ITU World Age Group Championships 
Cancun, Mexio

The course had changed and the faces were older, but the sweltering Mexican heat was  familiar  when the ITU World Triathlon Championships returned to Cancun, Mexico in 2002.

With temperatures at 93 degrees and the humidity trying to keep pace, surviving the run proved to be the determining factor for many of the age group and pro triathletes at Worlds.

The American women generated the biggest age-group story of the weekend by winning every category except 20-24. And on day two of the ITU event Barb Lindquist fueled American hopes for another victory until the final 300 meters of the pro race when Leanda Cave of Great Britain reeled in the fading number two woman in the world for a stunning come-from-behind win.

Bonnie Karas, 35-39, expressed her can-do spirit while waiting for her swim start and an eventual top 10 finish.




On deck.

Women age groupers make their way off the beach and the long walk to their swim start.


Jo Garuccio was the first 50-54 year-old women out of the water en route to her sixth ITU world championship. She needed the fastest swim and the second fastest bike to give her enough cushion to cross the line 22 seconds ahead of New Zealand's Lynne Pattle. 


Jo Gauccio, center was the first in her age group out of the water.

Donna Smyers needed to bike and run down Canada's Edie Fisher to claim her number one spot in Cancun. Behind  nearly four minutes out of the water, Smyers made up a minute and a half on the bike and nearly four minutes on the run to finish 19 seconds ahead of Fisher.





Donna Smyers records her split as she heads for T1.

Bruce Gennari was first out of the water in the men's 35-39 age group with a 18:33 swim but he started to fall behind as his wave made its rounds through the looped bike course. Gennari hung on for a top 20 finish in 2:07:13.






Bruce Gennari exits the turnaround in the mens 35-39 wave.

Only the fastest riders were able to free themselves from the packs that developed on the narrow and flat age-group bike. Although the ITU made a visual effort to enforce drafting rules, it was all but impossible for many riders to avoid the near peletons that formed on the road--another argument for wide, hilly championship bike courses.

Barbara Larrain leads a pack to T2.

A thin carpet of blue over thick grass made for a tough finish line sprint by handcyclists in Cancun. Jeff Sapper finished his race in second place as the top American male. 






Jeff Sapper crosses the finish in Cancun/

Hydrate or die became all too clear for racers as they looped through the hotel district amid a field of crushed water cups.



Perhaps the most impressive age-group run of the day was posted by Julie Swail. Her sub-40 10k put her across the finish over four minutes ahead of Melannie Holloway, also from the US.






Julie Swail looked fresh as she opened her lead on the run.

Ann Lantz came from behind to win the women's 35-39 age group with her 39:36 run--the fastest time in the category.







Ann Lantz still looks fresh on her way to victory. 

The men's US juniors struggled in Cancun amidst the heavy competion from the rest of the world. Justin Caskey was the top US male junior in 41st place and a time of 59:45, 3:45 out top junior Terenzo Bozzone of New Zealand.

Junior Jasmine Oeinck fought to stay ahead of Maria Eugenia Barrera of Mexico and finish seventh, just one minute out of first place.

Hitting the showers took on new meaning in Cancun as racers tried to lower body temperatures jacked up by Central America's heat and humidity.






Dan Willert cools down after his race.