Bend, Oregon, the site of 2016 USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships was stunning — such a beautiful city and great race location! This was my first trip ever into the state of Oregon and it’s a beautiful place. Thanks to the city of Bend for hosting us.
The racecourse might be the hardest standard-distance course I have ever raced on. It was relentless and it really made you work and test your limits. But I really appreciate that in a championship course! It was scenic and beautiful; I mean how could you not love biking out that pristine road staring at mountains and wilderness even if you were climbing for 6 miles pushing all the power you had? I had the pleasure (I think?) of racing both standard and sprint. So I got to embrace both run courses and the sprint run was much easier than the standard-distance run. The standard run course was a little cruel but in a good way.
Besides racing some very challenging courses we had altitude to mix in, which for a flatlander like me was a bit challenging also. The high desert makes you very thirsty and zaps your energy and legs much more than you would think. So hydration is a key because I had to deal with a lot of cramps throughout my two races. The morning air in Bend is cool and leaves you chilled but once that sun comes out it gets warm fast! So the morning for the standard race was cool, but by the final 5k run of that event it was getting warm. And then that afternoon when I raced the sprint distance it was flat-out hot in that sun and you cooked. But this is all part of racing new environments, and you never know what Mother Nature will give you. As a competitor you have to be ready to adapt and push your limits no matter what.
Racing twice in one day … Would I do it again? Today my answer would be no, in a few months that might change but wow was bouncing back on short rest after pushing hard in the first race really hard. The sprint race hurt and once it was done left me quite beat up almost like running the Boston marathon does. Only 20 athletes in the entire field did the double that day in Bend and three of them were my group of athletes I coach. For those who think about doing the double in one day I suggest you think long and hard about it and then really focus on the hydration and nutrition and recovery in-between races. For the 20 of us who raced twice that day, congrats! Much respect and you have huge guts!
USATDU 2016 could not have gone much better for me and the athletes I coach.
Manuela Knispel became a two-time national champion that day by taking the female 45-49 division after winning the 40-44 division the year before. She was also the overall female master’s champion — this all in the standard distance. Then she came back in the sprint race on a very beat up body and finished fourth.
Pete Rainy landed on the podium for the standard race with a third-place finish. Then he bounced back in the sprint race with a fourth-place finish.
“Coach,” that would be me, had a dream for one year after Manuela won her national title jersey. And that was to win one of those jerseys for myself. I focused on this day in Bend for one year. And I achieved that goal and could not be more happy and proud!
I won the male 40-44 national championship title and took second overall for the male master’s award. When I finished the standard race my hamstrings seized up and they carried me into medical to work them out as I screamed in pain. So with short recovery I was not sure how my body would respond for that sprint race. The Sprint race was not easy and it hurt, but again I made myself proud with a second-place finish and landing on the podium again.
It was a very rewarding day for me as a coach and as an athlete. I could not be more proud of the efforts given that day.
As always USA Triathlon put on a world-class event in a world-class setting, then hosted one of the best award banquets in multisport. Tim does such an amazing job with the help of all of the USAT staff! I just want to thank the staff of USAT and all the volunteers and the city of Bend for putting together this great event that so many of us enjoyed and had success on.
I can’t wait to race for Team USA in 2017 at World Championships! And Bend I will see you again in 2017 as well.
Thanks everyone for the cheers and support, and congrats to all the inspiring athletes that finished that beautiful day in Bend, Oregon. Be proud of your accomplishment!
Visit the 2016 USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships event page for more coverage.