Triathlon Collegiate Club Nationals: Cal Berkeley

The Golden Bear Triathletes

Cal Berkley’s Coach Harper lets know how the team is looking as they head to nationals.  

RM:  How is the field looking for this years event?

DH:  It is Difficult to know what other teams are doing around the Country other than the teams in California and Arizona which we do compete against.  We have done well against the competition this year and we will be bringing 38 athletes to Nationals.

RM:  What has been the mantra for this year?  Where is that established? Pre-Season Camp?

DH:  The Mantra that I have been giving to the team in the two years I have been a coach is "Consistent hard work over time”.  That is my mantra and has become the team’s mantra.

RM:  How important is the team concept in each event?  How is that communicated to the Club?

DH:  The team concept is very important and you will see the camaraderie at Nationals with each athlete supporting the other athletes.  We have some potential top National finishers, but we have also encouraged some of our brand new triathletes to compete.  We also have a blind athlete, Newton, who will be competing this year.  I frequently quote from Duke basketball’s Coach K and the legendary UCLA Coach John Wooden.  Although triathlon is and individual sport, I think there is a real team concept in supporting each other as they train and race.

RM:  How has the growing success of Collegiate Triathlon impacted your program?  New opportunities?

DH:  Cal Triathlon has had a large team for quite a few years.  New opportunities arise from an increased number of quality races that are developing, at least on the West Coast.  Although the governing body of triathlon is attempting to establish an NCAA program for women, that is not likely to become a reality at Cal Berkeley in the near future.  Hopefully, that will provide an opportunity for some elite female triathletes.  However, the club concept works very well, is all inclusive, and I believe supports a broader base of lifetime recreational activities.

RM:  How is the health of the team leading up to Nationals?  

DH:  We have lost two of our top men and two of our top women this year to injuries.  Unfortunately, it is a part of the sport.  Cycling on busy roads is always risky and newer athletes getting used to running solid mileage can lead to injury.

RM:  How effective were the exhibition events in 2014 in preparing athletes for the 2015 Club Collegiate Tri season?

DH:  We actually started our season in November but had several races in February and March.  We can do that on the West Coast.  These events are solid competitive events in themselves.  They certainly do help the athletes get ready for Collegiate Nationals.

RM:  What was the key moment for the team this season?

DH:  For us, we have a one week camp over Winter break down in Oceanside.  This is a time where the team members get to know each other very well and we start the new semester with a solid base week of training.

RM:  Considering your home base, do you foresee any issues or complications with the venue in Clemson, S.C.?

DH:  It is a logistical challenge getting 50 bikes to Clemson and 40 athletes.  (Some have 2 bikes for draft legal)  We have college athletes on lean budgets.  Most do not have bike cases to carry their bikes on the plane.  Therefore, we retain a bike transport company that ships the bikes but the athletes give up their bike for five days right before the event.  This is not ideal.

RM:  Which event do your athletes most look forward to and why?  Olympic, Mixed Team Relay

DH:  I think most of the athletes look forward to the Olympic race at nationals.  This is the biggest race of the season for most of the athletes.  We will actually be there cheering on our 3 draft legal athletes.  And, as defending National champions in the mixed team relay, the team will be certainly supporting our mixed team relay.

RM:  Do you prefer draft-legal racing to non-draft? Why?

DH:  I like both formats.  The draft-legal racing does not lend itself to mass participation and therefore non-drafting races are better for larger teams like ours.  However, in some of the smaller venues where there are several hundred athletes on the course, one of the challenges is making sure that the athletes are not drafting in spite of the fact that it is a non-draft legal event.  I personally enjoy the draft legal format for the elite athletes.

RM:  Any special "Thank You's" you would like to make for all those that helped this season?

DH:  We have a very dedicated student athlete board of directors that take on great responsibility and keep the team running smoothly.  To those that were on the 2014-15 board, Thank you.

  • Coach Dean Harper.

*Photos by Andy Jessop

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