Super League Triathlon Jersey Recap

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Chris McCormack’s love-child, Super League Triathlon, had it’s second ever event this past weekend in Jersey, UK. The super-sprint, multi-race, two-day event has gained some significant attention around the world after it’s first event in March. Their quality broadcasting and commentary (especially this time with Alistair Brownlee), great organization, elite field list, and prize money has made quite a ripple in the ITU run triathlon world. TV exposure was great around the world and the prize purse was $130,000 for both the men and women. Considering March’s race was only men and handed the winner Richard Murray only $100,000 you can see that it is gaining traction very quick.

The first day of racing is called the “Triple Mix” and is split over 3 races with a 10 minute break between each. The 10 minute break starts when you cross the finish line from the previous race. Stage 1 was a swim(300M)-bike(5K)-run(2K), Stage 2 was a run-bike-swim, and Stage 3 was a bike-swim-run. Here is how the first day went:

Men

Stage 1

Jake Birtwhistle led first out of the water of the 300m swim with Jonny Brownlee right on his heels. Brownlee took the lead in the transition and started the 5K bike leg at the front. The group of Birtwhistle, Matt Hauser, and Aaron Royle ultimately passed Brownlee and finished the bike as the leaders in that order. On the run however, the incredible runners of the field showed that it would take someone with incredible foot speed to perform this weekend. Brownlee, Kristian Blummenfelt, and Richard Murray quickly took control and finished Stage 1 with Blummenfelt 1st and Murray and Brownlee next.

Stage 2

After their quick 10 minute break the first 3 from the previous stage (Blummenfelt, Murray, and Brownlee) started with an 11 second lead over the next wave of athletes. In such a short sprint type of race format, that lead is massive and proved to be impossible to close on. The three leaders quickly turned those 11 seconds into much more as they all worked together the entire race until Brownlee pulled into the lead at the end of the swim with Murray and Blummenfelt close behind. Mario Mola showed why he is the World Champion with an impressive 2nd Stage performance and ultimately climbing to 6th.

Stage 3

After another 10 minute break it was on to the bike, swim, run stage of the Triple Mix. The three leaders once again worked together on the bike to push the lead a bit further. On the swim portion, Brownlee took the lead with Murray and Blummenfelt filing in behind him to use his wake to their advantage. Once the run began it was easy to see that Murray and Blummenfelt had a little more in the tank than Brownlee as they took the lead. It came down to a race finish between the two elite men with the Norwegian Blummenfelt ultimately besting the South African Murray.

The standings at the end of the first day was:

  • Kristian Blummenfelt with 25 points
  • Richard Murray with 21 points
  • Jonny Brownlee with 18 points

Women

Stage 1

Carolina Routier, Sophie Coldwell, and Emma Jeffcoat came out of the swim together with a huge chase pack emerging quickly behind. The chase pack quickly swallowed the three leaders on the bike with Coldwell and Jodie Simpson laying down hard bike legs to put pressure on the rest of the pack. Stimpson and Coldwell came off the bike in the lead but there was a lot of women in the lead pack and Nicola Spirig quickly took the lead going into the run. Katie Zaferes was right on her heels. Claire Michel of Belgium ultimately bested Spirig and Zaferes on the run leg with fellow American Summer Cook putting in a hard-fought effort to take fourth.

Stage 2

Only a couple seconds behind the leaders going into stage 2, Zaferes threw down the gauntlet in the run to force Spirig, Cook, and Michel to keep up. The resulting benefit was a massive 20 second lead between the front four and the chase pack. Spirig had a great bike leg, pulling ahead of Zaferes but Zaferes kept up very well and with a great transition  was able to hit the water ahead of Spirig. Since Zaferes is one of the best swimmers in the world she was easily able to hold off anyone else and cross the finish line first.

Stage 3

Zaferes and Spirig worked together just like the men during the stage 3 bike leg which helped them conserve energy and put a good lead on everyone. They remained in the front pack by themselves during the swim and it wasn’t until the run where Zaferes made her move. The former collegiate track star made her move and put a large lead between herself and Spirig to cross the finish line first in stage 3 also making her the very first women’s Triple Mix winner. Spirig held on crossing second and Summer Cook had an outstanding run to pull into 3rd.

