RICHMOND, Va. -- Kaleb VanOrt of Mishawaka, Indiana, and Amy Farrell of Saranac Lake, New York, outlasted a record field of nearly 1,300 participants, including Travel Channel and NFL star Dhani Jones, to claim overall national titles Sunday, April 25, 2010, at USA Triathlon's Duathlon Age Group National Championship.
VanOrt, a former collegiate runner at Notre Dame, clocked 5-kilometer run splits of 15:19 and 15:25 to earn the victory in his duathlon debut with a time of 1:30:39. VanOrt, 26, finished nearly 30 seconds ahead of overall runner-up Dave Slavinski (Point Pleasant, N.J.) and won the men's 25 to 29 age group by more than four minutes.
"I came through (first) on the first run, and somebody went around me on the bike," said VanOrt. "I kind of marked him and kept him within 20 seconds. I didn't want him to get too far ahead so I could get him back on the second run."
Farrell, 33, won her second straight women's 30 to 34 age group title and broke through for her first overall duathlon crown. She covered the 5K-38K-5K, run-bike-run course in 1:44:36 and posted a pair of sub-19 minute 5K runs to outdistance her age group by nearly a minute.
"It was a great day. It got really muggy on the second run, but I don't think we could have asked for better weather after last year's 96 degrees," said Farrell. "Last year this was my first race back to multisport in six years, so [this year] I was kind of coming in much stronger than last year."
Standout collegiate triathlete Ashley Morgan (West Point, N.Y.) of the U.S. Military Academy was the second overall women's finisher in 1:45:31. Morgan was fourth at the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championship last weekend in Lubbock, Texas.
Five-time national champion Jeff Miller (Lewistown, Pa.) was the overall men's masters champion and claimed his second straight men's 40 to 44 title in 1:33:24, while Ann Davidson (Portland, Ore.) earned the overall masters women's title and the women's 45 to 49 crown in 1:45:35.
"I've been really hammering the bike trying to make up, and I knew that when I came down here, I was going to have to put a heck of a bike split in to win it because my running was a little bit behind," said Davidson, whose run training was limited by a heel spur. "This course was identical to last year, and I was about four minutes faster on the bike this year, so that was the real difference. This race distance is ideal for me."
The overall grand masters champions were Mike McCarty (New Bedford, Mass.), who posted a time of 1:53:58, and 2009 national and world age group champion Anne Mitchell (Bala Cynwyd, Pa.), who crossed the finish line in 1:59:59.
"The biggest thing is that when you have to come out in the early part of the season and do really well at nationals it sort of disciplines you through the winter, and it really shows who you are," said Mitchell. "If you can do well now, then you can really train hard in the summer and do well in the rest of your races."
Today's races featured a decorated field of past national champions and Team USA members. Repeat age group winners from last year's race in Richmond included David Kyle (TRI3, Athens, Ala.), Eneas Freyre (M30-34, Norwalk, Conn.), Farrell, Miller, Kristin Villopoto (F50-54, Chapel Hill, N.C.), Mitchell, Anne Viviani (F60-64, Arlington, Va.), Roger Brockenbrough (M75-79, Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Edwin Bixenstine (M80-84, Kent, Ohio).
Brockenbrough, who was an ITU Duathlon World Championship gold medalist in 2009, was thankful the rain held off for a second straight day. "They had the race well organized, well marked. I think everybody was really happy with it. The weather was of course very threatening, but as it turned out we missed the thunderstorms and actually missed all the rain, too. We just had slightly damp roads, so I think we were really lucky."
In addition to competing for national championship honors, the top 18 finishers in each age group qualified for Team USA for the 2010 ITU Duathlon World Championships this September in Edinburgh, Scotland.
While Jones, whose hit Travel Channel show "Dhani Tackles the Globe" debuted its second season last week, did not finish on the podium, he fought through the pain, had an enjoyable race and gained respect for multisport athletes of all levels.
"It was just consistently more and more pain as I went, and it doesn't really help when everyone is just flying past you, and you're just trying to keep up," said Jones, who is a linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals. "There are some really good athletes out there--really, really tremendous duathletes that have been doing this a long time, so I have a lot respect for everything that they do."
