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Is This What the Future of Triathlon Looks Like?

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Photos: Dan Hopkins

Major League Triathlon launched last year as an effort to make the sport more spectator-friendly and exciting—and to make pro celebs out of triathletes the way Major League Baseball does with its athletes.

Instead of disappearing for hours on the bike and run, pro athletes compete in a mixed team super sprint of two men and two women. The relay alternates gender with each racer completing a 300-meter swim, a 4-mile bike and a 1-mile run before handing it off to the next teammate. The action is contained in a small area so spectators can easily follow along.

Teams are set for the entire season so fans can follow along based on geography (each team is hosted by a city, like in the MLB or NFL) or personality.

Eight teams from across the United States of America met in Uptown Charlotte, N.C. last weekend to compete in the first race of the 2017 Major League Triathlon season. The race took place amidst the cityscape of the third-fastest growing metropolitan area in the country.

The gun went off at 1 p.m. when temperatures hit a record-breaking 95 degrees. But this race started with a swim in a 50-meter indoor pool. The first leg had an open-water atmosphere as the lane lines were taken out and buoys were placed in the water. The athletes completed an M-shaped swim course, four laps of a 1500m-long criterium-style bike course, then two laps of a half-mile run. The entire course was contained to less than one square mile.

The 1st race of the MLT season held true to the typical Super Sprint Mixed Team Relay Format commonly used by the ITU, with the four relay legs composed as female – male – female – male. Major League Triathlon has stated that they will alter this order in future 2017 races, as soon as their next event in Atlantic City on June 3rd, where the hometown Waves will look to redeem themselves on the beautiful beaches and world-famous boardwalk on June 3rd.

Sarah Alexander, AJ Baucco, Lindsey Jerdonek, and Kevin McDowell of the Cleveland Rock and Roll took home first place after a hard-fought day under the brutal sun.

Anchor McDowell measured his effort throughout the swim and bike before setting the streets ablaze on the run. McDowell is the third-ranked male American triathlete in the world (per ITU rankings), and he proved to be an invaluable asset to his Rock and Roll team. He started his circuit down by ~15 seconds to Alex Libin of the Colorado Peaks, an extremely accomplished athlete in his own right. After strong performances by all members of the Cleveland Rock and Roll and Colorado Peaks, it came down to a duel on the run between the anchor legs, and McDowell crossed the finish line first.

Results:
1st place – Cleveland Rock and Roll
2nd place – Colorado Peaks
3rd place – Sarasota Sun
4th place – Carolina Gliders
5th place – California Cadence
6th place – Indy Cats
7th place – Puerto Rico Islanders
8th place – Atlantic City Waves