The Weekend Box Mar 2 2014

We offer readers accounts of Sarah Haskins’ triumphant return to competition after the birth of her daughter, Australian Olympic distance contests in Tasmania and on the east coast, two wins by women triathlon stars in Florida half marathons, an announcement of a new Challenge half distance race in Sardinia and a bungee jump promise kept by the Taupo winner.

Sarah Haskins wins Clermont Sprint Triathlon in her return to competition

Sarah Haskins of the U.S., 2008 ITU Olympic distance World Championship silver medalist and 2008 Olympian, won a decisive victory at the Clermont ITU Sprint Triathlon in her first race back 7 months after the birth of her first daughter Caroline. Irving Perez of Mexico edged Canadian Andrew Yorke by 6 seconds to take the elite men’s title at the season opening draft legal race in the U.S.


“It feels really good to be out on the race course,” said Haskins. “You never know how your body is going to respond after taking such a long time off. I just really wanted to come out and do what I love to do, which is race hard.”

Local Clermont resident Sara McLarty led the women’s swim with a 10:46 split which gave her a 30 seconds lead over a trio that included Haskins, Taylor Spivey and USA Triathlon junior woman triathlete of the year Tamara Gorman of Rapid City, South Dakota. Haskins soon bridged the gap to McLarty and the duo created a 2 minute gap by the end of the 4-lap 20 kilometer bike leg.

On the run, Haskins soon left McLarty behind and closed with a 4th-fastest 18:33 5k run which brought her to the line in 1:02:55. Claudia Rivas of Mexico unleashed a race-fastest 18:11 5k which brought her home in 2nd place, 26 seconds behind Haskins and 5 seconds ahead of 3rd place finisher Amelie Kretz of Canada. After a 20:16 run, McLarty finished 8th.


Hunter Lussi of the U.S. blasted to an early lead with a race-best 10:46 swim which gave him a 20 seconds lead over a tight pack of 9 competitors that included Perez (11:02), Yorke (11:11) and William Huffman (11:09) and Jarrod Shoemaker (11:10) of the U.S. Super-runner Kaleb Vanort (11:27) left himself a little more work to catch up.

Working hard on the bike leg, Perez (28:04), Yorke (27:54), and Huffman (27:57) carved out a 1:10 lead by T2 while Shoemaker (29:03), Verzbicas (29:29:01) and Vanort (28:48) fell out of contention for the win.

Perez ran to the lead on the first of 3 laps, followed closely by Yorke while Huffman held 3rd position. Perez posted a 6th best 15:44 run which brought him to the finish in 56:22 with a 6 seconds margin of victory over Yorke while Huffman’s 16:21 run was good enough for 3rd. place overall – 29 seconds behind Yorke.

Vanort closed fast with a race-best 15:28 run which brought him home 5th, 4 seconds behind 4th place Carlos Forero of Colombia and 7 second ahead of 6th place Crisanto Grajales of Mexico.

Verzbicas had the 4th-fastest run split – 15:34 – to finish 9th, his first top 10 finish since his 2012 bike accident.

Clermont ITU Sprint Triathlon Pan American Cup
Clermont, Florida
March 1, 2014
S 750m / B 20k / R 5k



1. Irving Perez (MEX) 56:22
2. Andrew Yorke (CAN) 56:27
3. William Huffman (USA) 56:57
4. Carlos Forero (COL) 57:11
5. Kaleb Vanort (USA) 57:15
9. Lukas Verzbicas (USA) 57:29
10. Jarrod Shoemaker (USA) 57:34


1. Sarah Haskins (USA) 1:02:55
2. Claudia Rivas (MEX) 1:03:22
3. Joanna Brown (CAN) 1:03:48
4. Amelie Kretz (CAN) 1:03:53
5. Anne Tabarant (FRA) 1:03:55
6. Rebeccah Wassner (USA) 1:04:07
7. Chelsea Burns (USA) 1:04:24
8. Sara McLarty (USA) 1:04:38
9. Kaitlin Donner (USA) 1:04:50
10. Michelle Mehnert (USA) 1:04:58

Aaron Royle and Gillian Backhouse prevail at Devenport Oceania Championship

Australians swept the men’s and women’s elite podiums at the OTU Oceania Championships Olympic distance triathlon in Devenport, Tasmania, Australia.

Peter Kerr of Australia led the men’s swim in 17:54, gaining a 13- and 14-seconds advantage on training partners Aaron Royle and Ryan Fisher. Kerr, the 2013 Devenport champion, had bike problems which allowed Royle and Fisher to take over. Declan Wilson had to hammer hard to join the leaders and make up a 14-seconds deficit to Royle and Fisher after the swim. Running in close formation with his training partner, Royle managed a 32:05 run to edge Fisher for the win by 2 seconds. Wilson, whose legs were thrashed after his bike heroics, ran 33:46 to hold on to the final spot on the podium, 1:40 back of the winner.

Gillian Backhouse earned her first elite and Under 23 continental cup win with a sizzling bike split.

While swim star Deborah Lynch blasted the swim with a suspiciously fast, officially reported 16:26 split, she dropped out on the bike. Pre-race favorite Natalie Van Coevorden and Rebecca Clarke tied for best swim in 18:34, giving them a 24 second advantage on Backhouse.

