Saturday, May 30, 2009

PREVIEW OF THE 17th PIGMAN SPRINT...


(Photo of Cathy Yndestad courtesy of YndeCam. Cathy should pick up career win #33 on June 7.)



On June 7, Duluth's Brian Bich, the 2008 USAT Master of the Year, will be racing for his 8th consecutive, and 9th career amateur win, at the Pigman Sprint Triathlon. Not since Tony Schiller's amazing double-digit victory totals at Heart of the Lakes and Lake Waconia has a Minnesotan enjoyed such an successful winning streak.

Will the streak continue? Will the 43-year-old Bich, who owns Pigman's masters CR--1:03:22 in 2007--and the 3rd fastest amateur time (his 1:02:46 is 21 seconds off the mark set by Kevin O'Connor in '95, who then duplicated that clocking in '97) become the event's first 10-time champ?

Brian faces several obstacles, none of which are insurmountable. Interestingly, age is not one of them. Since turning 40, Brian's times have gotten faster, not slower.

What then, could stand in his way? Mechanical issues? Well, there's always that. Or the fact that he has yet to race this year, while others, like multiple Pigman winner/CR holder Kevin O'Connor and rising star from Des Moines, Nathan White, have a couple of sterling performances under their belts already this season?

A glance at his resume shows that Brian, unlike most triathletes, does not seem to require "tune up" races; he has an impressive history of winning his first race of the season, which is typically Pigman Sprint.

Kevin and Nathan are the real obstacles. O'Connor is fit and fast right now. He's also very aggressive and will go for the jugular if Brian isn't on his game. Kevin has beaten Brian on this course, though that was back in 2001.

Nathan White, 26, who finished 18 seconds behind Bich at last year's Pigman, poses the greatest threat. If this young man races up to his potential he should earn a US Athlete of the Year nomination at season's end. Certainly his '08 performances at Lifetime Fitness Elite (2nd), Hy-Vee Elite (2nd) and USAT Nationals (3rd overall), in addition to a preponderance of regional victories, support this prediction. White has youth and growing talent on his side. Bich has history, intelligence and muscle memory. It should be an epic battle and when the dust clears, Bich will have his 9th Pigman W, or O'Connor his 7th, or White his 1st. And these guys will be pulled and pushed to fast times, probably under the course best, weather permitting, by elite Minnesota challengers Curt Wood, who placed 2nd behind Brian in '06, Devon Palmer and Dennis Dane, and Iowa's emerging Jason Maurice. Could one of these guys break through and win the race? Sure, but none of them has arrived at that place in their careers where they not only win with regularity, a la Bich, White and O'Connor, but more importantly, expect to win with regularity. 

As for the women's race, Apple Valley's Cathy Yndestad is clearly in a class by herself. The three-time US Athlete of the Year Honorable Mention should pick up  her 3rd consecutive Pig Sprint win. 

The junior competition should be exciting.  It will feature the participation of two-time Minnesota Junior of the Year nominee Sarah Daniels, as well as Abby Tracy, Brandon Onopa and several others.

This year's Pig Sprint has attracted 796 registrants.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

MTN's MAY 2009 ATHLETES OF THE MONTH












Minnesota Tri News proudly introduces its ATHLETES OF THE MONTH * for May '09. 

OVERALL ATHLETES OF THE MONTH:  Marlo McGaver, 39, Duluth & Matthew Payne, 32, Columbia Heights

Payne (top L) ran the table in May with record-setting victories at Chain of Lakes and Albert Lea. He was also the top amateur at The Apple in the 2nd fastest amateur time in course history. McGaver (middle L)  picked up her 4th career win at Apple against that race's strongest field to date and finished 2nd at Gear West, a miniscule 1/100th of a click behind 2008 USAT Athlete of the Year runner-up Cathy Yndestad.

Also receiving consideration for Overall AOM was Kevin O'Connor, 38, of Medina. Kevin posted a big win at Oakdale and was 2nd amateur/6th overall at Apple, just 16-seconds behind AOM Matt Payne. It should be noted that Kevin did not race head-to-head with Matt, opting to launch with his age group. Matt raced with the Elite wave. 

AGE GROUP ATHLETES OF THE MONTH:  Jan Guenther, 50, Mound & Todd Firebaugh, 47, Woodbury.

Both Jan (bottom Land Todd (bottom R) raced twice in May and turned in divisional records on each occasion. Their overall finishes were even more impressive. Jan placed 5th at Gear West and 10th at Apple. Todd finished 4th at Oakdale and 20th/1st Master at Apple. 

Also receiving serious consideration for AG AOM was Bob Bailey, 65, of Woodbury. Bob was divisional champ at Oakdale and set a stunning CR at Apple.

* Selection Criteria:  For O/A AOM consideration, athletes must have turned in at least 2 outstanding performances, i.e. wins or podium finishes, in the designated month. For AG AOM consideration, an athlete must have recorded at least two outstanding performances in the designated month and be under age 20 or over age 40.

-AOM Selection Committee: Stephen Bullard, Heidi Keller-Miler and Jerry MacNeil.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

TRACIE KENT: AN UNAPOLOGETIC COFFEE SNOB AND WOODY WOODPECKER FAN...


A multisport practitioner since 2005, 35-year-old St. Paul resident Tracie Kent has amassed an impressive resume. While she has yet to receive an MMA nomination, her name comes up annually at Selection Committee meetings, usually in reference to the Duathlete of the Year and Most Improved categories.

Tracie is part of a select group of athletes who breathe down the necks of the national and world level athletes of our region. Marlo McGaver, Cathy Yndestad, Julie Hull and Marnie Walth win races with regularity and folks like Tracie tenaciously push them to fast times. The girls in front can't relax because girls like Tracie are nipping at their heels.

