Major League Triathlon series coming to Avon | VailDaily.com

Major League Triathlon series coming to Avon

Edwards' John O'Neill finishes the anchor leg of a Major League Triathlon race in Sarasota, Florida, last year. Thursday, the league announced that it will hold a race in Avon on Aug. 26.

AVON — Major League Triathlon is coming to Avon this summer and the race will have some local flavor with Edwards' professional triathlete John O'Neill as part of one of eight squads competing.

The league announced on Thursday that it will hold a race at Avon's Nottingham Park on Aug. 26.

"It's awesome for me because this is the style of racing I've always loved," O'Neill said.

The format

Major League Triathlon started last year with eight four-person squads, including the Portland (Maine) Keepers, for whom O'Neill competed. For 2017, he's a member of the Colorado Peaks, one of the squads that will be competing in a relay-style condensed triathlon format.

Each team has two female and male athletes who do a 300-meter swim, a 4-mile biking leg and a 1-mile run in 20-25 minutes in succession. The entire competition takes roughly 90 minutes and is designed to be compact for spectators to watch the entire race.

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The format also poses challenges for the competitors.

"It's cool to showcase the ability of a field of athletes," O'Neill said. "You don't have to be a triathlete to appreciate what is happening. You can see a great race unfolding in front of you. From the athlete's perspective, it's painful. It's like the 800 meters in track. It's pure lactic burn and endurance pacing at the same time."

And with the quick pace of each leg, every move is critical.

"A fumble in transition, something like not clipping your chin strap (of a bike helmet) and you can lose the pack," O'Neill said. "You have guys running (a mile) as fast as (4 minutes, 10 seconds) or 4:20."

Welcome to altitude

O'Neill started as a runner, graduating from Battle Mountain High School in 2008, part of that school's two state titles in cross-country and the state-champion 3,200-meter relay team.

He went on to run at Colorado State, followed by a stint of triathlon training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He's been competing in International Triathlon events, with three podiums, as well as Major League Triathlon events until some cartilage damage in his right knee last summer ended his season.

The league held races last season in Temple, Texas, Sarasota, Florida, Lincoln, Nebraska, and Westbrook, Maine. So a race coming to Avon would be the circuit's first brush with serious altitude. And, you bet, O'Neill is looking forward to that.

"That's going to be a huge deal," O'Neill said. "For me, it's a big advantage in races, training (at) high (altitude) and going (to) low (altitudes for races). Going low to high hands it over to the athletes who can deal with that pinch in their lungs."

August's race will be the third of four in the Major League Triathon's season.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.