By Roxane Kippen, Team OAM NOW Triathlete
The ISI Michigan Titanium Triathlon (MiTi) is in its third year and continues to bring high quality competitors to the city of Grand Rapids from all over the US and even Canada. Team OAM NOW faired extremely well in the field with 2 overall wins and two 2nd place overall finishes. The race offers a half iron distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run) and hosts the only full iron distance (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run) in the state of Michigan.
Race weekend kicked off on Saturday morning with a kids’ race that is part of the USA Triathlon Splash & Dash Aquathlon Series which introduces youth to the world of multi-sport with swim-run events. Team OAM NOW triathletes Amy Kimber, Cheryl Sherwood, Cricket Howard, Raquel Torres and Roxane Kippen all volunteered to help out with the race by assisting with race registration, setting up the finish line area, guiding kids around the run course and handing out finisher medals to all of the participants.
Sunday was the big event and, per the usual, athletes and volunteers headed to their positions in the dark. As the sun began to rise, Cheryl, Roxane and Bob Schultz paddled out onto Versluis Lake, where the swim would take place. While not racing the event, they did choose to give back by volunteering and supporting fellow teammates and other competitors by keeping them safe and keeping them on course in the water.
Alex Vanias completed his first full iron distance triathlon and finished 2nd, behind a professional triathlete who was the event’s defending champion. Read his blog about the grueling day. Kaitlyn Patterson
raced the half iron distance and blew away the field with a first place finish time of 4 hours 53 minutes in the women’s field, twenty minutes ahead of 2nd place. She also finished in the Top 10 out of all 251 participants in the half, including men, women and relay teams.
Team OAM NOW aquabike specialists, Cricket Howard and Kathy Kirk, both had strong performances. Kathy grasped the overall female win in the half distance aquabike and Cricket finished 2nd in the men’s field in the half distance aquabike. Often times, the aquabike finish is a bit anticlimactic because the race ends after the bike leg and usually the finish time is recorded as the athlete re-enters the transition area. This year, aquabike athletes had a special finish chute that allowed for them to dismount and cross the finish line with their bikes which provided a greater celebration for both participants and spectators.
Both Kaitlyn and Kathy felt their confidence growing throughout the race. After passing a number swimmers from the men’s wave, Kathy put her time trialing abilities to good use and continued to catch riders up the road. She caught a glimpse of her closest rival, last year’s defending champion, on the out-and-back portion of the route and felt good about being able to hold her lead. As she worked through her nutrition on the 56 mile bike course, which she has struggled with in the past, she felt the boost from each dose of calories and pushed harder with each one. Caloric intake is a race discipline in itself and fine tuning this can truly improve one’s overall performance.
Kaitlyn also used the out-and-back section of the bike course to gauge her position and chased down the only other female in front of her, who happened to be on a relay team. Fearing she may have gone too hard on the bike, she was set at ease during the run once she was able to spot the 2nd place female and calculated her lead to be about 16 minutes. She finished out the run conservatively to avoid hitting the wall and ended up with a spectacular win in just her 2nd half iron distance race.
Overall, the MI Titanium turned out to be a fantastic day for Team OAM NOW and its athletes. With results like these, there’s plenty to look forward to in the future.