Each year, athletes from across the country compete for national titles (and have a lot of fun) at the USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships. We can’t wait to see all of you at the 2015 event in West Chester, Ohio! We’ve put together a special race preview, including coach and athlete tips, course features and more, to help you prepare for race day. Not racing at Nationals this year? No worries. We’ll miss you, but we bet you’ll still learn some great tips here for your upcoming races.
WHAT ATHLETES (LIKE YOU) SAY
“Make sure to go through the course prior to the race. Maps are helpful but actually doing the course helps so much more. Even if you've already done the course, going over it again will help refresh your memory. I know I didn't go through the whole run course before the race last year, and it caused confusion for me as I was racing. I didn't know where to start my kick!” –Page Lester, age 15, 2014 Youth Elite Champion
“Don't change your routine before the race. If the place you normally eat at isn't near your hotel you need to try it before some of your high-intensity workouts so you have given your body time to adjust to the new food.” –Drew Shellenberger, age 13, 2014 Age-Group Champion
“It’s important to train and be ready for the race. It is a large event, so stay calm and everything will be OK. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to other kids you don’t know because that is how you make new friends.
“Have fun and always do your best. Also, be sure to organize your transition area and run fast from the swim to the transition area. Nationals are really fun because there are so many other kids there from all over the United States who enjoy doing triathlons.” –Clara James-Heer, age 9, 2014 Age-Group Champion
“A tip that I would give to first-time participants would be that in the swim portion it is best to sight for buoys. Otherwise you can lose so much time going off course. Another tip I would share is that the course at VOA Park in Ohio has some hills and sometimes wind, so when you get into the wind or a hill, shift to an easier gear so that your legs don't get too tired. Finally pay close attention to mount and dismount lines, so as not to get a penalty. I hope these tips help the new participants competing at USAT Nationals.” –Nicolas Raffinengo, age 12, 2014 Age-Group Champion
WHAT COACHES SAY
“Transitions should be quick — getting out and on the course in the least amount of time. Great gear to make transitions faster include a race belt for your number, lace locks or stretchy laces for your running shoes.
“Lay out your gear in the order of use. Walk the route in from the swim/bike into the transition area and get a good mental picture of where your bike is racked. Transition areas look very different once the race starts so pick a landmark or reference point that is permanent (will not move) to help you locate your racking location.” –Boris Robinson, T3Multisports Youth Triathlon Academy, USA Triathlon Level II and Youth & Junior Certified Coach, ITU Level II Elite Coach
“1. Do your homework. Look at the course maps, know your race distance, and be familiar with the transition area. 2. Ask for help. Your parents, coach, teammates, friends and family are there to help you do your best. 3. Stay focused. Don’t get overwhelmed by the race venue or the number of triathletes competing. Stay focused on your strengths! 4. Don’t change. Make sure you are getting good sleep and not eating anything you don’t normally eat. 5. Have fun! Enjoy the experience, and don’t forget to smile when you cross the finish line!” –Christy Lausch, Mini Cow Tri Club, USA Triathlon Level I and Youth & Junior Certified Coach, USA Triathlon Mid-Atlantic Region Talent Identification Coordinator
“The swim start can be huge in determining how well an athlete is able to maneuver and nail the swim. For many draft-legal starts, your starting spot may be randomized based on your call up spot. One key for success I teach my athletes is to focus on getting out fast. I do this by teaching them to sight only once over the first 20 strokes. This will allow you to focus on getting out fast and then find feet to draft.” –Brooks Doughtie, All-Out MultiSport, USA Triathlon Level II and Youth & Junior Certified Coach
RACE DIRECTOR Q&A
USA Triathlon: What should youth and junior athletes know about the course? What’s the swim start like?
Matt Reger: For the junior and youth elite athletes, the swim start will be a dock start. All athletes for each race will line up on the edge of a dock and will be signaled to jump in by an air horn. This is a very exciting moment for both the athletes and the spectators as a lot of the new athletes have not experienced a dock start before. For the age-group race, the start will be a time trial start. Athletes will jump into the water at 3-second intervals and will then proceed on to the course.
USAT: Can you describe the bike course? Closed course? Hills? Smooth roads? Turns?
MR: The youth and junior elite courses are very technical with three 180-degree turns and some tight cornering. The youth age-group course follows the same general course, but has a few less technical turns on it. The bike course is a looped course, with the youth/junior elites coming back by transition to complete their laps, and the age-groupers staying out of the park to complete their laps. The course is all closed with very smooth road conditions. The town of West Chester has been great to us the past three years with assuring all roads utilized during our race are in great condition. The course is relatively flat, with a few gradual ascents and descents.
USAT: What about the run?
MR: The run circles Voice of America Lake and offers great views of the lake and the venue. There are a few steep ascents throughout the path, but overall it is relatively flat. It features one aid station and brings athletes back through the venue where they will meet their teams and families.
USAT: Favorite thing about the venue?
MR: My favorite thing is how compact it is and close it is. While sitting in the team tent and lodge area, you are able to see all the courses at once. It really makes the course spectator friendly and gives the spectator a feel that they are taking part in the race.
USAT: What’s the overall atmosphere like at Youth & Junior Nationals?
MR: Going off of what I said above, the atmosphere is great. The team tent and finish line area are right next to each other, making the finish to the run great for spectators and athletes as the athlete will run through a man-made chute where they will be cheered on to the finish line. This setup also makes that area very loud and really motivates the athletes.
USAT: For athletes who will be competing for the first time, what’s your No. 1 tip?
MR: Really study the courses and transition. Knowing where bike in/out is, the flow, and where all turns are on the course will make your race experience that much better, and will also make you more competitive.
USAT: Anything else you’d like to share?
MR: USA Triathlon and the city of West Chester have been working very hard to once again deliver all the athletes a great course and we hope to see everyone there in August!