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Ludington Triathlon sprint races head out into the fog and chilly waters of Lake Michigan Sunday morning. MIsportOnline photo.

Ludington Triathlon sprint racers head out into the fog and chilly waters of Lake Michigan Sunday morning. MIsportOnline photo.

LUDINGTON – Kathy Calabretta, women’s runner-up in the sprint race Sunday TriathlonICONat the inaugural Tri to Finish Ludington Triathlon, hopes to do well at USA Triathlon’s age group nationals later this summer in Milwaukee.

In just which age group, however, isn’t clear.

Lauren Biggs, women's sprint winner at the Ludington Triathlon on Sunday, heads out of the bike after the fourth best swim of the day.

Lauren Biggs, women’s sprint winner at the Ludington Triathlon on Sunday, heads out on the bike after the fourth best swim of the day.

The 65-year-old from Ludington held off hard-charging 25-year-old Katherine McCarthy of Grand Rapids, by 12 seconds, and lost only to middle school phenom Lauren Biggs of Ludington.

Calabretta used the fourth-fastest women’s bike split of the day and a lighting fast 26-second streak through T2 to finish in 1:22:20. Calabretta needed every second to hold off McCarthy, who tore through the rat-maze run course in 19:35 to finish hard on her heels in 1:22:32.

Truth be told there were no women and very few men in 65-deep sprint race who were going to come anywhere close to finishing near Biggs. The 14-year-old women’s sprint winner finished the .75-kilometer (.46-mile) swim, 21-kilometer bike (13 miles) and 5K run (3.1 miles) sixth overall in 1:11:48.

Biggs had the fastest women’s swim (12:14) and bike splits (37:58) and second-fastest run (20:22). Her day was even more impressive when measured against the entire field: She was fourth out of frigid, fog-shrouded Lake Michigan and had the eighth best bike (20.6 mph) overall.

Overall winner Eric Abbott, 24, of Grand Rapids, scorched the bike in 31:20 (a 25 mph average) to win the men’s sprint title in 1:02:17.

Swim leader Aaron Denner, 25, of Grand Rapids, was second in 1:04:56 and 24-year-old Todd Buckingham of Big Rapids was third in 1:05:41.

For complete Tri to Finish Ludington Triathlon results, visit: www.RaceServices.com

Milwaukee’s  finest

A USA Triathlon honorable mention All-American last year,

Kathy Calabretta

Kathy Calabretta

Calabretta has high hopes for her first trip to age group nationals Aug. 10-11, in Milwaukee.

“Brisk,” said Calabretta, about the swim, her accent a dead giveaway of her New Jersey origins. “Once you’re in there you’re not worried about the cold, you’re worried about where you’re going. Once your feet get numb, it doesn’t much matter.”

A runner before taking up triathlon seven years ago, Calabretta praised the run course. “It’s flat,” she said. “It’s pretty, it’s scenic and we watched the Badger go out. I didn’t stop to wave, but maybe next time.”

Biggs things ahead

The only reason Biggs won’t clean up in Milwaukee in August is that it’d

Lauren Biggs

Lauren Biggs

interfere with her performance at USA Track & Field’s youth nationals. That at the fact she’ll be getting ready for her freshman year of high school.

Biggs took the lead in the swim and never came close to giving it up. “The swim was the hardest part. It was definitely really cold,” Biggs said. “It was a little scary.”

Barely into her second year of triathlon competition, Biggs was second woman and 11th overall in the nearly 400-strong field at the Grand Rapids Sprint Triathlon on June 9.

“My dad did them when he was young and since I’m a swimmer and a runner, it just came naturally,” Biggs said.

Blow you away

Overall winner Abbott knew heading out toward Ludington State Park on the

Eric Abbott

Eric Abbott

bike course there’d be trouble when he turned around.

“It was really, really windy,” said Abbot, still out or breath after going back out on the run course to pace home a friend. “I knew that going out. I can’t normally go that fast – 31-32 mph – and that was going up some hills. There’s no way I’m that fast. I knew I was going to get hammered when I turned around.”