Backhouse then took control with a race-best 1:09:41 bike split that gave her a 27 seconds advantage on Clarke (1:10:06 bike split) and 49 seconds on Coevorden (1:10:04 bike split).

Backhouse then increased her margin on her closest challengers with a 3rd-fastest 37:42 run that put 2:52 on Clarke and 37 seconds on Coevorden. At the finish, Backhouse’s 2:07:57 time gave her a 40 seconds margin of victory over runner-up Coevorden and 1:23 over Melinda Vernon, who closed with a race-fastest 36:44 run to take 3rd place.

Devenport OTU Oceania Championships
Devenport, Tasmania, Australia
March 1, 2014
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k


Elite Men

1. Aaron Royle (AUS) 1:53:01
2. Ryan Fisher (AUS) 1:53:03
3. Declan Wilson (AUS) 1:54:41
4. Ryan Bailie (AUS) 1:55:31
5. Cameron Goldshid (NZL) 1:55:35
6. Brendan Sexton (AUS) 1:56:18
8. Peter Kerr (AUS) 1L57:06

Elite Women

1. Gillian Backhouse (AUS) 2:07:57
2. Natalie Van Coevorden (AUS) 2:08:37
3. Melinda Vernon (AUS) 2:09:20
4. Fiona Crombie (NZL) 2:09:54
5. Charlotte McShane (AUS) 2:10:27

Brad Kahlefeldt and Matilda Raynolds win bcu Coffs Triathlon

Long time ITU star Brad Kahlefeldt and Matilda Raynolds, a still rising Australian pro, won the elite titles at the bcu Coffs Olympic distance Triathlon Saturday.

Kahlefeldt, 34, closed out the contest with a race-best 34:37 run which brought the man his friend call Sticksy to the finish in 1:53:41 with a 1:43 margin of victory over runner-up Lindsey Wall and 2:42 over 3rd-place finisher Richard Pearson.

Raynolds, 26, combined a 3rd-best 21:47 swim, 2nd-fastest 1:11:58 bike split and a race-best 41:40 run to finish the Coffs Harbour course in 2:15:26 with a 2:22 margin of victory over runner-up Emma Coman-Jeffries and 3:08 over 3rd-place finisher Ellen McDonald.

bcu Coffs Triathlon
Coffs Harbour, Australia
March 1, 2014
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k



1. Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) 1:53:41
2. Lindsey Wall (AUS) 1:55:24
3. Richard Pearson (AUS) 1:56:23


1. Matilda Raynolds (AUS) 2:15:26
2. Emma Coman-Jeffries (AUS) 2:17:48
3. Ellen McDonald (AUS) 2:18:34

Triathlete stars Lisa Bentley and Leanda Cave win Florida half marathons

Long course triathlon pros Lisa Bentley (now retired) and Leanda Cave won half marathons in Florida this weekend in impressive times.

Bentley, who is 45 and aiming at the Boston Marathon in April, had the better day as she won the women’s division of the Orlando Half Marathon Saturday in a time of 1:18:31. Bentley outpaced runner-up Heather Schulz by 4:48, and also placed 4th overall, 8:29 back of men’s winner Seth Proctor.

Cave, the 2012 Ironman and Ironman 70.3 World Champion who is coming off a frustrating injury-plagued 2013 season, struck a happy note to open 2014 with a victory Sunday at the Michelob Ultra Miami Beach Half Marathon. Cave finished in 1:26:53 with a 4:21 margin of victory over women’s runner-up Michela Santini of Italy. Cave also finished 14th overall and 14:57 behind men’s winner Dan Smith of Miami Beach.

Challenge Family announces October 26 launch of Challenge Forte Village Sardinia.

The Challenge Family announced today that it is adding a 1.2 mile swim-56 mile bike-13.1 mile run contest at the Forte Village Resort in Sardinia, Italy which will take place October 26. This will be the 25th event in the Challenge roster of full and half distance triathlons around the world. The race will take place in Sardinia – the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Organizers state that the course begins in Pula with a swim in “crystal waters,” then head to T1 in a large garden which contains 15,000 trees and 2 million plants, including “aloe vera, yucca, bougainvillea, eucalyptus, palms and hibiscus.” The bike course will include a long climb over Domus de Maria and an exciting downhill to Teuluda and finish with a coastal run to Forte Village.

Challenge Family CEO Felix Walchshöfer said, "The island of Sardinia has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth and I know the athletes will not only be amazed by the spectacular course, but will also enjoy time with their families in this wonderful setting.” General entries will open March 3 at

Marko Albert makes good on promise to bungee jump after Taupo victory

If his breakthrough win at Ironman New Zealand wasn't exciting enough, Marko Albert made good on his pre-race promise to take part in a popular Kiwi adventure experience the day after.

Writing under his Twitter name @pantaani, Albert offered this brief account: “Today I have learned that I have to stop making silly promises ala "I'll jump Bungy naked if I ever win an IM"....had to jump and enjoyed it”

This photograph, which pictures Albert nearing the end of his jump, is a bit too far away from the subject to verify the ‘naked’ part of the promise. But surely the Estonian, whose best previous triathlon performances include two Olympic starts, two 2nd place finishes at ITU World Cups, a 13th at Ironman Hawaii and a 2nd place at Ironman 70.3 Austin, is a good sport to keep his word no matter how sore he might be the day after such a long and demanding race.