Tuesday, June 30, 2009


(Top: Cathy Yndestad & Kevin O'Connor. Bottom: Ben Ewers & Jan Guenther. Cathy's photo courtesy of YndeCam.com. Kevin's, Ben's & Jan's photos courtesy of Denny Johnson.)

MTN's AOM Selection Committee is pleased to announce the June Athletes of the Month:

OVERALL: Kevin O'Connor, 38, Medina & Cathy Yndestad, 31, Apple Valley

AGE GROUP: Ben Ewers, 63, North Oaks & Jan Guenther, 50, Mound

Cathy Yndestad's June Scorecard: 1st @ Pigman Sprint (CR), 1st @ Manitou Sprint (CR), 2nd amateur/6th overall @ Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake (Lubbock, TX)

Comment: Cathy was the unanimous choice.

Kevin O'Connor's June Scorecard: 1st @ Pigman Sprint (CR), 2nd @ Manitou Sprint & Lake Waconia Elite

Comment: Kevin was selected over Brian Bich, Devon Palmer and Brett Lovaas, all of whom had stellar Junes: Brian posted two wins and a 2nd; Devon set one course record, podiumed at Hy-Vee and placed 5th at Pigman Sprint; Brett set two course records and placed 10th at RochesterFest despite a toe injury sustained during the swim portion of the event. After long and intense discussion, Kevin was chosen on the basis of his consistent excellence in three ultra-competitive Midwest Multisport Series races.

Jan Guenther's June Scorecard: 1st overall at Lake Minnetonka (Overall CR, Masters CR, 50-54 CR), 2nd overall at Lake Waconia Elite (Masters CR, 50-54 CR)

Comment: Jan was chosen over Jeanne Fleck, 44. Fleck set masters records at Pigman Sprint, where she placed 4th overall, and Manitou Sprint, where she finished 2nd overall.

Ben Ewers' June Scorecard: Ben has redefined the performance standards for 60+ men in our region. He raced three times in June--Buffalo, Minnetonka, Lake Waconia--setting divisional records in dominating fashion on each occasion. His average margin of victory was 23:07.

Comment: Based on volume of races and average victory margin, Ben was the clear choice for AG AOM. Tony Schiller, 51, of Spring Park, also raced impressively and received serious consideration.

May Athletes of the Month:

OVERALL: Matthew Payne, 32, Columbia Heights & Marlo McGaver, 38, Duluth

AGE GROUP: Todd Firebaugh, 47, Woodbury & Jan Guenther, 50, Mound

Monday, June 29, 2009


The MTN Overall & Age Group Athletes of the Month will be announced on Tuesday, June 30. The Minneman Preview will be posted on Wednesday, July 1.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


This foot belongs to one of Minnesota's premier triathletes. The purple piggy was stubbed during the swim at RochesterFest Olympic. It may be broken. Or it may only be badly sprained. He'll know soon. Would you have finished the race if this happened to you. This dude did. In fact, he cracked the top 10.

Okay then, who's foot is pictured above? It belongs to Brett Lovaas, who is a finalist for MTN June Athlete of the Month.


(Photo courtesy of YndeCam.com)

High winds out of the northwest upset Lake Waconia, making it green and angry for the 2nd year in a row. Only the Elite Division, a.k.a. 'The Best of Minnesota" Wave swam the full advertised distance. The age group swim course was mercifully cut in half, still a few were unable to make it to the first turn buoy. One prominent member of the men's 65-69 division who suffered this fate had this pithy comment: "There are plenty of other races, but there is only one me."

Despite the obstacles that Mother Nature threw at the competitors of the 20th edition of the Lake Waconia Triathlon, the event was flawlessly executed.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


20th Edition LAKE WACONIA TRIATHLON: A Six-Pack for Brian. Brook Mutzenberger talks about her big win. And her big future.

(Photo courtesy of YndeCam.com: Brook Mutzenberger breaking through at Waconia.)

Chicagoland transplant Brook Mutzenberger possesses an effervescent personality. Her smile is infectious as is her innate optimism. On Sunday morning she exuded even more sparkle than usual. She knew something that no one else did and that knowledge made her giddy.

She knew that something special was going to happen; something that could change her life.

Here's how her race unfolded. She and Jan Guenther separated themselves from the women's elite field during the bike segment. Jan's advantage going into T2 was 28 seconds. When she exited the bike corral, that margin had shrunk to 9 seconds. Brook was grinning when she blasted onto the run course. Spectators recognized the expression. It was what is called a "knowing" smile. She knew she would catch and pass Jan. And she knew that there was no way in heck that her pursuers, the closest of whom happened to be P2 teammates Susan Williams and Kate McCann, were going to catch her. Uh-uh. Not today. She was feeling too good. This was her day.

She crossed the finish line 45 seconds ahead of the remarkable cinco-genarian Jan Guenther. Williams took 3rd, 52 seconds behind Jan. McCann placed fourth and 2008 LWT champ Marlo McGaver round out the Elite women's top 5.

