By Anna Laman
It is an exciting weekend for the Stanford triathlon team, which will be hosting its 12th annual Stanford Treeathlon this weekend. This year, Stanford triathlon expects more than 700 competitors, with the number of participants rising each year.
There are three races featured at the event, including the classic sprint triathlon, a race for all levels of triathletes from inexperienced to elite; the draft-legal race, specifically for experienced athletes and junior elites who want a highly competitive field and the Saplingathlon, a recreation race for kids under 12 years old.
Treeathlon 2016 comes at a critical phase at which improved support and recognition of triathlon is emerging. While Stanford’s triathlon team is co-ed, the NCAA recently confirmed it as an emerging sport for women, an important step in becoming an official NCAA championship sport. Stanford triathlon coaches and athletes are enthusiastic for Treeathlon to foster this development in women’s collegiate triathlon.
“Athletes come from all over California to participate in the Treeathlon, and we are really excited to put on a great race for the triathlon community,” said Lauren Van Wassenhove, the race’s director. “We believe this event and others like it will promote triathlon for female collegiate athletes.”
Head coach Gina Kehr was a triathlete with professional racing experience from 1998 to 2009. She finished eighth overall at the 2000 Olympic Trials, and recorded one of the top 10 overall finishes by a female at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
“We look forward to being able to host the Stanford Treeathlon every year. It could be interesting with the weather forecast this year,” Kehr said, speaking of the impending weekend rain.
Todd Logan, a member of the triathlon coaching staff, mentioned the biggest strength of the team being the variety of experience levels of its athletes.
“We’ve got some elite athletes but also many first-time athletes,” Logan said. “This Treeathlon fosters a great environment for the Stanford team to bond and get to know athletes of all calibers.”
Westpoint Harbor President Mark Sanders continues to support Stanford triathlon with Westpoint Harbor’s facilities, especially their docks, from which the competition begins with the swimming portion of the race.
“We look forward to being able to host the Stanford Treeathlon every year and continuing to support this community event,” Sanders said.
Melody Rodriguez is an athlete to look out for this weekend, racing in the draft-legal on Saturday at 3 p.m. Ben Khoo is also racing for Stanford in the classic sprint as a graduate student, after racing for Cal last year.
Treeathlon will take place this Saturday and Sunday, located at the Pacific Shores Center and Westpoint Harbor in Redwood City.
Contact Anna Laman at alaman ‘at’ stanford.edu.