cushen (San Francisco, Calif.), 1:16:04
M35-39: Michael Fowler (Wichita, Kan.), 1:07:15
F35-39: Karoline Muehlfellner (Dunedin, Fla.), 1:13:16
M40-44: Todd Ricketts (Newark, Ohio), 1:03:06
F40-44: Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.), 1:12:38
M45-49: Toby Dogwiler (Springfield, Mo.), 1:03:52
F45-49: Celia Dubey (Tarpon Springs, Fla.), 1:10:04
M50-54: Michael O’Riley (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1:07:09
F50-54: Steph Popelar (Elizabeth, Colo.), 1:13:46
M55-59: Barry Phelps (Thompsons Station, Tenn.), 1:07:43
F55-59: Crystal Kyle (Peoria, Ill.), 1:24:21
M60-64: Greg Pelican (Estero, Fla.), 1:10:42
F60-64: Suzanne Cordes (Daytona Beach, Fla.), 1:21:16
M65-69: David Morrow (Tarpon Springs, Fla.), 1:13:55
F65-69: Patty Peoples-Resh (Redlands, Calif.), 1:16:41
M70-74: Paul Braunschweiler (Omaha, Neb.), 1:18:17
F70-74: Ruth King (Ambler, Pa.), 1:39:46
M75-79: Richard Poole (York, Pa.), 1:31:27
F75-79: Heysoon Lee (Morristown, N.J.), 2:10:33
M80-84: Hugh Fish (Cary, N.C.), 2:06:55
F80-84: Luise Easton (Westlake, Ohio), 2:54:37
M85-89: Kenneth Fleischhacker (Littleton, Colo.), 1:42:01
Clydesdale 60+: Dominic Tocco (Waterford, N.Y.), 1:21:35
Clydesdale 40-59: Lance Fargo (Dover, Del.), 1:21:49
Athena 40-54: Jennifer Pollard (Milledgeville, Ga.), 2:22:15
Clydesdale 39 & Under: Kevin Gaston (Atlanta, Ga.), 1:34:29
Athena 39 & Under: Sharon Deane (Knoxville, Tenn.), 1:24:17
PC Open Male: Jeremy Winters (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), 1:23:12
PC Open Female: Christine Wodke (Sulphur, Okla.), 1:55:51
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).