He ground down the big gears to average about 22 mph into a close to 20 mph headwind coming back and left T2 with an 4-minute cushion.

“My coach and I are dialing it in for Milwaukee,” Abbott said. “I’m hoping for some good results there.”

Twice the fun

Olympic distance athletes got to spend twice as much time doing a 1.5-kilometer (.9-mile) swim in the 57-degree chop inside Ludington’s breakwaters. Olympic distance triathletes biked 36 kilometers (22.4 miles) and ran a 10K (6.2 miles).

Dave Furey, 55, of Ann Arbor, out-ran 39-year-old Jason Demeter of Elkhart, Ind., for the Olympic title by 27 seconds, finishing in 2:00:08. Women’s Olympic distance winner Angie O’Brien, 42, of Grandville had a cushy 6-minute plus margin coming out of T2, to win in 2:11:59.

Another home-towner, Tomas Lopez, of Ludington, won the duathlon (5K run, 21K bike, 5K run) in 1:20:52. Utica’s Megan Fecteau was the women’s duathlon winner in 1:25:03.

 

 

The third wave in Sunday's Muskegon Family Y Indoor Triathlon starts their 15-minute swim leg.

The third wave in Sunday’s Muskegon Family Y Indoor Triathlon starts their 15-minute swim leg.

The men’s and women’s overall winners had different aims Sunday at the Muskegon Family Y indoor triathlon.

Men’s overall winner Joel Anderson used the second race in the West Michigan Indoor Triathlon series as a first step toward Ironman Wisconsin in September.

For women’s overall winner Megan Aney, Sunday’s race was an end in itself.

Eric Moe, winner of the men's 50-55 division, cranks out major wattage on the bike leg.

Eric Moe, winner of the men’s 50-55 division, cranks out major wattage on the bike leg.

Megan Aney

Megan Aney

“I love this format,” said Aney, 30, of Muskegon. “I’m not an outdoor biker so I love this.” So far strictly an indoor triathlete, Aney admitted race director Don Correll has been trying to coax her to try an outdoor event. “Don has been trying to get me on a real bike,” she confessed.

A Sault Ste. Marie native and a collegiate swimmer at Alma, Aney had the day’s best swim, man or woman, of 21 laps. Aney finished with 270.45 points. Her 7.17 miles on the bike and 34 ¼ laps of the track were each 8th best among the 25 women in the field.

Kacey Tulley, women’s 35-39 winner, had the day’s best run of 41 laps and women’s 35-39 runner up Becky Biesiada’s 8.25 miles was the best bike split.

Anderson and Aney were both overall champs in the series opener in December at Norton Athletic Club.

“These races are a nice, mid-winter way to see where you’re at,” said Anderson, who later this year will be looking to improve a respectable 12:38:45 finish at the 2011 Ironman Wisconsin.

Joel Anderson

Joel Anderson

Sunday’s race proved a test of Anderson mental toughness. “I’ve been sick all week. Today was just a matter of showing up. To be honest I didn’t have many expectations.”

Women's master winner Dena Thayer glides through the curve on one of her 35 laps of the Muskegon Family Y indoor track.

Women’s master’s winner Dena Thayer glides through the curve on one of her 35 laps of the Muskegon Family Y indoor track.

Anderson’s 296.17 was just 3.83 points shy of a perfect score of 300. The 36-year-old from Spring Lake had the best men’s swim of 20 laps and best overall run of 47 laps. Anderson’s 9.53 miles on the bike was second behind men’s 25-29 winner Mike Danhof’s top ride of 9.91.There were a total of 13 in the men’s field.

For 15 minutes each, participants swam in the Muskegon Y pool, pedaled
Trek Madones on indoor trainers and ran on the Y track. Correll’s unique scoring system awarded points as a percentage of the day’s top men’s and women’s performances in each event.

For example, Anderson’s 20 laps of the Y pool in 15 minutes earned him 100 points. A man who completed 10 laps, or 50 percent of Anderson’s total, would’ve scored 50 points.

Winners had the highest aggregate score (not necessarily most yardage) for all three events.

