SMASH Pro Team One of our goals at Smashfest Queen is to do our part to help deserving athletes make careers in our great sport. We are very proud to support this team of hard-working athletes.
Alyssa got her start in long distance racing at the University of Virginia when she went to join the college marathon team--and when the Marine Corps Marathon was sold out, she figured she may as well run the JFK 50-miler instead. She went on to amass an ultrarunning resume far above and beyond that of the average 25-year-old--including a 3rd-place JFK 50 finish and 3 x 100-mile ultramarathon finishes, with a 2nd at the HURT 100 . . . At which point decided to switch her focus to ironman racing and began working with SMASH Co-Founder Hillary as a coach. Over the next three years, Alyssa went from an 11:30+ ironman to a 10:12 ironman finish at the Hawaii Ironman in 2013. After qualifying for both the Hawaii Ironman and her pro card many times over and winning her age group at multiple ironman races, Alyssa decided to take on the challenge of racing as a professional in 2014. With this change, she also wanted to be sure that every time she lined up with the professional women, she knew that she had done everything possible to prepare for that opportunity. For her this meant also then giving up her day job as a Business Analyst for AOL Networks to focus on all things multisport-related. So in addition to spending more time training and properly recovering from her daily smashfests, Alyssa works with Hillary as a triathlon coach at TeamHPB. Her commitment paid off with multiple top-10 Ironman and 70.3 finishes, and four top-5 finishes at the Ironman distance. Most notably, she was 6th and 4th in 2015 at Ironman Copenhagen and Ironman Vichy -- racing just 7 days apart! She is training hard for a podium finish in 2016! Alyssa is also a founding member of TriEqual and works tirelessly to promote and mentor women in our sport. We could not be more proud of her efforts!
Haley won a National Championship with the University of Georgia Women's Swim Team and competed in the US Olympic Trials in both 2004 and 2008. After college, she took up triathlon to stay fit while working full time as a Certified Public Accountant. Having very similar pre-triathlon backgrounds, Haley and SMASH co-founder Hillary met in 2009 after Haley's Hawaii Ironman as an amateur, and Hillary had the privilege of unofficially mentoring Haley through her journey to the pro ranks. In 2013, Haley gave up her job with a thriving accounting firm to go all-in with triathlon as a professional. In her first year as a pro, she won her first 70.3 title at New Orleans 70.3 and finished 5th at Ironman Brasil on her road to qualifying for Kona, where she was the first woman out of the water at the World Championships in 2013! In 2014, Haley took her performance to a whole new level by WINNING her first ironman title by over 30 minutes at Ironman Brasil Fortaleza. Haley's fortitude was tested in 2015 when she was hit by a car on her bike during one of her last big workouts leading into the Hawaii Ironman. This incredibly determined athlete lined up at Kona without knowing that she was nursing a leg fracture amongst all the other injuries she sustained from the accident. She is one tough cookie and has spent the first half of 2016 rehabbing and getting ready for her big comeback in the second half of this year!
Maik Twelsiek, also known as "Fast Cat" or the "German Cycling Machine" started a trend that ultimately led to the launch of our men's line when he won Ironman Wisconsin in 2013 in our women's Fast n Loud tri top. Maik is a three-time Ironman Champion, owns bike course records all over the ironman circuit, and was the fastest cyclist in Kona at the Ironman World Championships in 2015. His kit of choice for that one was our men's Attack two-piece tri kit. Besides smashing bike courses worldwide, Maik has moonlighted as the SMASH shipping, modeling and photography department at various times since the company's inception--he is a multi-talented guy and the husband of SMASH Co-Founder Hillary.
Emily is our "late-bloomer" pro who inspires us so much with her hard work and patience at honing her craft in this profession. Emily grew up as a swimmer and swam for the University of Michigan. After a few years' hiatus from sport, Emily competed in her first triathlon in 2004, and raced as an amateur for six years before qualifying for her pro license in 2009. She began her pro career at age 33 and has slowly but surely climbed up through the pro ranks, with a breakthrough 4th place finish at the prestigious Vineman 70.3 last year . . . and her first podium at a major race this year at 39 with a 3rd place at the Wildflower Half Triathlon. Emily is one of the most patient and disciplined athletes we know and we are so proud to have her smashing it in our gear!
Sara Gross is an absolute legend in our sport. After racing professionally for over a decade and finishing on the podium countless times, she earned not one but two big wins in one season in 2014 at Ironman Brasil and Ironman Mt. Tremblant. Besides being one of the most enduring athletes in our sport, Sara has worn many hats in addition to racing throughout her career. She also earned a PhD in Ancient History and Religion, specializing in women's history, and coaches triathletes with Mercury Rising. It is no surprise then that Sara has been one of the biggest advocates for women in our sport and serves as the President of TriEqual. She also co-founded the Women in Sports podcast and website, and is racing in 2016 for the Bahrain Tri Team, through which she is doing outreach and promoting women in sport in the Middle East.
Leslie is a second-year pro who balances racing in the professional field with her full-time engineering job. Always one who functions best with a full plate, Leslie took up ironman soon after college as a complement to her work life. She had swum all four years of college, despite being a walk-on to the Bucknell team and told by the coach that she would likely not be able to hack it! As we know, words like this do not deter a Smashfest Queen, and it is this determination that earned Leslie much success in amateur racing, where she qualified for Kona four times and finished 4th in her age group in 2013. This year, Leslie had a major professional breakthrough at Ironman France where she finished 4th and recorded the fastest run time of the day! It probably will not come as a surprise that one of Leslie's off-season-fun activities was running Rim to Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon . . . We love her love of the smashfest!
Tamsyn Hayes is a Kiwi pro who has proudly been racing all over the globe in SMASH since our early days. Tamsyn came to triathlon from a rowing background and, not surprisingly, always excelled on the bike. After a standout couple of first pro seasons in 2013-2014, Tamsyn welcomed baby Anja in the fall of 2015. Incredibly, Tamsyn was back on an ironman start line by February of 2016 with Anja cheering her on from the sidelines. And now she is well and truly back at it, racing a full season this year while in the police academy where she is training for a second profession. We are inspired by this mom who does it all!