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Racing Strong in Detroit

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Since this is my first time blogging for USA Triathlon, I wanted to start by introducing myself and sharing about my transition into triathlon this past June. My name is Kirsten Kasper and I am from North Andover, Mass., and I am a graduate of Georgetown University. I started swimming at the age of 5 and continued to compete competitively throughout high school. I began running my freshman year of high school and continued to compete in college, representing Georgetown as a member of their Division I cross country and track and field programs. The past few months have been a whirlwind and an amazing start to what I hope will be a long triathlon career. I joined the CRP group this past June and jumped right into full training and haven’t looked back.

The Detroit EDR was my first shot at earning my elite card. I was fortunate to train for six weeks prior for the event in Vitoria-Gastiz, Spain, with the other CRP residents. This allowed me to gain more knowledge of the sport and allowed me to become more skilled on the bike. Coming into the race, I was feeling confident from my training and excited to compete. Detroit was only my second triathlon as I completed my first in San Sebastian, Spain, one month earlier.

During my time in Detroit, I was accompanied by fellow CRP athlete Molly Higgins and ETA athletes Katie Gorczyca and Dillon Nobbs. We were fortunate to have the Everson family host us for the week leading up to the race. The family took me in as one of their own and prepared me to have a great race come Saturday. The morning arrived with an early wakeup call at 4:45 a.m. I had my usual pre-race meal of oatmeal and granola. We arrived at Belle Isle, the location of Detroit’s first EDR triathlon. Warm up and preparation went as smoothly as I could have hoped. The Detroit river water temperature was 70 degrees, making it a non-wet suit swim. The swim course had a strong current that caused many of the male EDR competitors in the first race to miss read the first buoy. With the guidance of Barb Lindquist, I planned to aim wide of the buoy and it played out perfectly and took me around the first buoy in second place directly on the leader’s feet. I came out of the water in third place and had a smooth transition that put me in first place on the bike. I worked on the bike with Heather Lendway, who was the overall winner at the Age Group National Championships the weekend before, to separate ourselves from the rest of the field. We came off the bike together with a significant lead and I was off to the run, my strongest leg of the race. I focused on my form, keeping my arm carry high and having a good turnover. The run course was two laps. After the first lap, I put 45 seconds on the field and was able to maintain a consistent pace on the flat course. Turning into transition for the final time and running toward the finish line was when it officially hit me that I had did it! I achieved my goal of earning my pro card.

My week in Detroit ended on a great note and has set me up well for the rest of the season. I am very fortunate and honored to represent the U.S. at U23 Worlds in Edmonton August 31! From there I will be racing in the Super Sprint in Las Vegas, and ITU World Cups in Alanya, Turkey, and Tongyeong, South Korea. My journey is just beginning and I am so excited to see where triathlon takes me next and to compete at the next level.

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