Daniel and Tatiana Vertiz both won TriRock Austin championships Monday, but the sibling triathletes earned their titles in very different ways.
Daniel, a sophomore who competes in track and cross country for the University of Texas, topped the elite men’s field in the Olympic-distance event by more than 4 1/2 minutes. He finished in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 51 seconds while Scott Tonder, an Air Force lieutenant from San Antonio, was second in 2:04:23. Defending champion Jamie Cleveland, an Austinite, placed third in 2:04.41.
The women’s Olympic-distance race in downtown Austin was not so cut-and-dried, as a post-race penalty against the initial champ, Julie Stupp, resulted in Tatiana rising from second place to first.
Race director Dan Carroll said Stupp mistakenly rode in the wrong lane during the 24.8-mile bike leg, resulting in a two-minute penalty. With the penalty, Stupp finished in 2:21:01 while Vertiz’s total time was 2:19:42.
Stupp, 27, a five-time All America swimmer at Auburn who recently relocated to Austin, led Vertiz by three minutes after the opening 1,500-meter swim in Lady Bird Lake. But Vertiz, a 26-year-old who trains in San Diego and is known as a strong cyclist, caught Stupp quickly on the bike leg and began the closing 6.2-mile run with a 3 1/2-minute lead.
Stupp made up the time difference in the run, but she couldn’t overcome her penalty.
“It’s hard to tell what’s going on during the bike (leg),” Tatiana Vertiz said. “She ran a great race, but stuff like that happens during the triathlon. I’m just happy to win alongside of my brother in one of my favorite cities.”
Third out of the water after finishing the swim in 20:22, Daniel Vertiz quickly took control during the bike leg, averaging just more than 24 mph. Cleveland caught Vertiz as they entered the bike-run transition, but Cleveland, 41, a Florida Ironman champion in 2000, was no match for Vertiz during the closing run.
Vertiz took third in the 10,000 meters at the 2013 Texas Relays, and on Monday, he dropped the pace to 5:34-per-mile at TriRock. He quickly left Cleveland behind while opening a two-minute lead during the first 5K of the two-loop course.
“I knew Cleveland had won last year, and I know he’s a solid athlete so I just tried to stay as relaxed as I could,” said Vertiz, who was competing in his first triathlon in two years and picked up his first victory in the sport. “Running after the bike (leg) in this humidity, it’s going to affect all runners. I went out very conservatively and still got cramps.
“It was a mental battle out there. I was on the edge the whole time, trying to push myself.”