Team GR competed in memory of Michael Giardino. Photo by Randy Angel
While race directors Rick and Connie Crump, along with the many volunteers, were commemorating the 10th year of the Redondo Beach Triathlon on Sunday, there was another celebration happening within a large contingency of friends and family.
One year ago, tragedy struck the Giardino family when husband and father, Michael, collapsed after finishing the swim leg of the Redondo Beach Triathlon. The 48-year-old from San Pedro died later in the afternoon.
In honor of Giardino, the 16-member Team GR finished what Michael started while 22 close supporters cheered them on.
Andrew Giardino proudly displays the tattoo of his father Michael, who died last year after finishing the swim at the Redondo Beach Triathlon. Photo by Randy Angel
Wearing shirts with fluorescent lettering, Team GR inspired many of the 600-plus entrants after Rick Crump announced the team and its goal of honoring Giardino prior to the first wave of competitors entering the ocean for the ¼-mile swim.
“Look at all the people he inspired,” Michael’s wife Tammy exclaimed after crossing the finish line. “We appreciate each and every moment of life. He gave us such a gift. We don’t focus on the loss but what he gave us. On the final turn I just looked up and said ‘This is for you, babe.’”
Sporting a tattoo of his father on his upper arm, Andrew Giardino rejoiced with others after the race.
“We’ve had a lot of support,” Andrew said. “Obviously it’s hard to lose someone that was in such great shape and in the middle of a triathlon, which was unexpected. But it’s great to have family and friends to step up and basically hold our hand through this last year.”
Daughter Amanda Salter said the family has turned a low point in their lives into a positive outlook.
“We’ve reconnected with his high school friends,” Salter said. “Dad was a boisterous guy and fun to be around. It just speaks volumes on what type of person he was. He has kept so many people in his life. It’s given us all a new lease on life. We don’t take anything for granted anymore. I would rather remember him at his best than in a hospital. I never saw him shed a tear a day in his life and he never missed a day of work. He was that type of guy. It was nice of Rick to announce before the race that we were running this for dad. That meant a lot to us.”
Evan Kraus receives congratulations while winning the 10th Redondo Beach Triathlon. Photo by Randy Angel
Along with honoring Michael Giardino, Team GR also celebrated wins among their group. Ross Hillesheim, of Pleasant Hill, captured the 30-34 age division with a time of 50 minutes, 10 seconds and Dale Austin, Anne Brillo and Melessa Austin combined to win the Mixed Relay competition with a time of 1:24:48.
In his second competition in the Redondo Beach Triathlon, 29-year-old Evan Kraus, of Irvine, took top honors on the day crossing the finish line in 43:46.
Duncan Reid, 16, of Palos Verdes Estates, placed second with a mark of 44:25 edging Michael Collins, 48, of Irvine who posted a time of 44:36.
“It’s a good course but the swim is always interesting,” Kraus said “The bike is hard. By the time you get into that rhythm you have to do the run. I had so much fun last year that I came back.”
Kraus said he wants to compete in draft-legal racing which is in the ITU/Olympic triathlon format. During a draft-legal triathlon, athletes draft behind other athletes to save energy. Under normal TI rules, drafting would result in a penalty but under international competition rules for this style of racing, there is no penalty adding another dimension to race tactics and skill.
“I have a strong swimming background,” Kraus said. “I swam NCAA sprint freestyle for UC Davis so this is ocean swimming is really long for me.
El Segundo’s Mara Muslea won the women’s division with a time of 51:35. The 16-year-old bested Jane Esahak-Gage, 52, of Phoenix, AZ who posted a time of 51:50.
Faye Moore, 39, of San Pedro placed third at 52:10.
El Segundo 16-year-old Mara Muslea captured the women’s title. Photo by Randy Angel
“It was a tough race but it’s one of my favorites,” said Muslea after finishing her fourth Redondo Beach Triathlon. “Usually the run is the hardest for me but today it was the swim. I’ve been working really hard on my swim and wanted to give it my all.
The El Segundo High School athlete said she is focusing on triathlons. She plans on competing in the Breath of Life in Ventura on June 22 and will be traveling to Milwaukee in August to compete in the Triathlon Age Group Nationals.
“I did cross country last year and was on the high school swim team both years, but I’m finding it hard to balance my own training with high school sports. I’m really competitive and I consider high school sports more recreational and don’t push you as hard.”
Male age division winners included: Bradley Hartwyk (13-15, Seal Beach, 50:37), Duncan Reid (16-19, Palos Verdes Estates, 44:25), Ryan Reede (20-24, Manhattan Beach, 45:11), Evan Kraus (25-29, Irvine, 43:39), Ross Hillesheim (30-34, Pleasant Hill, 50:10), William Mudd (35-39, Culver City, 51:36), Sal Castro (40-44, Long Beach, 49:26), Michael Collins (45-49, Irvine, 44:36), James Hoeschler (50-54, El Segundo, 49:44), George Esahak-Gage (55-59, Scottsdale, AZ, 40:45), Gil Solomon (60-64, West Hills, 59:07), Dennis Holderman (65-69, San Pedro, 59:19), Michael Wood (70-74, Ventura, 58:20) and Bill Bell (75-99, Palm Desert, 2:13.09).
Females capturing age division titles included: Chloe Waldner (13-15, Clovis, 52:34), Mara Muslea (16-19, El Segundo, 51:35), Natalie Peng, (20-24, Bellflower, 1:01:23), Kara Conflenti (25-29, Redondo Beach, 1:02:48), Laura McDonald (30-34, Los Angeles, 52:24), Faye Moore (35-39, San Pedro, 52:10), Astrid Cybulskis, Irvine, 53:15), Julia Juliusson (45-49, Laguna Beach, 55:24), Jane Esahak-Gage (50-54, Phoenix, AZ, 51:50), Mary Davis (55-59, El Segundo, 1:09:55), Maggie Riley-Hagan (60-64, San Marcos, 1:07:39) and Glenys Jones (65-69, Newport Brach, 1:14:29).
The Gutierrez Family of David, David and Rico won the Male Relay division with a time of 48.50.