The women’s standings after the end of the first day was:

  • Katie Zaferes with 25 points
  • Nicola Spirig with 21 points
  • Summer Cook with 18 points

The second day of racing is called the “Eliminator” and is split over 3 races with a 10 minute break between each. However, unlike the first day, the 10 minute break starts after the leader crosses the finish line from the previous race. Only the top 15 finishers move on to stage 2 and the top 10 move on to stage 3. Each race is a traditional triathlon format with a 300m swim, 5k bike, and 2k run. Here is how the second day went:

Women:

Stage 1

After yesterday’s sunny weather it only made sense for the UK to bring some rain. Wet conditions plagues the entire day with wipeouts and dire conditions but some were able to prevail regardless. Once again Sophie Coldwell led out of the water but many were on her heels. However, a jam at the bike racks led to Coldwell easily taking the lead going into the bike. Stimpson was able to catch fellow countrywoman Coldwell and the two worked together to establish a dominant lead on their home turf. Meanwhile in the chase pack, the slick conditions were not met as easily by the foreign racers. Crashes and wipeouts were prevalent on the extremely slick course. Coldwell and Stimpson easily surged ahead on the run as it looked like Zaferes and Spirig were content with just making the cut and letting the two Brits take this round.

Stage 2

Since all athletes start together for each stage of the race unlike yesterday, it was a clustered swim as most of the top names were still in the group of 15. Coldwell and Stimpson must have used their full 10 minute rest to their advantage as they emerged first in the swim with a chase pack a fair bit behind. Zaferes and Spirig were in the chase pack and used the transition well in order to catch the lead group in the bike leg. During the run Coldwell dropped but Stimpson held the lead to cross the finish line first with Spirig and Zaferes finishing next.

Stage 3

Unlike the bunched up and conservative efforts of the previous 2 stages, it was obvious from the start that every athlete meant business on this final stage of the day. The lead group was single file behind the leader Coldwell with Kasper and Cook coming out of the water right behind her. While they tried to push the pace hard, the relentless biker Spirig was able to bridge the gap and pull Zaferes and Stimpson with her into the lead pack. It was obvious who the best runners in the field were as Spirig was no match for the incredible speed of Zaferes. Cook was also able to run up the rankings and overtake Spirig as the ladies finished stage 3 in that order. With a consistent and incredible final performances by Zaferes, she took home the very first Women’s Super League Champion title, trophy, and $18,000 check.

Men

Stage 1

Held only an hour after the final stage of the women’s race, the weather decided it wanted them to have it a little rougher. The rain intensified and proved to be troublesome even to some of the best triathletes in the world. Jake Birtwhistle and Jonny Brownlee took the lead in the swim and the front back for the bike. The front group worked together while others made risky moves to try and get to the front. Those moves usually didn’t work out well in the wet conditions and many crashes led to a fair number of competitors not making it to the end of Stage 1. The previous day’s winner Blummenfelt made up some distance during the run and ended up racing ahead of Brownlee and Aaron Royle for a stage 1 victory.

Stage 2

Matt Hauser emerged from the pontoon dive with blazing swim speed and pushed the pace during the swim so that only a few were able to hold on. Jonny Brownlee was on his feet and comfortably made it into the front back of the bike leg. America’s Ben Kanute used his impressive bike power to take the front and push the pace to a point where he could hold on in the run and secure his spot in the final stage. While impressive, the bike leg didn’t seem to matter a lot as the great runners quickly asserted dominance as they moved into the lead. 11th place after the bike leg, Blummenfelt once again flew past the competition to take the stage 2 victory with Royal and Brownlee taking the next spots.

Stage 3

Similarly to how the women raced in stage 3, it was obvious that the athletes weren’t going to hold anything back on this final stage. Hauser used his impressive swim speed once again and led out of the water with Kanute on his heels. Kanute powered his way to the front on the bike with Hauser behind and Brownlee sitting in third. Richard Murray who was consistently in the top of every race was able to file into the back of the front bike group. Kanute couldn’t hold on and dropped back with Blummenfelt surging ahead of Brownlee to take the lead after the bike leg. While a great transition helped Murray pull into second, nothing was going to stop Blummenfelt once he started the run. He pushed a blistering pace which proved to be too much for Brownlee and Murray who ultimately settled in to finish second and third. With an impressive day for Jonny Brownlee he pulled ahead of Murray in the rankings and finished 2nd overall with Blummenfelt first and Murray third.

Reactions from the athletes:

 

 

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