On Saturday morning 74 men and 45 women lined up to race the draft-legal events of the Tritonman – a sprint triathlon weekend hosted by the Triathlon Club of UC San Diego. This was to be the first of 2015’s three elite development draft-legal triathlon races held across the nation, in which professional racers and elite amateurs alike contest the course under ITU draft-legal rules and at which the top 3 Under-25 age amateur men and women automatically qualify for their elite racing license.
Both fields included a wide range of experience and talent that varied from collegiate hopefuls lining up to bid for their pro licence to neo-pros racing for experience and world-class ITU racers looking for a workout, such as 2014 Commonwealth Games Champion, Jodie Stimpson and USA’s top-ranked ITU racer of 2014, Joe Maloy.
The men’s race went off first, starting off at a furious pace to get around the first swim buoy merely 100 meters off shore and the speed did not let up for all 750 meters. Eric Lagerstrom of The Triathlon Squad led out of the water in under 8 minutes with Australian elite racer Cameron Good and Squad-mate Joe Maloy on his heels. Lagerstrom’s pace setting stretched the field so much that there was virtually a line of swimmers coming out of the water each seconds apart from the next. A fast transition allowed the trio of Lagerstrom, Maloy and Good to temporarily separate themselves from the bunch that formed an organized chase pack made up of several other pro racers including USA’s Sean Jefferson, Ireland’s Conor Murphy, and Colombia’s Carlos Quinchara, and UCSD’s own collegiate/pro William Jones. By lap two of three, the front-runners were caught, forming a new lead pack that fought off a very motivated second chase pack that included a number of strong riders in the form of Saddleback College’s Joel-Tyler Rodgers and University of Arizona’s Alexander Romanenko and accomplished collegiate runners Matt McElroy of Northern Arizona University and Jack St. Marie hailing all the way from the University of Virginia.
Lagerstrom again led the front of the race into transition where he, along with several others in the race, was unfortunately assessed penalty for equipment placement that was to be served during the run. This turned the run dynamic interesting with so many penalties in the mix, and the chase pack only 45 seconds behind, the lead athletes dug extra hard to be able to absorb the 15-second stand-downs yet remain in contention. With one mile to go, Malloy held a lead of four seconds over Lagerstrom who had Jefferson only five seconds behind him in third position. Behind Jefferson and looking for a fight for third place, the Colombian, Quinchara, was closing hard, having just passed Murphy for fourth. Jones and Good dug to keep from the fleet-footed chasers including USA pro John O’Neill, collegiate amateur racers Jack St.Marie and Matt McElroy.
Finishing the race in 55:15, Joe Maloy took the victory, besting his squad-mate Lagerstrom by only an 8 second margin – both men running sub-15. Quinchara managed to secure third place from Jefferson, who finished fourth. Leading the chase group’s charge was O’Neill, who managed to run through Good and Jones only to battle Murphy in a sprint finish for fifth place in vain, as he would end up disqualified for not having served a penalty assessed him. This placed Jones in sixth and Good in seventh at the end of the day, 23 seconds in front of the next chasers, and first two U25 amateurs Jack St. Marie in eighth and only four seconds later, Matt McElroy, ninth. McElroy set the fastest run time of the day, 14:27. Rounding out the top-10 was collegiate pro Robbie Deckard from the University of Colorado. Jack St. Marie, Matt McElroy, and Joshua Fowler (14th place) qualified for their Elite racing licenses.
“It was a blast!” Joe Maloy commented post-race, “I like it – it was like a college party with a lot of ladies around, in fact Sean [Jefferson] has already talked to like five of them already!” Sean Jefferson not only came in fourth but decidedly won “Best Hair” on the day, “[Tritonman]’s a good time, and it’s for a good cause,” Maloy said of UCSD’s tri team fundraiser/race.
As the men were wrapping up their race, the women were preparing for theirs. In a similar and no-less aggressive fashion, the women launched into the water vying for a good position around the first turn buoy and fighting to keep in contention through the swim. Summer Cook of The Triathlon Squad and Taylor Spivey turned up the intensity and used their combined swim strength to gap all other contenders including race favorites Jodie Stimpson and Aileen Reid. By the end of the swim the pair had put in half a minute to their nearest competitor. Spivey and Cook quickly changed and charged onto the bike course, where they hammered a strong pace working hard to keep the lead that they swam so hard to gain. Alas, with five women working to shut them down, Spivey and Cook were caught in the second of three bike laps, however, the race was only halfway done.