Brook, your first career victory was a biggie. It looked like everything came together for you today.

"I'm learning that racing is just as much about belief in your ability as it is about performance. There were some AMAZING women on the course today....but this is the first race where I actually believed I was capable of winning."

You exuded readiness before the race. You seemed very anxious to get started.

"Going into the race, I felt energized and excited! I love the Waconia course - it is so beautiful."

You weren't intimidated by the rough water? And the 40 mph winds on the bike course?

"The swim was a BLAST - I love those waves! Yes, the wind was a little rough on the bike, but my legs felt strong. Going out on the run, my energy was solid and it was just a matter of keeping my feet moving fast. Overall, I could not have asked for a better day!"

What's next for you, Brook?

"Life Time Fitness is my next race. Today's race gave me a new level of confidence going into that race. I'm really looking forward to seeing what unfolds at Life Time."

So are we.

Brian Bich and Kevin O'Connor came into the event as co-favorites, and it was clear as soon as they hit the bike course that one of these guys would win. The rising stars--Matt Payne, Patrick Parish and Steve Sander--who hoped to give them a run for their money on Sunday soon learned that they are not yet ready to bark with these Big Dogs. This chase pack did go on to post sterling efforts, claiming places two through five.

Bich led throughout the bike phase, with Kevin pulling close only to drop back, then charge back into contention a moment later. Bich spent a good deal of time looking over his shoulder.

O'Connor was 29 seconds down when he started the run, his face a portrait of grim determination. He would outrun the leader, shrinking the margin to 15 seconds when Bich, who was carrying the Minnesota state flag to signify that he had, for the fifth consecutive year, earned an invitation to represent his home state at the Best of the US Championship, triumphantly crossed the finish line. For Brian, it was his 6th straight LWT victory.

When Kevin arrived at the line, making his 3rd career 2nd here official, the men embraced. It was a moving demonstration of sportsmanship and mutual respect. These men truly left it all on the course.

Brian Bich, a two-time podium finisher in Best of the US Nationals competition, has tentatively accepted his BOUS invitation. Mutzenberger will have two weeks in which to make her decision. If she chooses not make the trip to Mission Viejo, California for this year's Championship, Jan Guenther will inherit the invitation.

The elite wave at LW was called the "Best of Minnesota" wave. Athletes opting to race in this wave were required to swim the original half mile course. All other waves swam a quarter mile route.

Forty seven triathletes competed in the "Best of Minnesota" event. The rest of the 500-member field was led by eventual "citizen" champions Chip Tabor of St. Louis Park, who eaked out a seven second win over Excelsior's Chap Achen, and 2008 Rookie of the Year nominee Lydia Novatny of Hopkins, whose margin of victory over runner-up Megan Steiger of St. Louis Park was a girthy 2:38.

This, the 20th edition of this classic event, marked the retirement of race director Tom Konrardy. Tom was at once very businesslike yet simultaneously big-hearted. He is fiercely proud of his hometown (Waconia) and the triathlon he built and nurtured. The satisfaction of the participants had always been his first priority.

MTN congratulates Tom on all that he has accomplished and thanks him for his tremendous contribution to Minnesota's multisport culture.

Tom will be replaced by long-time assistant director, Marvin Denzer, who will surely perpetuate LWT's glorious legacy.

(UPDATE: Brook Mutzenberger has officially accepted her invitation to represent Minnesota at the Best of the US Championship in Mission Viejo, CA on September 27.)

BUFFALO SPRINGS LAKE 70.3: Cathy Yndestad & Rhett Bonner are Kona-bound!

(Lubbock, TX - June 28, 2009) Two-time USAT Athlete of the Year Honorable Mention Cathy Yndestad of Apple Valley, and 45-year-old star Rhett Bonner of Duluth, shone as brightly as the West Texas sun at Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake on Sunday. Cathy finished an impressive 6th overall and 2nd among amateur women in a time of 4:46:42. Charisa Warnick of Carlsbad, CA, a decorated veteran of the 70.3 distance, was top amateur. She finished 1:18 ahead of Yndestad.

Bonner not only won the men's 45-49 age group and the IQ slot that goes with it, he was the fastest master of the day. His 4:30:46 was the 11th fastest amateur clocking. He was also the fastest master (and amateur) in the last half IM he entered: Silverman '07. There he placed 2nd overall behind super pro Chris McCormack.

Farmington's Julie Hull was also impressive. She was the 5th fastest female amateur of the day (14th woman overall) in a time of 4:58:00.

HY-VEE TRIATHLON : Devon podiums!

(Des Moines, IA - June 28, 2009) St. Paul's Devon Palmer followed up his breakthrough win at Manitou Sprint with a podium finish at the ultra-competitive Hy-Vee Olympic Triathlon in Des Moines on Sunday. Following the fastest men's bike split of the day, victory appeared within Palmer's grasp, but a lackluster run ultimately dropped him into 3rd place. In a flip-flop of last year's top 2 men, Iowa's Nathan White scored a 19 second win over Madison, Wisconsin's Mark Harms.

