It was double or nothing in Ada Sunday at USA Triathlon’s Athena National Sprint Championships at the Grand Rapids Triathlon.
Dr. Laura Crower, 32, of Midland and Laurie Walsworth, 59, of Muskegon won their second straight national championship jerseys, while Carol “Smitty” Faure, 48, of Pocatello, Idaho added a second to the one she won in Milwaukee in 2013.
“It wasn’t my best race, but it was O.K,” Crower said. “I love this course.”
“The course was absolutely phenomenal,” Faure agreed. “I can’t say enough about the people of Grand Rapids and Michigan. The Midwest hospitality was true to form. This race is one of the better organized and best supported by the community I’ve ever been a part of.”
For complete results from the USAT Athena and Clydesdale National Championships click here or read USAT’s coverage of the event.
Under sunny skies and cool temperatures, Crower stripped nearly 3 minutes off the time she posted on the same course last year in a deluge, finishing in 1:12:59. She was 10th overall among the 244 women in the sprint, fastest of all 39 women in the national championship sprint and fastest (by a minute and a half) of the 29 sprint women 30-34.
Faure was hot on Crower’s heels coming out of the 600-meter swim in the Thornapple River and led the 40-54 Athena field by over 4 minutes. She added another 8 minutes to her margin after the flat 20k bike and 5K run with the three best 40-54 splits of the day. Her 1:20:12 finish put her second overall behind Crower.
Walsworth sped through the field with a Top 3 bike split to finish in the top 5 overall in 1:27:40.
Crower, a physical therapist, grew up in Midland and attended Ferris State University, where she is still fifth on the Bulldog softball team’s all-time list in career homers with 12, 8th in doubles with 31 and tied for 9th with 83 RBI.
Crower’s next big race is the Life Time Tri Minneapolis, on July 9. “I thought I was going to a Twins game, too, but they’re not home that weekend,” Crower said.
Crower went on a tear after winning last year’s national championship, taking the 30-34 sprint title at the Boyne City (Mich.) Triathlon in August and followed that with top age group finishes in the Traverse City Triathlon Olympic (2nd) and Challenge Cedar Point Half Ironman (5th) in September. Crower qualified for the 2014 USAT Olympic Distance Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee, Wisc.
After winning the Athena overall in 2013 in Milwaukee, Faure was runner up to six-time Athena champion Leslie Battle of Warwick, R.I. in the national championship sprint race at the DeGray Lake Sprint Triathlon in 2014. Faure was 8th among U.S. women 40-44 at the 2012 ITU Age Group World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand.
Faure is back on top this season. “I had some health problems several years ago and I knew I needed to do something. I did a local triathlon in Idaho and, like 98 percent of triathletes, I got hooked. You do one and you’re going to do 100.”
Next up for Faure are the 2016 U.S. Masters Swimming Summer National Championships in Gresham, Ore., Aug. 17-21.
An Associate Professor of Sports Science and Physical Education at Idaho State University, Faure was lead author of, “Feeling Elite: The Collective Effervescence of TEAM USA at the 2012 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final,” published in 2014 in the The Qualitative Report, the oldest multidisciplinary qualitative research journal in the world.
It was the “collective effervescence” of the sport that first attracted Walsworth to triathlon 25 years ago. “The people in triathlon attracted me,” she said. “Cycling wasn’t too fair to women and it was little too cliquey.”
A two-time USA Cycling time trial national medalist, Walsworth has qualified for the ITU World Sprint Championships three times as an age grouper (twice after undergoing heart surgery).
Walsworth said a good heart rate monitor and an even better doctor have allowed her to continue racing. “My goal is to race without my heart rate going ballistic,” she says. “My doctor (cardiologist Darryl Elmouchi, MD, FHRS) says as long as I don’t go longer than a sprint, he’s O.K. with it.”
Walsworth has a Masters in Exercise Physiology from Western Michigan University and works for Mercy Health Physical Therapy.
Next for Walsworth is the Door County Triathlon Sprint near Green Bay, Wisc., the USAT Sprint Nationals in Omaha, Neb. and the ITU Sprint Age Group Worlds in Cozumel, Mexico.