I ran through it three times. And after that, I lay trying to fall asleep, running through it another dozen times. It was one of the only technical finishes to a triathlon I have ever seen. People always practice the bike course, taking the turns at speed or at minimum drive it so they know what to expect. But no one ever thinks the run will matter. I didn’t either, but I thought I better not take my chances. The year before, this exact race was seemingly going to come down to a sprint finish. Ben Bartlett caught me early in the run and we ran together for the next two miles. But not wanting to wait till the end to get the win, I sprinted past him with one mile to go to take the lead. The final sub-5 minute mile was enough to win by a mere twelve seconds.
At the beginning of the bike leg, I had decided whether or not I wanted to watch the race lead ride away from me. Now, on the run, it was time to decide if I wanted to win. I had started the 5k on my own, leading the race. But Ben Bartlett from Arlington, Virginia soon caught up to me repeating what happened when I had tried to race away on the bike. While I expected and hoped to look over my shoulder and see my teammate, Ryan Peterson, he was not having one of his usual dominant days.
I looked Ben in the eyes and remembered that turning to look at your opponent meant admitting defeat. But that was not what I intended to convey. It would have been a lie. I jumped behind him and sat in the tiny amount of draft a runner can give. It was effective enough, I was able to hold his pace. Just before the turn around I tried to make a surge to take the lead and keep Bartlett from surging out of the turnaround but he wanted it more. He rounded the turnaround first and surged out of it, putting a hurt on me to stay with him.