The women's race was won by Chicago's Lindsay Whalen, who appears to be a shoo-in for a US Athlete of the Year nomination. Her margin of victory over teen phenom Tanelle Berard of Clive, IA, who took 2nd, was an obese 3:49. New Hope's Kortney Haag, Minnesota's 2008 Rookie of the Year and winner of the Buffalo Olympic Triathlon last month, finished 7th.

ROCHESTERFEST OLYMPIC: Sam Lowers His Own CR!....Heidi Learns About Position Penalties.

(Rochester, MN - June 28) After Sam Hauck, 25, of Omaha, NE, by-way-of Shoreview, MN, bettered his own course record at RochesterFest, despite what he called "horrible winds" and a "longish" 10K (10.4?), he told MTN, "I knew I was going to be faster this year." He went on to explain that he's worked hard on his cycling and the results have been encouraging.

They sure were on Sunday. At RFT, only super-cyclists Jeremy Sartain (58:12) of St. Paul, and eventual runner-up Curt Wood (58:17) of Chaska, out-rode Hauck (59:12). Sartain, still recovering from a career-threatening motorcycle accident back in the spring of 2008, went on to place a satisfying 6th overall. Finishing in between Curt and Jeremy were Rochester's Alex Hooke (3rd), Fargo's Rob Gilles (4th) and Andover's Neil Miller (5th).

With five career wins under his belt, Hauck dreams of #6.

"I think I'm ready to win at Annandale."

Sam was 2nd at Annandale, a.k.a. the Heart of the Lakes Triathlon, last year, finishing 20 seconds behind the amazing Brian Bich. If Brian hopes to claim his 7th straight amateur win at HOLT, he'll need to go much faster than last year, because Sam almost certainly will.

After Heidi Keller-Miler, 44, of Chaska, crossed the finish line ahead of all the other girls at RF, she assumed that she had won. Smiling, she was anxious to collect the $700 winner's check.
When results were posted she was listed in 3rd place, a position that paid $100.

Heidi later learned that she had been assessed a 2-minute "Position" penalty. Put more bluntly, she was cited for "blocking." It was then explained to her that one need not actually block, i.e. make it difficult for another athlete to pass, to be penalized. One need only be in the position to do so.

Heidi was riding alone when she received the penalty, which means that the official believed that she wasn't riding closely enough to the roadside.

Despite the financial loss, Heidi took her predicament in stride. "I've been racing (triathlons) for 26-years and I was never aware of that rule," she noted. "Oh well, I guess the only way to learn about some rules are to break them."

Minneapolis' Thea Fleming, who placed 2nd at the Liberty Half two weeks earlier, assumed that she had just recorded her second straight runner-up effort when she crossed the finish line 40 seconds behind Keller-Miler. Shortly thereafter she learned that she was the official winner. It was the 2nd career victory for the 2005 Minnesota Rookie of the Year nominee. Thea also received a nomination for Most Improved in 2007.

St. Louis Park's Shelley Nelson, who won the Buffalo Sprint on June 7, took 2nd place. Like Fleming, she was coming off a a respectable half IM performance (5:03 at Kansas 70.3) two weeks earlier.

The accompanying RochesterFest Sprint was won by Red Wing's Jesse Nelson, who placed 4th at Croixathlon the day before, and Rochester's Johanna Hall. Nelson won this event in 2008 as well. Hall, 3rd here last year, lowered Lacey Osuldsen's CR by 1:32.

NORTH MANKATO TRIATHLON: Another Come-From-Behind Victory for Brooke Larsen

(North Mankato, MN - June 26) Northfield's Brooke Larsen picked up her 2nd career win at North Mankato, the sixth stop on the 10-race TriMinnesota circuit. Down 48 seconds to eventual runner-up Gretchen Sedaka of Lake Crystal when she entered T2, Larsen went on to record the women's fastest run split. As at Albert Lea, Brooke overtook the leader within site of the finish line. Her final margin of victory was 12 seconds. Suzie Olsen of Blue Earth rounded out the women's top three.

Hometowner Todd Landgraff won the men's race. Northfield's Andy Clark, 48, and Mankato's Dan Frienrichs finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Approximately 300 athletes took part in this year's triathlon.


(Philadelphia, PA - June 28, 2009) St. Paul's David Thompson chalked-up his 3rd victory at the Philadelphia Triathlon on Sunday. Trailing Pennsylvanian Andrew Yoder by 2:55 after the first two phases, DKT nevertheless caught and passed the talented 20-year-old and eventually won with a full minute to spare. It was Thompson's 3rd win here and the 51st of his career.


