The USA Triathlon Youth & Junior Nationals have been a race that Fury Tri Team has wanted to race for a few years. Finally, we are getting to go and the athletes are ecstatic. Based out of Katy, Texas (near Houston), the 22-hour drive to Ohio, along with bike and gear transport has posed a few challenges. The kids and parents committed to making it happen this year. The parents have been planning and the kids have been preparing mentally and physically for months as well.
This race has been appealing because not only is it Nationals, which draws teams and athletes from all over the country, but it also encourages and embraces brand-new athletes. We have heard such great things about the Voice of America Park and the excellent course. This will also give our athletes the ability to watch the youth and junior elite athletes race the day before. Most of them have never gotten to see a draft-legal race before, and I think they’ll be incredibly impressed and motivated by it. It will show them one of the paths they may choose to take as they progress in their triathlon journey.
I asked a couple of the kids going some questions about Nationals. Caden Davis (10) is in his sixth year of competing and Taylor Davis (race age of 8) is in her fourth year of competing.
Why is Nationals exciting or special? What made it such a goal to get to compete there?
C- I’ll get to compete with kids from all over the country! I see a lot of the same kids at the races in our area, so it will be neat to have new kids to race.
T- I like to race a lot, and I like to travel. I also want to see the elite kids race on Saturday!
What was important to work on in training for Nationals? What did you focus on in your training?
C- Open water swimming! It is way different swimming in a lake since you can’t see the bottom or follow the black line. We had to practice sighting to stay on course. Also, the bike part. I ride a lot, but many of the races here have shorter bike courses for some reason.
T- It’s open water swimming in the lake, and the swim is the hardest part for me anyway. We got to have team practices at the lake and I really liked that. I also watched some videos from Nationals the past few years to learn what to expect. I think that helps some too.
What do you think will be the most challenging part of Nationals?
C- Making sure I get sleep and drink enough while traveling. We are driving for two days and usually our races aren’t so far away. Also, keeping a fast pace on the run if I am tired at the end. That is usually the hard part.
T- The swim is always the hardest part for me. It’s supposed to be cooler than our practices have been, so that will maybe make it easier to go really fast.
What are you most excited about?
C- I am excited to travel and race with my friend and teammate, Tyler. We have raced together since we were like 5. Getting to travel through several new states should be fun too!
T- Traveling with my family and team, getting to race new kids, and seeing cool things along the way.
The athletes we have going to Nationals have been racing for several years and have a good knowledge of triathlon and racing. We really focused on making sure the little things that will be different at this race were practiced. Like Caden mentioned, a lot of the races here locally have short bike courses, as it’s hard to shut down the roads for youth races. Some races may only be 1-2 miles of biking for the 6- to 10-year-old athletes, so we worked on riding longer without crowded bike courses we encounter frequently. The open water swimming (OWS) was also something we focused on. Our team generally practices in a climate controlled indoor pool, and races mostly in pools. To increase their OWS comfort level, we added in some practices at a local lake and worked on sighting the turn buoys and staying on course. These were a favorite of athletes and parents alike, as we had free swim after and the kids really got comfortable in the lake. The road to Nationals has been an incredible journey so far, and our Fury Tri Team family can’t wait to finally experience USA Triathlon Youth & Junior Nationals for ourselves.
Want to learn more about the 2017 USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships in West Chester, Ohio? Find event coverage at usatriathlon.org/usatjr17coverage.