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GCU Triathlon fights through tough conditions at Tritonman Triathlon

February 22, 2019

Wind, rain force race officials to reduce race to duathlon in annual San Diego race

By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director

Battling through some of the toughest conditions of their season, the Grand Canyon University Triathlon Club posted a pair of top-25 finishes at the Tritonman Triathlon Sunday at Fiesta Island in San Diego, California.  Running the prestigious race for the first time, Lopes’ junior Hannah McCulley finished 20th on the women’s side, while Lopes’ Co-Head Coach Jake Windauer finished 25th among the men.  The race – which was hosted by the University of California-San Diego Triathlon Club – was the first out-of-state race for the Lopes for the 2018-19 season, and was marred by rainy and windy conditions throughout the weekend.  The event was the final race on the Lopes’ schedule before regionals next month.

The Lopes were put at a disadvantage before they ever suited up for the race – thanks to Mother Nature.  Multiple days of rain the week of the race forced race officials to reduce the race – eliminating the swimming portion of the normal “swim-bike-run” triathlon format, and turning it into a “run-bike-run” duathlon format.

“That made some of our athletes nervous, because we put a lot of hours into our swimming preparation,” said Windauer about the change, which they were notified of the morning of the race due to the rain polluting the waters around Mission Bay.  “The mass start at the beginning of the run – lining up by colleges shoulder-to-shoulder, blowing a whistle so everyone starts running immediately – definitely had an effect on our race results, since the adrenaline got the better of them.”

Because of that, most of the 13 Lopes that made the trip got out the gates very quickly, but had trouble sustaining their pace during the final run portion.  McCulley was undeterred, though, finishing the initial run in just under nine minutes, then finished the bike portion in 42:20 before finding the top 20 with an overall time of one hour, 14 minutes and 11 seconds.  Fellow Lopes Alysia Kilcrease (1:24:08) and Kirsten Foteio (1:27:12) weren’t far behind McCulley, both finishing the race inside of 90 minutes.  Windauer also noted the resiliency of Jessie Graves, who got into a mishap during the bike race, but still recovered well enough to finish the race.

Meanwhile, Windauer – who has become as much a top duathlete and triathlete with his training over the past year – blazed through the first run in just under seven minutes, which ranked him 10th as he hopped on the bike.  He finished the bike portion in just over 42 minutes, then motored through the final run in just 18 minutes to finish with an overall time of one hour and 42 seconds. Jake’s twin brother, Lopes’ Co-Head Coach Nick Windauer, snuck inside the top 50 with a strong initial run of exactly seven minutes, and keeping a methodical pace through the rest of the event to place 49th with a time of 1:04:12.  Derik DeFrance (1:05:08, 58th) came in less than a minute behind his coach, and Troy Clark, Jr. (1:08:05, 87th) and Spencer Crouder (1:08:19, 91st) were seconds within each hitting the tape in placing in the top 100.

Now the focus turns to staying within the state but ratcheting up the importance for their next race on March 17.  That’s when 10 Lopes’ team members will make the trip to Lake Havasu City for the Collegiate Club Sprint Championships at the Havasu Sprint Triathlon.  Despite the adjustments the team had to make in California, the Tritonman still gave the team some extra tips to prepare for the big race in three weeks.

“It was definitely a gauge for the bike and the after-run,” said Windauer.  “We were lining up against kids that win nationals in Colorado every year.  We realized that this is what they do each race, and you have to know that when they’re coming by you on the bike that that’s the pace that they’ll put down at regionals and nationals.  It was a good wake-up call for a lot of them.”

The full list of Lopes’ results from the Tritonman Triathlon are below (in order of timed finish):

Jacob Windauer 1:00:42 Men 25th
Nicholas Windauer 1:04:12 Men 49th
Derik DeFrance 1:05:08 Men 58th
Troy Clark, Jr. 1:08:05 Men 87th
Spencer Crouder 1:08:19 Men 91st
Hannah McCulley 1:14:11 Women 20th
Matthew Penksaw 1:19:06 Men 171st
Alysia Kilcrease 1:24:08 Women 85th
Isaac Suffern 1:24:14 Men 188th
Kirsten Foteio 1:27:12 Women 103rd
Nova Scott 1:34:05 Women 130th
Abigail Bigelow 1:36:29 Women 135th
Jessica Graves 1:43:27 Women 141st


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