(Perham, MN - June 27) Almost 200 athletes braved the yucky conditions at the 3rd edition of the Average Jo Triathlon at Paul Miller Park in Perham. Despite the soggy conditions, overall course records went down hard. Especially on the women's side. Park Rapids' Kevin George covered the 1/3 - 12 - 4 mile route in 1:06:23, a 1:12 improvement on Aaron Wise's 2008 mark. Kierann Smith of Wahpeton, ND finished an impressive 6th overall in 1:10:45 and lowered Tara Makinen's '08 CR by 5:10. Her closest challenger was 10:27 back.

Friday, June 26, 2009


(Hudson, WI - June 27) Twas not a day for course records. No indeed. Heavy rain postponed the start and led to protracted transitions and somewhat conservative cycling. Additionally, road construction in the area forced a last minute alteration of the bike route, which added about two miles. Men's pre-race favorite, Dan Cohen, former Turtleman and Timberman champ, prevailed over a cluster of the most talented challengers the event has hosted to date. The ever-formidable David Holden and Master of the Year nomination-bound Mo Mouw, as expected, shared the podium with Cohen. Jesse Nelson, Paul Krumrich, Jim Felling and Jonathan Sage-Martinson took the next four places.

Late registrant Mary Beth Tuttle, a world-class nordic skier, picked up her sixth win since returning to the sport of triathlon in 2004, beating two-time Croixathlon champ Lindsay Marshall by almost five minutes. Former pro (like her husband) and cancer survivor Suzann Mouw finished 3rd.

In spite of the inclement conditions, approximately 260 participants made the trek to Camp St. Croix.

(Photo courtesy of Wally Milbrath / Wild River Tri Club. Talented trio: Mary Beth Tuttle, Suzann Mouw & Carolyn Milbrath.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Can Brian Bich (see photo) win his 6th LWT? Or will the red-hot Kevin O'Connor pick up his 3rd win of the 2009 season? And is Matthew Payne ready for this? Can Marlo McGaver repeat? Who will win the battle for masters supremacy? Jan Guenther or Jeanne Fleck?

Yes, Brian can win his 6th consecutive LWT . He has a special relationship with this event--and Heart of the Lakes and Brewhouse, too, for that matter. He's used to excelling here and expects to do so. His cells expect to win on this scenic and challenging course.

Can Kevin O'Connor upset him?

Sure. But to do so he has to rewrite his own competitive history. He's never won on this course. He's finished as high as 2nd on a couple of occasions, the most recent of which is more than a decade ago. So, is the fact that he is in supreme shape right now and has already beaten Brian once--by 11 seconds at Pigman Sprint--this season, going to be enough?


Conclusion: Brian or Kevin will win.

Now, who will climb the final step on the men's podium?

Four guys have a legitimate shot at it: Dan Cohen, Patrick Parish, Steve Sander and Matthew Payne.

Cohen has the creds--he placed 3rd here last year--but, for a variety of reasons, is having a disappointing season. Additionally, he slated to race at Croixathlon on Saturday. It's hard to get your best results on the backside of a double-dip.

Parish has the potential, as he demonstrated at Manitou, where he finish 4th behind national-level stars Devon Palmer, Kevin O'Connor and Curt Wood.

Like Parish, Sander is a star on the rise. A super cyclist, he is getting better with each race.

Can either of these guys get it done? Is one of them destined for the podium?

Probably not.

The man who appears most ready join our region's tri-aristocracy is Matthew Payne. With four wins in five starts this year, the MTN Athlete of the Month in May should be considered the clear choice for the final men's podium spot.

While RochesterFest, like LWT, boasts a strong elite men's field, their women's elite assemblage is thin by comparison to LWT's. Defending champ Marlo McGaver is back and should be considered the prohibitive favorite. Based on recent performances, McGaver's stiffest challenge should come from either 44-year-old Jeanne Fleck or 50-year-old Jan Guenther, a two-time winner here during this decade. Kate McCann, anxious to return to 2008 form, should also be considered a podium-hopeful. A plethora of talented girls, led by Susan Williams and Brook Mutzenberger will battle for places 5th through 10th.

(Photo courtesy of lakewaconiatriathlon.net)

UPDATE: Jeanne Fleck has informed MTN via email that she won't be racing at Lake Waconia:

.....I will not be racing there tomorrow. I crashed on my bike last Saturday during a training session and had to have surgery on my elbow (my new TT bike (3 weeks old) had to have surgery too). So, the only racing I will be doing in the short term is to see if who will heal faster, me or my bike. We are hoping that the incision on my elbow will be healed and I will be back racing by Lifetime. I'm hoping my neck and shoulder are also on board with that schedule (they don't seem to be cooperating as well as the elbow and legs).

Anyway, I send my Best Wishes to all the competitors at Lake Waconia and all the Tri Events this weekend for beautiful weather and fun and SAFE races.



Wednesday, June 24, 2009


In 2008 Bill Nevala's inaugural RochesterFest Olympic and Sprint Triathlons drew a combined 469 entrants. A great turnout. This year's race, by far the largest of the six Minnesota events with which the RF shares the weekend, will be at least 50% larger. And it's field quality, though only on the men's side, is significantly greater, too.

