Triathletes enjoying first season in new sport at CMU

Hannah Brockie ran some triathlons in middle school, but nothing like a collegiate sprint triathlon.

Then again, none of the Colorado Mesa athletes on the school’s first triathlon team have ever run in an actual college triathlon.

That comes Saturday at the NCAA West Regional in Berkeley, California. The Mavericks’ first competition was an open triathlon in Morrison. NCAA-sanctioned events are a little different, with the main change the ability to draft in the bike portion of the event.

Brockie said those middle school triathlons were a 200-meter swim, a 5-mile bike race and a one-mile run, “nothing like what I’m doing now,” the senior from Colorado Springs said. “I did one this past summer to get myself prepared for the collegiate season.”

A former college swimmer, Brockie is usually in good position coming out of the water, which is the first leg of a triathlon. Then it gets a little tricky.

“Biking I definitely need to work on,” she said. “I’m not super-comfortable drafting off people. I’m not in super control of my bike and I’m just nervous being super close to somebody.

“The running’s nice; you don’t have to worry about anybody else, you just get to the finish line. I like getting to the run. You don’t have to think about anything else and you don’t have to worry about transitions anymore or drafting off people in the bike, or getting a good lead in the swim to get into a good bike group.”

The Mavericks learned how to pace themselves in the Littlefoot Triathlon a couple of weeks ago and how to transition from one sport to another, which they practice daily. The first transition is the trickiest because they’re dripping wet and trying to get their cycling shoes on as they run toward their bikes.

“You’re wet and things stick and the start of the race you’re still panicking and have a lot of anxiety,” Brockie said. “Once you get onto the bike it’s just the bike to the run, throwing your shoes off and putting on your running shoes.

“The swim to the bike is definitely hard because the whole time I’m thinking, ‘OK, just put my helmet on, get my bike shoes and then you’re good.’ Every time I’m going through my head what I have to do in transition because I’m not comfortable with them yet.”

In the regional, there’s an added element — they’ll be wearing wetsuits over their triathlon suits, so those will have to be peeled off while they’re running toward the bikes.

CMU coach Geoff Hanson was more than pleased with the Mavericks’ first triathlon experience, and by fielding 5-person teams for the men and women in the regional, they’ll qualify for nationals in Tempe, Arizona, in November.

“Each one of our athletes has a strength, they’ve been a collegiate swimmer or runner or they’re on the cycling team here at CMU,” Hanson said. “I tell them to play to their strengths and let’s continue to work on your weaknesses. We practice transitions. We don’t do a full triathlon in training, but we do bike to run, each thing on their own and it’s a matter of putting it together on race day. By the time we get to nationals it’ll be our fourth race of the season and hopefully we’re fine-tuned at that time.”

Brockie said the cyclists have helped her learn the quickest way to get on her bike, and they help inexperienced cyclists get comfortable with close-in racing and drafting. Every day is a new experience, one that Brockie said makes for “an interesting team dynamic.

“I don’t think any of us have a super-big background in triathlon but everyone is experienced in one sport. We have cyclists, cross-country runners, swimmers. Our teammates have helped each other through the whole process.”


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