Torres and Braginton Bring in First Place Wins at Seahorse Challenge

June 4th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors

By Kathy Braginton, Team OAM Now Triathlete

Triathlon season officially began with the 35th annual Seahorse Challenge, the first triathlon in the Kalamazoo area. With the race held on Memorial Day weekend, and the cold winters we have experienced the last few years, racers never know what the weather is going to bring or what the water temps will be, thus creating the “challenge”. This year brought cool early morning air temps, a water temperature of 64 degrees, and no worries whether it would be a wet suit legal swim.

seahorseSeahorse features both Sprint and Olympic distance races. Each race follows the same course with the Olympic distance doing 2 laps in each discipline. Team OAM Now’s Kathy Braginton took on the Sprint distance, while Raquel Torres took on the Olympic distance. The Olympic distance started first with the sprint distance starting about 25 minutes later.

Raquel had a great swim leg and was exiting the water as Kathy’s race began. Raquel was the first woman out of the water with a 4 minute lead and kept that lead throughout the entire race. Kathy was the 4th woman out of the water after the swim and had a smooth T1 moving her into 2rd place. The first half of the bike leg features fast, smooth, and mostly downhill roads. Riders need to go hard the first 6 miles (miles 1-6 and 12-18 for OLY) and take advantage of the good roads because the second half gradually works its way back up those hills and has about a ½ mile stretch of rough roads where riders must use extreme caution.

Kathy went out hard the first half of the bike leg and caught the lead biker by mile 3. Building on that, she gained a 5 minute lead to be the first biker into T2 and the first runner onto the run leg of the course. The run leg features paved roads for the 1st mile (1st and 4th mile for OLY) and trail/grass for the remainder of the run. This unique run course features a foot bridge, a flight of stairs, and even 3 angry mother geese. Due to the many twists and turns of the course, it was hard to determine how far back the next racer might have been. Because of this limited visibility, Kathy tried to push the pace to maintain any distance between her and the next female. As a result, Kathy finished 7th overall and earned first place in the women’s sprint distance finishing more than 9 minutes ahead of the next female. Raquel was 4th overall, and the Olympic female winner, finishing more than 11 minutes ahead of the next female racer.

Overall, it was a great way to start the season with dual wins for Team OAM Now!

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