This is not to say that the women's field is weak. It is simply leaner than 2008's. This is thanks largely to the absence of the last season's top three finishers--Cathy Yndestad, Kortney Haag and Iowa's Erin Anderson--who will be racing elsewhere this weekend. In their absence, expect Heidi Keller-Miler, 44, to come out on top, and do so in a time that falls somewhere between Cathy's CR (2:13:01) and Kortney's 2:18:37. In the process, Heidi will obliterate the existing masters record (2:31:42). Thea Fleming, runner-up at Liberty Half two weeks ago, and Rochester's own Diana Koepp should round out the women's podium.

On the men's side, last season's podium finishers--Sam Hauck (see photo), Brett Lovaas and Scott Penticoff--are returning. And they will be challenged mightily by the likes of Curt Wood, Rob Gilles, Neil Miller, the Ellingson twins, Eric and Mark, and Madison, Wisconsin-based pro Will Smith. This is a talented group of guys, several of whom, weather permitting, should dip under Hauck's 1:56:06 course best.

So, who will finish on top?

With the exception of swim/bike aces Wood and Lovaas, the abovementioned men are accomplished runners, guys who can be expected to close with a 34:00 or faster. For Lovaas to extend his win streak, or for Wood to make his first trip to the Winners Circle this year, they'd need a four minute lead going into final leg. This is a lot to ask.

But is it asking too much?

Maybe not. There are many unanswered questions. Is the oft-injured Smith healthy? How have the pressures of medical school affected the training of Hauck and the Ellingsons? Can Miller and Gilles turn in the kind of bike splits that will keep them in contention? Can Penticoff put together a 1:55?


Wood and Lovaas are fit and ready to race. They should claim podium spots. Hauck or Smith should land on the other step.

Who'll win?

If the race starts on time, we'll know at 9:55 a.m. on Sunday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


(Is Devon Palmer ready to bark with the Big Dogs at Hy-Vee on Sunday? Photo courtesy of Christine Wood.)

Twelve Minnesota multis have or will be staged between the 13th and 28th of June. Additionally, two Iowa events--Pigman Sprint and Hy-Vee-- which traditionally pull a sizable chunk of our top athletes, are also contested during this period. Seven of these races are slated for this weekend.

Minnesota's talent pool is large and deep. Still, with seven races and the Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3 in Texas, which has leeched five of our state's most talented swim-bike-runners (Cathy Yndestad, Julie Hull, Rhett Bonner, Mark Carey and Julie MacMonagle), our elites will be spread a bit thin. Most of the races will not be quite as competitive as in past years, though one, the 4th annual Croixathlon has attracted it's strongest field to date and can expect its course records to fall hard.

No man has ever cracked the one hour mark at the 1/3-13-3 Croixathlon. (The men's course record is 1:02:15.) Three men should dip under this mark on Saturday, though, starting with Eden Prairie's talented Dan Cohen. Cohen has been in a bit of a funk this season and this may be just the kind of low-key racing remedy he needs.

But it won't be that low-key, not with Hudson, Wisconsin's David Holden and the resurrected Montgomery Mouw pulling and pushing Dan along.

For the girls, Shoreview's Lindsay Marshall, 20, should pick up her 3rd consecutive Croixathlon win. Hudson's Kelly McCann, 22, fresh off her triumphant long course debut at Liberty, should push Marshall to a sub-1:10 CR. Lindsay's current course best is 1:11:11.

The North Mankato Triathlon's field is not nearly as formidable as in past seasons. On the positive side, its turnout will be as large--300ish--as ever. Also, races that don't attract the state's Big Guns allow chase pack athletes to race at the front. Some of these folks are transformed by this kind of experience and ultimately move into the elite ranks.

If North Mankato's own Lynette Bacon chooses not to be a late registrant this year, then it is likely that Northfield's Brooke Larsen will pick up her 2nd win--she was victorious at Albert Lea--of the season. Another W may deepen her commitment to the sport and motivate her to work on her weak suit: cycling. She could be a star of the future in the making.

The M-Jets should wreak a little havoc at Hy-vee this Sunday. Especially St. Paul's Devon Palmer, though three-time Minnesota Junior of the Year Michael Williams also appears poised to do some damage in Des Moines. Williams has gone, as they say, to the next level, as his sterling efforts at Manitou (won in CR time by Palmer) and Lake Minnetonka illustrate.

Though he will not be launching with the Elite wavers, expect a top 3-5 overall amateur finish from Palmer. The only guys who, on paper, appear capable of keeping Devon out of the winner's circle are defending champ Mark Harms of Madison, Wisconsin, Iowa's Nathan White and Pennsylvanian Rick Fesler, who appears destined to receive a 2009 USAT Athlete of the Year nomination.

