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My Perspective: USAT’s Efforts on Duathlon Nationals and Worlds

By Dave Lasorsa, Chair Duathlon Committee | June 25, 2020, 8:37 p.m. (ET)

I hope all Team USA athletes who had intended to compete at Almere 2020 have received the message (sent on 6/19) and have been able to access the survey to indicate their desire (or not) to have their slots rolled over to Almere 2021. This survey was only sent to those athletes who qualified in 2019 and paid the $75 fee to hold their slots. The survey is based on the email address you provided to USAT, so if you feel you have not received this message, please contact USAT immediately. 

I wanted take this opportunity to thank Tim Yount and the entire USAT staff who worked so hard to pull all this together. Outside of the Duathlon Committee, most folks have no idea how complex this process was. The cancellation of Tuscaloosa was announced on April 8th, the selection of Lake Havasu City for Nationals occurred on May 29th. That was only seven weeks. During that time USAT had to work to find an alternate site while at the same time developing a plan to return to racing during COVID-19: This plan, “Safe Return to Multisport Initiative” included guidance for Race Directors and athletes. The Duathlon Committee had input into this plan. It would have been irresponsible to select a new Nationals site without such a plan in place to ensure athletes had a safe race environment. 

USAT’s effort to find a new Nationals location was complicated when the first preferred alternate venue pulled out in May. In just 2 weeks, USAT was able to find a second site (Lake Havasu City). Unfortunately, the process was further complicated by the decision by ITU to postpone Almere 2020, just as the contract for Havasu was being finalized. USAT had already committed to the RD to ensure a number of slots would be available at Havasu for a World Championship. This led to the conundrum of how to honor those athletes who had qualified for Almere 2020, and also address those athletes who had already signed up for Nationals, expecting this to be a World Qualifier. 

Over the 3 weeks between May 29 and June 19, USAT diligently worked on a solution that was fair to all athletes. During this they worked closely with myself and the entire Duathlon Committee to hear athlete’s concerns. Of primary concern by the Committee was to make sure that athletes who had qualified in 2019 and had paid the $75 to hold their slots would have these slots rolled over to 2021 – if they chose to do so. This is being done. Tim Yount was quickly able to receive permission from ITU for additional slots for Almere 2021. The survey that has been sent out will help determine this number. At the same time there will be a guaranteed number of slots available at Havasu for other athletes to qualify for Almere 2021. The details on this will be posted on this site as soon as we hear. I believe this to be fair to all and there should be no issue with folks who want to qualify at Havasu. 

There was also some discussion about the $75 deposit that had been paid by athletes to hold their slots. Although it is stated that this fee is non-refundable, USAT has asked that those athletes who wish to compete in Almere 2021 pay a reduced fee of only $25 to hold their slots (as opposed to another $75 fee). This is a fair compromise. I personally look at it as covering expenses incurred by USAT to prepare TEAM USA for Almere 2020 – from booking accommodations for the Team, to ITU coordination, to the staff time required to get 400+ athletes coordinated for a week-long event. These expenses were already baked in, regardless if the event was postponed. The $25 is a fairly small amount for the effort. 

I believe USAT handled the situation extremely well. Although some athletes complained that there was not enough information given out, I wish to point out that only seven weeks occurred between the Tuscaloosa cancellation and Havasu selection – during which time USAT was dealing with a virus plan, the pull-out of the first preferred venue and the postponed of Worlds. Any detailed news coming out during this time was bound to change and only lead to confusion. USAT, and especially Tim Yount were very responsive to listening to the Duathlon Committee, and the Committee members were very good on listening to the athletic community. That is why the Committee exists – to support USAT, support Duathlon and most importantly, support the athletes. I am proud that we were all able to work out a fair solution. 

USAT is working on a similar process for triathletes who had planned to compete in the Milwaukee Nationals and Edmonton Worlds. Since the Duathlon Committee is not directly involved in this, updates and question on that process are best directed to USAT directly. 

I hope all athletes will consider racing at Lake Havasu City if you feel comfortable doing so, even if you have a slot already. It will be a great venue and a chance to put all that summer training to the test! I hope everyone stays safe and healthy this summer and I look forward to seeing everyone (from a safe distance) in the fall.

Dave Lasorsa

Chair, Duathlon Committee