Tracie, you've been on the podium five times and are a perennial top 5-10 finisher. How important is it to you to catch the girls in front of you?

"I honestly have to say that I am trying to get away from having those kind of competitive goals. I try not to focus on race placings. I would like to keep improving my times, though..." 

Tracie became quiet. A moment later she finished her thought. "My goal for 2009 is to stay healthy, race in some longer distance events and enjoy what I'm doing." 

Spoken like an emotionally healthy person. Certainly her near-catastrophic bike crash in 2006 played a role in the formation of  her mature perspective. 

"I was a brush away  from paralysis. It made me realize how fortunate I am just to be able to participate in events. I want to truly embrace the training and racing and not worry about results."

Okay, Trace, you are an unapologetic coffee snob. What's with that?

"Coffee is my lifeline. Without it, I wouldn't be able to get up in the morning, which means I wouldn't be able to able to get to the pool by 5 am. And not just any coffee will do. I am a huge fan of the strong, dark stuff--Italian style. My favorite coffee shop is Espresso Royale."

After another thoughtful moment, Tracie continued: "coffee relaxes me in the evening and helps me unwind. To me, a perfect evening would include good conversation, a good book and good coffee."

Okay, what's with this Woody Woodpecker fetish?

"As a child my brother and I would structure our summer vacation days around making sure that we never missed the Woody Woodpecker Show. Also, Chilly Willy was on the program and he has to be the cutest cartoon character ever."

Chilly Willy?

"To this day hearing a Woody Woodpecker laugh stops me in my tracks. It brings back great memories."

(Photos by Erik Hull)

CHAD AUSTIN INTERVIEWS CYNTHIA BROCHMAN

(Facebook photo)

"When you combine running, tris, x-c skiing and snowshoeing, Cynthia Brochman is probably one of the most recognizable names around. The soon-to-be 44-year-old Maplewood resident has found challenges in each of these sports and more. Now she finds herself battling cancer...READ

Editor's Note: A world-class snowshoe racer, Cindy is also a decorated multisportswoman. She was the #3-ranked 40-44 woman on USAT's Duathlon All American list in 2008.

Monday, May 25, 2009

THE BIG 5-0


MTN congratulates St. Paul's David Thompson, who hit the Big 5-0 on May 23. Naw, he's not 50-years-old. He just won his 50th multisport race. That's right! 50th! Don't believe it? Check this out. 

1st at Apple Duathlon (2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004)
1st @ Powerman Alabama (2009, 2008, 2007)
1st @ Gear West Duathlon (2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003)
1st @ Pigman Sprint (2008, 2005)
1st @ Philadelphia Triathlon (2008, 2006)
1st @ Minneman (2008, 2007)
1st @ Brewhouse (2008, 2007)
1st @ Osceola Duathlon (2008)
1st @ Tri One O One (2007)
1st @ Clear Lake One O One (2007)
1st @ Timberman (2007, 2006, 2005)
1st @ Spirit of Racine (2007, 2006)
1st @ 5430 Half (2007)
1st @ Manitou (2006, 2005, 2004
1st @ Big Creek (2006)
1st @ Pigman Half (2006, 2005, 2002, 2001)
1st @ Tinley's Off-Road Int'l (2006)
1st @ Spartan Duathlon (2005)
1st @ Lake Waconia (2004)
1st @ Heart of the Lakes (2004, 2002)
1st @ Baker's International (2003)
1st @ Lake Placid Worlds Qualifier (2002)
1st @ Life Time Fitness-Elite Amateur (2002)
1st @ Turtleman (2002, 2001)
1st @ North Mankato (2001, 2000)

(Photo of David finishing at The Apple courtesy of Minnefotamoments.com)

RECORD-SETTING LADIES...


(Top) Ann Rhea, (Center) Jan Guenther and (Bottom) Marnie Walth were three of the athletes who set divisional bests at The Apple. This is not the first time these ladies have excelled in this race since the millennial change.

* Ann Rhea, 62, Plymouth

- 60-64 Course Record in 2008 & 2009

* Jan Guenther, 50, Mound

- 10th overall / 50-54 CR in 2009
- 9th overall in 2008 (age 49)
- 5th overall / 45-49CR in 2006 (1:37:58)
- 7th overall / 45-49CR in 2005 (1:41:59)
- 3rd overall / 40-44CR in 2004 (1:37:56)
- 2nd overall in 2003 
- 1st overall in 2002 (CR/Masters Record)
- 4th overall in 2001
- 4th overall in 2000 (40-44 National Champion)

* Marlina Walth, 40, Bismarck, ND

- 2nd overall / 40-44 CR in 2009 (1:35:48)
- 2nd overall in 2008, 2004, 2002
- 3rd overall in 2007, 2006, 2005
- 1st overall in 2001


Photos by Erik Hull

Sunday, May 24, 2009

8 DIVISIONAL RECORDS FALL AT APPLE


Hey, do you know this guy? His name is Bob Bailey, he's 65, he's from Woodbury, and he's FAST! He and Ann Rhea and Todd Firebaugh and Jan Guenther and Marnie Walth, were responsible for five of the eight "non-open-class" ** course records that fell at the Apple Duathlon  on May 23. Keep in mind that the Apple consists of  5K opening and closing runs bracketing a 33K bike race.

(Photo by Erik Hull)

Here's the blow-by-blow.

* Bob Bailey lowered Hank Larsen's 2007 65-69 mark by 1:29. New 65-69M Record: 1:50:13

* Ann Rhea (Plymouth) took her own 60-64 course best from 2008 down by 1:34. New 60-64W Record:  2:23:40

* Jan Guenther (Mound) took a capacious 3:56 bite out of Melinda Silbernick's 50-54 best, set in 2007. Jan still owns the women's 45-49 best (1:37:58, set in 2006). New 50-54W Record: 1:40:51

* Todd Firebaugh (Woodbury) nibbled 18 seconds from his own year-old 45-49 mark. New 45-49M Record: 1:29:15

* Marlina Walth (Bismarck, ND) prevented Jan Guenther from holding 3 divisional records by bettering her (Jan's) 40-44 best, set back in 2004, by 2:08. New 40-44W Record: 1:35:48

The other marks were set by Maryland's William "Mac" Martin in the 55-59M AG (1:37:33), Michigan's Karen McKeachie for the 55-59W (1:51:42) and 74-year-old cancer survivor Pat Fossum of Montgomery, AL (2:34:30). Pat is a two-time U.S. Grand Master of the Year and is formerly from Albert Lea, MN. Karen is a former U.S. Triathlete of the Year and Master of the Year and has won 9 medals in World Championship competition. Martin was U.S. Master of the Year in 1995, is a 14-time All American and holds 4 Worlds medals.

* * The Open Class divisions serve those athletes age 20 through 39. Most records in these groups belong to past champions or top 3-5 overall finishers. When races are covered, these are the boys and girls who traditionally get most of the attention. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

AN ENDURING LEGACY...





For more than a quarter-century Pam and Daryl Stevens have nurtured the Apple Duathlon, building it into a truly superior run-bike-run. Apple's new director, Brandon Testa, vowed to perpetuate the legacy. And he and his committee made good on that pledge. All that has defined The Apple for so many years--great courses, terrific event management and volunteer support, JMS Timing, abundant post event amenities, great tech-shirts, unique awards, profuse giveaways and amazing competition--was in place.

And speaking of amazing competition, some contend that The Apple is the competitive 400-person multi in America. Interesting idea; one that's hard to affirm, but just as difficult to deny. What do you think? Whatever your answer may be, you must agree, if you're were in Sartell on May 23 or for any of the prior nine editions of the race, that, size-be-danged, the Apple Duathlon is truly a major league event.

Race day was clear and breezy. Temps were in the comfortable racing zone.

Honorary Minnesotan Marnie Walth of Bismarck, ND, and Duluth's Marlo McGaver have truly imprinted this event. Walth, a perennial podium finisher here, was victorious in 2001. Crosby was going for her 4th win in as many starts. Could these trends continue when six pros and a deeper-than-ever assemblage of amateur talent were on hand?  

The opening 5K was brisk with Chicago pro Heidi Sarna leading the way. Marlo and du pioneer Anne Preisig of Falmouth, Massachusetts hung close, as did decorated out-of-staters Kristin Wrede (IL), Rachel Chambers (FL) and Kathryn Kasischke (CA). The undertrained Walth was back in 8th place, more than a minute behind Sarna and McGaver.

Undertrained perhaps, but well-rested, Walth saddled-up and began to pick off the women in front of her.

The last woman to pass was Marlo, though Marnie assumed that there were others up ahead. In the end, it would be Walth, not McGaver, whose cycling skills are legendary, who'd post the fastest women's bike split of the day.

Marlo and Marnie exchanged leads, neither allowing the other to truly get away. Marlo entered T2 with a 14-second advantage. Nineteen minutes later sher crossed the finish line, officially recording her fourth consecutive Apple victory. Assuming that a visiting pro or two had finished ahead of Marlo and herself, Marnie was pleasantly surprised to learn that she was the runner-up. 

Is "pleasantly surprised" the correct verbage to describe how you felt when you learned that you finished 2nd?

"SHOCKED is more like it," Marnie explained via email. She went on to describe her race.

"When we started the run I felt like I was at the back of the pack. I had passed some ladies right away on the bike, but had no idea that Marlo and I were in front. I assumed that there were at least two or three ladies so far ahead that I simply couldn't see them. I didn't learn that I was in second place until I saw my husband Shayne in the middle of the second run."

(Shayne was spectating, keeping tabs on his wife's position.) 

As a USAT 40-year-old--Marnie will turn forty later this year--were you hoping to break the masters record? 

"Yes, I knew what Jan's record was and I figured I had a shot at it. But I assumed that it would be Ann that would break it, not me." 

"Jan" is Jan Guenther, who set the masters CR - 1:37:56- in 2004. "Ann" is Ann Preisig, 41, who was the 2008 US Elite National Duathlon Champ. 

Marnie managed to lower Guenther's mark by a healthy 2:08.  Marnie, did you know that you out-split Marlo on the bike? 

"...no, I didn't know my bike time was faster than Marlo's. That really puts things into perspective. I feel fast now."


Rounding out the women's top 5 on May 23rd were Kathryn Kasischke, Kristin Wrede and Rachel Chambers. Minnesotans Jeanne Fleck and Kortney Haag took the next two spots. And 50-year-old Jan Guenther placed 10th, absolutely destroying the 50-54W course record.



David Thompson came into this year's Apple as the US Elite National Duathlon Champion, thanks to his decisive win--his third, no less--at Powerman Alabama back on April 19. As if he needed to remind his competition that he is the premier male duathlete in America today, David showed no mercy once he mounted his trusty Litespeed.  Coloradan Justin Hurd, who is best known for his long-course tri prowess, gave chase while the rest of the elite pack receded but admitted later that "He just flew by me...I was just trying to stay a minute off his pace. I kept him in my sight but...he was just too fast for me." (Quote excerpted from sctimes.com)

Thompson's victory, his 5th at The Apple, gave him 50 for his career. That's right! 50! Remember, this guy didn't become a multisporter until 2000.

Emerging star Josh Merrick (CO) took third, followed by two-time runner-up at Elite Nationals, Ryan Guilano (IL) and mercurial Minnesotan Matthew Payne.