Monday, June 22, 2009


MTN congratulates Mankato's Greg Taylor on his record-setting performance at Ironman Coeur D'Alene last Sunday. His 10:22:40 lowered the 55-59M mark, set by Californian Chris Johnson in 2005, by a beefy 13:13. The decorated Taylor is a perennial medalist and former masters record holder at the Hawaiian Ironman World Championships.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


(Cathy and Julie at Pigman Sprint. Photo courtesy of YndeCam.)

In 1981 Mac Davis wrote "Happiness is Lubbock, Texas in my rearview mirror." Will Cathy Yndestad and Julie Hull be happy when they leave Lubbock next weekend? It they have their Ironman Qualifying Slots, they will.

In an email, Cathy Yndestad had this to say about this weekend's odyssey:

"I’m thrilled that I get to make this trip with my some of my best friends (Julie and Julie). That’s what racing is all about. Great personal challenges shared with friends.

I’m very excited to test myself on a challenging course, and against some of the greatest 70.3 racers in the country. I haven’t spent too much time looking at the start list, but I know my friend Charisa Wernick (fastest amateur run split at Oceanside), and Rhae Shaw (Honu 70.3 Bike course record holder-including pros’s) are racing in my age group. I know Charisa claimed a Kona slot in CA, and I assume Rhae took hers from Honu, but I expect there will be plenty of other w30-34 athletes vying for the coveted slot. At this point, my focus is not to get the slot, rather my goal is to put together a great race. Although I’ve raced a couple of half distance races in my career, I still feel very inexperienced at this distance. That’s one of the biggest attractions for me: I’m drawn to the challenge of this new distance and racing strategy. For me, distance racing is about the personal challenge rather than the head-to-head racing. I just want to push myself to go as fast as possible, and having so many great athletes around me will only make that easier to do.

"This race also represents a transition time for me. If I enjoy the distance, then I will shift my focus to longer races for the remainder of the year, possibly picking up a few more 70.3 races, a late season Ironman, or even the 70.3 World Championships. On the other hand, if I come to the conclusion that distance racing is not for me, then I will shift back to short course racing, and possibly return to USAT AgeGroup Nationals in late August. So many great options to choose from!"
Cathy, you're correct. Seattle's Rhae Shaw and Carlsbad, California's Charisa Wernick are your primary AG challengers. And yes, both have already qualified. On paper, you should be favored to take the slot.

Now, who is the other Julie?

"Julie MacMonagle ."

Is she gunning for an IQ slot?

"Not really. She’s been focused on other things this spring, but is still going to BSLT for a fun outing."

The race for the women's 35-39 slot will be very interesting and four names stand out. The good news is that one of those names is Julie Hull. The two-time half winner--Pigman '07 and Chisago '08--will have to beat Colorado's Amanda Durner, Missouri's Kristin Moore and Texan Amy McGrath.

Who presents the greatest challenge?

All have impressive creds at 70.3 and Durner and McGrath have excelled at Lubbock before. Durner was the 2nd overall female amateur at BSLT in 2007. McGrath, a mother of four, has actually won the race, but that was back in 1998. Since then she has become better known for her IM results than her forays at the half distance. Her consistent excellence at Ironman Coeur D'Alene, where she's finished as high as 4th overall ('07), and at Kona (2nd 35-39W in 2007) certainly attest to this.

So who will win the 35-39W division? Will muscle memory be the deciding factor? If so, Durner should prevail. Will heat acclimation tell the story? (Temps should reach the mid-90s) If so, McGrath has the edge. If strength and mental toughness beats speed, which has traditionally been the case at BSLT, then Hull could muscle her way to the front. It's extremely difficult to break 4:50 on BSLT's punishing course.

If Julie Hull has a 4:48-4:49 in her on Sunday, she'll take the slot.

Julie had this to say (via email):

" I like this distance (half IM) as it places less weight on the swim and more on the bike/run balance. I've never raced a sanctioned "70.3" and am excited for all the new experiences this weekend has to offer. Kona would be great as would Clearwater. Those gals in my AG do have deep talent and a qualifying race brings out everybody's best. I hope to have it all dialed in on Sunday at gun time!"

Saturday, June 20, 2009


(L - Jan Guenther won the Lake Minnetonka Triathlon for the second consecutive year; this time she was 2:40 faster than in '08. Top - The LMT is renown for it's point-to-point swim. Photos courtesy of Denny Johnson.)

Phenomenal fifty-year-old Jan Guenther smoked Becky Youngberg's course record, which has stood since 2004, and Brett Lovaas, not to be outdone, torched the men's CR. These weren't the only marks that fell at the 6th edition of the Lake Minnetonka Triathlon...

In all, 12 records were felled at Excelsior Commons on Saturday, June 20. It started with Brett Lovaas' triumphant 1:03:12, which was 25 seconds faster than the mark Tony Schiller set a year ago, and concluded one hour, twenty-one minutes and 19 seconds later with Jean Woods' 1:54:31, a 60-64W best. (Jean started in wave 7, 30 minutes after Lovaas and his first wavers broke the surface of majestic Lake Minnetonka.) It was Brett's 2nd stunning CR in the last 8 days.

