USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

Craig Zelent volunteering with Holly Stroschine (left) and Anne Rogers (right)

7th place men’s 55-59 age group

On August 12th I raced the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in Omaha, NE.  My pie in the sky goal was to place top 10 in my age group and get on the podium.  The podium goes 10 deep at Nationals.  I was thrilled with my result as I placed 7th out of 102 men in the 55-59 age group.  This ties my best performance at the Olympic distance Nationals as I was also 7th back in 2002.

My trip to Omaha started by volunteering at the packet pick up on Friday morning.  I was joined by my TCSD friends Holly Stroschine and Anne Rogers.  It is always good to give back to the sport by volunteering. 

The 1.5K (0.93 mile) swim was held in Carter Lake.  The water temperature was 80 degrees so no wetsuits would be allowed.  For safety reasons, they won’t let you wear a wetsuit if the water temperature is over 78.  I’m not the greatest swimmer in the world and the wetsuit would help me, but I took the non wetsuit swim as good news.  I figured I could put some time on the weaker swimmers that wetsuits would have really helped.  The air temperature peaked out during my race in the upper 70’s so it was very comfortable racing conditions.  I swam 27:57, putting me in 20th place.  I was 52 seconds slower than in 2016, but I felt I had a really good swim.

The 40K (24.8 mile) bike course was an out and back.  There was 1 hard climb on the way out that required 1st gear for ¼ mile.  The uphill grade on that section on the way back was a bit longer, but not nearly as steep.  I had a very solid bike performance as my split was 1:10:12 (21.2 mph).  This was 13 seconds better than 2016.  It was the 48th best bike split and it dropped me to 28th place.  I felt great and was very much in control of my race.

They changed the run course for 2017.  The 2016 version was 1 out and back for the entire 10K (6.2 miles).  The 2017 version was 2 out and backs.  2017 was much better as we had more opportunity to gauge our competitors and it seemed like there were twice as many spectators.  By the 2K mark I remember seeing 1 of the guys in my age group walking back.  He was 1 of the top athletes in our age group and he had a 10+ minute lead on me to start the run, but he was now injured and out of the race.  It reminded me how tricky it can be to get thru all the training and the actual race in 1 piece.  Triathlon can be very humbling.  I kept pushing on as aggressively as possible.  I had the best run of my triathlon career, relative to my age group.  My run split was 37:18 (6:01/mile) and fastest in the age group by 2:33.  My finish time was 2:20:05.  And I did qualify for the 2018 Olympic distance World Championships in Gold Coast, Australia.  I can’t wait to represent Team USA once again. 

I am thankful for each race – the good ones and the bad ones.  I wish I was a better swimmer and cyclist, but I gratefully accept the skills that I do have.  God has really blessed me.

To see my pictures from this race, click on this link:

Living the life…

Craig Zelent  

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2 Responses to USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

  1. Chuck Carey says:

    Really impressive Z. As always, I’m very proud of your myriad accomplishments and how hard you work to make that happen. Happy Labor Day to you and Laurie –



    • tricraigz says:

      Thanks Chaz! On 9/7 I fly to Nashville to see Dale and Mimi. I’ll stay with them for 1 day before I head on to Chattanooga to race the Ironman 70.3 World Championships on 9/10. I’ll work 1 day in SD on 9/11 and then Laurie and I will fly to The Netherlands. I’ll be racing the Olympic Distance Tri Worlds on 9/17. Meanwhile Laurie will take her own day trip on 9/16 to run the Oslo Marathon. We’ll travel back to the USA on 9/20. All good stuff. We both plan to travel to Chicago 10/20-10/23 so we’d like to have dinner with you during that visit. Please mark that on your calendar and save a date for us.

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