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The 27th annual Avia Wildflower Triathlons Festival kicked off its final day with the Olympic race, featuring amateur, relay and collegiate divisions. An estimated 3,500 competitors came out for the 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run through the rolling hills of Lake San Antonio.
The Wildflower Collegiate Championship race draws college triathlon teams from across the state and the country, including UC Davis, Cal Poly, Stanford, UCSB, USC, UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Oregon, Michigan State and the University of Montana. “This race has so much history behind it, and it’s such a great opportunity to get exposure for our team,” said Chris Burnham, assistant coach of the UCSD triathlon team. Several top pros had their breakout performances in the collegiate race, including the University of Montana’s Linsey Corbin and emerging ITU star and UCSD alum Amanda Felder.
Kyle Leto, 23, of UC Davis was the first out of the water in the men’s division, and managed to hold his impressive lead throughout the race, finishing several minutes ahead of his competition in 2:02:23. Leto just started doing triathlons a few months ago, and was incredibly excited about his Wildflower debut. “Being from Davis, we don’t have too many hills to practice on so the run was really tough for me, but I managed to hold on to the end.”
Brianna Blanchard of Pepperdine University was the first out of the water, but was overtaken in the first few kilometers of the bike. University of Montana’s Jennifer Luebke took the lead halfway through the bike and finished first in 2:22:29. “I knew the bike was where I had to take the lead on a course like this, so that is what I really focused on in my training and it paid off.”
The weather out on the course was slightly warmer than Saturday’s race, with a high of 74 degrees F and mostly sunny conditions. Mill Valley resident and age group champion Kathy Winkler, featured in this month’s Inside Triathlon magazine, won her age group (40 to 44) for the sixth time.[nggallery id=1]