Women’s junior champion Allison Mahn scored 249.10, women’s master’s winner Dena Thayer had 237.61 and women’s grand master’s champ Laurie Walsworth 233.85.

Men’s master’s winner John Mayer finished with 188.09 points and grand master’s champ Bill Anderson had 208.49.

Click links below for complete results:

Men’s results

Women’s results

Mihi Taungarangi Toki and Laurie Walsworth share a laugh after Walsworth finished the ITU Age Group World Championship Oct. 22 in Auckland, New Zealand.

AUCKLAND – Measured strictly by time, it was not her best race.

Measured by the strength of will it took simply to finish and the resilience of spirit that allowed her to share a hearty laugh with a new found friend minutes afterward, this was Laurie Walsworth’s best race ever.

A raging cause of plantar fasciitis which has made each step over the past few days so painful at times it brought tears to her eyes did not stop Walworth from finishing the ITU Age Group World Championships here on Monday morning (Sunday afternoon in the U.S.)

Laurie Walsworth eyes the swim course shortly after sunrise Oct. 22 in Auckland, New Zealand while waiting for her 7:45 a.m. race start.

Now, nearly 5 hours after she finished limping noticeably and gamely waving the U.S. flag, Walsworth is not terribly curious about her time or place. She raced as hard as she could; going out strongly in the 750-meter swim in the cold (57-degree), salty waters of Auckland Harbor, moving up toward the front during a 13.1-mile bike over a course peppered with steep climbs then hobbling home over a flat 3.2-mile run.

Fact of the matter is whatever her place was today, given even a modest approximation of her normal run and she’d have been far higher in the final placing.

I am certainly not the most objective witness for her race, being her husband of some 15 years and all, but many out on the course were impressed with her effort. More than once course workers and race officials, seeing how much pain she was obviously suffering, offered her a ride to the finish (aid that would have put the initials DNF after her name in the results).  “I can crawl that far,” she told one official. “I’m not quitting.”

Near the start of the final excruciating mile, the entire staff (minus shop dog ‘Frankie’ who had Monday, a New Zealand national holiday, off) of Natural High bike shop turned out course-side to give Walsworth a full-throated cheer as she passed.

“As bad as I felt, I had to smile,” she said.

When she entered the finish stretch in front of the grandstand flying flags from all 60 countries represented here, the crowd’s applause grew appreciably louder as they noticed her grimacing with each step toward the finish.

And then it was done.

She emerged from Shed 10 at the end of the finish chute on Queen’s Wharf, her heel wrapped in an ice pack, smiling a little and said, “I just wish I could have run better.”

Walsworth completes the ITU Age Group World Championships for a hard won finisher’s medal.

Soon she was settled in, waiting for someone to retrieve her bike from transition.

It was not 10 minutes before she’d struck up a conversation with course worker Mihi Taungarangi Toki. Not long after that, Mihi, eager to satisfy Walsworth’s curiosity about Maori culture, had invited her to come visit her home later this week and offered to arrange transportation. Unchangeable travel plans made Mihi’s generous offer impossible to accept.

Dawn breaks over the Auckland, New Zealand waterfront as racers set up in transition at 5:30 a.m. for the ITU Age Group World Championships.

Before parting, Walsworth asked if she should keep her aero helmet, damaged in the race, for the long flight home. Mihi said she’d like to have it, if Walsworth did not mind, to keep as a memento of the race.

Among the other friends Walsworth made while in Auckland were Marie Freeland, who clocked a personal best in the run Monday, and American Janet Jarvits who, like many in the Australian team, was laid low by a stomach bug picked during a practice swim earlier in the week and was too ill to compete.

Some finished first on Monday. Whether or not they won, only time will tell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laurie Walsworth, left, and Janet Jarvits ready for the parade of athletes at the opening ceremonies for the ITU World Age Group Triathlon Championships.

The first New Yorker magazine story I remember reading was in high school, nearly 40 years ago now. It was a profile on a street rod builder. He poured all his energy and talent into the engine and transmission of his cars, then disguised them with a lightweight blocky, Chevy Nova body painted primer grey. When the unsuspecting drivers of custom candy painted slick deuce coupes challenged him at stop lights, the drab-looking little Nova left them at the stoplight choking on a cloud of tire smoke.