(Photos by Erik Hull: R -Todd Firebaugh en route to breaking his own 45-49 CR at Apple Du. L - Marnie Walth out-rides  an ultra-strong women's field.)

* A great race story by Jacob Laxen on sctimes.com.


APPLE SLICES...

* MATTHEW PAYNE's continuing ascent..  Matt is unquestionably the fastest rising new star on the Minnesota multi scene. He's received a large amount of laudatory cyber ink on this site, and has deserved every byte. He placed 5th overall at Apple in the 2nd fastest amateur time--1:24:34--in course history (this route has been used since 2004).  Only the phenomenal Peter Skorseth has gone faster--1:23:56 in 2005.

Matt, tell us about your experience at Apple, and how it compares to your record setting efforts at Chain of Lakes and Albert Lea?


"Apple was a tough race right from the start.  The pace that the lead group set on the opening 5K was absolutely insane and I knew from about 1/4 mile in that I had no prayer of hanging on with them.  Plan B was to forget about them, run the opening 5K at my own pace, then ride hard and try to recover as many places as possible prior to the closing run.

"As far as comparing Apple to my previous races this year, it's tough.  All 3 races were very hard efforts and I don't think I left time out on the course at any of them.  The main difference is that Chain of Lakes and Land Between the Lakes were basically time trial type efforts, whereas Apple was competitive from start to finish.  Against a field that strong, if you let off the gas for a second, you're going to get passed.

"At the end of the day, though, I was able to finish in front of quite a few guys that were beating me consistently last season, and that's always satisfying and, of course, gives me a great deal of confidence going into the the rest of this season."


TODD FIREBAUGH may be the best 45-49 male duathlete in America right now. His performances at Apple and Oakdale have been astonishing. A podium spot at ITU Duathlon Worlds could be in Todd's future? 

Todd, what are your competitive goals for the 2009 season?

"I came in with two goals in mind: (1) qualify for the Du Short-Course Worlds and (2) race well at the Rhode Island 70.3." (We'll deal with Todd's quest for a Kona slot in a later post.)

Are you looking forward to Du Worlds? And have you competed at Worlds before?

"I’m on course for the du championships and look forward to preparing myself for that late September race.  I tasted the USAT worlds for the first time last year in Italy.  I used my qualifying slot as a good reason: to take my wife to Europe.  I didn’t really think I’d be contending.  Rather than trekking around Italy with my bike case, I decided to rent from a shop in Rimini.  Once I got there and the competitive juices started flowing, I was bummed that I didn’t have my weapon of choice.  As it was, I raced well on my Cinelli road bike (sans aero bars) and finished 6th (out of 90) in my age group – 52 seconds out of 3rd place." 

Sounds like you're glad you went?

"The experience was tremendous.  We developed some great friendships with Troy and Darcy Vargas and Derick and Brenda Podratz (and loved Italy!). And, I realized that I could compete at a high level.  Until then, I’d really only viewed duathlons as good practice for the upcoming tri season."

Your early-season results suggest that your training is going well.

"Thus far in ’09 I've felt particularly strong on the bike.  My run is not as sharp as it needs to be.  I’ve had some lower back issues that only affect me when I run, which has hampered the quality of my run training. Fortunately, the combination of ibuprofen, hot and icy, and, most importantly, adrenaline, has blunted the pain on race day.  I’ll need to improve my run to compete well at Worlds – (a) the first run is a10k vs. a 5k and (b) I’m expecting a more competitive field with the U.S. location."

Todd, you are a tremendous duathlete. You beat a great group of guys in Sartell.

"I really like the way the duathlon sets up for me competitively – it’s fun to race.  I know there will be a number of guys who will blast the first run beyond what I can do.  I feel if I can keep them in my sights, I’ll have a pretty good chance of catching them on the bike – the key is catching them early enough to build enough margin to stave them off on the last run.  At Apple, my buddy Troy Vargas, who is having a monster season, led our wave out on the run – followed in short order by Jim Kelly and Tom Krenz, who are fierce competitors and a few others I didn’t know (I later spent some time with Shane Thread, who finished third in my age group – he’s from my hometown of Evansville, IN).  I caught Jim and Tom on the bike shortly after the first turn into the wind.  Jim battled for several miles -- we went back and forth two or three times.  I built a gap turning into the hills where I saw Troy for the first time.  After the first hill dips into a second climb, I caught him.  With about 15 miles to go, I was in first, and knew it was my race to win or lose (I was racing the wave vs. the age group).  It was great to get the tailwind on the backstretch of the bike, but I knew it would be helping everyone.  I felt good off the bike, but also knew I had a target on my back on the run.  It’s a great group of competitors and a great group of people – and I know I have to keep improving if I’m going to win in the future." 

Are you the best 45-49 male duathlete in America right now?

I think the world’s will determine that.  I was ranked 9th last year based on Apple and Rimini.  And I recognize a number of the great duathletes from the U.S. didn’t make the trip to Italy, so we’ll see what I can do head-to-head.  As I said, I believe I need to improve my run.  I also know that Peter Skorseth could step out of retirement tomorrow and dominate if he so chose.  I started late and just want to keep getting better and compete at new levels." 

Stay healthy and keep rockin'.




Friday, May 22, 2009

STAY TUNED FOR APPLE COVERAGE..

Race coverage of the 27th annual Apple Duathlon will be posted on Sunday, May 24.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

MORE ON JOE'S FOOT..




(Photos: L-Sarah Kolpiimmersed in her work. R-Sarah shows off her new stethoscope.)

Decorated multisportswoman--the 2006 World Duathlon Champion, no less!--who is now an orthopaedic resident at HCMC, Sarah Kolpin, had this to say about Joe's fracture after reading THE DE-PROLIFICATION OF JOE KANDIKO and inspecting the accompanying X-ray. It appears that the story's author's suggestion that the problem was a Jones Fracture was incorrect.

