Colorado Peaks 2nd in Major League Triathlon season opener
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — John O’Neill and the Colorado Peaks started off the Major League Triathlon season with a runner-up finish in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Saturday.
O’Neill, an Edwards native now living in Washington state, competed in the second leg of the four-person race and battled it out with several other competitors to tag his teammate with a short lead.
Major League Triathlon races are held in a relay format, with teams racing to be first to see two male and two female competitors cross the finish line.
An athlete’s individual leg consists of a 0.75-mile swim, a four-mile bike ride and a one-mile run and usually takes 20 minutes or less.
The short sprint format lends itself to some intense competition, O’Neill said, which was on display on Saturday as the race came down to the last discipline of the final leg between the Peaks and the Cleveland Rock and Roll.
After dismounting the bike in second place, Kevin McDowell of the Rock and Roll was able to overtake Peaks anchor Alex Libin on the running section to claim the win.
“The whole goal was to keep it as close as I could until the run, and then try to reel him in and really lay the hammer down,” McDowell said following the race. “It was really fun out there, I’m excited for the rest of the series.”
Major League Triathlon is headquartered in Charlotte and is seeking to create a more spectator-friendly version of triathlon. Saturday’s race aired on a live webcast with a team from Major League Triathlon providing colorful commentary.
A multitude of comments rolled in during the coverage, from viewers such as Jeffrey Alvino who said, “Really impressive coverage.”
O’Neill said the fact that the race took place in a downtown venue in a major city helped provide a good backdrop for the athletes to put on a show.
“They had the roads shut down and there was police out there monitoring athlete safety,” O’Neill said. “It was a cool scene to be a part of and you could tell we were getting a lot of support from the city.”
Next stop on the tour
Major League Triathlon CEO Daniel Cassidy said while there wasn’t as many walk-up spectators and passers-by as they were hoping for, the downtown venue provided a better backdrop for their webcast.
“We had debated a bit where we wanted to do it in the city, we landed in uptown, which is our downtown,” he said. “On Saturdays it’s not as busy there, but it was still a pretty decent turnout for a first-year event.”
The series heads to Atlantic City, New Jersey, in two weeks, where organizers say they aren’t sure if they will be able to provide as good of a viewing experience.
“It’s a little more difficult with some of the angles and the permission we would need to actually shoot it the way we did is a little more difficult in Atlantic City,” Cassidy said. “But we’re working with the city now to see if we could make it happen, because, as much as it would be great to have 10,000 or 20,000 spectators in person, I think the real place for us is creating a spectator friendly built for TV or live-stream format. So we definitely intend to continue this moving forward.”
Cassidy confirmed that the Colorado Peaks home event, taking place at Nottingham Park in Avon on Aug. 26, will have a high quality live stream similar to the one viewers enjoyed on Saturday, which can be seen on replay at facebook.com/majorleaguetriathlon.
O’Neill says the Avon event will be a career highlight for him.
“I’m really looking forward to competing at home and then having a good time with everyone around the valley after its over,” he said.
Speaking on the phone from an after party on Saturday, O’Neill said the traveling aspect of the sport and experiencing places such as Charlotte is one of the major draws of Major League Triathlon for a young athlete such as himself.
“I would have never probably visited (Charlotte) just to have fun as a tourist for a night,” he said. “So I’m really happy to be here, it’s a really cool city.”
While in Avon, “I’m sure we’ll hit Bob’s Place,” he said. “And maybe we’ll take the Turtle Bus for a cruise around the valley.”
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.