Dave Slavinski arrived in Tucson on Friday morning, a few hours after midnight.

For the middle-school special education English teacher, the late-night flight was necessary.

But it was also good strategy entering the USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championship, which starts this morning in Oro Valley.

“Arrive late, and do your thing,” he said. “You suck it up and do it.”

Slavinski, 40, won his age group title last year as well as the standard-distance national title, earning the Masters Duathlete of the Year crown.

He called the desert environment different than what most athletes — including him, a Point Pleasant, N.J., native — are used to.

“Once you get here, it’s a totally different ballgame,” he said. “It’s a great venue.”

Read more about the duathlon in Saturday's Arizona Daily Star.