"From the posted x-rays, Joe Kandiko's fracture appears to be an avulsion fracture of the base of the fifth metatarsal. ('Avulsion' meaning 'pulling off' of a piece of bone due to the force of a muscle/tendon).  While usually treated without an operation, surgery with fixation of the fracture with a screw is the indicated treatment if there is more than 3 mm of displacement (separation of the pieces) - OR - if the fracture isn't otherwise healing on its own.  The pieces tend to become pulled apart because the peroneus brevis tendon attaches to the base of the fifth metatarsal (The peroneus brevis muscle helps turn your foot out and down.)  
 
On the other hand, a 'Jones' fracture is a fracture of the junction of the fifth metatasal base with the shaft.  If such a fracture was present, it would be located about 1.5-2 cm closer to the toes from where Joe's current fracture actually is.  Jones Fractures are notorious for being prone to non-healing because of relatively poor blood supply to that particular region of the bone." 

What say you, Joe? 
 
On May 23, Joe Kandiko responded via email:

"You have received some excellent medical advice.


Still gimpy limpy.


Hope to make season debute at Buffalo with goal time "finish the same day I 

start"'


Joe


Thanks Sarah and Joe. We stand corrected. 


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

APPLE PREVIEW...





The Apple Duathlon, Minnesota's oldest--28th annual--ongoing
multisport event will be contested on Saturday, May 23. This venerable event is a Worlds Qualifier, the top 3 (passdown through 6th, if necessary) finishers in each division will earn Team USA berths.

Let's prognosticate, starting with the men's Elite category:

* The clear Favorite is David Thompson. No equivocation here. He's the reigning Elite National Champion; is a 4-time Apple champ and owner of the course record. No other duathlete has come within 1:25 of catching him in Sartell. And if our stats are accurate, David will be gunning for his 50th--that's right, 50th!--career multi win at Apple.

* Challengers: These guys are good. They should give David a good push, but don't expect them to catch him.  2008 Elite National Champion Matthew Russell of Boulder, CO and Ryan Giuliano of Schaumberg, IL, a consistent high-performer who placed 3rd last weekend at the ever-competitive Memphis in May Triathlon, should vie for podium spots. Long course tri aficionado Justin Hurd from Colorado Springs, may also prove to be a contender.
(Photo: Matthew Russell winning 2008 Du Nationals)

* Podium Darkhorses include 2001 Apple champ and winner at Gear West  last weekend, Robert Gilles of Fargo, ND, Kevin O'Connor of Medina, whose impressive victory at Oakdale suggests that he's ready for this challenge.  And let's toss in last year's 2nd place finisher, Dan Cohen, as well as Matthew Payne (Columbia Heights), who has two wins and two CRs already in 2009.

Women's Elite frontrunners...

* The Co-Favorites should be Duluth's Marlo McGaver and Falmouth, Massachusett's Ann Preisig.  Preisig, 41, is one of Duathlon's pioneers. She is a former Elite National Champ (2008), top 5 finisher at Worlds (1993) and Dannon Series star. And she does her best racing on short courses. Marlo is a three-time Apple Champ with a tender hamstring, which has bothered her off-and-on for more than a year. And she was nipped by Cathy Yndestad by 1/100th of a second at Gear West last weekend, which should be highly motivating. Prediction:  Muscle memory will keep Marlo McGaver in front.

* Podium Challengers:  Chicago's Heidi Sarna, who beat Preisig at Powerman Alabama, and Floridian Rachel Chambers are legitimate contenders, as is San Diego's Kathryn Kasischke.

* Podium Darkhorses: Certainly 2-time Oakdale winner Julie Hull deserves to be mentioned here. An uncharacteristic result (6th) at Gear West should provide motivation. 
This list should also include 2008 Rookie of the Year Kortney Haag, whose du debut at Gear West yielded an encouraging 4th place finish; masters ace Jeanne Fleck (3rd  at Gear West); and emerging star Sarah Viamonte. Sarah is a strong runner who'll need to prove that she can ride with top girls on Saturday if she hopes to make Elite Team USA.

The AG contests will be hard fought and only the toughest will earn the right to purchase their overpriced Team USA uniforms. Here are some of the AG Favorites:

Men:
00-19 - Denver Rogolla (Onamia, MN), Caius Rickard (Plymouth, MN)
20-24 - John Heinlein III (Stillwater, MN)
30-34 - Brendon O'Flanagan (Woodbury, MN), Brent Sinn (La Crosse, WI), Mark Lavin (Sioux Falls, SD)
35-39 - Mark Beversdorf (Wausau, WI), John Shelp (Maple Plain, MN)
45-49 - Todd Firebaugh (Woodbury, MN)
50-54 - Dave Dow (West Lakeland, MN), Gary Brenner (Madison, WI), David Lasorsa (Port Angeles, WA)
55-59 - Bart Bixtenstine (Shaker Heights, OH), Mike Colaizy (Osceola, WI), Jeffery Timm (Bethlehem, PA)
60-64 - Kerry Mayer (Madison, WI), Dennis Kasischke (Laughlin, NV)
65-69 - Hank Larsen (Glencoe, MN), Jim Hix III (Claremore, OK), Joe Carr (Blowing Rock, NC)

"On paper" the deepest men's division is 35-39: Beversdorf, Shelp, Kevin Sampson (Overland Park, KS), Troy Vargas (Hudson, WI), Mario Minnelli (Kasson, MN), Dereck Podratz (Lino Lakes, MN), et al. 45-49, 50-54 and 55-59 are also stacked.

