April 18, 2013 on 10:54 am | In Races, Sponsorship | No Comments
This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend USAT Collegiate Nationals in Tempe, AZ. I haven’t been to a college national championship in over a decade – back when it was held in conjunction with Wildflower. Back in the day, the college kids would just be lumped in with the rest of the Wildflower Olympic race. The race and venue were great, heck, we didn’t know the difference. Actually, the naked run we would do was a bigger highlight than the race itself.
Fast forward to now: USAT has full control of the race – a move by our national governing body that has many race directors up in arms (they don’t feel USAT should be producing races). I am here to tell you that USAT has made the right move by taking over the race; they are providing an experience for collegiate triathletes that no one else can consistently deliver. What an incredible experience for all of the college athletes that make the annual pilgrimage to this great event (the race site moves around the country every two years). This year they had a total of three races over two days: on Friday there was the first ever ITU Draft Legal Collegiate race, on Saturday morning was the Olympic non-drafting race and on Saturday afternoon was the Super Sprint Relay.
If you have never seen an ITU Draft Legal race, I can tell you as a veteran of 25+ years in the sport that they are really exciting to watch – especially when it comes to college racing. It’s like March Madness all rolled into a one hour race in April, with kids who aren’t getting huge scholarships to compete. As cool as the ITU race was, the Super Sprint Relay was incredibly fun to watch. The relay teams are comprised of two women and two men; each athlete does a very short triathlon of 250m swim, 5km bike and 1.2km run – about 15 min of anaerobic amusement.
I haven’t seen this much pure fun in the sport for many years; it was the most enjoyable time I have had watching the sport I have grown up with. Of course, it’s even better when you sponsor the team (my alma mater) with the men’s winner of the ITU and Olympic race (University of Arizona TriCat – Ben Kanute) as well as sponsor the women’s Olympic winner (Colorado – Michelle Mehnert) .