Sunday, May 17, 2009


(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 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