As the sport of triathlon continues to grow athletes will get more discerning when it comes to choosing a race. Races that have a fun gimmick will attract an audience as will those that have a higher purpose. The 21st West Point Triathlon was held on Sunday August 15, 2010. The triathlon is the major fundraiser for the team which has won 4 national championships. In 2010 alone the women won the USAT Collegiate National championship, the men were runner-ups and the duathlon team won the National championships. According to the web site, “the West Point Triathlon Program receives only a small portion of its budget from the West Point Directorate of Cadet Activities. The great majority of the team’s coaching, travel, race, and equipment fees are raised by hosting triathlon events, and through the generous donations of the team’s supporters. Without the support of our donors, there is no way the team could have attained its recent success.
900 athletes signed up to race on Sunday and close to 800 raced the event. This year for the first time there was an ‘open’ wave for those elite athletes wanting a clear race course. The top 3 women and 3 of the top ten men raced in wave one with silver caps. A few other athletes also raced in that wave, not fully knowing it was the elite wave! Karen Casper, Paula DeVantier and Chris Gee all sported the silver caps and raced like the best.
The swim was rough only because athletes were looking for clear water. There were quite few reports of kicked ribs, smacked hands, and swimming on others. The water temp was quite nice in the high 70’s and the overcast skies kept things cool. This year the race was USAT sanctioned, so course measurements were precise. Athletes came out of the water, to transition, and out to the highway for the bike course. The race is held at Camp Buckner west of the main campus. Cyclists departed onto highway 293 for loop south to a turnaround then back north to another turn around. The course provided some nice climbing each way. Back into the campus to transition to the run. The 5K course also has some out and backs with one nice challenging hill in the middle. Cadets were at the water stops and turn-arounds providing encouragement and precise mileage, ‘1.73 miles ma’am’. None of the typical ‘you’re almost there’. After a run past the transition area athletes had one last out and back before the finish line and ice pops.
The finish area was crowded with finishers, friends and family cheering everyone across the line. Some of the triathlon team participated along with cadets, military and everyday civilians. Jim and Eileen Trainor, West Point graduates have done the race before. This year was to be different since their son Brian is now at the academy and on the triathlon team. The plan was to make the race a family affair. That was until Brian went and won the duathlon nationals for the men 18-19 last April. Then Brian was chosen for the West Point team for the USAT collegiate nationals. The team raced to second place in Lubbock, TX in April. Brian qualified for the USAT Junior Elite Nationals in San Diego on August 14, 2010. He had hoped to fly home to NY on Saturday after the race to be at West Point to see his parents race on Sunday, but his coach said he’d fly on Sunday. Brian was 33rd overall, which is fantastic considering he had a short break from summer military training camp before heading to the race. Unlike many of the other athletes Brian was not able to focus on triathlon training this summer. As you might expect his parents are very proud of Brian’s accomplishments. They both had a great race on Sunday. Jim had to give Brian his bike since the San Diego race was draft legal and Brian could not ride his tri bike. Jim has a couple of technical difficulties but nothing that a West Point grad couldn’t overcome with grace.
Also racing with grace was Hugh Dunseath, Navy SEAL affectionately known as Superman winning his age group with ease. Kristen Hislop grabbed first in her age group decked out in Trisports gear. Shop trisports.com – use KHIS-S and get 10% off!
What’s your West Point story? Results