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Exciting Start to the 2015 Season

By Kirsten Kasper | Feb. 09, 2015, 12 a.m. (ET)

cubaKirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) is a graduate of Georgetown University where she earned an undergraduate degree in marketing and management and a masters degree in sports industry management. She started swimming at the age of 5 and continued to compete competitively throughout high school. Kasper began running her freshman year of high school and continued to compete in college, representing Georgetown University as a member of their Division I cross country and track programs. Kasper joined the Collegiate Recruitment Program (CRP) June 2014. She jumped right into full training and hasn’t looked back. Kasper had a successful start to her triathlon career by placing fourth at the 2014 ITU Under-23 World Championships in Edmonton, Canada, and placing eighth at the 2014 Tongyeong ITU Triathlon World Cup in South Korea.

Cuba marked the first race of the 2015 season. To have the opportunity to travel to Cuba with the other members of the CRP and to race at such an historic event for the United States was an experience I am very thankful for — and one I will never forget. The first travel day the CRP group flew to Miami where we would catch our flight to Havana, Cuba, through a charter airline. We were all extremely excited to board that plane to Havana and knew we were in for a great adventure.

The CRP group stayed at the Meliá Hotel, which was a beautiful hotel with oceanfront rooms. The first day we got there and walked into our hotel room, Renée and I were in awe of the view and beautiful sunset we witnessed from our balcony.

cubaRace morning came with a 5:30 a.m. wakeup call and I followed my typical routine with a delicious oatmeal breakfast. From there Renée and I biked to the course about 8 kilometers away and went through our warm-up routine. The race started at 8:30 a.m. with an overcast sky and a storm approaching in the distance. The race plan was to work with Renée and do as little work possible in order to be in the best possible position off the bike.

I executed the race plan as well as I could have hoped. I came out of the water second and was able to swim on the leader’s feet with minimal use of my legs. The bike pack consisted of about seven or eight girls and for most of the ride I sat in second or third position doing minimal work. Coming off the bike, I had a smooth transition and was off on the run.

cubaA pack of four formed out of transition consisting of fellow American and teammate Renée Tomlin and the two Spaniards in the race. The run consisted of two 2.5k laps. We kept a fair pace over the first 2.5k and at 3k Jarrod, my coach, told Renée and I to surge and make a move. The Spanish athletes were not able to respond to our move, allowing us to pull away. I kept the surge and pace going for as long as I could, but around 4k Renée pulled away and I settled into second place trying to maintain my form and finish strong.

Overall, the race and trip was a success and an amazing experience I will cherish forever. By placing second and strengthening my world ranking I accomplished what I had set out to do. To stand on the podium next to Renee and hear our national anthem be played sent chills through my body and is probably one of the most memorable moments of the trip.

The day after the race the CRP group had the chance to explore old town Havana and truly experience the culture of Cuba. It was a great start to the 2015 season, and I am looking forward to what is to come in the next few months as I will be heading to New Zealand and Australia to train and continue racing. I am extremely fortunate to have the support of USA Triathlon, Team Psycho, my coaches, friends and family as I chase my dream of making the Rio 2016 Olympic Team.