Challenge New Albany Race Recap!

by Haley on August 4, 2014

THIRD out of the water and fastest RUN?!?! Crazy things happen in Ohio!!!

New Albany, Ohio might just be the perfect location for a triathlon. The Columbus suburb is FULL of gorgeous country roads, running paths, and active people! Challenge Family did a good job taking advantage of the location and putting on a great inaugural triathlon-filled weekend!

The fun kicked off with the Challenge Kids’ Tri on Saturday morning. I was super lucky to be staying with the amazing Kist family, and got to cheer on Kam and Kaden as they DOMINATED the 10 and under tri!


I was so inspired by the Kist boys’ focus and super proud of them for taking home 1st and 6th overall!! I also loved how Challenge set up the kids race smack dab in the middle of all the action. The kids got to use the same transition and run through the same finish line as us pros! Pretty cool!

Sunday it was my turn! The 75 degree water at Alum Creek was ruled non-wetsuit for pros (love separate wetsuit temp rules, thank you Challenge!) so I finally had a chance to break out my TYR swimskin! I lined up between Meredith and Jen, and it turns out, that would be the closest I’d get to those superstar ladies all day!

Meredith and Jen are both very strong swimmers (and bikers, and runners) and I spent most of the swim just off the back of their speedy feet. Not exactly a position I’m used to, or plan to make a habit of, but I do LOVE the fact that the first three women out of the water were in the top four across the finish line!! The swim matters!

My 24:27 swim split may not have been the fastest on the day, but I did manage to be a bit quicker than the swimmer on this relay:

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 6.26.46 PM

Check out those names! Eric Wunderlich! Dave Wharton! Those guys are legends! Both US Olympic swimmers and Eric Wunderlich is even a Dynamo Swim Club alum! There was some serious swim power at this race!

The 56 mile point-to-point bike course rolled back toward New Albany through some gorgeous countryside. I struggled a bit to get going and found myself slipping back to eighth place by the time I hit T2. Yikes! I had my work cut out for me!

The spectators just outside transition motivated me to start the run fast, especially when I passed Kam, Kaden, and their grandmothers all cheering for me!! The two-loop 13.1 mile run shared the course with the one-loop 6.2 mile Olympic distance race going on at the same time and I LOVED all the cheers I got from the Olympic distance competitors! So many complimented my bright green & yellow Smashfestqueen kit and one guy even said he follows me on twitter!! I thought it was really incredible that these folks took the time to pass on some good energy to me, even while they were racing!!

My fast run pace paid off as I steadily managed to catch up to speedy bikers Natasha, Missy, Jenny and Carly, with several of them offering words of encouragement as I passed. Triathlon is so hard, and yet it attracts such a great group of women who really support one another. The pros in this sport are all worth cheering for!

I crossed the line fourth, proud of myself for never giving up, and for finding some way to post the fastest women’s run split on a surprisingly warm and humid day! It’s not very often I get to “come from behind” and I learned a lot in the process.


BIG THANK YOU to the Kist family, Kasey, Becca, Kam, & Kaden, for being an AMAZING homestay and not laughing too hard when I rode a cruiser bike with an aero helmet to the race expo! In addition to being amazing athletes, the Kists taught me all about the Columbus tradition of Pelotonia, a huge multi-day bike ride fundraiser happening THIS WEEKEND with 100% of money raised going toward cancer research at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center ($70 million+ so far!). Becca even captains the Express Pelotonia team which has raised nearly $200,000!! How awesome is that?!?

Showing support for Pelotonia and doing my best “hair down, bike helmet” Pippa Middleton impression!


Thanks also to HFP Racing and Challenge Family for putting on a great event, and to New Albany for being an amazing host city. Thanks to all of my sponsors: TYR, Smasfestqueen, Quintana Roo, Osmo Nutrition, Dynamo Multisport, Reynolds Cycling, SRAM, Quarq, Kask, Mizuno, Mavic, and my buddy Paul who hooked me up with the sweet GREEN Smith Optics sunglasses that really completed my race day look!

challengecna5Hillary and Michele from SMASH really went above and beyond getting me my race ready “HC” tri kit, even overnighting it to my homestay in New Albany! Based on the positive reactions I got on the course, I think it was worth it!!

Thanks to Meredith Kessler for giving me a great pre AND post-race pep talk, and of course, congrats on sandwiching an outstanding hometown race performance in between!

Last, but not least, thanks to my Coach, Matthew Rose, for never thinking of me as “just a swimmer” and to my parents and friends and family for all the unconditional support! Challenge New Albany definitely played out a bit different than I expected, but that gets me pretty excited for things to come!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Teresa Meier August 4, 2014 at 5:21 pm

What are you talking about?! You ROCKED that aero helmet + cruiser look!! I am glad I got to see you kicking it on the run, and felt so special being able to help zip up your TYR swimscreen on its inaugural swim! Lol. Thanks for being a truly humble & fun pro. (totally had to buy a tri-top..don’t tell my husband I spent more money…). Hope to see you killing it on another course soon!


Haley August 4, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Thanks Teresa!! I did feel very safe and surprisingly fast! So great meeting you in New Albany! You are going to LOVE the tri top and I hope our paths cross again soon!!!


Tribirdie August 4, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Awesome job out there Haley!!! Loving the “pippa” look 😀


Carly Johann August 4, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Congrats on an always speedy swim and a flying run!


Cathleen K August 4, 2014 at 10:37 pm

I LOVED this post, Haley! It sounds like you are having a really well balanced year and a lot of fun with it. I keep cracking up at the hair down with helmet look. You’ve never been “just a swimmer” to anyone. You’ve been killing it on the bike and run for years and you just keep getting faster! Nice work!


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