Tuesday, May 19, 2009


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?


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: