More than 2,000 age group athletes representing 42 U.S. states and 16 countries took to the sea, streets and sidewalks of Mission Beach on May 12 at the ITU World Triathlon San Diego.
The Olympic-distance and Sprint-distance races were part of a dynamic triathlon weekend in the birthplace of triathlon, with elite men and women duking it out for podium spots and in some cases, Olympic qualification.
Amateurs had the chance to compete in the same epic venue as the world’s best athletes.
The multisport weekend got under way Friday, May 11, with the elite women. Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins, the ITU World Triathlon Series leader, lifted the tape in 1:58:20, with Australia’s Erin Densham taking second in 1:59:25. Laura Bennett claimed the third and final spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team with her third place finish, crossing the line in 2:00:11.
The elite men raced Saturday afternoon following the age group events, and Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee claimed the win in 1:48:46, with Sven Riederer of Switzerland (1:48:52) and South Africa’s Richard Murray (1:49:02) rounding out the podium. Americans Hunter Kemper and Manuel Huerta finished fifth and ninth, respectively, to earn their spots on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team.
The elite races, which are draft legal, were a big draw for many age-groupers to make their way to Southern California. San Diego is just one of eight host cities for the International Triathlon Union’s World Triathlon Series, joining the ranks of Sydney, Madrid and Hamburg, among others.
“I came down solely for that reason, to watch ITU athletes,” said Dave Ference, 45, of Holladay, Utah. “I would have missed a great race if these guys weren’t racing, but I just wanted to be part of the electric environment of ITU and they didn’t disappoint. It’s world class.”