USA Triathlon Elite Race Series
Next Stop: The San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island
Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island.
It’s part of the five-event USA Triathlon Elite Race Series and it’s an International Triathlon Union Continental Cup race. So what’s the point about the many different points at stake in this draft-legal, multi-lap Olympic distance event?
Aside from a great event featuring a $30,000 prize purse for some of the best up-and-coming US and international triathletes in the world, the San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island is an important part of two renowned points-paying series that lend prestige and resonance to this contest.
On one hand, it is the second of five races counting toward the 2011 USA Triathlon Elite Race Series which offers $255,000 individual race prize money and bonuses and a $60,000 overall series prize purse. The men’s and women’s series winners who earn the most points in their best three of these five races – the March 5 Draft Legal Challenge sprint at Clermont Florida, the June 25 Gateway to Adventure Triathlon in Monroe Washington, the July 9 San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island, the September 24 Nickel City Triathlon/USA Triathlon Elite National Championship, and the October 9 Myrtle Beach (SC) Triathlon which also serves as the ESA Elite race Series finale – will each receive $10,000. The men’s and women’s 2nd through 5th place finishers will receive $7,500, $5,000, $4,000 and $3,500 respectively.
On the other hand, the San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island it is also one of 13 International Triathlon Union Continental Cup races in the United States which include 9 PATCO races in North and South America and 4 Continental Cups in the United States. The Continental Cup Series of races are a crucial and important first stepping stone to triathletes with Olympic ambitions. Points gained in these races help qualify triathletes to enter higher level ITU races such as the 9 ITU World Cups and the supremely important 7 Dextro Energy ITU World Championship Series events. Ultimately, the points acquired in Continental Cup events such as the San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island are a first stepping stone to these prestigious events – and ultimately to the Olympics.
While there are ITU long course events and championships and World Triathlon Corporation Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events for long course triathletes, the 1.5k swim-40k bike- and 10k run, multiple-loop, draft-legal, high-speed race seen at the San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island is the very same format of the Olympic Triathlon and also serves as the ITU World Championship Series and World Cup format.
The USA Triathlon Elite Race Series
While there are many well established Olympic distance triathlons in the US, most of these are in a format that does not allow drafting on the bike. Promoting the thrills and close racing of this format has been one of the key motivations of the national governing body USA Triathlon to sponsor this series.
“The USA Triathlon Elite Race Series offers elite triathletes the opportunity to compete in the high-level, draft-legal events that are rarely contested in the United States,” USA Triathlon National Events Director Jeff Dyrek said. “Additionally, this series offers US multi sport fans on both coasts the chance to watch America’s Olympic hopefuls in action and witness firsthand the excitement of draft-legal racing.”
After the first two rounds of the USA Triathlon Elite Race Series races at Clermont, Florida and Monroe, Washington, 2008 ITU World Champion Helen Jenkins of Great Britain and Chantelle Widney of Canada are tied for the lead in the women’s division with 25 points apiece, followed by ITU star Sarah Haskins of Colorado Springs, Colorado and Kaitlin Shiver of Satellite Beach, Florida who are tied for third with 15 points. Kelly Whitley of Geneva Illinois is on 5th with 14 points, Gwen Jorgensen of Milwaukee, and Annie Warner of Nine Mile Falls, Washington are tied for sixth with 10 points, Annabel Luxford of Australia and Jillian Peterson of Colorado Springs around tied for 8th with 9 points and Non Stafford of Great Britain is 10th with 8 points.
In the men’s division, Hunter Kemper of Colorado Springs, Colorado and Gregory Roualt of France are tied for the lead with 25 points, and Ben Collins if Srattkle Washington and Jarrod Shoemaker of Maynard Massachusetts are tied for third with 15 points, Andrew Russell of Canada and Kaleb Van Ort of Mishawaka Indiana are tied for fifth with 10 points apiece, Brian Fleischmann of Colorado Springs, Colorado and Todd Leckie of Great Britain are tied for seventh with 9 points and Felipe Barraza of Chile and Chris Foster of Redondo Beach, California are tied for 9th with 8 points.
While Jenkins, Haskins, Shoemaker, Jorgensen and Peterson are now concentrating on important WCS races in Europe, the July 9 race will include some present and many future talents. For example, the 5th ranked American man in the current ITU Olympic qualifying points standings, Ben Collins, was last year’s San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island winner. Kevin Collington, one of the early entries, is the 8th ranked American on that list. Among early women’s entries for Treasure Island, Rebecca Kingsford is ranked 78th overall and 5th New Zealander on the Olympic qualifying list and Lisa Marangon is ranked 99th overall and 9th of the talent rich Australians.
As the USA Triathlon Elite Series advances to its final races, the stakes will go up. Both the USA Triathlon Elite National Championship on Buffalo, NY, on September 24 and the October 9 series finale in Myrtle Beach, SC, will be worth double points. The Buffalo event will feature a $75,000 total purse -- $25,000 of which will serve as bonus for the top 5 American finishers. Myrtle Beach will offer a $50,000 purse.
ITU Continental Cups
While there is no Continental Cup series points championship so to speak and there is no yearly bonus prize money pool, their importance is key to identifying potential World Cup, World Championship Series and Olympians among developing triathletes. The way the ITU structures its Olympic qualifying and its ongoing ITU points list, the World Championship Series Grand Final offers its men’s and women’s winners 1000 points, each WCS event offers winners 800 points, each World Cup offers its winners 500 points, Continental Championships (for each world region) offers its winners 400 points, and regular Continental Cup events like Treasure Island offers winners 200 points apiece. Each position down from 1st earns 7.5 percent less on down to 50th place in World Cups and 20th place in Continental Cups.
So who’s keeping track of these points and why? In order to even get into a Continental Cup race, each professional affiliated with their national governing body (such as USA Triathlon) must have attained a certain threshold of points to get a start. The points bar for each higher level of event is ever higher. So triathlon’s Continental Cup series would be the equivalent of Double AA in baseball, or the Nationwide Series in NASCAR. The Continental Cup race s also serve as a crucial apprenticeship in acquiring the particular skill set needed for wheel-to-wheel draft-legal bike legs and lightning fast transitions.
To put it simply, the expected 75 entrants you will see racing the elite wave on July 9 will surely include some future Olympic and World Championship contenders – and very possibly some champions of the future.