April 21, 2001 – Puerto Peñasco, Mexico
By Ryan Ignatz
ISSUE #11, June/July 2001 – With yet another spring comes the beginning of the racing season for the CU Buffaloes, again with hopes and dreams of another victorious season. To start off this year’s festivities, the Buff’s trotted across the border into Mexico for the sixth annual Rocky Point Triathlon, which is also the second largest collegiate event to date. After coming off a 6th straight National Championship from last year, the team made the journey with high expectations going into the Southwest Regional Collegiate Championships on April 21st.
On Saturday, the 25 CU racers rose to look out their balconies at the low tide of the salty Sea of Cortez they would soon be swimming in. CU buff Amanda Harris explained that, “looking at the tide an hour before the race, I was not convinced it would ever come up.” The day was perfect for racing in Puerto Penasco with the temperature in the 70s to start and finishing around 85 degrees with a slight breeze moving the air. As the Buff’s and other competitors gathered in the transition area, the tide was slowly creeping up the beach covering the sharp coral floor.
Amidst the Colorado crew were plenty of age-groupers as well as five other collegiate teams that were fighting for their place on the podium. Amongst the tough collegiate field was Cal Poly; last year’s runner up at the National Collegiate Championships. The other teams vying for spots were University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, University of New Mexico, UC-Santa Barbara, and UC-San Diego.
With the tide up, transitions ready and team cheers under-way, the racing was about to begin. The guy’s wave got off to a good start in the pretty calm waters with the group fairly spread out. The women’s wave was rather clean as well when they started about 15 minutes after the men.
Down the beach at the swim exit, one of CU’s alumni, Greg Woods exited near the front pack in a 19:25 for the 1.5-kilometer swim. Following shortly behind were CU’s juniors Tim Smith (20:20) and Keith Jackson (20:41), and senior Ryan Ignatz (21:27). For the women, Susan Einberger posted the second fastest swim time of 21:24, coming out of the water in second place behind UNM’s Terry Moore (20:00). CU’s Pam Tracy and Farleigh Fitzgerald followed Einberger closely.
From the beach, the athletes had a long jog through the Plaza Las Glorias resort to the transition area where wetsuits were shed and helmets buckled in prep for the 40-kilometer bike course. The bike course leading out of town claimed many water bottles and tires with the rough pavement, but once onto the main highway things smoothed out and racers was able to take it up to speed on the flat and fast course.
Quickly the race changed hands for the men as Ignatz exchanged greetings with teammates Smith around mile 5 and Jackson around mile 15 coming in close behind the leader from UCSB. Within the CU women, Einberger held her ground for the rest of the bike, and Fitzgerald made up some time on the rest of the field. The final 8-mile stretch of the bike added an extra challenge for the run: a ferocious head wind that wouldn’t quit. Jamie Carpenter (CU junior) put it best when he exclaimed that “the wind just plain sucked,” and “it made for a challenging day.”
Coming in first off the swim and the bike, UNM’s Terry Moore had no problems with the wind, cruising to victory for the women after her 42:39 10k run on the mixed terrain course around the town. Her time (2:17:46) was also good enough for 1st overall in the women’s collegiate category. Finishing strong for the Lady Buffs were Einberger (4th), and Fitzgerald (7th). Einberger was happy about her run considering it “was her first brick of the season,” but claims that “doing track work this year really helped.”
For the men, things heated up a bit when newcomer Kris Cuellar jumped off his bike and blistered the run course with the fastest run of the day (33:51), catching Jackson and holding on for the third Buffalo slot. Smith also made a jump on the run taking the second slot with 6th place in the collegiate wave. To finish out CU’s men, Ignatz grabbed a gear and cruised past the leaders to a first place win along with a new course record of 2:02:55. Younge, CU’s head coach, was particularly pleased with Ignatz’s strong performance since he was battling an injury for much of the spring.
As a whole, the Buffs represented themselves strongly with a 2nd place team finish for the women (5 minutes behind UCSB) with Cal Poly and U of A rounding out third and fourth. The men posted a first place victory by 3 minutes over UNM, with U of A and UCSB finishing the day 3rd and 4th. All of the teams (especially the Buffs) took advantage of the ‘spring break’ like atmosphere and enjoyed a night on the town to celebrate.
The fantastic showing at the season opener in Mexico should be a confidence boost for the Buffs as they go on to defend their 6th straight National Collegiate Championship in California at Wildflower on Sunday May 6th.