GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- National titles were awarded on Sunday to 17 age-group triathletes competing in the 2016 USA Triathlon Clydesdale and Athena National Championships, held in conjunction with the Grand Rapids Triathlon at Thornapple River.
Nearly 200 athletes from 32 states and Washington, D.C., competed for titles in Clydesdale and Athena Nationals, covering three distances: a sprint 600-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilmeter run; the Olympic-distance 1,500m swim, 40k bike and 10k run; and the long course 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run. National titles were awarded in three age categories per gender at the event: 39 and under (Clydesdale and Athena), 40-54 (Athena), 40-59 (Clydesdale), 55+ (Athena) and 60+ (Clydesdale).
In the sprint race, Mark Ziegert (Granger, Ind.) picked up the Clydesdale overall and 40-59 titles in 1 hour, 5 minutes, 50 seconds, more than 2 minutes ahead of the next closest competitor. Laura Crower (Sanford, Mich.) defended her 2015 overall Athena title as well as the 39 and under age division in 1:12:59, roughly 7 minutes ahead of the next fastest athlete.
Leslie Battle (Warwick, R.I.) won the overall Athena title in the Olympic-distance race, clocking in at 2:36:01 to also grab the 40-54 age division title. Battle has won the Olympic-distance Athena honors every year since 2012. Lance Fargo (Ocean View, Del.) grabbed the overall honors for Clydesdale in 2:17:38 while also winning the 40-59 division.
"USAT Clydesdale and Athena National Championships means the world to me in terms of what it does for uplifting the respect for Athena and Clydesdale athletes," Battle said. "Every year the divisions get more challenging, and it speaks volumes that the top Athena and Clydesdale athletes placed high among the overall results as well."
In the long course triathlon, Ross Weinzierl (St. Paul, Minn.) and Emily Scott (St. Louis, Minn.) were the overall champions. Both also won the 39 and under age division.
Crower and Battle were not the only athletes to successfully defend their 2015 titles on Sunday. Laurie Walsworth (Athena 55-plus, Muskegon, Mich.) and Bob Schmidt (Clydesdale 60-plus, Hinkley, Ohio) again won age-group titles in the sprint race, while Howard Palay (Clydesdale 60-plus, Waynesville, N.C.) defended his title in the Olympic-distance race.
The Clydesdale and Athena competitive divisions are based on weight minimums outlined in the USA Triathlon Competitive Rules. Athletes competing in the Clydesdale division must be a minimum of 220 pounds and athletes in the Athena division must be a minimum of 165 pounds. Clydesdale and Athena Nationals was held as a standalone event for the first time in 2014.
"I'm elated that we are getting acknowledged more and more as athletes with a valid place in triathlon," Battle said. "Speaking with many participants, I can confirm that we all deeply appreciated USAT's and GrTri's visible efforts in making this a showcase event. Things like that do worlds to bolster the esteem for and of Athena and Clydesdale athletes."
USA Triathlon Clydesdale and Athena National Championships
Sprint: 600m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
Clydesdale 39&Under: Paul Flannigan (Norfolk, Va.), 1:08:13
Athena 39&Under: Laura Crower (Sanford, Mich.), 1:12:59
Clydesdale 40-59: Mark Ziegert (Granger, Ind.), 1:05:50
Athena 40-54: Caroline Faure (Pocatello, Idaho), 1:20:12
Clydesdale 60+: Bob Schmidt (Hinkley, Ohio), 1:33:13
Athena 55+: Laurie Walsworth (Muskegon, Mich.), 1:27:40
Olympic-Distance: 1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run
Clydesdale 39&Under: Chris Gates (Grandville, Mich.), 2:20:28
Athena 39&Under: Haley Zapolski (Davenport, Iowa), 2:36:35
Clydesdale 40-59: Lance Fargo (Ocean View, Del.), 2:17:38
Athena 40-54: Leslie Battle (Warwick, R.I.), 2:36:01
Clydesdale 60+: Howard Palay (Waynesville, N.C.), 3:11:33
Athena 55+: Ellen Draheim (Kalamazoo, Mich.), 4:49:14
Long Course: 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
Clydesdale 39&Under: Ross Weinzierl (St. Paul, Minn.), 4:31:23
Athena 39&Under: Emily Scott (St. Louis, Mo.), 5:44:05
Clydesdale 40-59: Christian Jacobsen (Oxford, Mich.), 5:00:27
Athena 40-54: CC Rowe (Austin, Texas), 6:13:31
Athena 55+: Cindy Berndt (Franklin, Wis.), 7:39:14
||About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).