Photos by Joshua Kelly, Orange Hat Photos
More than 800 run-bike-run specialists crossed the finish line Sunday at the USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships in Greenville, as athletes competed for national titles and World Championship spots in two distances.
The Non-Drafting Standard-Distance National Championships kicked off the day, with athletes covering an 8.45-kilometer run, 39-kilometer bike and 4.5-kilometer run on a cold morning at Lakeside Park. Alex Arman (Boulder, Colo.) was the overall men’s champion, breaking the tape with a time of 1 hour, 43 minutes, 41 seconds.
Arman was near the front of the field throughout the race, passing defending overall champion Albert Harrison (Moscow, Idaho) to take lead on the final run leg. With the win, Arman also earned the men’s 30-34 age group national title.
“It was a hard day all around,” said Arman, who was the 2013 USA Triathlon Duathlete of the Year and World Championships silver medalist. “I knew the start list, and knew there were some fast guys on the run — and no surprise, they took it out very fast. I rode probably the hardest I’ve ever done in my life to try to bridge up to Albert Harrison in the front. And getting off the bike, him and I were just dueling it out. I had to run scared because there’s some very, very fast runners. Stayed tough the whole time and just made it to the line.”
Nicholas Marcantonio (M25-29, Glens Falls, N.Y.) and Todd Buckingham (M25-29, Big Rapids, Mich.) ran their way into second (1:43:53) and third (1:44:17) overall, while Harrison ended up fourth in 1:44:23.
Aimee Phillippi-Taylor (Glenville, Pa.) claimed the women’s overall victory in 2:00:27, earning the women’s 40-44 crown in the process. Sarah Barkley (F35-39, Wenatchee, Wash.) took second overall in 2:00:42, improving one spot on her finish in this race last year, while defending silver medalist Kirsten Sass (F35-39, McKenzie, Tenn.) rounded out the podium in 2:03:54.
“It went according to plan. I had a good race and I executed it, so I was very pleased,” Philippi-Taylor said. “I was freezing — for the first couple of miles on the run I couldn’t feel my feet, and I said, ‘Well, let’s just keep going.’ So, it worked!”
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Four athletes successfully defended their age-group national titles from 2017 in the standard distance, including David Engstrom (M50-54, Beaverton, Ore.), Kirsten Chapman (F55-59, Edmond, Okla.), David Burkhart (M60-64, Brighton, Mich.) and David Lowe (M70-74, West Chester, Pa.).
The racing action continued Sunday afternoon with the Non-Drafting Sprint-Distance National Championships, as Taylor Huseman (Milford, Iowa) and Cassidy Hickey (Parker, Colo.) earned overall men’s and women’s titles respectively.
Huseman covered the 5k run, 18.2k bike and 2.85k run in 53:20, earning the men’s 25-29 title in addition to the overall. Racing in his first duathlon, Huseman was in the lead after the first run leg. He was passed by Patton Sims (M15-19, Sterlington, La.) partway through the bike and came into the second transition in the runner-up spot. Still, a strong 8:47 final run split was enough to put him back in the lead coming down the finish chute.
“This was my first duathlon, so I didn’t know what to expect. I’m a biker and runner by nature, and I don’t like the swim but I do tris — so I thought, ‘What the heck,’ I’d give it a go and see what happens,” Huseman said. “I just wanted to go out and feel out the field and run comfortably. Hammer it on the bike, and see if I could hang on.”
Sims was the runner-up with a time of 53:42, and David Luy (M25-29, Brookfield, Wis.) crossed third in 53:49.
The overall women’s medalists were the same three that took the podium in yesterday’s draft-legal sprint race, but in a different order. Hickey, one of the youngest athletes in the field at 15, took the win in 1:01:30 after placing third yesterday. Sass took the runner-up spot once again, crossing the line in 1:02:31, while 16-year-old Makena Gates (Canton, Ga.), took third in 1:03:57.
“It’s pretty great. I’ve gotten a lot of second (place finishes) over the last couple years between bike racing and cyclocross, so it’s really good to get a No. 1 today,” Hickey said. “Yesterday on the bike, I couldn’t get away from Makena. Every time I tried to jump, Kirsten would bring her back up. So I thought, ‘If I can’t drop Makena on the bike, she’s going to outrun me — she’s a phenomenal runner.’ Today I went out there, and I’m like, ‘I just can’t let her get away, I just can’t let her get away.’”
Another 16-year-old, Alexandra Poole (Farmington, Conn.) took fourth overall to repeat her finish from yesterday’s draft-legal sprint.
“It was a pleasure to see the young girls do so well,” said Celia Dubey (Tarpon Springs, Fla.), who placed fifth overall and first for women 45-49. “I just hope they can continue with the sport and pursue it in college, and see the sport grow through the youth. I love it — I’m happy to lose to a 16-year-old.”
Sass (F35-39) and Thomas Woods (M45-49, Lincoln, Neb.) successfully defended their 2017 age-group national titles in the non-drafting sprint. Woods earned a three-peat after also taking the title in 2016, while Sass was victorious for the fourth consecutive year.
Eleven athletes earned national titles on both Saturday and Sunday at Duathlon Nationals, including Christina Bax (F25-29, Bethesda, Md.), Sass, Todd Ricketts (M35-39, Newark, Ohio), Jamie Martens (F40-44, Mission, Kan.), Ute Nestler (F45-49, Plano, Texas), Thomas Woods (M45-49, Lincoln, Neb.), Marty Stiegmann (M55-59, Glen Allen, Va.), Julia Daggett (F60-64, Clarksville, Tenn.), Burkhart, Sharon Gerl (F70-74, Springfield, Ore.), and Larry Mayse (M70-74, Alpharetta, Ga.).
In all three races this weekend, top finishers in each age group earned the opportunity to represent Team USA in duathlon competition at the 2019 ITU Multisport World Championships Festival in Pontevedra, Spain.
For more information about Team USA, comprised of the top amateur multisport athletes who represent the U.S. at each ITU World Championships event, visit usatriathlon.org/teamusa.