The race for the other two men's podium spots couldn't have been more exciting as Josh Blankenheim, in what had to be the best performance of his young tri career (yes, even superior to his two victories!), caught super-cyclist Steve Sander within sight of the finish line. The resulting sprint ended with with a one second win for Blankenheim, who turned in the fastest run split--16:06--of the day.

Tony Schiller's victory here in 2008 almost earned him a Performance of the Year nomination. Keeping in mind that Tony's age--50--was NOT a factor makes his feat even more remarkable. It was simply an awesome, record-setting, nomination-worthy performance.

Jan Guenther, now 50, will most certainly receive POY consideration for her astonishing win. And as with Tony's W in '08, age-grading will not be part of the deal. Jan and Tony are special athletes who are in the process of setting new national and international standards for over age-50 athletes. They are performing like the elite 40-year-olds of 10-15 years ago. That's when masters began to crack the top 10, even the top 5, at Nationals and actually win major regional events. At this point in time, Jan's and Tony's peers--Colorado's Ellen Hart, Georgian Laura Sophiea, Pennsylvanians Chuck Sperazza and John Brockenbrough come to mind--are few, but their numbers are certain to grow as the Pete Kains, Donna Kay-Nesses, Linda Robbs, Michael Smiths etc. age-up.

Jan was pleasantly surprised to be as fast as she is strong. (Jan's current training mileage is high in preparation for Ironman Wisconsin next October.) "I felt good," was her signature understated response to learning that she set a course best.

Twenty-six seconds behind Guenther was fellow uber-master Heidi Keller-Miler, for whom the return to form has been a long (almost two years) and painful process. Another talented master, Laura Swartz, filled out the women's podium.

Ten AG records were lowered. MTN congratulates the following triathletes:

* 20-24M - Michael Williams' 1:04:57 (Old Record: Sam Hauck's 1:09:21 at BOUS Citizens '06)
* 25-29M - Josh Blankenheim's 1:03:55 (Old Record: Eric Hendrickson's 1:04:17 in 2008)
* 30-34M - Brett Lovaas' 1:03:12 (OLd Record: Brett Lovaas' 1:04:00 in 2008)
* 35-39M - Jeremy Sartain's 1:04:31 (Old Record: Mark Carey's 1:07:44 at BOUS Citizens '06)
* 40-44W - Heidi Keller-Miler's 1:12:34 (Old Record: Heidi's 1:13:31 in 2006)
* 50-54W - Jan Guenther's 1:12:08 (Old Record: Melinda Silbernick's 1:20:39 at BOUS Citizens 2006)
* 55-59M - Gary Bork's 1:12:55 (Old Record: Kent Schwitzer's 1:15:20 in 2008)
* 55-59W - Linda Sandell's 1:56:51 (Old Record: Susan Dragsten's 2:01:54 in 2006)
* 60-64M - Ben Ewers' 1:14:27 (Old Record: Nick Vanduzee's 1:26:47 in 2004)
* 60-64W - Jean Woods' 1:54:31

Ross and Tina Rogney and their team deserve high praise for producing a truly first class event.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Preliminary coverage of the Lake Minnetonka Triathlon with a link to race results will be posted on Saturday afternoon. 

Coming next week:  previews of the Lake Waconia, Croixathlon, North Mankato and RochesterFest Triathlons.


This month's banner is one of our favorite YndeCam photos. It was taken in the transition area after the 2007 Lake Waconia Triathlon and features five of the most accomplished multisportswomen in the upper Midwest. From left to right, they are 2006 Rookie of the Year Marta Lewinski, former Oakdale, Liberty and Chisago winner Tanya Miller, 2001 Rookie of the Year nominee Catherine Lee, former Master of the Year nominee Julie McMonagle and 2004 35-39 World Duathlon Champion Kim Fordham-Lien.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


(L - 2006 LMT champ Heidi Keller-Miler is intent on returning to the Winners Circle on Saturday. Photo by Wayne Kryuba. R - Tony Schiller turned in an unbelievable performance at LMT last year.)

Fifty-year-old guys can't do what Tony Schiller did at the Lake Minnetonka Triathlon last year. Can they?

What did he do? 

He won the race in course-record time. Not an age group record; he took that down by 11:33. Not a masters record; he lowered that by 2:55. Nope, he re-set the men's overall record, besting Brett Lovaas' 2006 mark by a circumstantially porcine 59 seconds.

They truth is that 99.99% of cinco-genarians cannot do what Tony did at Excelsior Commons in 2008. And it's possible that the listed percentage of "coulders" is too high. Tony may be the only 50-plusser--though Pennsylvania's John Brockenbrough might be able to come close--who could have pulled this off.

