SARASOTA, FLA.—In her first international triathlon in nine months, Kaneland junior Victoria Clinton acclimated herself well.
Under the ITU Triathlon banner, Clinton, the 2012 Class AA Individual State cross-country champion, finished 26th overall in Sarasota, Fla., as part of the 2014 Sarasota PATCO Triathlon Junior North American Championships.
“I’ll definitely take it as a positive,” Clinton said. “It was good to be back in competition.”
The Junior Women category saw Clinton finish the swimming, biking and running competition in 1:05:03, seven seconds behind Canada’s Holly Henry. Clinton did manage to eclipse fellow American Haele Jasen by 14 seconds. American Stephanie Jenks took the entire 57-person field in 59:57.
Clinton, whose last triathlon stop was Brazil in June 2013, finished the swim portion in 11 minutes, the bike portion in 32:08 and the running portion in 20:35. Her output bested her Brazil time by two minutes, 21 seconds.
“It was pretty tough to get back in there after being indoors, it was good to be back on the bike outside,” Clinton said. “I think my overall race was pretty good.”
Jon Lorenz of MMTT, Clinton’s triathlon group, thinks it was a good first step back.
“(It’s) probably not the result Victoria wanted, but given how early it is in the season, not a bad finish,” Lorenz said.
“It’s my first race back and I know what I need to work on,” Clinton said.
Meanwhile, Clinton continues to prepare for Lady Knights outdoor track season, She also has qualified for the Team USA triathlon group based on last year’s rankings and plans to race in Monterrey, Mexico in May for a spot in August’s Youth Olympic Games in China.
Clinton named to All-American list by USA Triathlon, preparing for Florida race
ELBURN—With the mood-crushing winter season still upon us, the urge to get outside and participate in athletic activities can weigh heavily.
Lady Knight sophomore Victoria Clinton can do something about it right now, and looks to push herself more than most.
Clinton, named last week to the Junior Elite All-American list for USA Triathlon in the 16-19 age group category as an Honorable Mention, looks to participate with her fellow MMTT members at the PATCO North American Junior Championship on Saturday, March 8.
The honor is a big deal, considering its Clinton’s first year in the category.
“You have to keep in mind that prior to her injuries, she was near No. 1 in those rankings, and near the top of the overall standings,” coach Steve Brandes said. “She’s extremely consistent; her biggest attribute is consistency.”
The Sarasota, Fla.-based event provides a chance for Clinton, the 2012 Class AA State cross country individual champ, to swim, bike and run with five other team members from the western suburbs against a field that includes athletes from Mexico and Canada.
Clinton, who owns the fifth-best Class AA State-winning time in cross country at 16:56, can use her cross country experience to perform at a high level this weekend.
“Cross country is pure racing, there are no splits,” Brandes said. “Victoria is very good at rising to that top level. She’s a state champ, and cross country makes her tough. It’s about racing hard, and she’s very strong.”
Clinton has also managed to qualify for the Pan American Cup in early June in Monterrey, Mexico, as one of eight American females vying for the lone Youth Olympics Games spot taking place in China this summer.
Clinton’s last competition under the ITU (International Triathlon Union) Triathlon banner came in June 2013 at the Pan American Championships in Vila Velha, Brazil. Clinton finished eighth in the junior women category with a clip of 1:07:24.
Brandes, in his first year of working with Clinton, feels there will be no off-base expectations.
“That’s what you sign up for with these international events. It’s her biggest test against tough competition,” Brandes said.
Photo: Elburn resident Adam Zucco not only is an elite triathlete, but is also an active coach of the sport. He recently placed third out of 563 athletes in the annual Leon’s World’s Fastest Triathlon. Photo courtesy of Ali Engin
ELBURN—Adam Zucco joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1993, yet the Elburn resident soon discovered that the process of actually becoming one of the few, the proud, isn’t as quite glamorous as it’s depicted to be in television commercials.
Zucco, who weighed 240 pounds in college, had to lose what he described as “a ton of weight” to go to boot camp. What’s more, he couldn’t run a mile after he joined the Marines.
“I vowed that I would never be that unhealthy again,” he said.
Not only has Zucco kept that promise to himself, he’s become one of the country’s top triathletes in his age group. On Oct. 12, Zucco—26th in the U.S. among 35-39-year-old males in the Global 2103 Age Group Rankings—will be competing in what is billed as triathlon’s most iconic event: the 35th Ironman World Championship, held in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
The Chicago Marathon, which is being held the next day, takes place on a 26.2-mile course. By comparison, Zucco and other competitors in Hawaii will have completed 2.4 miles of swimming 112 miles of biking before running the third portion of the Ironman, which is a marathon.
