35th Wildflower Triathlon celebrates the roots of the sport

MONTEREY —  At the 35th anniversary edition of the Wildflower Experience Triathlon, Kevin Jervis from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Katherine Hoolihan from the University of California, Berkeley captured the collegiate titles at the 2018 Wildflower Experience Triathlon.

More than 1,800 athletes competed in the Wildflower Olympic course event, which included 1.5K swim, a 40K bike ride, and 10K run.

Men’s Race

In the men’s race, Nathan Cohen, racing for UCSD Triathlon Team, was out of the water first, followed by Scott Mahan, Kevin Jervis, and Cullen Goss. Devin Volk, also from Cal Poly, was seventh out of the water.

By the time the athletes started out on the 10K run under the hot sun, Jervis had moved to an easy lead which he kept until the finish.

“I have never done this race before and I wanted to go out and see what would happen,” said Jervis, 24. “I suffered a bit on the run but that bike course is so much fun. I want to pass on my thanks to the folks at Wildflower because this is an awesome race.”

Last weekend, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., at the 2018 Collegiate Club National Championship, Jervis placed seventh in the draft legal sprint race and eighth in the Olympic distance race. His teammate, Devin Volk, placed fourth in the draft legal sprint and ninth in the Olympic distance at the same race.

“This race was a bit of a redemption,” added Jervis, a fifth-year senior, who is finished with college eligibility. “This is a victory lap in all meanings of the word. Although with races like Wildflower, it might be hard to step away from this sport.”

“Kevin is just an absolute monster as you could see today,” said his teammate Volk. “He just ran away with that and crushed everyone. I didn’t have a great swim today, which happens and you just have to deal with it. I paced myself on the bike pretty well and rode really hard on the second half. On the run, I just suffered.”

Volk was a strong runner before he started competing in triathlon, but he has made huge improvements in his swimming skills over the past year.

Jervis’ final time was 2:02:40, about seven minutes ahead of teammate Volk, who finished the course in 2:09:46. Joshua Mehlhaff from University of Washington was third in 2:14:13.

Women’s Race

In the women’s race, Katherine Hoolihan, from University of California, Berkeley easily cruised to victory, winning in 2:27:04.

Caroline Wilson from Stanford University was first out of the water, followed by Nicole Jordan, and Emily Lathrop. Hoolihan was seventh out of the water but quickly made up time on the bike.

“Katherine is so fast that she is the fifth best cyclist on the Cal Triathlon team,” said her coach, Dean Harper. “And I mean she’s the fastest out of both men and women. She is one of the best cyclists we’ve ever had at Berkeley.”

Last week at the 2018 Collegiate Club National Championship, Hoolihan placed fifth in the Olympic distance race and third overall.

“The race went pretty well today,” said Hoolihan after she crossed the finish line and lifted up the Wildflower banner. “It was really hilly but I’m used to the hills. I powered up them. The run was the toughest for sure but I just kept going.”

Harper added that this was Hoolihan’s first time on a time trial (TT) bike.

“It took four years to get Katherine on a TT bike,” added Harper. “She’s beaten all the guys on a road bike, so it was fun to see what she could do on a TT bike.”

Harper himself is a Wildflower legend. He won the very first Wildflower Triathlon when it was held in 1983 and he won it again in 1986. One of the pioneers of the sport, he was featured on the inaugural issue of Triathlete Magazine and won the very first USAT Long Course Championship in 1983. Today, he coaches the Cal Triathlon team, a job that he says was “meant to be.”

“I have 30 years of experience in triathlon and it’s an honor to share that with the kids,” said Harper. “What I want them to take from triathlon is that it’s a route to health and happiness. That’s the key benefit of endurance sports. I love coming back to Wildflower because it celebrates the purity of the sport, the dedication to living your best life, and doing that with people who share in that joy with you.”

Brianna Troksa, from University of Washington was second in today’s race, about two minutes behind Hoolihan in 2:29:11. Her teammate Cecilia Noecker was third in 2:32:59.

“I’m not usually a strong swimmer but I’ve made improvements over the last year,” said Troksa after the race. “The bike was good and my legs felt strong. I was trying to stay with my friend Cecilia, who is really strong and a great role model for me.”