Jones, who compared Sunday's race with some of the cycling and trekking trips he's done for his show, was appreciative of the great crowd support in Richmond.
"I'm glad USA Triathlon was able to have me here. Blue Competition Cycles hooked me up...If you can't be pro, you look pro. I look pretty professional," Jones joked. "A lot of people were giving me compliments, and a lot of people were giving me support along the way, and that's really what was encouraging."
Many other athletes shared Jones' enthusiasm for the weekend, including blind duathletes Lamar Brown and Dale Layne, who were representing New York's Achilles Track Club and covered the course in just over 2:15 along with their guides. "After maybe mile 16 it was really downhill for me," said Layne. "But we had determination to complete it under three hours, and we did it."
"It was unbelievable, it was pretty inspirational out there," said first-time guide Andy Huh. "I can't imagine doing the whole course without being able to see. It was unbelievable that these guys are able to come out here and do it."
In addition to Sunday's Age Group Championship, Junior Nationals and a Sport Race were also held. More than 1,500 athletes competed Sunday to bring the two-day National Duathlon Festival total to nearly 1,800 combined competitors for the races in scenic downtown Richmond.
2010 USAT Duathlon Age Group National Champions
Overall Men: Kaleb VanOrt (Mishawka, Ind.)
Overall Women: Amy Farrell (Saranac Lake, N.Y.)
Overall Masters Men: Jeff Miller (Lewistown, Pa.)
Overall Masters Women: Ann Davidson (Portland, Ore.)
Overall Grand Masters Men: Mike McCarty (New Bedford, Mass.)
Overall Grand Masters Women: Anne Mitchell (Bala Cynwyd, Pa.)
TRI1: Joe Dowling (Old Greenwich, Conn.)
TRI2: Ben Simmons (New York, N.Y.)
TRI3: David Kyle (Athens, Ala.)
TRI5: John Ahrens (Vineland, N.J.)
TRI6: Lamar Brown (Bronx, N.Y.)
M18-19: Brian Trainor (West Point, N.Y.)
F18-19: Ashley Heinlein (Stillwater, Minn.)
M20-24: Samuel Dannenbring (Yankton, S.D.)
F20-24: Ashley Morgan (West Point, N.Y.)
M 25-29: Kaleb VanOrt (Mishawka, Ind.)
F25-29: Kelly Fillnow (Huntersville, N.C.)
M 30-34: Eneas Freyre (Norwalk, Conn.)
F30-34: Amy Farrell (Saranac Lake, N.Y.)
M35-39: Dave Slavinski (Point Pleasant, N.J.)
F35-39: Lynn Frampton (Franklin Lakes, N.J.)
M40-44: Jeff Miller (Lewistown, Pa.)
F40-44: Alicia Parr (Durham, N.C.)
M45-49: Shane Tread (Evansville, Ind.)
F45-49: Ann Davidson (Portland, Ore.)
M50-54: Marty Stiegmann (Glen Allen, Va.)
F50-54: Kristin Villopoto (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
M55-59: David Burkhart (Brighton, Mich.)
F55-59: Anne Mitchell (Bala Cynwyd, Pa.)
M60-64: David Lowe (Greenville, S.C.)
F60-64: Anne Viviani (Arlington, Va.)
M65-69: Mike McCarty (New Bedford, Mass.)
F65-69: Barb Morgan (Tioga, Pa.)
M70-74: Warren Taylor (Telford, Pa.)
F70-74: Marge Rajczewski (Ballston Lake, N.Y.)
M75-79: Roger Brockenbrough (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
F75-79: Pat Fossum (Montgomery, Ala.)
M80-84: Edwin Bixenstine (Kent, Ohio)
Team: Central Virginia Endurance (Abel Shaw, Robert Flanigan)
USAT Duathlon Junior National Championship
M13-15: Cam Buss (Blacksburg, Va.)
F13-15: Drew Sanclemente (Middletown, Del.)
M16-19: Ryan Peterson (Richmond, Va.)
F16-19: Kate Buss (Blacksburg, Va.)
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon--one of the fastest growing sports in the world--as well as duathlon, aquathlon and winter triathlon in the United States. USAT sanctions 3,100 races and connects with nearly 130,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USAT provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including World Championships, Pan American Games and the Summer Olympic Games.