Zucco, who trains year-round and participates in 10 full or half triathlons each season (the season runs from December through October), is putting in between 30 and 35 hours of training per week leading up to the World Championship. The course at Kailua-Kona, located on Hawaii’s Big Island, consists of black lava rock, and Zucco also will be contending with a scorching sun, 90-plus degree temperatures as well as potential crosswinds that can reach 45 mph.
His weekly training regimen usually consists of 20,000 meters of swimming, 400 to 500 miles biking and 45 to 60 miles running. Next month will mark the seventh time Zucco has taken on the Ironman course in Hawaii. Zucco’s father, who got him interested in triathlons during the early 1990s, has competed in 17 Ironman races.
Contestants begin at 7 a.m. and have until midnight to complete the three stages of the triathlon. Zucco’s best time in a full Ironman competition is 9 hours, 16 minutes.
“The winners (of the triathlon) usually go close to eight hours,” said Zucco, who competes in triathlons all over the world and was the No. 1-ranked U.S. triathlete in his age group in 2011.
Asked how he feels after completing a full triathlon, Zucco replies, “I feel pretty good after the next day.”
But he emphasizes that’s because he’s had proper pacing, coaching and nutrition.
“I try to eat very clean,” said Zucco, who added that he limits foods that can spike his blood sugar, such as foods containing starch, whole grains and, of course, sugar.
“I eat a lot of things that either grow naturally, run, swim or fly,” he said with a laugh. “Fish, chicken, fruits, vegetables, leafy greens.”
Zucco said he’ll be taking part in another Ironman triathlon a few weeks after the event in Hawaii.
“I’ll usually start training the next day (after completing a triathlon),” he said. “If you’re well-trained, you should be able to resume a normal life the next day. That’s what baffles my wife (Lindsay). She does the same training and gets pretty sore, but it doesn’t make you a good or a bad athlete. It’s just how your body responds.”
For those who are just starting out in triathlons or are interested in getting started, Zucco offers this advice:
“The biggest thing I’d tell anyone is to choose a realistic goal,” he said. “Just be consistent with your training and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Have a plan; consistency trumps talent.”
Zucco is a world-class triathlete coach in his own right, as well. Both he and Lindsay are USAT Level II certified coaches, and in 2009, Zucco was named the USAT Developmental Coach of the Year. Zucco is an owner and partner in TrainingBible Coaching, along with Joe Friel—an elite triathlon and cycling coach who’s authored, “The Triathletes Training Bible” and “The Cyclists Training Bible.”
“I go all over the place (coaching athletes),” Zucco said.
Zucco also competes in triathlons closer to home. This summer, he finished third overall in the annual Leon’s World’s Fastest Triathlon, which is a quarter distance of a full ironman. Racers swim .9 miles, bike 24.8 miles and run 6.2 miles.
He completed the swim in 18 minutes, 24 seconds, the bike race in 57:44 and the run in 36:31. Kaneland High School junior Victoria Clinton, the defending Class 2A girls state cross country individual champion, also participated in Leon’s Triathlon, and was 44th overall. She recorded times of 20:38 swimming, 1:14.53 biking and 38:19 running.
“In terms of time,” Zucco notes, “the shorter (triathlon) distances are harder because you have to go much faster.”
Photo: Kaneland sophomore Victoria Clinton (1059) competes against familiar foe Skyler Bollinger of Yorkville at the Nov. 11 Nike Cross Midwest Regional in Terre Haute, Ind. Clinton was joined in Terre Haute by Lady Knight teammate Brianna Bower (not pictured). Runners from five states—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Missouri—competed in the Regional for a chance to move on to the National meet in Oregon. Clinton has a chance to be invited to the National meet, but that information wasn’t available as of press time. Photo by Ben Draper
Class 2A cross-country queen applies skills to triathlon circuit by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Many fellow cross-country runners were witness to Kaneland High School sophomore Victoria Clinton’s success at the Class 2A State meet in Peoria two weeks ago, specifically the back of her jersey.
From November through August, area followers of Clinton can also keep up with her on the triathlon circuit.
Clinton won the Class 2A State meet with a time of 16:56, but a foot race that asks everything of an athlete would only be a third of the task asked of her as part of the run-bike-swim elements of a triathlon.
Clinton competes as part of the Multisport Madness Triathlon Team (MMTT) housed in the western suburbs. The group boasts more than 20 individual national champions as part of the youth triathlon world, and Clinton doesn’t mind the extra work.
“For triathlons, you have to have endurance,” Clinton said. “You have to have technique and know what to do. It’s swimming, biking and running; and you have to have more strategy.”
