Local triathletes ready for IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships
This Saturday, thousands of elite-level triathletes will travel to Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, to compete in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships triathlon. Among the throngs of top-tier triathletes will be Nevada County locals and Gold Country Triathlon Club founders Sean and Tiana Rockwell.
“The race is essentially the top couple thousand athletes out of about 90,000 athletes worldwide,” Sean Rockwell said.
For the Rockwells, who have been married for 12 years, qualifying for the world championships is a culmination of all their hard work for the past couple years and a testament to the club they founded and the members they view as family.
“Group training is everything,” Tiana said. “The club is what got me to this race. We have fun together, we push each other. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t want to show up for workouts and if I didn’t work out, I wouldn’t have qualified for this race.”
Both Tiana and Sean qualified for the upcoming world championships in July at the Vineman 70.3 triathlon in Windsor. Both Tiana (30-34 AG) and Sean (35-39 AG) finished in the top 10 percent of their age group.
“It was a very heavily contested race with a lot of very good competitors vying for spots to the world championship,” Sean said.
An IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon is half the size of the usual IRONMAN triathlons. In the 70.3 format, competitors swim 1.2 miles, ride a bike for 56 miles and run 13.1 miles.
With bids to the world championships this Saturday, both Rockwells said they are not setting pressure-filled time or place goals, rather they are just looking to enjoy the experience and do their best.
“I’m going to put forth my best effort,” Sean said. “I don’t necessarily have an expectation of where I want to place because I’ve never competed at an event like this. I know I have to be in tip-top shape to compete and that’s what I’m focused on.”
Tiana said her father, Russell Webb, who was an Olympian that played water polo for the U.S. in 1968 and 1972, told her to cherish the experience.
“I hope to qualify for future races, but you only get the first one once,” Tiana said. “So, I really want to take it all in and enjoy it. I don’t want to be stressed out and I don’t want to put a time pressure on me. I want to embrace the whole experience, the culture, the food, everything.”
The Rockwells started the Gold Country Triathlon Club in 2011, and while it started as a hobby, the sport has now become a part of their everyday lives.
“As we have gone through the years, we’ve always enjoyed it and its always been fun, but now we plan it more,” said Sean. “It’s more ingrained into our lives. It’s not a ‘we go out for a couple races during the summer and we’re done’, kind of thing. It’s an all-year thought process.”
The Rockwells also encourage anyone interested in giving triathlons a try to join the Gold Country Triathlon Club.
“We want to bring the sport to the community and also inspire our racers to succeed and do well,” Sean said. “We want to support everybody and we want racers from all walks of life. We want people that are just starting and we want people that are seasoned. We also want to make sure we are pushing people to get better.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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