All the 3,001 age group triathletes in Auckland, New Zealand for the ITU World Age Group Championships on Oct. 22 (Oct. 21 in the U.S.) are fast. A distillation of the top finishers from the national championship races of more 60 countries, there is no fluff in this field.

Like hot rods they break down into two groups: Customs and sleepers. Both were on display Thursday for the Team USA photo and parade of athletes which preceded the official opening ceremony at Queens Wharf.

Team USA athletes assemble for the offical team photo on the Auckland waterfront.

As a rule, Customs tend to wear tight-fitting clothing to accentuate their finely sculpted bodies. Their Team USA jackets have the biggest logos and most have their full names embroidered on the lapels. The jacket’s backs are covered with patches from the last 20 or so world championships.

Despite being instructed to wear khakis and team jackets to the ceremony, sleepers showed up in jeans, Team USA t-shirts, bike jerseys and sweatshirts.

Customs tend to stay in expensive hotels, directly across the street from the transition area and eat in the better restaurants. Sleepers will look for a bargain off the beaten path (but not too far from the race venue) and head for the nearest supermarket to stock up on groceries so they can prepare meals in their (often shared) rooms.

You will find no better example of a top-notch sleeper than Janet Jarvits, “The Cookbook Queen of Pasadena.” Met on the walk to the staging area for the Team USA photo, Jarvits is quietly friendly and direct when asked for directions.

Unlike a Custom, utmost on her mind is not periodization training, sports nutrition or gear ratios but her palpable relief her Chihuahua, who it seems attempted to follow her to Auckland from the friend’s house where she’d left him, was found safe and sound after being missing for 5 hours.

Jarvits, it turns out, is the sole owner and employee of Cook Books by Janet Jarvits. To say she buys and sells used cookbooks does her little justice. Among the rare and used treasures she’s unearthed are cookbooks from the 1700s and at least one book first published as a fund-raiser for the troops during the Civil War.

Team USA parades into downtown Auckland for the opening ceremonies.

“I won’t be moving from Pasadena anytime soon,” she says. “Not with more than 30,000 cookbooks in the house.” If you’re looking for a vintage cookbook to replace and old that’s gone missing, Jarvits surely has a copy at http://www.cookbkjj.com/

Jarvits prepared for the Oct. 22 age group sprint triathlon by competing in the ITU Age Group World Championship Aquathlon on Oct. 15. Almost apologetically, and only when asked, she reveals she finished “Only 19th, ,” in her age group in the race. The race, ahem, was the World Championships. Top 20 in the world ain’t bad in my book.

Persuaded to stay for the free pasta dinner at the opening ceremonies, Jarvits reveals she has been battling the aftereffects of a serious ankle injury for the past two years which has slowed her some on the run.

She brightens noticeably when Michigan Time Trial Champion Laurie Walsworth of Muskegon, Mich., enthusiastically offers a few tips she is sure will cut minutes off Jarvits’ bike times.

Chatting like school kids, the pair exchange war stories from years of racing, and only after an hour or so of lively conversation does it emerge that Jarvits was 45-49 age group champion and 8th woman overall at the Wildflower Mountain Bike Triathlon in Bradley, Calif. in May Dinner finished, the two new friends wish each other luck and head for their hotels.

Understated and eager to race, both are little different from the numerous Customs thronging Auckland. It is a difference only of style, not of substance. At this race Customs are just as fast as sleepers.

 

The Air Pacific flight from Los Angeles to Auckland stopped for a 3-hour layover in Fiji at dawn. MIsportOnline photo.

The final leg of a journey which began nearly 6 years ago began an hour late when a tornado warning shut down all flights out of O’Hare Airport last Sunday evening.

At 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, bleary-eyed, goofy with fatigue and craving a long, hot, much-needed shower, Laurie Walsworth from Muskegon, Mich. arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, site of the ITU Age Group World Championship Triathlon.

