Groff, Royle Win Fearless Pro Super Sprint

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On the heels of racing the ITU World Triathlon San Diego, American Sarah Groff and Aussie Aaron Royle stuck around town to win the Fearless Pro super sprint triathlon. The race was a double super sprint format, featuring a 375-meter swim, a 6K five-lap bike and a 1.5K two-lap run raced twice through back-to-back. The race took place at South Shores Park in San Diego. In the women’s race, Groff, who placed seventh at Friday’s ITU WTS race, took the lead on the first run and never lost it, while the men’s race came down to a pack of four men entering the second T2 together and current U23 champ Royle had to win it on the run. Both winners went home with $2,500 in prize money (the prize purse totaled $10,000).

Women’s Race
Twelve women started the women’s race, which started at 5:30 p.m. The first women out of the water were Groff and Sara McLarty, but McLarty had a slightly faster transition and started the bike in front. Groff caught McLarty by the end of lap two (out of five) of the first bike, and the two worked together to stay ahead of the chase pack, which included the Czech Republic’s Vendula Frintova, Kiwi Andrea Hewitt and recent ITU WTS winner American Gwen Jorgensen. Jorgensen wore her swim cap for the first bike and run to help her to stay warm (wetsuits weren’t allowed on the swim). On the first run, Groff dropped McLarty, who was passed by Frintova, Jorgensen and Hewitt before getting back into the water.

Groff had more than a 20-second lead over the chase pack of three women when she got back into the water. In the second swim, McLarty caught back up to the three-woman chase pack. On the bike, McLarty, Jorgensen and Hewitt all pushed the pace, but over the five laps, the pack only cut about 12 seconds into Groff’s lead into the second T2. Groff started the run about 25 seconds up on the other three women and held onto her lead to the finish. Jorgensen finished second, and Hewitt finished third.

PHOTOS: Sarah Groff Impresses At Fearless Pro Triathlon

Men’s Race
Sixteen men were in the men’s A final (after qualifying heats in the afternoon) at 6:30 p.m., and the race stayed close until the final run. First out of the water was a pack with Russian brothers Ivan and Denis Vasiliev, American Tommy Zaferes, Royle, American Joe Maloy and France’s Laurent Vidal. On the bike, the men quickly formed a lead pack of seven men. Royle (who raced the first bike and run with a swim cap) and Ivan Vasiliev tried to break away on lap three, but the other five men caught the leaders again by the end of the fourth lap. On the first run, a pack of four men stuck together through the two laps with Royle leading the pack of Vidal, Maloy and Ivan Vasiliev.

The four men entered and exited the second swim together, and stayed together through the second bike. Denis Vasiliev rode solo in fifth place about 30 seconds back from the lead pack. The pack stayed together into the second T2, and Royle was first out of transition, followed by Vidal, Ivan Vasiliev and Maloy. Royle pulled away on the 1.5K run for the win, followed by Vidal for second and Ivan Vasiliev for third.

PHOTOS: Royle Beats Out Olympians At Fearless Pro

Fearless Pro Super Sprint
San Diego, Calif. – April 24, 2013
375-meter swim, 6K bike, 1.5K run (raced twice)

1. Sarah Groff (USA) 40:00
2. Gwen Jorgensen (USA) 40:37
3. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 40:42
4. Sara McLarty (USA) 41:14
5. Aileen Reid (IRL) 41:27

1. Aaron Royle (AUS) 37:10
2. Laurent Vidal (FRA) 37:13
3. Ivan Vasiliev (RUS) 37:22
4. Joe Maloy (USA) 37:24
5. Denis Vasiliev (RUS) 38:05

Post-Race Quotes from the Winners:

Sarah Groff
“This year is kind of my fun year, and this definitely fits in the ‘fun’ aspect. I have a weird sense of fun.”

“Transitions are so much more important—it comes down to a split-second decision-making process. As you’re going along, you’re setting up for the next transition. Normally you don’t have to think about that sort of thing.”

“I just kind of had fun with it. I didn’t quite pace my run properly on Friday, so I think there was part of that where I just really want to be able to run well—that was kind of the goal, to be in a good position for the last run and run well, and that’s what I was able to do, so I’m happy.”

“It’s fun. It’s crazy. It’s chaotic. … If we had a bigger field for the women, I think it could have been really interesting. Get Moffy out there with me. That would have been way more fun the second time—the Groffy and Moffy show, part deuce.”

“So I knew [the run-to-swim transition] was going to be pretty painful, so I was very—I held back on run number 1. Because there’s nothing like all the blood going to your legs to diving in and you have to move your arms, and the blood flow is like, ‘Nuh uh. We’re running. I don’t know what you’re trying to do.’ You feel like you’re half drowning, but if you pace it well on the first run, it’s not as bad.”

Aaron Royle
“It hurt. But it was fun. I don’t know—it’s over so quick, I don’t know how it feels. Whenever you win, it always feels much better than when you do come in second, so it sort of helps distinguish the pain a little bit. I’m glad I won.”

“I’ve had a bit of experience in this format—being in Australia, we don’t do a lot, but we do a bit of this sort of racing back home. I think being a bit younger—23 years old—I had a little bit more speed on the run.”

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