The inaugural Athena Classic hosted by Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights lived up to its billing Saturday, April 20 as 80 women from Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Oklahoma representing 24 CrossFit affiliates braved three fierce workouts to land a spot in the finals, where the top 18 warriors battled for bragging rights, trophies, and almost $1,500 in cash and prizes. The Athena Classic will return to Arlington Heights Saturday, April 19, 2014.
The final workout -- a spectator-friendly-but athlete-nasty combo of a 500m Row, 30 American KB Swings (30#), 20 Pull-Ups and 10 Burpee Box Jumps -- capped a great day of competition, and determined the 2013 Athena Classic Champion in the Open (18-39) and Master's (40+) divisions.
Liza Nelson, 43, Lake Zurich, took top honors in the Master's division after posting a draw for Workout #1 with Thadine Zajac, 40, Roselle; placing second to Zajac in Workout #2; and then besting Zajac in Workout #3. The difference between being crowned Master's Champ and placing second came down to 43 seconds, with Nelson completing Workout #4 in 5 minutes, 14 seconds to Zajac's 5 minutes and 57 seconds. Rounding out the podium for the Master's Division was Sue Walton, 42, Chicago, in her first-ever competition. Walton placed third in Workout #1, fourth in Workout #2, first in Workout #3 and fifth in the finals. Also competing in the Master's Division finals was Kaia Kraus, 40, Barrington; Kristin Young, 41, Bloomington; and Laura Channell, 42, Downers Grove. Channell edged out Lori Lindahl, 49, Arlington Heights, from a finals berth by just one point.
The top three finishers in the Open Division -- Jennifer McDade, 35, Bloomington; Emily Yates, 29, Oregon, WI; and Lindsay Wilson, 25, Evanston -- consistently scored well throughout the day, but each had an Achilles Heel workout that kept them from a lock on the overall standings.
McDade, entered the finals in first place after third place finishes in Workout #1 and #2, and a first place finish in Workout #3. Yates came to the finals in second place after a second place finish in Workout #1, fifth place finish in Workout #2 and third place finish in Workout #3. But Yates peaked at the right time, and her blazing time of 4 minutes and 39 seconds in Workout #4 pushed her past McDade, and to the title 2013 Athena Classic Open Division Champ. Wilson rounded out the top three spots with a first place in Workout #1, second in Workout #2, and ninth in Workout #3. Also competing in the Open Division finals was Julie Curry, 35, Collingsville, OK; and Kelsey Dipman, 30, Chicago; Erin Matta, 33, Barrington; Kasey Pontarelli, 23, Woodridge; and Erin Rupsis, 32, Darrien; Tomeka Coe, 37, Normal; Michaela Ortega, 22, Naperville; and Gina Ciannetti, 31, Evanston.
In a day filled with stellar athletic performances, once of the most memorable moments came when the spectators packed into Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights poured outside to encourage Diann Grim, 32, Bloomington, as fellow competitors ran alongside her as she completed the Workout #3 800m run. Diann, like all competitors, had the option to scale one or more workouts, but she never did. Her gumption and grit inspired those around her, and elevated her performance well above the scores she posted.
The sold out 2013 Athena Classic was hosted by Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights and supported by Road Runner Sports-Kildeer, The Paleo Baking Company, US Wellness Meats, Jack Alexander Salon & Spa, Nowicki Chiropractic, Raw Revolution, Progenex, Unbroken CrossFit Outfitters, and Tropical Smoothie-Arlington Heights. Admission to the event was free, but many spectators contributed to the event charity, The Northwest Special Recreation Association, an organization which provides outstanding opportunities through recreation for children and adults with disabilities.