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Ivonne Mosquera (TRI-6) completes the run with her guide, Julia Hahn.
Ivonne Mosquera (TRI-6) completes the run with her guide, Julia Hahn.
photo: USA Triathlon

Paratriathlon National Champions Return to NYC


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More than 70 athletes are prepared to compete in the 2010 Accenture USA Paratriathlon National Championship on Sunday, and for some, the streets of New York are all too familiar. Ten paratriathletes are returning to paratriathlon nationals, hosted by the Nautica New York City Triathlon, in hopes of defending their titles as 2009 national champions. With their sights set on Budapest, Hungary, and this year’s ITU Paratriathlon World Championship, eight defending champions – Robin Caruso, Minda Dentler, Sandy Dukat, Ivonne Mosquera, Matt Perkins, Beth Price, Joel Rosinbum and J.P. Theberge – took time to share with USA Triathlon why they enjoy the electric atmosphere of this weekend’s event.

USA Triathlon: Is your success last year an advantage entering the 2010 race?

J.P. Theberge:  I don't think so. Every year, new people enter the scene. When you win, then people start gunning for you. 

Minda Dentler: My success last year gave me a tremendous amount of confidence coming into this season. 

Sandy Dukat: Last year my goal was to break the 3-hour mark and I fell short by just over three minutes. My biggest race motivation this year is the clock, and I am going for that sub-3-hour race.

Joel Rosinbum: Last year I was the unknown factor and a bit of an underdog. As a defending champion there is more pressure to perform. This year the other athletes have a bit more of an idea about what to expect. I think that’s going to make this year's race harder, so it’s more of a disadvantage in my mind.

Beth Price: Yes, it's always helpful to be familiar with the course and have experienced the race itself.

Matt Perkins: I personally don’t think it’s helpful, at least not for me. I am motivated by losses and the fear of losses, so a win doesn’t help to motivate me the way a loss might.

Robin Caruso: No, not at all. There are so many variables going into any race. What kind of day it is, equipment, nutrition. You know, all the things you can't really train for! However, you might say having done the race and knowing the course can be a bit advantageous.

Ivonne Mosquera: This year’s race could be the most competitive one since 2007, because the pool of paratriathletes in the TRI-6 category is expected to be the largest in history. This is due to the new ruling requiring TRI-6 athletes to wear blackout glasses during the run portion of the race; a rule which I believe is the only way to level the playing field for those of us who are totally blind, such as myself. I have run the roads of Central Park many times, so I’m quite familiar with the course. Plus, there’s nothing like coming home to race!

USAT: Does your performance from last year motivate you for a repeat showing this year?

Sandy: The hard thing about winning is that you know everyone is out to try to beat you; there’s a lot of pressure on me to race strong and meet my race goals. Winning is great, but, for me, the dedication to my training is what motivates me the most.

Robin: Absolutely! I had a great race last year – going to be hard for me to beat my time.

J.P.: Once you've accomplished a world championship win or two, you want to stay on top, if you can.  I'm always trying to improve my PRs on every race I do, whether it’s a local race, a marathon or whatever. At some point, the PRs will stop coming, but so far so good. As long as I felt I gave it my best effort, I'm happy.

Ivonne: Sure, for me any strong performance is always a good measure of where I am, and where I can go or how I can improve!

Matt: I certainly enjoyed finally having a good race in New York; it has been a tough race for me in the past. However, I am mainly focused on the world championships in September. If I have a good race in New York, that is fantastic and mostly likely a bit of luck. Maybe remembering how much I enjoyed winning last year will help push me to the finish this year.

Minda: I always want to do my best, and I hope my best will be what it takes to win this year.   

Beth: It’d be an honor to be a national champion again. I'm better prepared this year and hope to do well.

Joel: It’s helped me take my training to a new level this year. There’s nothing like winning to make you want to win more. I'm highly motivated to repeat. I'm fitter and more focused this year than last year so I think my chances are pretty good. 

USAT: What are your goals for the 2010 season and beyond?

Beth: My goals for this year are to qualify for worlds in Budapest. For the future, I'd love to be able to compete in the Paralympics when paratriathlon is included.

Matt: Right now I have only one goal: to win worlds in September.

Ivonne: I’d like to break three hours! That being said, I’ve had a lot of changes in life this year. I got married and have a lot on my plate as well, so really the main goal will be to finish strong, to have some fun and to qualify for the worlds. As I am an avid runner, and my passion is running, I’m looking to complete my first 50-miler in 2011, and to continuing to improve my marathon time of 3:22! I’m always looking for guides to run and train with, so do feel free to contact me if you’re interested! Check out my website,

Robin: To successfully defend my title at nationals and go on to worlds in Budapest in September. I would like to do Ironman and also Escape from Alcatraz. I hope to continue on with the USA Paratriathlon National Team as well; it has been such a great experience for me!

