In a showcase of short-course open-throttle speed, Americans Katie Hursey and Ben Kanute put on a display of raw speed in a unique double triathlon sprint (swim/bike/run, followed by a second swim/bike/run) with each taking top honors at the Fearless Pro fall event at South Shores Park Saturday in San Diego, Calif.
Following a similar double-super-sprint non-drafting age-group race that took place earlier in the morning, the draft-legal pro race—the year’s finale of USA Triathlon’s debut Super Sprint Series and the second San Diego event of the year after a spring event—drew a field of top American ITU talent, including swim specialist Sara Groff and up-and-coming talent Hursey in the women’s field, as well as USAT Sprint National Champion Eric Lagerstrom and former ITU duathlon World Champion and reigning Ironman Texas champion Paul Amey, fresh off his finish at the Hawaii Ironman.
It also incorporated a sweat-inducing element: lap elimination. Get lapped by the leader at any point, and you’re pulled from the field. And it mattered; the twist carved a seven-women field down to just three finishers.
In the men’s race, it quickly became a three-man affair out of the water after the first swim; the all-American trio of reigning USAT Sprint National Champion Eric Lagerstrom, reigning collegiate champion Ben Kanute and Tommy Zaferes shot out of the water and worked seamlessly together throughout the first bike to push back any effort at an amassed main pack, leaving a string of solo-riding hopefuls in Derek Oskutis and Joe Maloy flailing in an effort to join the train, with packs even further behind unable to make progress on the leading trio.
It would remain that way throughout the first run, the second swim and second bike, the three knotted in an amicable union—until the final run. “My plan’s always the same; go off on the swim and bike, then hold out for the run,” Kanute said. “It just so happened that Eric and Tommy were there and a gap formed on the first lap, and we tried to hold it as long as possible.”
It was Zafares who dashed out onto the final run first, but was quickly collected by Lagerstrom and Kanute. Kanute then turned on the gas, with Lagerstrom slowly dropping from the group. With just 150 yards to the finish, Kanute surged again, unhinging Zaferes on the final turn to the finish to take the win in 45:39. Zaferes coasted across just a second later, with Lagerstrom filling out the podium a few seconds adrift.
The women’s race was the one that saw the elimination feature play a big role. As expected, super swimmer Sara McLarty led out of Mission Bay. But she was instantly tailed by Hursey. Hursey kept McLarty in sight, while the two quickly began shedding swim exit hopefuls including Lauren Brandon, Nicole Truxes and Jen Spieldenner. In fact, while all other women were lapped and summarily pulled from the field, only Spieldenner was able to keep the McLarty/Hursey duo at bay.
Hursey ran past McLarty and re-entered the water for the second swim-bike run with a seven-second buffer. But McLarty re-assumed a lead of just a few seconds out of Mission Bay. McLarty again made an effort to gap off Hursey, but with little luck. Onto the final run with just that five-second buffer, Hursey assumed the lead again.
McLarty held gamely to Hursey’s shoulder through the bike, but on the final lap, Hursey surged and broke the string, ensuring the victory in 49:39. McLarty took second a few second back, and the resilient Spieldenner claimed the final podium spot.
The firt time around I just tried to stay as close as I could,” Hursey said. “The second time around on that last run, I just didn’t want to kill myself early—but I wanted to make sure I had a little space before the final straightaway.”
Said: McLarty: “Going into this race, I knew who Katie was. She’s had a fantastic year, and I’ll look forward to seeing her become one of our biggest assets on the ITU circuit.”
A one-hour broadcast of the Fearless Pro Super Sprint Triathlon will air on Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. ET on the Universal Sports Network. Re-air times for the broadcast include (all times Eastern): Nov. 11 at 11 p.m., Nov. 12 at 5 a.m. and noon, Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. and Nov. 15 at 1:30 a.m.
USA Triathlon Super Sprint Series
Fearless Pro Super Sprint Triathlon
Oct. 26, 2013, San Diego, Calif.
300m swim, 8k bike, 2.5k run, x2
1. Katie Hursey (Hampstead, Md.) 49:39.4
2. Sara McLarty (Clermont, Fla.) 49:47.9
3. Jennifer Spieldenner (Findlay, Ohio) 50:56.3
1. Ben Kanute (Tucson, Ariz.) 45:39.3
2. Tommy Zaferes (Soquel, Calif.) 45:39.9
3. Eric Lagerstrom (Gresham, Ore.) 45:46.4
4. Joe Maloy (Wildwood Crest, N.J.) 46:31.1
5. Derek Oskutis (San Diego, Calif.) 46:42.7
6. Jason Pedersen (Simi Valley, Calif.) 46:52.0
7. John Dahlz (South San Francisco, Calif.) 47:07.3