By Shawn Burke

Special to the Pilot

Three members of the Wild Rivers Multi Sports Triathlon Team had the distinct honor of participating in the USAT National Age Group Championships held at Hagg Lake in Portland on June 30, 2007.

This event was a qualifying triathlon for the World Triathlon Championship for both 2007 in Hamburg, Germany and 2008 in Vancouver, Canada.

To participate in this event, each athlete had to place in the top 10 percent in his or her age group in a regional qualifying triathlon.

Susan Roberts, 61, of Crescent City and Shawn Burke, 46, of Brookings qualified in November 2006 at the Treasure Island Triathlon in San Francisco, Calif.

Linda Blundell, 49, qualified at the Hagg Lake Regional Qualifier Triathlon in Portland in May 2007.

The National Championships consisted of a 1.5K swim, a 40K bike ride, and a 10K run, referred to as an Olympic Triathlon course.

Of the 1,300 athletes participating in the National Championships, 600 were All-Americans, making this event the most competitive Age Group Championships in the past 25 years.

As the sun rose over the hills surrounding Hagg Lake, the three members of the Wild Rivers Multisports Team anxiously prepared their gear, their minds, and their bodies to compete with some of the best amateur triathletes in the nation.

The tension increased as the 7:15 a.m. starting time neared and each athlete mentally prepared for the race in their individual manner.

The overall winner in the male division was Ben Collins, 24, of Seattle, Wash., with a time of 1:57:08.

First place in the female division went to Jennifer Garrison, 29, from Naperville, Ill., with a time of 2:09:36. A total of 1060 athletes completed the challenging course at Hagg Lake.

Roberts earned the honor of competing in the World Championships in Germany on Sept. 1, 2007, by placing 12th out of 19 females in her age division, and 983rd overall, with a time of 3:09:24, shattering her previous time by almost 30 minutes.

Roberts' dedication to the sport of triathlons and her consistent training regimen has made into a world class athlete. Her excitement and enthusiasm will help propel her to the finish line at the World Championships in September.

Burke, who recently had a prolonged recovery from foot surgery, crossed the finish line strong with a time of 2:29:24, placing him 50th out of 65 males in his age division and 546th overall. Burke will next compete at the 25th Anniversary of Ironman Canada in Penticton, British Columbia on Aug. 26, 2007.

Blundell, a novice to the sport of triathlons, completed her first Olympic distance event with a time of 2:31:55 to finish 21st out of 57 females in her age division and 596 overall. She looks forward to the Crescent City Triathlon on August 12, 2007, where she first competed last year.