J.P.: I want to improve my swim times, which I believe is my weakest link. Of course, I'd like to take home a gold medal in Budapest. I'd also like to improve my marathon times.

Minda: My goals this season are to train hard, stay healthy and remain competitive. I want to improve my time from last year at nationals and compete at ITU worlds in Budapest this September. 

Sandy: My goal after this weekend is to focus on my first half Ironman (2010 Cancun). My focus will shift this fall, as I plan to run a few half-marathons.

Joel: This year I'm looking to qualify for worlds and represent USA there. Last year at worlds I had a terrible race, so I'm looking to do a lot better this year and shooting for a podium. For 2011, I'm looking at the new Paratriathlon World Cup races, and hopefully if paratriathlon is in the Paralympics (in the future), I’ll do that as well. 

USAT: How did you get involved in triathlon/multisport?

J.P.: I started road racing to get into shape in my late 20s. There, I met the folks at the Challenged Athlete Foundation (CAF), and they inspired me to try my hand at triathlon. 

Joel: I was starting to get into triathlon before the skiing accident which paralyzed my arm. After the accident I really needed a sport to keep me balanced and healthy. I wanted to prove to myself and to everyone else that I could still be competitive and fast – even with my disability. 

Minda: In 2007, I was a spectator at the NYC Triathlon and vowed that after I obtained my master’s in business, I would sign up for my first triathlon. True to my word, the following year I began swim lessons and learned how to ride a racing wheelchair. I completed my first triathlon in 2008. 

Beth: I became involved in the sport of triathlon after being diagnosed with MS 12 years ago. I'd always wanted to compete in one and felt that I needed to pursue this goal while physically able.

Robin: When I was eight months pregnant with my twins I watched Escape from Alcatraz and decided that I wanted to do that. After they were born I started training and did my first triathlon eight months later (as an able-bodied athlete).

Ivonne: I got involved in triathlon when I was convinced by some friends to participate in a sprint triathlon out in the Hamptons back in 2006. I then realized that I was pretty strong at linking the three events together and decided to try the Olympic distance. I love that distance because I can really make up some time on the run portion of the race!

Sandy: While I was training and racing with the U.S. Disabled Alpine Ski Team (2001-07) I needed something to focus on during my summer months to keep me motivated and in shape. Several of my friends pushed me to do triathlons, and that's how I got my start.

Matt: I retired from ski racing, got a real job, and got good and fat from not exercising and having too many libations. I decided I needed some sort of “event” to help get me back into shape and had done a triathlon a couple years before, so I did another to avoid buying fat man pants.

What’s the best part of competing in Paratriathlon Nationals at the NYC Triathlon?

Sandy: Honestly, the people – from the race organizers to the fans, everyone is amazingly supportive of the paratriathletes. Plus, I love competing in the Big Apple!

Matt: The atmosphere of New York is amazing – so many athletes participating, many for the first time. It’s exciting. Not to mention the run into Central Park with the large crowd is hard to beat! It took me until I was into the park to figure out why everyone was yelling my name, then I remembered our new suits have our names printed on them. It was a funny yet embarrassing moment, at least in my head. I also enjoy the after party with the Korffs and Accenture folks.

J.P.: Being able to meet other similarly hard-working disabled athletes like myself. It’s so great to be challenged by others who've been through what I've been through.

Joel: The thing I enjoy most is racing other elite paratriathletes. Much of my season is spent racing age groupers and the clock. With my arm disability, I get out of the water so far behind the age group leaders that I spend the whole race catching up. Racing against paratriathletes changes the game a lot. There's strategy and some tactics involved. That makes it more exciting. There is also the camaraderie – even though we’re all there to win, there’s a sense of kinship that’s just awesome.

Minda: NYC is my home. I enjoy competing at this race because it is very well organized for paratriathletes. The volunteer and crowd support on and off the course is fantastic. 

Robin: Being surrounded by so many amazing athletes. I have so much respect for every paratriathlete – the stories are all so inspirational. This is a great race. The sponsors, especially Accenture, USAT, CAF, John Korff and the race directors are all so fantastic. The support and attention they give to paratriathletes is incredible. Whenever you need something, there seems to be someone right there to help out.

Ivonne:  Well, NYC is where I grew up, it’s where my family lives, it’s where I have made close friends and where I first started running and doing triathlons! NYC is always home, and there’s nothing more thrilling and invigorating than to run the roads of Central Park! It’s an incredible race during which I can really relax and enjoy my race. John Korff and his crew do an absolutely incredible job organization-wise, which is really a treat for us paratriathletes! Plus, we can have tons of friends out there cheering for us! 

Beth: The best part for me is feeling like I'm making a difference for physically challenged athletes in the future. Each paratriathlete there has their own issues to overcome, yet we're not letting those issues define who we are or what we can accomplish!