Sarah Haskins defends Toyota Cup Title at Capital of Texas Triathlon
Hunter Kemper was all smiles as he crossed the finish line first Monday morning at the 22nd annual Capital of Texas Triathlon, the second of seven events in the 2012 Race to the Toyota Cup Life Time Fitness Triathlon Series, ahead of rival Andy Potts. His high spirits were quite a contrast from last year, when he was accidentally directed off course on the swim and ended up finishing second behind Potts.
This time round, there were no mishaps, and Kemper executed a perfect race, completing the 1,500-meter swim in just over 17 minutes to scramble out of the water at Auditorium Shores minutes in the lead pack, along with Potts and Dustin McLarty, and heading for the bike transition.
But it was Cameron Dye, a Boulder, Colo.-based triathlete who dominated the 40 kilometer bike course, forging a solid lead as he knocked out the four downtown loops. Averaging 27 miles an hour, Dye was first off the bike and headed into the 10K run with more than a minute cushion.
Seattle’s Ben Collins hit the run course next, along with Potts and Kemper, who both train in Colorado Springs.
That’s when Kemper, known as one of the best runners in the sport, took control. With his trademark light stride, Kemper asserted himself early on, setting his sights on Dye and reeling him after the first of two 5K loops.
“At that point it was just Andy and me,” said Kemper, who qualified for the 2012 Olympics two weeks ago at the ITU World Triathlon San Diego. “Andy had a great run, and he ran the last half of the 10K really well. He’s a real strength runner, so I just tried to stay in control and not overextend myself.”
No problem there, as Kemper cruised home with a comfortable winning margin, besting Potts by 16 seconds in 1 hour, 45 minutes and 50 seconds to 1:46:06. Collins pulled up in third, timed in 1:46:48, while Dye settled for fourth in 1:47:40.
“My big race – making the Olympic team – was two weeks ago, so this is just icing on the cake,” said Kemper.
“I started to bring him back a little bit in the run,” said Potts of Kemper. “But he was primed and ready to rock. His run was on. If I want to compete with Hunter in the future, I know what I need to work on.”
In the women’s race, defending champ Sarah Haskins kept her Toyota Cup streak intact, leading from start to finish.
Haskins, who splits her training base between Clermont, Fla., and Colorado Springs, emerged from Lady Bird Lake in 18 minutes and 40 seconds, a step ahead of Annabel Luxford, of Brisbane Australia.
“My goal is to defend my Toyota Cup title,” said Haskins, who won the Nautica South Beach Triathlon in Miami-the first race of the Toyota Cup series. “And so far I have two for two. It was pretty warm today, but I think training in Clermont helped me handle the humidity.”
Coming off the bike with less than a 10 second lead on Luxford, Haskins didn’t let herself relax on the run.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” she said. “The swim was tough because the water was a little warmer. And I was hurting on the bike. On the run, I was just hanging on. I didn’t know what my competitors were feeling. I didn’t know whether Annabel was gaining or not.”
Any worries were unfounded as Haskins finished way out front in 1:57:58, ahead of Luxford’s second place effort of 2:00:04. Jillian Petersen, another Colorado Springs-based triathlete, took third in 2:01:28.
“It was a real struggle in the heat today,” said Luxford. “I’m not in Sarah’s class on the run. I was happy to hold on to second.”
“My goal now is to focus on the rest of the Toyota Cup races,” said Haskins, who will serve as an alternate on the 2012 Olympic triathlon team. The next event will be the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon on June 24.
Haskins and Kemper both took home $10,000 of the overall $40,000 prize money, with second place finishers Potts and Luxford pocketing $5,000 each.
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