Chicago's not exactly known for being an endurance sports mecca. Those titles are often saved for spots like Boulder, Colo., and San Diego, Calif. But even if Chicago doesn't have such a title--possibly because it's so darn flat unless we skip the rides that are right outside our front doors--the Windy City, and it suburbs, can lay claim to some of the country's fastest triathletes.
Take the USA Triathlon Long Course Championship held in Oklahoma City, Okla., held on September 22. The race, which included a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run, was held at Lake Hefner in conjunction with the Redman Triathlon. Who finished first and second among the women? Two Chicago-area triathletes: Elizabeth Waterstraat and Jennifer Harrison.
Waterstraat, of Naperville, was crowned the long-course champion, winning the race in 4:48:16. Good for 37th place overall, Waterstraat was nine minutes ahead of her friend and runner-up Jennifer Harrison of West Dundee. Harrison grabbed the Masters title with her 4:57:37 second-place finish; she competes in the 40-44 age group while Waterstraat competes in the 35-39 age group. Along with men's winner Dave Slavinski of Point Pleasant, N.J., the trio proved that you don't need a year-round training climate, altitude or mountains to win national triathlon titles. Go ladies!
In addition to earning national titles, the top 20 athletes in each age group (and rolling down to 25th place) earned a spot on Team USA for the 2013 ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships, which will be held in Belfort, France, in June 2013. For more information and race results visit usatriathlon.org.