The “Woodstock” Feeling of Wildflower

Today’s Olympic Distance triathlon was open to both age-group athletes as well as collegiate athletes. The race is always a big draw for triathlon teams, who come to Wildflower to race, enjoy the festival, and enjoy the camaraderie Wildflower is famous for.

Jennifer Temperley, of Team Betty Designs, was second in her age group in Saturday’s Long Course race and placed second in Sunday’s Olympic Distance race.

“Our team is located all across the world, but we keep in touch over social media, phone calls, and texts,” said Temperley, who lives in Manhattan Beach. She came to Wildflower with five California-based teammates.

“Coming to Wildflower with other teammates and spending time together is the best,” she said. “Wildflower is so community based an caring, and being together and enjoying triathlon and the outdoors together for a weekend is magical.”

The other element that helped lend a “Woodstock” feel to the Wildflower triathlon is that so many of the sport’s original legends were back to celebrate the sport and the next generation of competing athletes. Julie Moss, 1982 Wildflower Long Course Champion, was announcing at the race; triathlon legend, Scott Tinley competed in the relay event; and 1987 Wildflower Long Course Champion Kenny Souza returned to the event for the first time in a over decade.

This time, Souza returned with CLIF BAR, where he works as a marketing executive. On Saturday night, he hosted the CLIF BAR 80’s Tri-Geek party, which had a huge turnout of athletes.

Souza remembers his 1987 victory as his breakout.

“This race does that for a lot of people,” said Souza. “My life changed after winning Wildflower and I turned pro. I got a lot of visibility from that victory.”

The triathlon world was a bit different in 1987 when Souza beat out Andrew MacNaughton, who was one of the few athletes at the time using aero bars.“I could barely swim,” said Souza, “And I was having panic attacks in the water. The kayaks were coming back to get me because I was dead last.”

Souza came out of the swim 16 minutes behind MacNaughton in last place, but after the bike leg, Souza was in second place. Unfortunately, he was still 16 minutes back from MacNaughton and had to make back all of that time on the 13-mile run leg.

Souza agrees that today’s Wildflower Triathlon is radically different than when he won the race 31 years ago. However, he claims the Wildflower Experience is as authentic as ever.

“It’s good to be back,” he said. “And it’s great to see Wildflower back in full force.”

Wildflower Collegiate Race

Bradley, California - May 6, 2018

Swim 1.5K/ Bike 40K / Run 10K

Preliminary Results


  1. Kevin Jervis (Walnut Creek, California) 2:02:40
  2. Devin Volk (Corvallis, Oregon) 2:09:46
  3. Joshua Mehlhaff (Renton, Washington) 2:14:13
  4. Jeevan Philip (Richland, Washington) 2:14:31
  5. Nathan Cohen (Lancaster, California) 2:14:36
  6. Cullen Goss (San Luis Obispo, California) 2:15:58
  7. Kevin Le (Corvallis, Oregon) 2:16:53
  8. Mark Schefter (San Luis Obispo, California) 2:17:55
  9. Aaron Seipel (Sandy, Oregon) 2:18:07
  10. Stuart Suplick (Berkeley, California) 2:21:08


  1. Katherine Hoolihan (Berkeley, California) 2:27:04
  2. Brianna Troksa (Veradale, Washington) 2:29:11
  3. Cecilia Noecker (Seattle, Washington) 2:32:59
  4. Caroline Wilson (Blairstown, New Jersey) 2:34:14
  5. Nicole Krill (Tualatine, Oregon) 2:38:05
  6. Julia Mace (Corte Madera, California) 2:38:49
  7. Kayja Mann (Sebastopol, California) 2:39:59
  8. Emily Lathrop (La Jolla, California) 2:42:00
  9. Joanna Coker (La Jolla, California) 2:44:47
  10. Estee O’Sullivan (San Luis Obispo) 2:50:05

rkeley captured the collegiate titles at the 2018 Wildflower Experience Triathlon.

Over 1,800 athletes competed in the Wildflower Olympic course event, which included 1.5K swim, a 40K bike ride, and 10K run.


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