USA Triathlon Weekend Notebook: Busy Weekend Full of Historical Athletes, Celebrity Appearances and Gravel Tri Debuts
by USA Triathlon
2021 USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships
University of California-Berkeley's Bear Schickel and University of California-San Diego's Marissa Saenger won the men's and women's national titles Saturday at the 2021 USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships, held as part of the iconic Malibu Triathlon.
About 400 collegiate athletes from more than 20 club teams competed in the marquee event of Collegiate Club Nationals weekend. The Olympic-distance course was centered at Zuma Beach and featured a 1,500-meter swim, 41-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run.
Schickel nearly led wire-to-wire, emerging out of the water 6 seconds behind Cal-Berkeley teammate, Johnathan Dolan, who had the day's fastest swim in 19:16. Schickel created his lead on the bike, riding the 41k bike course in a leading time of 57:34. He also had the race's fastest transition from bike to run — those precious seconds mattering as he finished a mere 7 seconds ahead of Parker University's Garrett Mayeaux, who finished runner-up in 1:55:25.
In the women's race, it was the triathlon newbie, Saenger, who used her elite running skills to run her way to the national title in a time of 2:10:51. Saturday's race was only the second triathlon for Saenger, who used to compete as a track and field and cross-country athlete, but injuries often forced her to rehab in the pool and on the bike.
The Malibu Triathlon presented by Bank of America, held at Zuma Beach, is one of the most anticipated events on the United States’ multisport calendar each year. In addition to the collegiate club championship races, the weekend also featured age-group sprint- and Olympic-distance races and the Malibu Triathlon’s famed celebrity division, in which celebrities, studios, entertainment industry corporations and professional triathletes compete while raising funds for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
2021 USA Triathlon Long Course National Championships
This year, the Long Course National Championships, formerly referred to as the Multisport National Championships Festival, was paired with Toughman New York, in the city of Stony Point. The two-day weekend event crowned national champions in Long Course Triathlon (swim-bike-run), Long Course Duathlon (run-bike-run) and Long Course and Olympic-distance Aquabike (swim-bike), with over 650 athletes competing.
Saturday opened the race weekend with Matthew Guenter (Boulder, Colo.) and Amber Smolik (Oklahoma, City, Okla.) earning the overall national titles in the Olympic-distance Aquabike. Smolik then returned on Sunday and also took home the Long Course Aquabike title, along with Kurt Holt (Santa Rosa, Calif.), who earned the men’s overall championship.
In the Long Course Triathlon, Adoh Doherty (Taunton, Mass.) snagged the overall win for the men, taking on the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run in 4 hours, 13 minutes and 38 seconds.
On the women’s side, Anna Strehlow (Milwaukee, Wis.) claimed the overall title, completing the course in 4:55:20 to claim her second national title in 2021. In August, Strehlow won the women's national title in the Olympic-distance at the 2021 Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in her hometown of Milwaukee.
In the long course duathlon, Jeff Wilson (Akron, Ohio, M35-39), retained his national title he earned at the 2019 Multisport National Championships in Miami. He broke the tape for the men, covering the 2-mile run, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run course in 4:00:48, finishing over 17 minutes ahead of the next finisher.
For the women, Jacqui Giuliano (Cary, Ill., F35-39) earned her first national championship title, finishing the duathlon in 4:41:31 and over 19 minutes ahead of second place.
Super League Triathlon Malibu
In addition to Collegiate Club Nationals and the annual age group race, for the first time, the Malibu Triathlon also hosted some of the world’s fastest triathletes battling head-to-head in the finale of the 2021 Super League Triathlon Championship Series — the first Super League event to be held on U.S. soil. Super League Triathlon acquired the Malibu Triathlon in December 2020.
The Championship series has been a month-long journey for the athletes, all coming to a head to crown the overall crown on Saturday. The Series began in London on September 5 and then to Munich on September 12, Jersey on September 18, before finally concluding this weekend in Malibu.
Great Britain's Alex Yee won Saturday's race in thrilling fashion, securing the overall Super League Triathlon Championship Series win for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medalist. On the women's side, Bermuda's Flora Duffy won Saturday's Super League finale, as Great Britain's Georgia Taylor Brown took the overall Super League Triathlon Championship Series victory.
Katie Zaferes, U.S. bronze medalist at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, finished the Super League Triathlon Championship Series in third.
USA Taylor Spivey ended in the Series in eighth overall, while on the men’s side Seth Rider ended the Series in 11th place.
IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta
On Sunday, the state of Georgia hosted one of North America’s largest IRONMAN 70.3 races, with over 2400 athletes lining up for the IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta.
In the women’s field, it was a historical day for the sport of triathlon as Sika Henry made her debut lining up as the first U.S. Black female triathlete to compete as a professional – breaking barriers and inspiring the future generation of triathletes.
Another athlete paving the way for underrepresented athletes was Tokyo 2020 Paralympian Chris Hammer, who placed second overall in the age group race, and first in hist age group M35-39.
The Dirty Mitten Gravel Triathlon
In West Michigan, The Dirty Mitten Gravel Triathlon held its inaugural race on Sunday, putting on a successful debut event for multisport enthusiasts looking to “forget the pavement” and get more dirty than the typical triathlon.
The event was hosted by Tris4health, who also put on USAT-sanctioned events, the Grand Rapids Triathlon and Michigan Titanium. The Dirty Mitten is the biggest gravel triathlon in Michigan and presented athletes with the opportunity to swim-bike-run outside the traditional road format and instead challenges them to a swim, gravel bike and cross-country trail run.
In its debut event, The Dirty Mitten sold out for participation and had athletes travel from 10 states and two countries, showcasing the popularity and future of the sport.
For more information on The Dirty Mitten visit: https://thedirtymitten.com.