It’s a special weekend for ITU racing at the second round of the ITU World Triathlon Series this year. Not only is it a brand new course on the circuit and one of the final Olympic Qualification events before London, but this event marks the first time an ITU race held in San Diego, the birthplace of modern triathlon. San Diego becomes the second U.S. city to host a round of the series after Washington, D.C. in 2009.
In terms of the racing, Olympic qualification will weigh heavy on plenty, but expect the podium fight to be fierce. In the women’s race, Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins started 2012 where she left off in 2011, and it’s becoming hard to bet against her making the podium in the World Triathlon Series. Her main competition is set to be Australians Erin Densham, Emma Snowsill, Emma Jackson, and Emma Moffatt, U.S athletes Sarah Groff, Gwen Jorgensen and Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf. In the men’s race Jonathan Brownlee makes his season debut, but there are plenty of contenders like Joao Silva, Sven Reiderer, Ivan Vasiliev, Brad Kahlefeldt, Brendan Sexton, Mario Mola, Richard Murray, Simon Whitfield, Matt Chrabot and the New Zealand Olympic men’s team of Bevan Docherty, Kris Gemmell and Ryan Sissons.
About the race:
Settled by Spaniards in 1769, San Diego was the first of the California Missions, founded by Father Junipero Serra in order to Christianize Native Americans. What is now known as California, including San Diego, became part of Mexico when it achieved independence from Spain in 1821. After the United States victory in the Battle of San Pasqual, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo surrendered California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to the United States. San Diego became a city on March 27, 1850 with elected and appointed officials. It now has a population of over 3 million, and is one of the most vibrant cities in America. The Mission Bay area, where the triathlon venue is, the Mission Bay Park includes playgrounds, picnic areas, 27 miles of paths and Fiesta Island for waterspots, as well as theme parks.
Elite Women – Friday 11 May – 14:00 (UTC/GMT -7) Click here for time in your area
Elite Men – Saturday 12 May – 14:30 (UTC/GMT -7)
$170,000 USD (equal for men & women)
Swim (1.5km) – The swim will take place in Bonita Cove, athletes will complete two laps of a 750m course from a beach start.
Bike (40km) – Athletes will complete eight laps of a 5km bike course that goes from T2 along Mission Boulevard, out and Over West Mission Bay Drive, including a short leg down Gleason Drive near Santa Barbara Cove, and back again.
Run (10km) – A three-lap beachside run that sees athletes right on the water at Mariners Basin before looping back on the other side of the main street in Mission Bay, Mission Boulevard.
STORIES TO WATCH FOR:
Return to San Diego – On 25 September 1974 the very first triathletes dove into San Diego’s Mission Bay to complete a 5.3-mile run, followed by a 5-mile bike and a 600-yard swim. Members of the San Diego Track and Field club organised it as an alternative to track work and 46 of them finished the race. This year alongside thousands of age-groupers, 130 of the world’s best professional triathletes will compete in almost the same spot as the original ones 39 years ago. San Diego is one of the final races to earn qualifying points for this year’s London Olympics, showing just how far the sport has come in such a short time. The race venue is at Mission Beach, with Mission Bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. San Diego becomes the second U.S. city to host a round of the series after Washington, D.C. in 2009.
Olympic qualifying – As the penultimate WTS event before the Olympic qualifying period closes, it’s a crucial race in terms of just which National Olympic Committees will secure places, and how many, in London. Click here for the Olympic Qualifying 101. In the women’s field, the battle for eighth place – out of eight NOCs who can qualify the maximum three athletes – is between Switzerland and Germany. Daniela Ryf has a chance to put Switzerland ahead given Kathrin Muller is not on the start list. In the men’s race, it’s currently a three-way battle between Portugal (7th), Australia (8th) and Canada (9th). While Canada’s Simon Whitfield is his NOCs third athlete, all the Canadians need to do well, as they are grouped closely together on the rankings points. While it’s Joao Pereira for Portugal and Courtney Atkinson from Australia who are the third men from their respective countries, and therefore hold the key to claiming three spots.
Aside from that battle, it’s also an automatic qualifying race for the U.S. The top placed men’s finisher – regardless of place – will qualify for London. There is a chance for two men to qualify, if two finish within the top nine, then both will automatically be selected for London, if more than two finish in the top 9 it will be the first two. For the women’s, the first finisher within the top 9, will qualify for London. That’s excluding Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah Groff, who have both already qualified.
Potential new medallists – Sydney saw two new series winners, in Steffen Justus (GER) and Erin Densham (AUS), and the first medallist from Africa in South Africa’s Richard Murray. With some of the top contenders taking precautions ahead of London, San Diego could be another perfect chance for first time series podium finishers. In the men’s, Jonathan Brownlee, Brad Kahlefeldt, Joao Silva, Jarrod Shoemaker and Bevan Docherty have won series titles before, but perhaps it might be Sven Riederer’s time to top the podium. Reiderer has claimed four series medals so far, but not one gold. Or it might be William Clarke, Mario Mola, Kris Gemmell or Ivan Vasiliev.
In the women’s, it will be tough to dislodge Helen Jenkins from the podium – she hasn’t finished lower than sixth in a series race since Madrid last year and claimed silver in Sydney last month. There are other series winners in Daniela Ryf, Emma Moffatt, Emma Snowsill and Densham who have the credentials on paper to contend as well. But those chasing that first win to upset the status quo are Emma Jackson, Sarah Groff, Gwen Jorgensen, Laura Bennett, Liz Blatchford and Kathy Tremblay, who have all had good form in the past six months.