MMTT team director John Lorenz has seen what area standouts like Geneva’s Kelly Whitley can do when competing, and has been privy to athletes reaching success under the USA Triathlon banner as part of the U.S. Olympic Committee. He feels Clinton’s skillset is amplified by her work ethic.
“It takes a unique athlete to compete, and she’s always had a desire to want more. Swimming is the hardest for a new athlete coming in, and she showed she was up to the challenge early on,” Lorenz said.
Back in August, Clinton was second overall in the 13-15 category at the National Championships in Westchester, Ohio, and moved up to the 16-19 category this season.
“I’ve always had a love for running, but as I’ve trained and competed, I’ve become fond of swimming, and I’ve felt like it’s helped my running,” Clinton said. “It’s helped me cardiovascularly and made me more flexible.”
Lorenz feels that the sophomore’s triathlon possibilities are limitless.
“She has the drive and talent to compete for Team USA one day, and the world championships are an achievable goal,” Lorenz said.
In just her second season, Clinton isn’t intimidated by what could lay ahead.
“The World Championships would be great, and then there’s the Junior Olympics. It’s my second season, and we’ll see what happens,” Clinton said.
Clinton’s MMTT outfit looks to compete in March as part of a competition in Claremont, Fla. The team website is www.mmtt3.org.
by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—Triathlons are difficult for even the most experienced athlete.
However, one needs the will. Elburn resident and Kaneland High School senior Jen Howland continues to employ that, as well as training and her athletics gifts to continue on the triathlon circuit both stateside and abroad.
Most recently finishing 20th in the junior women’s category at the ITU World Championship Grand Final in Budapest, Hungary, Howland continues to enjoy her work.
“It’s my passion, and I hope to do it for a long time,” Howland said.
The recent cross-country State qualifier has been participating in the event for nine years.
“It was a local Delnor kids triathlon,” Howland said her introduction to the race.
“When I train, it’s for 30-35 hours a week. I’ll be in the pool once or twice a day, run every day and bike every other day,” Howland said.
Having finished in Budapest with a time of one hour, 23 seconds, a two-second improvement over her 2009 World Championship, Howland has big goals ahead.
“I want to qualify for the 2016 Olympics. Next year, I’ll start training and pushing myself. I really want to be a professional triathlete,” Howland said.
The junior women’s championship in 2011 is set for Beijing, China.
Incoming junior headed to Budapest for World Championship in Sept.
WEST DES MOINES, Iowaâ€”Standout junior triathletes Jennifer Howland and Lukas Verzbicas took top honors Saturday at the USA Triathlon Flatland Junior Elite Cup, and became eligible to represent the United States on Sept. 12 at the 2010 ITU Junior Triathlon World Championship in Budapest, Hungary.
Howland, of Elburn, and the junior elite women led off the first of five races at the Flatland Kids Triathlon Festival. Howland and Tanelle Berard (Clive, Iowa) raced side-by-side through the 750-meter swim and six-lap, 20-kilometer bike. Howland managed to open up a 15-second lead on the run to claim first in 1 hour, 4 minutes, 7 seconds.
On the junior elite men’s side, Ben Kanute of Geneva made a solo swim-bike breakaway attempt over a chase pack of six. However, it was Verzbicas of Orland Hill, Ill., the reigning junior duathlon world champion, who took control of the race on first of two laps of the run and crossed the finish line in 55:14. Chris Wiatr, of Long Grove, Ill. enjoyed a breakthrough performance to edge Kanute for second place.
The day also featured competition in the 13-to-15-year-old Youth Elite Division. Tamara Gorman, of Rapid City, S.D., was the girls’ champion, besting Rachel Mann, of Homer Glen, Ill. Spencer Clark, of Clive, Iowa., took top honors in the Youth Elite boys’ race over Carter Dickson of Aurora.
Following the draft-legal elite races, approximately 175 youth triathletes between the ages of 6 to 15 took to the course.
Bank Iowa sponsored travel scholarships for being first out of the water in the youth and junior elite races in honor of Chandy Barr Clanton, a standout swimmer, triathlete and famed air show pilot from Iowa who lost her life in an accident one year prior to the day of the Flatland Kids Tri Festival. Winners of the “Spirit of Chandy” prize were Kanute, Berard, Gorman and Clark.
The event, originally slated to take place at Gray’s Lake Park in Des Moines, Iowa, was relocated to West Des Moines on Wednesday because of severe flooding around Gray’s Lake.
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlonâ€”one of the fastest growing sports in the worldâ€”as well as duathlon, aquathlon and winter triathlon in the United States. USAT sanctions 3,100 races and connects with more than 133,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USAT provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including World Championships, Pan American Games and the Summer Olympic Games.