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Gold Country Triathlon Club sending four to IronMan 70.3 World Championships

Linda Hegle competes in the Vineman 70.3 triathlon in Sonoma County July 12. Hegle placed third in the women's 65-69 age group and earned an inviation to the IronMan 70.3 World Championships Aug. 30 in Austria.
Submitted photo |

Tiana and Sean Rockwell had so much fun at the IronMan 70. 3 World Championships last year they’re going again this year, and bringing some friends.

“Both of us had the experience of a lifetime,” said Tiana. “It is an amazing feeling to be with the top athletes in the world in the sport that we do.”

The Rockwell’s, a married couple with a passion for triathlons, punched their tickets to the IronMan 70.3 World Championships with strong finishes at the July 12 Vineman 70.3 race in Sonoma County.



“To earn an invitation to world championships you really just have to finish as fast as possible and hope for the best,” said Tiana. “You just want to do as best as you can in your age group and then cross your fingers and hope the people in front of you say ‘no.’”

The Vineman is one of the more popular 70.3 triathlons (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run) and is a qualifier for the IronMan 70.3 World Championships set for Aug. 30 in Zell Am See-Kaprun, Austria. There are usually one or two automatic bids guaranteed to each gender and age bracket for qualifying races. World championship bids are first offered to the top finishers and if they decline, the bids are offered to competitors down the list of finishers until accepted. The higher one finishes, the better chance one has of getting an invitation.




Tiana finished 12th in the women’s 35-39 age group which was good enough to earn an invite to the world championships. Sean placed seventh in the men’s 35-39 age group to get his invitation. Also earning an invitation and joining the Rockwell’s at the IronMan 70.3 World Championships are fellow Gold Country Triathlon Club members Linda Hegle and Mike Marschik. Hegle placed third in the women’s 65-69 age group at Vineman, and Marschik was 31st in the men’s 55-59 age group at Vineman.

In addition to the Rockwell’s, Hegle and Marschik, the Gold Country Triathlon Club had Michele Hughes (28th in the women’s 45-49 age group), Mike Alexander (22nd in the men’s 40-44 age group), and Damon Demetre (31st in the men’s 35-39 age group) compete in the Vineman triathlon.

Hegle said she is excited to compete in her first world championship event and is happy she gets to share the experience with her fellow club members.

“Going with the tri-club is such an honor and I’m looking forward to it,” she said. “I can’t explain the feeling of being with that group of people, there’s nothing like it. Going to worlds with them makes it that much more special.”

It is a quick turn around from Vineman to the IronMan 70.3 World Championships, but luckily for the crew from Gold Country Triathlon Club, the course in Austria has a lot of similar features to the local terrain in which they train.

Tiana said the elevation at the course is similar to that in Grass Valley, that the swim will be in a lake, and the bike ride has one giant hill and one large descent.

“I think we are fairly strong on the hills, so the course should favor us,” Tiana said.

For Tiana and Sean this is there second trip to the world championships. This time around Tiana has a more competitive approach, she said.

“I do want to go in there with a little more of a competitive attitude, although I don’t want to miss a thing,” she said. “It will be quite a party. They do put on a good event.”

Hegle and Tiana both emphasized what a wonderful support system they have with the Gold Country Triathlon Club.

“This one is like a family vacation,” Tiana said of making the trip to world championships with several members from her club. “We all race and train so much together that it really will be like a family vacation. We all really want each other to do well. We will all be there supporting each other.”

Hegle, who will turn 67 later this year, added that she is proof it’s never too late to try something new.

“I’m one of the people who can say its never too late,” she said.

Hegle made the decision to compete in endurance sports 5 years ago and has since competed in more than 40 triathlons and eight marathons, including three Boston Marathons.

The Rockwell’s, Hegle and Hughes are co-founders of the Gold Country Triathlon Club, which is now 38 members strong and accepting new members of all skill levels. For more information on the Gold Country Triathlon Club visit http://www.goldcountrytriclub.com.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.


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