The mixed team relay rounded out a weekend of fast racing and hot temps at the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championship in Tempe, Ariz., with a win from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs team. The four-person team was made up of Luke Farkas, Johanna Garman, Avery Evenson and Kevin McDowell. Each athlete had to swim 250K, bike 5K and run 1.2K before tagging the next teammate, in a female-male-female-male format. This was the second year for the event at Collegiate Nationals.
“It’s a great honor,” McDowell says of his team’s win. “It was amazing to come out here in a team atmosphere. To actually finish as a team and do this all together and for everyone to have just as important of a role—I think it was just the best thing we could ever ask for…These kinds of moments make it all worth it.”
The win may come as no surprise to fellow contenders, considering the four athletes have experience with ITU-style and junior elite racing and are a part of USAT’s Elite Triathlon Academy, a development program targeting future Olympians. The group says they practice as a team all the time. “Day in and day out it’s hard training, but it’s fun when you have an infrastructure of kids around you all doing the same thing, and we’re all shooting for success,” says Farkas, who took second in the draft-legal race on Friday.
The UC Berkeley team of Erika Erickson, Nicholas Halkowski, Christine Jackson and Jonathan Doron-Peters held on to second followed by the United States Naval Academy’s Kellie Darmody, Greg Lowhorn, Zofia Stark and John Mackovjak. Some athletes racing the 4:00 p.m. event had also raced the draft-legal race the day before and the Olympic distance that morning. The UCCS team says they loved the unique atmosphere of the college team atmosphere. “The spirit, team environment, it’s not like this at other races,” McDowell says. “Everyone is so enthusiastic.”
Stay tuned for official team results from the weekend.
Good news for fans of the fast-paced, exciting mixed relay style—on their website, the International Triathlon Union mentions interest in looking at the format for future Olympic games. “The International Triathlon Union is passionate about having Triathlon Mixed Relay added to the Olympic program [sic], as the format appeals tremendously to youth. With numerous lead changes, lots of unpredictable drama and the display of team pride, the discipline develops the sport among new generations and new audiences. Additionally, the mixed relay format represents ITU’s commitment to promoting gender equality in sport, showcasing that men and women can practice the sport together on the same field of play.” (Read more here: http://www.triathlon.org/triathlon_mixed_relay)