Women: 

20-24 - Laura Mills (Duluth, MN)
25-29 - Sarah Kolpin (Minneapolis, MN), Marlene Yaeger (Mounds View, MN)
30-34 - Jana Severson West Des Moines, IA), Diane Hankee (Oakdale, MN), Tara Croteau (Duluth, MN)
35-39 - Tracie Kent (St. Paul, MN)
40-44 - Wendy Bengston (Chippewa Falls, WI)
45-49 - Sue Abrahamson (Wayzata, MN)
55-59 - Karen McKeachie (Ann Arbor, MI), Pam Stevens (Sartell, MN)
60-64 - Ann Rhea (Plymouth, MN) (Note: Also in the field is Anne Viviani, of Arlington, VA who has already earned her spot. She is the defending 60-64W National Champion.)
70-74 - Pat Fossum (Montgomery, AL)


A PAYNE-FUL EXPERIENCE IN ALBERT LEA...


Matthew Payne refers to his newfound athletic maturity simply and modestly as "this year's fitness." He does not speak of going to the next "level" or having his "hard work pay off." Or being ready to "bark with the big dogs."

It is not because he doesn't want to appear boastful. And it's not that he doesn't know that he's talented. What is obvious when talking to Matt is that he has no idea how talented he really is. Naw, he is just a little more fit this year than last year, that's all.

He has also noticed that "this year's fitness" has made his training and racing more fun. Another modest assessment that goes without saying.

On May 17 Matthew Payne shredded the field at the Albert Lea Triathlon. His margin of victory--4:46--was even larger (by 1:20!) than at his course record smashing effort at Chain of Lakes two weeks earlier. And we need to remember that both of these events are sprints. Not halves. Not Olympics. Sprints.  And it's also important to know that the runners-up (Micah Turman at COLT and Steve Sander at ALT) at both events are not schleps. In fact, Sander earned USAT All American honors in '08. 

Places third through fifth at Albert Lea were earned by Jim Graif, Andy Clark and Todd Landgraff.

Next weekend Matt Payne will race in the elite wave at Apple against arguably the deepest field he's faced to date. "I have no game plan," he admitted. "I'll just be winging it; trying to keep the leaders in sight." Another modest assessment? Isn't is possible that most of those "leaders" will be busting their respective humps trying, perhaps unsuccessfully, to keep Matt Payne in sight?

Yes.

Brooke Larsen was given serious consideration for a Minnesota Rookie of the Year nomination in 2008. What ultimately kept her off the list is that ROY was a coed category. Lack of depth on the men's side forced this adjustment, thus Brooke (and Jamie Misner) got bumped. Larsen now has something that only one of the nominated girls--'08 Rookie of the Year Kortney Haag--has: a victory.

Brooke came into the Albert Lea Triathlon as one of the favorites. Coming out of T2, though, it didn't look like she would live-up to the prognostication.  With only three and half miles to go, three women were  ahead  of her, the leader (Jenni Limberg) by a seemingly insurmountable 3:47.  But that threesome were strong cyclists and comparatively weak afoot. Brooke on the other hand, is a strong runner. (And an even stronger swimmer.)

With the finish line in sight, there was only one woman--Caroline Skaar-Page--left to pass, which the sprinting Larsen managed to do. She pushed on to a three second victory. Pam Zachman took third. Limberg and local favorite Jennifer Chalmers took fourth and fifth respectively.

(Photo: Matt Payne at Buffalo '08)

Albert Lea Results:






Sunday, May 17, 2009

AS CLOSE AS IT GETS...


(Photos: Left - Cathy catches Marlo. Right - Cathy nips Marlo by 1/100th of a second! In '08, Cathy Yndestad was unofficial runner-up for USAT Age Group Triathlete of the Year, and Marlo McGaver was unofficial runner-up for USAT Age Group Duathlete of the Year.)   

Do you remember Rob Gilles? Probably not. For a myriad of reasons--injuries, personal and occupational issues-- he hasn't done much competitively since 2001, the year he won the Minnesota Triathlete & Duathlete of the Year awards and earned a USAT Athlete of the Year Honorable Mention

Eight years later, on May 17,  Gilles emerged victorious at the ultra-competitive  Gear West Du. As legendary malapropist, Yogi Berra, would say, "it seemed like deja vu all over again." 

Rob was in 4th place  heading onto the final 4K run. He was 57 seconds behind the leader, Chad Millner. Systematically, he picked off Brooks Grossinger, who ultimately placed 3rd; then Devon Palmer, who settled for 4th; and finally Millner, who ended up in 2nd, eight seconds behind the victorious Gilles. Also cracking the top 5 was Gustie Tri champ Mike Torchia, who in spite of some rather lethargic transitioning, managed to stay ahead of a field whose depth is bettered measured in leagues than in fathoms.

Joining Gilles in the Winners Circle was Cathy Yndestad. Or was it Marlo McGaver? No, it was Cathy Yndestad. Whew. Let's let Cathy herself tell the story.

(Excerpted from Cathy's blog: ) The first run is 6K with plenty of twists, turns, and little climbs. I tried to stay conservative ..and came into T1 in 2nd. I passed Marlo within the first mile of the bike, and immediately realized she was off her normal Marlo'esque bike form. This woman typically bikes with the big boys. I tried to stay strong, but she passed me back about halfway though the 18 mile course. We flip flopped a few times, and came into T2 together. I blazed through T2 (for the fastest T2 split of the day in :21sec), and got about a 20 yd lead on her. I knew it wouldn't be too long before she passed me, and I was basically just waiting for it. The second run is only 4K but still XC style. Marlo passed me halfway, and she quickly got about 10yds on me. Due to the twisty, woodchip terrain, she really could not build up her usual speed. Although I stayed within 10-15 yds, I never really thought I would catch her and I was just trying to run hard for myself. Just before the final 500m to the finish there is a super steep 15 yd climb. It typically takes everything out of you, and when I got to the top I realized that the climb took quite a bit out of Marlo. For the first time when I looked ahead I thought...MAYBE! I started running a little faster, I felt as though I was gaining on her, and with about 100 yards to the finish I went for it...This is totally out of my character (I'm not much of a fighter when I run), and took the Win at the line. Our times were the same in the results...1:26:01, but the official timer said I had Marlo by 1/100th of a second.

