No Swimming? Athletes Will 'Tri' a Duathlon Instead
By Brain Metzler
Sparks, NV (April 20) If you're a triathlete, you spent months swimming, cycling and running in preparation for your big race.
So it's naturally a big bummer when one of those disciplines has to be cut out of the race at the last minute.
Unfortunately for about 750 collegiate triathletes, the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championship race on April 22 in Sparks, Nevada, will be a duathlon and not a triathlon. USAT officials and Highline Sports, the company organizing the race logistics, decided on Thursday that the combination of colder than expected water temperatures of Sparks Marina and cool morning air temperatures expected for Saturday's 7 a.m. race could pose serious safety issues.
As of Thursday morning, the water was a crisp 53 degrees and air was a chilly 39 degrees. Neither are expected to be much warmer on Saturday, despite plenty of sunshine and temps in the low 70s by late morning.
"We tried to move the start of the race back to a later time, but the police and park officials wouldn't let us do it," said Jeff Dyrek, USAT's National Events Director. "It's disappointing, but it's a safety issue."
Predictably, many of the athletes were disappointed to learn of the news. Several teams rode the course on Thursday and prepared to do a practice swim in the cold water of Sparks Marina. Some of the triathletes, like those from Michigan State and Miami (Ohio) University triathlon clubs, came from 2,000 miles away for the collegiate championships.
Cold water didn't scare these competitors from taking a practice swim.
photo: Mark Epstein
Regardless, the race must go on. Instead of the 1.5K swim leg, participants will start the race with a 5K run. From there, they'll head into the original 40K bike course, followed by the original 10K run course.
While it's not a triathlon, the three-event multisport race should still be very competitive. The race has a $1,000 prize purse, with $500/$300/$200 breakdown for the top three co-ed teams. Plus, the first-place team will also receive a Halo swim trainer.
Colorado won the 2005 collegiate title, edging a strong UC-Berkeley team in the process. Brendan O'Brien (UC-Davis) and Amanda Felder (UC-Davis) won the men's and women's individual titles, respectively.
The collegiate triathlon championships have been the launching pad for several elite triathletes in recent years, including 1997 college champion Victor Plata, who was an alternate for the 2000 U.S. Olympic team and a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, and 2004 collegiate champion Jarrod Shoemaker, the 2005 ITU Under-23 World Champion.
"We have quite a few elite-type athletes who are making big strides, but there are also a lot of college kids just getting involved in the sport," Dyrek says. "College triathlon runs the whole gamut. There are a lot of good athletes, so you never really know ahead of time what's going to happen in the race."
Highlights from the collegiate triathlon championships will be broadcast on multiple College Sports TV and CBS platforms beginning May 1 as part of the CSTV Collegiate Nationals, a collection of college championship events showcasing more than 2,000 athletes from more than 40 colleges. Seven sports are included in the inaugural Collegiate Nationals boxing, snowboarding, beach volleyball, triathlon, paintball, wakeboarding and whitewater kayaking.
CSTV Networks Inc. is the leading digital sports media company, connecting more fans to more college sports than any other company. Its many platforms for programming distribution include CSTV: College Sports TV, televising regular season and championship events for 35 men's and women's college sports; CSTV.com and its network of nearly 250 official athletic sites; CSTV All Access, broadband subscription packages providing live audio and video of more than 7,000 events annually; as well as satellite television and radio, in-flight entertainment, wireless networks and more. In November, CBS announced plans to acquire the company in January 2006. For more information, go to www.CSTV.com.