GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – National titles were awarded on Sunday to 16 age-group triathletes competing in the 2017 USA Triathlon Clydesdale and Athena National Championships, held in conjunction with the Grand Rapids Triathlon at Thornapple River for the third straight year.
In total, 132 athletes competed for top honors at three distances: a sprint-distance 600-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run; an Olympic-distance 1,500m swim, 40k bike and 10k run; and a 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).
Luke Hermes (Bloomington, Ill.) was the first Clydesdale finisher in the sprint race, crossing the line in a time of 1:08:32 to earn both overall and 39-and-under national titles. Laura Crower (Sanford, Mich.) won the overall Athena sprint-distance championship in 1:15:09 and defended her title in the 39-and-under age group.
Caroline Faure (Pocatello, Idaho) and Laurie Walsworth (Muskegon, Mich.) defended their sprint-distance Athena national titles in the 40-54 and 55+ age groups, respectively. Howard Palay (Waynesville, N.C.), a two-time Clydesdale 60+ national champion in the Olympic-distance race, won his first national title at the sprint distance.
“As usual, the people here at the Grand Rapids Triathlon do an excellent job, and we appreciate this venue for the Athena and Clydesdale athletes,” Palay said. “The wind was tough and the heat was a challenge, but we appreciate the beautiful course.”
In the Olympic-distance race, it was Lance Fargo (Ocean View, Del.) who defended his overall Clydesdale title in 2:23:26, earning 40-59 age group honors in the process. Stephanie Fleming (Okemos, Mich.) earned her first overall Athena national title 2:40:58.
“It was very hot, and the run was one of the hardest runs I’ve ever done,” Fleming, who also won the Athena 40-54 age group, said. “This is my third year competing in the Athena National Championships. I got second two times in a row, and I finally got to win today. For me, it’s really not so much competition as camaraderie – we really get to know each well other over the course of the year, and it’s like a vacation to come and see everybody again.”
In the long-course championship, Kyle Klinger (Austin, Tex.) was the overall Clydesdale winner as well as the Clydesdale 39-and-under champion, finishing with a time of 4:39:14. Leslie Battle (Warwick, R.I.) took the overall long-course win for Athenas in 5:37:24, locking down the Athena 40-54 age group title in the process. Though she won the overall Athena Olympic-distance race for five straight years from 2012-16 and also won the sprint in 2014, Battle earned long course honors for the first time this year.
“The course was awesome. It was a little bit windy out there, but it was perfect, and the volunteers were fantastic,” Battle said. “The competition was tight. The other women gave me a run for my money, so I’m glad to come out victorious on the end of it. Every year the competition gets tougher.”
Christian Jacobsen (Oxford, Mich.) also defended his long-course title in the Clydesdale 40-59 age group.
Clydesdale and Athena Nationals have been held as a standalone event on USA Triathlon’s national championship calendar since 2014. 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.
“I appreciate that USA Triathlon and the Grand Rapids Triathlon have really stepped up and made an excellent forum to showcase the best Clydesdale and Athena athletes,” Battle said. “We are a competitive class, and it’s really important to have people who are coming to this event and showcasing the talent in this division.”
USA Triathlon Clydesdale and Athena National Championships
600m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
Overall Clydesdale: Luke Hermes (Bloomington, Ill.), 1:08:32
Overall Athena: Laura Crower (Sanford, Mich.), 1:15:09
Clydesdale 39 & Under: Luke Hermes (Bloomington, Ill.), 1:08:32
Athena 39 & Under: Laura Crower (Sanford, Mich.), 1:15:09
Clydesdale 40-59: Ryan Phillips (South Burlington, Vt.), 1:14:45
Athena 40-54: Caroline Faure (Pocatello, Idaho), 1:27:53
Clydesdale 60+: Howard Palay (Waynesville, N.C.), 1:34:51
Athena 55+: Laurie Walsworth (Muskegon, Mich.), 1:32:23
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run
Overall Clydesdale: Lance Fargo (Ocean View, Del.), 2:23:26
Overall Athena: Stephanie Fleming (Okemos, Mich.), 2:40:58
Clydesdale 39 & Under: Robert West (Herriman, Utah), 2:30:30
Athena 39 & Under: Alyssa Hinds (Mason, Mich.), 2:43:42
Clydesdale 40-59: Lance Fargo (Ocean View, Del.), 2:23:26
Athena 40-54: Stephanie Fleming (Okemos, Mich.), 2:40:58
Clydesdale 60+: Bob Schmidt (Hinkley, Ohio), 3:34:43
Athena 55+: Rhoda Miel (Ann Arbor, Mich.), 3:36:02
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
Overall Clydesdale: Kyle Klinger (Austin, Tex.), 4:39:14
Overall Athena: Leslie Battle (Warwick, R.I.), 5:37:24
Clydesdale 39 & Under: Kyle Klinger (Austin, Tex.), 4:39:14
Athena 39 & Under: Audrey Jensen (Grand Island, Neb.), 5:48:14
Clydesdale 40-59: Christian Jacobsen (Oxford, Mich.), 4:47:58
Athena 40-54: Leslie Battle (Warwick, R.I.), 5:37:24
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).