1998 USA Triathlon
National Championships, Clermont, FL
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|Sun Shines, Racers
Wilt at USAT National Champs
|Few sports offer sideline prognosticators as many opportunities to
be wrong as does triathlon. Predicting the outcome of a race when weather, course
conditions and machinery play roles as vital as skill is no easy task. This year's
national championships made that task next to impossible.
Athletes pulling into Clermont in anticipation of the race were greeted
by 100-degree-plus temps that were helping fan the fires devastating Florida's east coast.
At least Clermont, located midway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, was
unaffected by the smoke being featured in satellite photos on the nightly news.
The pro/junior and age group races were held over two consecutive days
with the pros and juniors testing the heat first. That left the AGs torn between wanting
to watch the pros or avoid heat stroke the day before their race.
Seeing Barb Lindquist and Siri Lindley literally run themselves into
the ground helped prepare the age group athletes for their race. "Lindquist" and
"drink" became two of the most common pre-race words and helped focus most of
the age group dramas on factors other than the heat.
Fred Bartlett, Jr., 40-44, retreats from the heat
after qualifying for Team USA and ITU World Championships in Switzerland.
Peter Kain, 30-34 and a contender for the overall win, received some of
the focus for the wrong reasons. Kain, along with a handful of other riders, followed an
errant set of arrows painted on the asphalt and was DQ'd for riding off course. Kain's
appeal to race marshals was futile, but the asphalt in question was reported by another
racer to have been quickly spray painted.
Race marshal's also figured heavily in Jeff Cuddeback's return to
triathlon and his first master's title. Cuddeback, 40-44, 2:02:49, beat out Tony Schiller,
2:04:26, after Schiller was booked with a two-minute blocking penalty. After acknowledging
Schiller's unofficial win, Cuddeback said, "It's great to be back in triathlons. I've
been out for four years, and it really, really, hurt today."
Robin Quist, 20-24, prepares to sponge off on the first
leg of a long hot run.
Karen McKeachie, 45-49, posted one of the most impressive wins of the
day with her best race in years. Her 0:42:51 run erased a two-minute-plus swim/bike
deficit and handed her the win in 2:24:44 over Jo Garuccio, 2:27:09. With the end of the
race in hand, McKeachie said she eased up a bit on her pace, a bit of relaxation that may
have cost her a shot at the master's title.
A national class runner in college, McKeachie put in 600 miles of May riding
to prepare for the early national event. She attributed part of her strong finish to her
bike. This is the kind of course I like," she said. "I like hills.
Being run down by McKeachie did not spoil Garuccio's day. "We placed top five
masters," she said of her and McKeachie's race. "I was stoked."
With her younger sister Karen cheering her on, Donna Smyers, 40-44, took
the master's title in 2:24:10, six seconds faster than second place Kelly Molaski and only
34 seconds ahead of McKeachie. Smyers was the beneficiary of Karen
Chequer-Pfeiffer's battle with the sun. With a commanding lead, Chequer-Pfeiffer was
forced to walk the last mile to the finish line, placing an uncharacteristic 14th in
Karen McKeachie, 45-49, pulled out her best major
race in years to gun down Jo Garuccio and win by over 2 minutes.
Looking to the future, Jeanne Anne Krizman, 20-24, took the overall
women's title in 2:15:59. Fourteenth out of the water, Krizman posted a 1:08:59 bike and a
0:40:43 run to beat out Sarah Baker by a minute and a half--good times even if the 100
degree heat is factored out.
Krizman also won her age group at last year's nationals in her first
year of triathlon competition. A meticulous trainer and strategist, Krizman is working to
improve her swim and is contemplating turning pro at the end of the year.
Jason Januzelli, 25-29, anchored his race with a 5:32/mi. run pace
to pull himself up from fifth place and win the men's overall amateur title by half a
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|A Tale of Two Races in Clermont
Barb Lindquist and Nick Radkewich were both first
out of the water, but only one would cross the finish line at Clermont.
Barb Linidquist recovers in the med tent and
wonders what hit her while Nick Radkewich sets the pace for others to follow on route to a
victory that suggests a good showing at worlds, if he goes.
|When Nick Radkewich high-stepped his way out of the
tannic-acid-brown water of Lake Minneola, the outcome for his day was starting to take
shape. Once he and Wes Hobson teamed up on the bike, it was all but over.
Working together, Radkewich and Hobson made good use of the hilly bike
loop through the central Florida landscape to pull away from the field. The pair entered
the run transition with Hobson in front and Jimmy Riccitello just over two minutes back.
And, although Hobson was technically first after the bike, Radkewich was clearly the man
Tim Deboom moved past Riccitello into second place, but Radkewich's
2-minute lead held firm. Looking exceptionally strong and determined, Radkewich's
performance may signal his rise to the top of the American men's ranks. Unfortunately,
Radkewich, who is disappointed with his previous rankings in the US, said after the
race he may not represent the States at the ITU World Championships in Switzerland.
Referring to Switzerland's hilly bike course, Hobson thinks Radkewich should go. "I
hope he does," said Hobson. "He's a strong biker."
While Radkewich was wrapping up the men's race, Barb Lindquist had all
but licked the envelope on the women's. Looking stronger than she had at worlds in '97,
Lindquist turned in the fastest swim--of course--then went out on her own on the bike. The
rest of the pack couldn't get its act together to chase her down and she started the run
with a 0:01:30 lead.
Less than two miles from the finish and with her championship in
sight, Lindquist weaved and crumpled to the ground. She staggered to her feet and fell
once more before she was hauled away into the med tent.
Jennifer Gutierrez breaks the tape in Clermont.
Gutierrez, a full-time teacher, was unaware of her pending victory until clued in by the
| Jennifer Gutierrez was unaware of Lindquist's
problems until she broke the tape at the finish. "I didn't know," said
Gutierrez. "All I heard was I'm first. I thought they must not know that Barb's
Barb wasn't there, at least not for a while. Hooked up to a
heart-rate monitor, packed in ice and stuck full of IVs, Lindquist had to be told what
happened--she didn't remember. "I felt great coming off the bike," she said.
"I fell I guess. I don't recall what happened."
She did recall her biggest concern as she started out on the run,
Gutierrez. Gutierrez edged out Lindquist for top American honors at World
Championships seven months earlier.
In the shade of the med tent Lindquist remained positive about her
racing. "I feel that there is a reason that everything happens," she said.
"My only disappointment is that I won't be going to the Goodwill Games."
(Lindquist did get to go to the games, click on updates at the top of the page.)
Responding to observations that she looked stronger than she had
at worlds, Lindquist agreed. She began with her bike. "I love my bike," she
explained (an Australian Cannibal). "I'm a lot better in the hills this year than
last year. My run has improved too. I have a lot more confidence in my run." A hilly bike and a fast run, the ingredients for Switzerland. AG
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