In an e-mail, Marlo had this to say: 

Gear West was good.  It was a really competitive deep race with everyone being so close.  Going into the second run I just focused on "running my own race" and going ...as hard as possible . Then going up that last steep hill I had a hamstring almost seize up but [I] caught it in time and had to ease up a few strides...then [I] hit it hard again to the finish. 


Wow! It simply doesn't get any closer than that!


There were plenty of excellent age group performances. Let's look at some of them, starting with the men:

* 51-year-old Tony Schiller had the fastest masters effort (1:20:41-16th overall). He won his division by 4:59, and out-raced the fastest 40-44 man by 2:14, and the winner of the 45-49 category by 2:26.

* Affable 58-year-old Mike Colaizy stayed undefeated in '09 with his divisional win at Gear West. His margin of victory was pudgy (5:09).

* 69-year-old Hank Larsen, Minnesota's reigning Grand Master of the Year, not only won his own division (by 24 minutes, no less!), but was also almost 4 minutes faster than the 60-64 champ. 

Sterling efforts by the AG girls include:

* 40-44 star Jeanne Fleck (2008 Master of the Year & Most Improved) placed 3rd overall and won her division by more than six minutes. 

* 49-year-old Jan Guenther, winner of an unprecedented 14 MMA's, was the 2nd fastest female master in the field and placed 5th overall. She won her division by 7:44. She'll race as a 50-year-old at Ironman Wisconsin next October. Jan hold's the masters CR at IM WI. Her time of 10:24:27 is the 3rd fastest female amateur time in the 7-year history of that great event.

Gear West Results



Friday, May 15, 2009

AMERICA'S MOST COMPETITIVE SERIES...


Event Preview: The 2009 Midwest Multisport Series gets underway on Sunday, May 17 with the 17th running of the Gear West Duathlon. Can you believe this series is 11 years old? 

Easier to believe is that it is arguably the most competitive amateur tri/du series in the U.S. Just look at the website's start list. Though the current  roster hasn't been updated since April 20, it nevertheless features a Who's Who of regional, national and even World Class multisporters. Young studs like Patrick Parish,  Devon Palmer and Dennis Dane will be duking it out with wiley du-vets Chad Millner and Brooks Grossinger. Marlo McGaver, appropriately, will be the women's favorite, but can expect a great fight from two-time Oakdale Du champ Julie Hull, 2008 Minnesota Rookie of the Year, Kortney Haag, and the pre-season favorite to be crowned our state's Junior of the Year, Sarah Daniels, and a dozen or so, others. 

Our race coverage will not overlook the age group battles, which will be every bit as hotly contested as the fight for overall places.  Stay tuned.

It's time to, as the Series slogan echoes, Embrace the Feeling.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

COMING SOON...


...Apple Duathlon preview, coverage of the Midwest Multisport Series opener and the Albert Lea Triathlon, and profiles of a Tri-DorkTracie Kent and Patrick Parish...

(Pictured: His name is Mike, but he prefers Tom. Or is it Tom, but prefers Mike? In any case, he's one of the founding members of the Dork Rockets. And he's a very interesting fellow.)


MINNESOTA TRI NEWS congratulates Sara Hermanson on her 6th place finish in April at Nevada's Rage in the Sage, one of America's most challenging half IMs.

ALBERT LEA TRI PREVIEW...



The fifth annual Albert Lea, aka Land Between the Lakes, Triathlon is slated for Sunday, May 17. The 1/4-19.8-4.2 event is the 2nd stop on this year's 10-race Tri Minnesota Series.

Barring the last minute sign-up of defending champ Patrick Parish, or someone of his competitive ilk, Columbia Height's pre-registered Matt Payne  should have little trouble posting his 2nd victory of the young season. 

But will Matt be able to rewrite Jeremy Sartain's 2007 course record, you ask? If the weather Gods cooperate and he races like he did at Chain of Lakes, the answer is an unequivocal "yes." And if all this comes to pass, a "Most Improved" nomination and spot on Team Minnesota, i.e. being ranked among the state's top 10 multisportsmen, could be forthcoming at season's-end.

It's not as if Matt is the only quick dude who will make the trek to Edgewater Park on Sunday. The Boys from Northfield, Andy Clark and Randy Peterson, will also be on hand, as will North Mankato's Todd Landgraff.

Speaking of North Mankato, that happens to be the town from whence the ALT women's record holder hails. But Lynette Bacon is not registered, thus her mark should stand another year.

But records do not necessarily a great event make. This year's women's contest promises to be exciting. It's quite possible that Albert Lea's own Jennifer Chalmers, who has been on the this event's podium thrice already, albeit never on the highest step, will come out on top. This would give her the distinction of being the race's first local champion. Or perhaps Northfield's Brooke Larsen, who almost earned a Rookie of the Year nomination on 2008 ('08 was a great year for female Rookies!), will pick up her first career victory.

(Photo:  Matthew Payne at '08 Pigman Half)

THE DE-PROLIFICATION OF THE TRIATHLONATOR



Most triathletes in these parts know Joe Kandiko. And if they don't actually know him, they have nevertheless seen him often.


This is because Joe, aka "The Triathlonator," is as close as one can come to being omnipresent. He is arguably the most prolific endurance athlete in the Loon State. He races twice per weekend and would race more if it were logistically possible to do so.


