Renee Tomlin and Kirsten Kasper ran cross country at Georgetown in 2009

SARASOTA

Saturday’s ITU Triathlon World Cup made you realize how small the world can still seem.

Americans Renee Tomlin and Kirsten Kasper finished first and second in the Women’s Elite race in a field of 65 top-notch triathletes from around the world at Nathan Benderson Park. It turns out the two have a lot more in common than just sharing a country and a passion for triathlons.

Tomlin and Kasper were teammates on the cross country team at Georgetown University in 2009.

“Kirsten was just a freshman when I was a senior,” said Tomlin, who defeated her longtime friend and training partner by 1.1 seconds. “I was kind of like one of her elders.

“We come from similar backgrounds and have similar values. It’s just a nice camaraderie. It’s been really special.”

Both athletes turned to triathlons following their collegiate running careers.

“I have run with her a lot over the years,” Kasper said. “We’re comfortable racing against each other. I also know her strengths and weaknesses. She has a really strong kick.”

Tomlin revealed her speed in her sprint to the finish line in front of the Finish Tower at NBP. She qualified for the 2014 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1500-meter run.

Saturday’s race was Tomlin’s first major competition since fracturing the navicular bone in her foot.

“It was definitely a big confidence boost to win today,” Tomlin said. “But I know there will be bigger challenges ahead. I have more hurdles to climb. Today was the first step. I’m so happy with today.”

Like last year’s World Cup at NBP, the swimming portion of the race had to be scrapped due to algae levels that were deemed unacceptable by USA Triathlon and ITU officials.

Originally slated to begin with a 750-meter swim, the first segment morphed into a 2.5K run. The 18.3K bike ride and the finishing 5K run remained the same.

“It is what it is,” said Tomlin, who won in a time of 54:34.0. “Obviously, I am a triathlete, so I love to race the triathlon. But you have to be flexible and be able to adapt to whatever the conditions are.”

Vendula Frintova of Czech Republic, Yulia Yelistratova of the Ukraine and Switzerland’s Jolanda Annen rounded out the top five in the women’s race.

Frenchman Vincent Luis won the Elite Men’s World Cup in a time of 48:18.3, almost eight seconds faster than Belgium’s Jelle Geens in second place. Joao Pereira of Portugal was third and Morgan Pearson was the first American to cross the finish line in 48:26.7. Mexico’s Cesar Saracho was fifth.

The men’s race covered the same distances as the women’s and also offered the same prize purse of $60,000.

Racing resumes Sunday in the ITU Paratriathlon World Cup, set for 8 a.m. The CAMTRI Mixed Relay American Championships are slated for 1 p.m.

Admission is free. Parking is $5.