With his arms raised in the air, Ryan Bickerstaff broke the ribbon, crossing the finish line first at the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships.
Other triathletes started rolling across the finish shortly after the 36-year-old Palo Alto, California, man did.
About 4,000 athletes are participating in the Olympic- and sprint-distance races Saturday and Sunday. The first female finisher was 38-year-old Kirsten Sass of McKenzie, Tennessee.
“I’m really happy with my race,” Sass said. “You always hope to race to your potential, but you never know how you stand in the scheme of things.”
Saturday’s race time was pushed back about 30 minutes to deal with traffic snags. Organizers said athletes didn’t seem to mind the delay.
“Everybody’s got a great attitude,” said Barry Siff, president of USA Triathlon.
This was the second time Omaha has hosted the amateur triathlon championships. It was expected to draw about 10,000 spectators to Levi Carter Park.
Organizers plan on moving the championships, which change location every two years, to the East and West Coasts next. They said Omaha will likely be in the running when it returns to the Midwest.
The Olympic-distance triathletes completed a 1,500-meter swim, followed by a 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run. Those athletes had to qualify at a sanctioned race to compete in the marquee event.
The shorter, sprint-distance triathlon is Sunday. Those athletes will complete a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike ride and 5-kilometer run.
Top finishers in each age group qualified for the ITU Age Group Triathlon World Championships in Gold Coast, Australia next September.
About 4,000 athletes were registered for this weekend’s races. Competitors represented all 50 states. The youngest athlete is 14 and the oldest is 88.