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Each member of the Liberty triathlon team traveled a greater distance under their own power Sunday, Oct. 7 than most other students will in a given semester. The Olympic-distance triathlon features a grueling course consisting of a .9-mile swim, a 32-mile bicycle ride and a 6.5-mile run.
Thirteen athletes represented Liberty at the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Triathlon Conference (MACTC) meet in Columbia, Md., which was attended by 18 schools as well as other professionals and amateur triathlon enthusiasts. The entire event benefitted the Ulman Cancer fund for young adults. The most notable professional racer was cancer survivor, and world-renowned cyclist Lance Armstrong.
Liberty’s Joseph Anderson entered Sunday’s contest having won the first two meets of the fall season, and was one of the favorites to take home first place in conference meet. The only obstacle standing in his way was Navy’s David MacFarlane. Anderson and MacFarlane have enjoyed a long rivalry, frequently finishing one-two in races.
Although Anderson’s love for triathlons began in Zimbabwe as a military kid, at the end of the month, Anderson will represent the United States in the 20-24 year old group in the world championships in New Zealand.
Perhaps just as valuable as his athleticism is his team attitude, Frackleton said.
“He’s such a great athlete, but he shares his knowledge,” Frackleton said. “(He) takes the time out of his busy training week to work the other athletes, encouraging them and helping them to get better which is just awesome.”
Sunday, the primary goal was to beat one man, and in so doing beat everyone else.
Anderson’s training has bordered on fanatical — he even carries a picture of MacFarlane as a constant reminder to train harder.
“When I’m on my trainer at home, I have a picture of him sometimes, and I just stare him down,” Anderson said. “It’s kind of weird, but it gets me motivated just to look at his face. I know he’s training, so I just want to push it a little bit harder when I’m training to beat him.”
Anderson’s dedication paid off. He beat MacFarlane — and 136 other participants — by two whole minutes, completing the grueling course in two hours and 26 minutes.
“He just looked as strong as ever coming across the finish line,” Frackleton said. “He actually had a significant lead on his made it look so easy.”
Falling temperatures and freezing rain took their toll on competitors. On a day when dozens of athletes were forced out of the race on account of hypothermia, to finish was an accomplishment.
“It was one of the toughest triathlons I think I’ve ever seen,” Frackleton said. “You’d had to have been there to appreciate the conditions. They were horrible … it took a lot of guts and courage to actually race today because it was scary conditions.”
Anderson’s win was not the only victory for Liberty. Three members of its women’s team finished in the top 20 out of 71 participants. Sophomore Lane Ruchte finished sixth, junior Kathryn Mullaly finished eighth and senior Jeannette Larsen 18th.
“Each of them improved so much as the year went on,” Frackleton said. “They all had very strong races, they weathered the storm really. I’m very proud, it’s a young team and the future is so bright.”