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The USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championship kicked off with the inaugural draft-legal race in Tempe, Ariz. today. The best 108 collegiate athletes (divided among men and women) qualified to compete in the first-year event, which was comprised of a 750-meter swim, four-lap 20K bike and two-lap 5K run. The event will count toward the Collegiate Nationals team scoring, along with tomorrow’s Olympic-distance race and mixed team relay.
USAT CEO Rob Urbach was on the course to cheer on the athletes and was pleased with the event’s success. “This is the first time we did the draft-legal sprint distance race and I think it went really, really well.” Urbach says. “We’ve got some fast athletes and some potential future Olympians, and it was a great course. These kids were going all out. We’re excited about this format, and we’ll do more races in a similar format for television later this year on Universal Sports.”
Similar to ITU racing, athletes adhered to specific rules—they raced on road bikes with no aero helmets and were required to keep all of their transition items in an individual bin.
Photos: 2013 USAT Collegiate National Championship – Draft Race
The men started the day at 9 a.m. with an in-water start in Tempe Town Lake. The University of Arizona’s Ben Kanute emerged with a slight lead over Thomas Roos and Ryan Fredericksen.
Once on the bike course, Kanute and Yoni Doron-Peters hammered out front and worked together to stay in the lead. Elite Tri Academy member Luke Farkas of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) and Doron-Peters of the University of California bridged the gap to the front two to make up a front pack of four. Fredericksen lost pace, leaving a group of three heading into T2.
Kanute, Farkas and Doron-Peters started the 5K run together with Kanute leading the charge. Kanute stayed out front throughout the run and earned the inaugural draft-legal victory in 58:26. Farkas, who has been suffering form an illness over the last week, cruised in four second. Doron-Peters rounded out the top-three in third.
“We had a really good group that worked together and gained enough time on everyone else,” Kanute said after the race. “The run was great. I was just cruising and started thinking about tomorrow… The atmosphere out here is great. I grew up doing a lot of the junior stuff and this is by far the best draft-legal race around.”
“I’ve always liked draft-legal better because it’s more fun, there’s tactics involved and everyone’s going out there to lay the beat down on each other,” second-place finisher Farkas said. “I went through the junior rankings and have raced Ben a lot, so that’s always been the side I always gravitate towards. I love it, I think they should keep doing it.
The women’s race featured three rising stars of the Elite Tri Academy of UCCS. Avery Evenson (UCCS) had a large lead out of the swim, with fellow UCCS athletes Erin Jones and Johanna Gartman next into T1. Evenson spent a good portion of the bike doing the work up front by herself before eventually merging with a group made up of Jones, Gartman and the University of California’s Erika Erickson.
The four started the run together and it quickly became a battle between Jones and Erickson. Jones got the edge on the second lap and emerged as the winner in 1:04:00. Erickson finished second, with Gartman earning third.
“My swim started out really well. I had a rough transition. I couldn’t get my helmet buckled and my bike fell over, and then on the bike it really helped me to work together with them,” Jones said at the finish line. “That helped me a lot. On the run, I started out with [Erickson] and she helped me out a lot. I decided ‘I have to go if I’m going to take this.’ I’m so grateful and humbled to be the first winner. It’s such a huge honor and I’m proud of my team.”
USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships
Draft-Legal Sprint Race
Tempe, Ariz. – April 12, 2013
750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run
1. Ben Kanute (Arizona) 58:26
2. Luke Farkas (UCCS) 58:40
3. Yoni Doron-Peters (Cal) 59:06
1. Erin Jones (UCCS) 1:04:00
2. Erika Erickson (Cal) 1:04:23
3. Johanna Gartman (UCCS) 1:04:38