The NECTC moves further north this week into the state of Maine. This time around there are still lobsters, but the race isn't called Lobsterman. Challenge Maine is another race of the immensely popular Challenge Family series. In the past this race was under the control of Revolution 3, and this is the first year the Challenge Family has a chance to make its mark on the event.
Challenge Maine brings athletes into the chilling waters of the Atlantic. Athletes start by heading straight out into the waves, and taking a 90 degree left turn. From there the course follows the beach to the swim exit where you take another 90 degree turn and head back in. T1 is longer than most races as you have a good 1/4 mile to get into transition. The bike course is a slightly rolling 25 miles, with a fast finish back into transition. The run is mostly flat with a few hills, and a portion of the race on a dirt path that acts as the turnaround point. Again it is a fast downhill and then flat finish which should make for an exciting race finish.
Our Pre-Race Favorites
Defending conference champs, Boston University comes out for its first race of the season, and brings the female race favorites along with them. I will note, it is hard to tell if a fresh face may come on the scene like last week's Meghan Smith of Drexel, but for what we know, it's a BU sweep here.
Natalie Tukan (BU):Tukan finished behind Witkowski and Lie in the overall standings last year, but did not compete in the conference championship where the most points were handed out. Natlie had two podium finishes last year at Lake George and Lobsterman, and is my personal favorite for the overall victory.
Ellen Witkowski (BU):Finished 6th last year in the conference standings and beat out teammate Stephanie Lie by one position in the conference championship. She also finished 6th last year at Lobsterman in Maine.
Stephanie Lie (BU):Lie was edged out by her teammate Ellen twice last year at Lobsterman and Atlantic city by only one spot. She finished last season with 306 points, good for 7th overall in the conference, and is always a promising favorite as one of the most consistent athletes in the conference.
This year's men's race is the most open race of the season. None of last year's top 10 men are competing, and last weeks podium is also notably absent. This is a great opportunity for some men to steal the 150 points awarded, and possibly greatly shake up this year's final standings. Tactically, this is the ideal race to be in if your looking to move up in the standings.
Alex Springer (MIT): Springer is the top returning male, and finished 11th last year in the conference standings. Springer started last season off with a 3rd place finish at Cranberry, but struggled in his remaining races at Lobsterman, and Atlantic City. This year Alex has the opportunity to steal some big points if he can hold off any major surprises in the rest of the field.
Chris Mulhall (UCONN):Mulhall finished 16th in last year's standings and suffered much of the same fate as Springer. A top finish at Cranberry, but had a tough finish to the season. Mulhall also competed in last week's race finishing 12th overall, which means after Maine, he could quite possibly be the new conference leader.