But that was then.


"Race season is going to get a later start this year," the 59-year-old physician from Excelsior lamented. ..."stress fracture in January that didn't heal and didn't heal and the photo tells the rest," he went on to explain quasi-despondently, adding "this getting old stuff is for the birds."


How'd you break your foot, Joe? His answer was not forthcoming, leading one to draw one's own conclusions. Bar fight? Ballroom dancing gone awry? Heck, it may even have been a function of all the tri-training and racing he's done?


We may never know for sure.


Ya gotta admit that the pin connecting his cuboid bone and fifth metatarsal (a Jone's Fracture?) looks pretty cool. 


"That screw will probably be the only 'hardware' I get this season."


A moment later the "glass-half-full" Kandiko brightened. "I was able to secure repeat sponsorship from TeamAquaphor and TriSports.com BEFORE the fracture," he announced. "At least I will LOOK GOOD as I gimp along."

 



Sunday, May 10, 2009

MEET SARAH VIAMONTE


Sarah Viamonte's 2nd place finish at the recent Oakdale Duathlon was a surprise to many. 

Her finish, while pleasing, did not come as an astonishment to Sarah herself, though. Or her coach Jeremy Sartain. She raced in 11 multis prior to her Oakdale effort, mostly in Alabama, and her results there certainly portend a very bright future.


Racing Highlights:

1st @ Treadman Duathlon '08
4th @ Whistlestop Duathlon '07
4th @ Alabama Coastal Triathlon '08
5th amateur @ Powerman Alabama '08
8th @ Buster Britton Triathlon '07 & '08

Personal Information:

* Age:  29
* Born:  Johnston, IA
* Occupation:  Neuropsychologist
(Will earn her Ph.D in Medical/Clinical Psychology and MSPH in Health Care Organization and Policy from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in August 2009.)
* Athletic Background:  Basketball, Volleyball, Softball, Track
* College Athletics:  None
* Became a runner in 2004 ("To lose weight and quit smoking!")
* Fell in love with Triathlon late in 2006 after doing the swim leg of a relay.

Quote: "I am one of those athletes who really enjoy training. I am happy to get in about 3 hours a day, and usually more on the weekends. So, I guess I'm pretty serious about this sport."

Coach Sartain's two cents:  "As a neurophychologist, Sarah is way in touch with her brain. Once I get her to shut it off, she'll go from great to ridiculous."  

Saturday, May 9, 2009

SERIOUS RACING AT LAKE ELMO PARK...


(Photo Banner by Erik Hull. L-R: The top 3 men Brendan O'Flanagan (3rd), Kevin O'Connor (1st) and Neil Miller (2nd); women's repeat champion Julie Hull; women's runner-up Sarah Viamonte; women's 3rd place finisher Diane Hankee.)


The month of May remains undecided about how to behave, the dying winter, sputtering but holding on like a tick, and summer beckoning with unfurling leaves and patches of blue fracturing the concrete sky. Less indecisive were the 450 or so duathletes, who, weather-be-danged, descended on Lake Elmo Regional Park  on May 9 intent on launching their 2009 multi seasons. 

Larger and more competitive than the early-season ex-urban multis, the Oakdale Duathlon, which is the first major event on the metro Twin Cities race calendar, is perceived by many as the unofficial Season Opener.

Renown among their peers for their aggressive styles of racing, Medina's Kevin O'Connor and Farmington's Julie Hull stayed close to the front in the opening 5K run, wasted no time in transition, then blasted into the lead in the early miles of the (13.5 mile) bike leg.  

Seemingly impervious to the 45 degree temps and 15 mph gusts, Kevin had a 52 second gap on course and event record holder Neil Miller, the man who out-split him by 30 seconds coming into T1. 

Hull's margin in T2 was even more substantial than O'Connor's, leading the talented, yet relatively unknown Sarah Viamonte of Minneapolis, by 2:24 and Oakdale's Diane Hankee, who was coming off an impressive win at the Cinco de Mayo Duathlon the previous weekend, by 2:29.

Viamonte, winner of the Treadman Du last fall, would make up 1:04 on Hull, whose victory made her the event's first two-time champ. Additionally, Hull now owns the 3rd and 4th fastest women's times in the eight-year history of this event. Only Darcy Franklin (2006) and two-time US Duathlete of the Year Kris Miller (2003) have posted quicker clockings. 

Hankee hung on for third. The fourth and fifth spots were earned by St. Paul's Tracie Kent and Duluth's Laura Mills respectively.

Running scared, O'Connor posted a faster split in the final 5K than the opening one. Miller was able to make up all but 15 of the seconds that separated him from O'Connor, the man who pushed him to a course record (1:04:52) here two years earlier. Last year's runner-up Brendan O'Flanagan of Oakdale, took third this time around. 

Arguably, the performance of the day for the men was turned in by 47-year-old Todd Firebaugh of Woodbury. His 1:09:37 was good for a 4th place overall finish and a 1:09 lowering of the long-standing (since 2002!) 45-49 course record, set by the highly decorated Dave Dow.

Fifth place was earned by the prolific Jesse Nelson of Red Wing. Nelson won the Falls Duathlon the previous weekend and placed 3rd  at Winter Be Gone on April 26.

Divisional records were set in the men's 19 & under category by  Stillwater's John Heinlein III, whose 1:12:48 took a 51 second bite out of Denver Rogolla's 2008 mark; the mens 45-49 group (Firebaugh); and by USAT All American duathlete Ann Rhea, 61, of Plymouth, who became the first woman over age 60 to dip under the two hour mark (1:54:08) at this event.

Coming soon: A brief profile of Oakdale Duathlon women's runner-up Sarah Viamonte.