She had qualified for the world championship once before, in 2006, but was forced to watch from the shore of Lake Geneva, Switzerland, her elbow broken, her arm in a sling, as hundreds of other triathletes competed in a race she then though she would get only one chance at in her lifetime.

Laurie Walsworth, from Muskegon, Mich., will compete in the ITU World Championship Age Group Finals on Oct. 22 (Oct. 21 in the U.S) in Auckland, New Zealand.

Given the setbacks which followed, it seemed more certain each year that the 2006 world championships would, indeed, be her only shot to compete against the best in the world.

When she qualified again in Burlington, Vermont in August, 2011, she signed up for these world championships never really quite believing she would actually make it all the way to New Zealand.

On Oct. 22 (Oct. 21 in the U.S.), thanks in part to help from her employer, Mercy Health Partners, Walsworth will swim 750 meters in the cold (58-degrees) South Pacific waters of Auckland harbor, bike 13.1 miles up and down the city’s steep hills and run 3.1 miles along the waterfront.

Where she finishes is not at all important. Being here at all means everything.

Mob scene

This is the largest ITU (International Triathlon Union) race in history. In addition to the world’s top pros (Olympians included) 3,001 of the best amateur triathetes from more than 60 countries will compete for age group titles. (You can’t toss an empty gel pack 5 feet in downtown Auckland without hitting an age group triathlete from somewhere).

Auckland airport at high noon Tuesday was a testament to the fact every triathlete from all corners of the world think exactly alike. Intent on arriving with enough time to adjust to the massive time differences between New Zealand and just about every other point on the globe, a mob of something like 500 athletes descended on Auckland airport at the same time. Just as the line to clear customs threatened to back up out onto the tarmac, a New Zealand government official declared half the crowd honorary Kiwis and diverted them into the “New Zealand passport holders only” line.

The long wait for luggage got longer still as anxious athletes waited nervously for straining baggage handlers to slide their bike box into the terminal. Their first lame jokes about the delay turned to gallows humor first and then to silence.

Natural High’s wonder-working master mechanic Jamie.

Luggage filled with clothes was ignored when it arrived. No one relaxed until their bike arrived. At least one bike vanished without trace somewhere on its way across the Pacific. One more athlete will watch the race of her life from the sidelines. (There is not a spare race bike to be had for love or money in all Auckland this weekend).

New alliances

Walsworth teamed up with Marie and Doug Freeland, new friends from Littleton, Colo., met on the flight over, to charter a shuttle van and cut in half their transportation cost from the suburban airport to downtown Auckland.

Jet lag

Pungent from non-stop travel and 36 hours in the same clothes, athletes cleaned up and then, rather than hitting the sheets, wobbled out onto Auckland’s streets, trying to reset their body clocks to the local rhythm. (Marie stumbled badly before she caught her second wind, breaking three of her toes while still in her hotel room. She will race Monday, regardless).

Athletes train at The Parnell Baths, a salt water pool kept the same frigid temperature as the waters of Auckland harbor.

An early dinner, then to bed, dreaming of a training swim in the frigid salt water at the Parnell Baths on Wednesday, followed a day later by a guided ride ‘round the tortuous, hilly bike course amidst freeway traffic all driving down the wrong side of the road.

Some assembly required

For Walsworth, it was a ride made possible only by the meticulous work of Natural High Bike Shop mechanic Jamie (closely supervised by the shop’s dog, Frankie).

Natural High Bike Shop dog Frankie and Walsworth ready for Walsworth’s training ride in Auckland on Thursday.

Jamie navigated every unexpected glitch while reassembling Walsworth’s time trial bike with a grin and  a breezy, “No worries, mate,” sending her out onto her course ride with a perfectly set up (thanks also to specs supplied by hometown mechanic Eric Moe of Breakaway Bikes, who packed her bike for the trip).

Home again, home again

Shuttle van drivers, hotel staff , the guys at the bike shop and even Auckland’s bus drivers have all  taken to the ITU World Championship crowd as if they were all prodigal children finally returned home.

For most of age grouper, the long journey is over: The goal is in sight.

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