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Lafayette runner takes on the world as Junior Elite Triathlete

Austin Hindman

Austin Hindman

Austin Hindman has made a name for himself at Lafayette in cross country as well as track and field.

But the junior also has distinguished himself competing in triathlons.

Hindman is a Junior Elite Triathlete. The age group ITU Junior Elite is for 16- to 19-year-olds, participating in a 1-mile swim, a 25-mile bike race and a 6.2 mile run.

Hindman will be one of four American males to compete in the ITU Junior Elite World Championship in Chicago. He qualified for the World Championship by winning both the ITU Junior Elite North American Championship and the CAMTRI ITU Pan American Championship.

The Junior Elite North American event was held in Sarasota, Florida, while the Pan American was held in Monterrey, Mexico.

He won the North American Championship in 57 minutes, 8 seconds. He was the first American to win the North American Championship in five years. His time in the swimming leg was 11 minutes. He finished the bike race in 28:10. His time in the running event was 16:59.

Hindman bettered that time in the Pan American event, which he won in 54:16. His swimming time was 8:29. His bike time was 29.06. He finished the running portion in 15:25.

“It’s very impressive,” Lafayette cross country coach Sean O’Connor said. “Any time you can say you won a national or international level competition is pretty awesome.”

His triathlete career began early.

“I started competing when I was 5 because my dad was also a triathlete and I wanted to be just like him,” Hindman said.

The father and son competed in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon together when Hindman was 9 years old.

He won the Youth National Championship when he was 13.

He said the appeal of the sport is “the challenge of competing and pushing myself, also the variety of three sports.” But competing at such a high level requires rigorous training. In the fall, running cross country also factors into his training equation.

“Daily training really depends. Every day and every workout varies depending on where I am in my fitness and season,” Hindman said. “I usually swim four to five days a week, and about 1.75 to 3 miles per session. I bike two to four days a week. Two of those rides are usually hard interval workouts and the other rides are just easy miles.

“Running varies the most of the three sports. I am running really low mileage so I have only gotten over 30 miles a week a few times. When I am getting ready for a big race, I usually run five times a week with two of those as speed workouts and three as easy runs.”

His dream is to be “a full time pro triathlete and make a living from racing, (and) also, some day maybe make the U.S. Olympic team in the triathlon,” Hindman said.

Right now, however, he is competing with his Lancers teammates in cross country. He began the season on a strong note, too. Hindman finished first in the Fleet Feet Cross Country Classic at Parkway Central. His winning time was 10:05.45. He came in ahead of senior teammate Alec Haines.

“It’s a good confidence booster just showing myself I’m in good shape,” Hindman said.

O’Connor liked what he saw in the season-opening race.

“I thought he had a great race,” O’Connor said. “I expected him to be up there with Alec though I wasn’t sure who would win.”

Last fall, Hindman finished third in the Class 4 state meet. His time was 15:44.52. He helped Lafayette capture the team championship.

“Any time you can finish top five at the state meet, no matter your age, I’d say you’re doing something right,” O’Connor said.

“This season my individual goals are to improve on my third-place finish at state from last year,” Hindman said. “But I want to help my team to take the state title again this year and hopefully make it to Nike Nationals.”

Hindman scored a second-place finish at The Forest Park XC Festival. Lafayette captured the team title. That hopefully bodes well for the Lancers.

“I think we can do really well this season,” Hindman said. “We return six of our seven runners from last year and we all have been improving our fitness…I think we have a good shot at taking the team title again at state this year.”

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