The best triathletes in the country were in Milwaukee over the weekend competing in the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. Illinois triathletes made a strong showing taking home five age group championships and placing a few finishers in the top 20 overall.
The best performance of the day went to former Clif Bar Athlete of the Month winner Jennifer Garrison. The Naperville triathlete won her 35-39 age group and was the third overall woman. Garrison’s time of 2:06:38 improved on her 2013 finish which was enough for second in her age group and 12th overall. Coming in to Saturday’s race, Garrison said she thought she would be able to win her age group and followed through on her prediction. The overall win went to Heather Lendway from St. Paul, MN with second going to Dani Fischer from Wausau, WI.
The men’s side saw an incredibly deep field and a shakeup of the leaderboard. Defending overall winner Colin Riley slipped to seventh overall and second in his age group. The top spot this year went to Steven Mantell from Fort Collins, CO. Mark Harms from Madison and James Burke from Middleton, WI rounded out the top three. The first Illinois resident to cross the finish line was Brett Collins from Forest Park. Collins finished with a time of 1:56:18 in 19th place overall and sixth in his 25-29 age group.
In addition to Garrison’s top age group finish, four other Illinois residents were named national champions. The other four winners all came in age groups of 70 and older. Illinois swept the 70-74 age group with Chicago’s Elizabeth Brackett and Wilmette’s David Roadhouse winning with times of 3:00:28 and 2:27:15, respectively. Graciela Val from Evanston won the women’s 75-79 group in 3:27:00 and Bob Scott from Naperville took the 80-84 division in 3:05:33.
This year’s field was especially competitive because of the opportunity most triathletes had for the first time. Every year the top 25 finishers in each age group earn a spot on the USA Triathlon team which competes at a number of different events throughout the year including the World Championships. This year’s team will have the chance to compete in Chicago in 2015, one of the few times it is held on U.S. soil. This made it especially appealing to all Illinois runners who would be able to compete in one of the biggest triathlon stages in the world close to home. All told, 55 triathletes qualified for the USAT team, 32 men and 23 women.
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