It was in the favor of Spivey and Cook to have the combined, internationally experienced strength of Brit Jodie Stimpson, Irishwoman Aileen Reid, Americans Lindsey Jerdonek, and Jessica Broderick, and Austrian pro Julia Hauser to help battle the wind and the chasers behind. The chase pack was large, strong and hungry. In it were cycling powerhouses Erica Clevenger of University of Arizona and Gretchen Stumhofer of UCSD – who posted the top two bike splits of the day - as well as the 2014 Women’s Collegiate National Champion Title holder, Kelly Kosmo of UCLA. This large group of elites and collegiate racers were chasing hard in attempt to reel in the now-seven-strong lead pack.
Nearing the end of the bike leg, the smaller, more experienced, and more organized group of seven managed to stay away with a safe gap to seal the top seven spots. Now it was time to sort out the finishing order. Coming into T2 and throwing down fast transitions that left the crowds in awe, the pack of seven women tore onto the run course all within seven seconds of each other, with Jodie Stimpson, as many expected, leading the charge. Jerdonek and Spivey were hot on her heels, closely followed by Cook and Broderick. Reid and Hauser were last out. The early pace among the top four was strong, but Spivey and Cook took their second gamble of the day anyway – a fortunate move for one, but not for the other. By the start of the second lap, Cook had a three seconds’ gap on Stimpson, yet Spivey was fighting to recover from the earlier efforts and hang onto Hauser’s pace for sixth place. Nearing 1K to go, Cook had handily broken away from Stimpson and was striding her way to a victory. Jerdonek was just off Stimpson’s pace, but still digging to secure the final podium spot, ready to pounce at any sign of weakness from Stimpson, but there was none to be seen.
Summer Cook crossed the finish line in 59:08, having run 15:16 to take her first professional win and finishing the race 18 seconds ahead of Jodie Stimpson and 24 ahead of Lindsey Jerdonek. Jessica Broderick finished four seconds under an hour to keep Reid (5th) and Hauser (6th) behind her to secure her fourth place finish. Spivey fought hard and kept away from the chase group, finishing in seventh. UCSD’s Gina Horath led the chase to come in eighth, battling with Kelly Cosmo to the end. U of A’s Erica Clevenger biked and ran her way to tenth place and first U25 amateur racer to secure her Pro license qualification. UCSB’s Savannah Dearden (11th) and U of A’s Molly Supple (12th) took the final two EDR Pro qualification spots.
On the day’s accomplishment, Summer Cook said, “The biggest challenge I overcame in the race was the mental aspect – there were several incredible and accomplished athletes racing and it is easy to go into a race thinking that there is no way that you can finish ahead of a specific person[… ] It would have been very easy to shut down mentally and be too afraid to pass Jodie Stimpson, or to think that if I’m running with her I’m running at an unsustainable pace and I need to back off. Mental breakthroughs are made through risks.”
UC San Diego Tritonman: Draft-Legal Elite Development Race
Mission Bay, San Diego, CA
February 21, 2015
S 750m / B 20k / R 5k
1. Joe Maloy (USA) 55:15
2. Eric Lagerstrom (USA) 55:23
3. Carlos Javier Quinchara Forero (COL) 55:39
4. Sean Jefferson (USA) 55:55
5. Conor Murphy (IRL) 56:06
6. William Jones (USA) 56:15
7. Cameron Good (AUS) 56:20
8. Jack St. Marie (USA – UVA) 56:43 * qualified for Elite License
9. Matt McElroy (USA – NAU) 56:47 * qualified for Elite License
10. Robbie Deckard (USA – CU) 56:59 * qualified for Elite License
1. Summer Cook (USA) 59:08
2. Jodie Stimpson (GBR) 59:26
3. Lindsey Jerdonek (USA) 59:32
4. Jessica Broderick (USA) 59:56
5. Aileen Reid (IRL) 1:00:30
6. Julia Hauser (AUT) 1:00:57
7. Taylor Spivey (USA) 1:01:17
8. Gina Horath (USA - UCSD) 1:03:37
9. Kelly Kosmo (USA - UCLA) 1:03:37
10. Erica Clevenger (USA – U of A) 1:03:49 * qualified for Elite License
11. Savannah Dearden (USA – UCSB) 1:04:06 * qualified for Elite License
12. Molly Supple (USA – U of A) 1:04:21 * qualified for Elite License
As a bonus here is Eric Lageerstrom's video report from within the race.