Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekend Racing: April 25-26

(Richmond, Virginia) Forty-four-year-old Jeanne Fleck  from Proctor, has only been competing in tris and dus for two years but has already picked up three Minnesota Multisport Awards (2007 Rookie of the Year, 2008 Master of the Year, 2008 Most Improved). Finishing fourth in her age division and ninth among all over-40 women, which she did at USAT Duathlon Nationals on April 26, was bound to raise some eyebrows. Certainly, her performances against national caliber competition last season at Apple (1st master, 7th overall) and especially Iron Girl-Bloomington (4th overall and a substantial lowering of the masters record) demonstrate that, if healthy and well-trained, she has nothing to fear from the top girls in the U.S., even former Du Master of the Year Kristin Villopoto (Chapel Hill, NC) and current MOY Julie Deery (Bala Cynwyd, PA).

 "...My intention was to go there to guarantee a qualification," Fleck said in an e-mail the day after the race. She went on to explain, "....given my poor fitness level and the unseasonal heat... I was actually satisfied with my finish." 

How hot was it, Jeanne? "...Verging on 100 degrees, which was pretty brutal for a northern Minnesota girl like me."

Poor fitness level? What's that all about? "I suffered a groin injury late last fall, which then manifested into a knee problem." Ouch! "The injuries left me unable to do any kind of lower body training until recently."

Fleck's performance in toasty Richmond on April 26 was ultimately more motivating than deflating. Setting her sights on Apple, see expects to "definitely see an improvement from my performance at Nationals now that I am able to maintain some consistent training."

The good news for the 40-44 girls at Apple, which is a Team USA Worlds Qualifier this year, is that Jeanne Fleck has already picked-up her Worlds slot. Some lucky lady who would have just missed earning a trip to North Carolina next September had Fleck decided to forego Nationals, will now be able to toe the starting line alongside Minnesota's Master of the Year.

(St. Petersburg, FL) "I had a solid race," Cathy Yndestad said after St. Anthony's. She had just placed 4th in Elite Amateur division of the 26-year-old mega-event (4000+ participants), which had to be abbreviated due to dangerously high seas. The pros still had to battle the Bay, but the age groupers did only the bike (40K) and run portions (10K). 

Cathy's bike split (1:02:47) was impressive-only Florida's Angela Hygema rode faster (1:01:58)-- but her run (40:52) was not up to her usual standards, though she did not express disappointment. 

The women's Elite Amateur race was won by phenomenal 45-year-old Linda Robb of Juno Beach, Florida. The former US Athlete of the Year and Master of the Year and owner of four World Championship medals is a five-time St. Anthony's champion. Chicago's Lindsay Whalen, the 2008 25-29 National Champion, placed second and USAT All American Stephanie Liles of Tallahassee, Florida was third.

The cancellation of the swim had a profound effect of Chaska's Curt Wood. Runner-up here two years ago thanks to race-leading swim and bike splits, Curt came into Sunday's race listed as one of the favorites but race management's fateful announcement relegated him to "elite-also-ran" status. And while Wood ultimately placed 27th among Elite Amateur men, thanks largely to an uncharacteristically laconic bike split, he had something to smile about after the race. He'd been working very hard in the off-season to improve his running and his diligence truly paid off at St. Anthony's as he was able to trim more than two minutes off his typical 10K times in 2008. 

The Elite Amateur men's podium spots were earned by Connecticut's Christopher Thomas,who finished 11 seconds ahead of  40-year-old West Virginian Vinnie Monseau, who endured a bike crash, and Tennessee's Thomas (Zach) Winchester, who was another 16 seconds in arrears.

In St. Anthony's men's professional race, St. Paul's David Thompson was able to battle back from his 26th place arrival in T1 to 8th place at the finish line. It was the third consecutive year that David has earned prize money at St. Anthony's.

This year's pro winners were Andy Potts and Rebeccah Wassner, both of whom were runners-up here in 2008.

St. Anthony's Results: Here