We are VERY excited to have Claire Bootsma join the Gear West Development Team this fall. Although the race season is winding down, Claire will be a smiley and talented addition come race season next spring. Read more about her unique childhood, athletic background, and goals below!
Where did you grow up and where are you living now? Do you have family nearby?
Both of my parents are Canadian and grew up in southern Ontario. I was born in Malawi, a small country in Eastern Africa. My dad is a researcher who studies fresh water biology and has an affinity for the African Great Lakes. Growing up my family lived on and off in Malawi with stints in Ontario, Manitoba, and Michigan in between. When I was 13, we moved to Milwaukee which is where I went to high school and where my parents still reside. I have three younger siblings, a sister who is studying physical therapy at UW Lacrosse, one brother in undergrad at UW Stevens Point, and another brother who is a senior in high school. I moved to Minneapolis in 2005 to attend the University of Minnesota and I still live in the cities.
Tell us about your athletic history; High School, College, Post College:
When my family moved to Milwaukee is when I first participated in organized sports. I swam competitively year round for a club and for my high school team. As a high school senior I joined the track team at the urging of my gym teacher who was also a track coach. Distance running came more naturally to me than swimming had and I was able to walk on to the CC and track team at the U of M. I competed for the U primarily as a miler but also ran the 800, 1000, and 3K. My junior year of college I bought a road bike for cross training purposes. I competed in two sprint triathlons while I was still in college and had modest results. After graduating from the U I spent my first post collegiate summer training for the Twin Cities Marathon. That experience lead me to the realization that very long distance running is not my cup of tea. I did my first post collegiate tri in August of 2010 (Maple Grove sprint). It seems to me that I have found my athletic niche in tris. I have so much fun racing and training for multi sport. The different disciplines keep me from getting bored and are wonderful overuse injury prevention. I also love the tri community; it is a competitive environment but much friendlier than D1 running.
What did you study in College and do you use that degree in your current career?
I graduated from the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing and am a registered nurse. I currently work in long-term care, but obstetrical nursing is the field I am most passionate about. I love being a nurse, every day is something new and I have the privilege of working with people during difficult and transition periods of their lives.
You smile a lot and we really like that about you. What takes the smile off your face? Racing hard certainly doesn’t.
Let’s see…flat tires (especially during a race)…and I’ve been sitting here thinking for about 10 minutes and can’t come up with anything else :0)
You have had great success in your early racing career. Do have any specific short-term or long-term goals you would be willing to share?
This season was my first full summer racing and has helped me benchmark goals for next year. I’m super excited to race next season with another year of experience under my belt and to get in my first winter of triathlon specific training. My race goals for 2012 are to win the Pigman Sprint (and take down Dan Hedgecock in the gender equalizer), win Lifetime Minneapolis, and place top three at Age Group Nationals. Specific time goals are to break 20 in an Olympic swim, break 36 in an Olympic run, and set a course record at Manitou. My final goal is to just keep learning more about how to race, I am definitely still a tri newbie. As for the long-term, I’m going to give myself more time exploring triathlon and seeing where it takes me naturally before I am ready to commit to long-term goals.
What made you decide to represent GW Bike & Tri at the races and beyond?
Gear West is synced with my approach to both competition and life. Having your best race is important; but ‘best’ means more than really fast, it’s making sure you have a good attitude, recognizing that everyone having a safe fun race is way more important than winning, and definitely not taking yourself too seriously. I know with GW I’ll be in the company of people who are both fast athletes and conscientious individuals. I’m super excited to race in a uniform that represents these foundations.
Most importantly, what do you do in your free time? Any interesting hobbies?
In my free time I read a lot; I love novels and short stories. Painting is a hobby I love but which I don’t make enough time for. I also really enjoy cooking for people and trying new recipes, usually from my monthly Canadian Living magazine. When I have enough time for a vacation I spend it camping, canoeing, or backpacking.
Do you have any unique talents that you try to hide from the general public?
Not that I can think of, but if I did have a unique talent that I usually try to hide I wouldn’t divulge it here.