Schiller's bike and run paces at LMT were frighteningly fast: 26 mph and 5:30 mpm. The result was a 1:03:37 on the scenic 1/2 mile - 15 mile - 3 mile route. Most of his peers suspected he would be fast. After all, three weeks earlier he won his 6th age group World Championship crown. What they didn't expect, though, is that he would be so darn competitive, much less dominant.

Can Tony, now 51, do it again on Saturday? 

His performance at Manitou Sprint last weekend demonstrated that he is fit, though not at the level of a year ago. Had he cracked the top 5 at White Bear Lake (he was 9th), then a repeat performance in Excelsior would seem more possible.

What narrows Tony's chances more significantly is the fact that three-time LMT winner Brett Lovaas is in the field, and he (Brett) appears to be in, as they say, the "shape of his life." His stunning triumph at Liberty Olympic last weekend would seem to instantiate this claim. 

If the weather cooperates, don't be surprised if Lovaas comes away back-to-back course records. And he'll get a great push from Tony and John Shelp (2nd at Liberty Olympic last weekend), three-time Junior of the Year Michael Williams, who raced brilliantly--7th--at Manitou last Sunday, Eric Hendrickson (two-time podium finisher at LMT), former Rookie of the Year and Most Improved, Jeremy Sartain and 2008 USAT All American Steve Sander.

The race for female supremacy  will a "Battle of the Titan-esses." Past champions Jan Guenther and Heidi Keller-Miler, both of whom possess world-class creds, will be the ones to watch. And while Jan, winner in 2008 at age 49, and Heidi, 44, victorious in 2006, should leave the rest of the girls behind, the likelihood of a course record is rather slim. 

You see, Jan is training for Ironman Wisconsin--she set the masters record there in 2002 in a time that still stands as one of the event's top 3 fastest women's clockings--and should be very strong, but lacking a little speed. Heidi is still recovering from multiple injuries. Nevertheless, look for Jan and Heidi to set the pace. Lauras Swartz and Mills, and perhaps Caroline Skaar-Page, should fight over the final podium step.

It should be noted that the Lake Minnetonka Triathlon, which enjoys a brief but proud history and a charming New Englandly venue, filled faster than any other Minnesota multi this year. 


(Brett Lovaas could do no wrong at Liberty. Photo courtesy of YndeCam.com)

The “special” performances turned in on the weekend of June 13-14 were numerous. Here are a few, starting with the Liberty races: 

  • Brett Lovaas’ effort at Liberty Olympic, wherein he took the old CR down by a whopping 3:16, was one of those performances that come along just a few times in an elite athlete’s career. His previous “special” effort was at Turtleman in August of 2006. If the Performance of the Year nominations were announced today, Brett’s effort would surely make the list along with Devon Palmer’s stunning  win at Manitou—expect this one to stick at season’s end—and Kevin O’Connor’s CR at Pigman Sprint.
  • Other great efforts at Liberty Olympic were turned in by runner-up John Shelp, whose results have suffered since his back-to-back podium finishes at Gear West and The Apple 13 months ago, and 3rd-placing Rhett Bonner, who should receive a Master of the Year nomination if he continues to race at his current level.
  • Devon Palmer accomplished at Manitou what he was unable to do at Pigman Sprint the prior weekend, i.e. finish what he started. At Little Pig he led after the first two phases but could not hang on during the run. Not so at Manitou. In fact, he blasted the course record and won by a margin of 1:06 over the man—Kevin O’Connor—who reeled him in in Iowa.
  • Mo Mouw, 45, was awesome at Buffalo on June 7, but was even, well, “awesomer” at Manitou, placing 8th in a Who’s Who field. Mo is cruising for a MOY nomination next autumn.
  • Sure the “league-of-her-own” Cathy Yndestad was impressive at Manitou, recording her fourth win there in a course best time. But arguably the most amazing effort by a woman in this race was posted by 44-year-old Jeanne Fleck, who placed 2nd. She is certainly the frontrunner for female MOY.
  • MTN would like to invite Lynette Bacon of Mankato, and Megan Ping of Winona, to register for a Midwest Multisport Series race or  two this season. Why? They are talented girls who have yet to measure themselves against our state’s standard-setters--Yndestads, Walths, Hulls, McGavers, Haags, Flecks, McCanns et al. Bacon was victorious last Sunday at Fairmont Olympic and Ping, who has recorded great results in western Wisconsin events over the years, almost beat Sarah Kolpin at the inaugural Trinona Olympic race on June 14. (Megan did race in the Gear West Duathlon in 2006  and finished a respectable 11th.)
  • Bob Bailey, 65, continues to impress on the regional du scene. He's undefeated in four starts, his most recent victory at Du the Dam on June 14, where he placed 9th overall! Look for his name on the list of nominees for Grand Master of the Year next fall. And don't be surprised if he podiums at Du Worlds in September.
  • Also very special is the fact that Curt Wood, who was 3rd at Manitou last Sunday, and his wife Christine are expecting their first child.

Monday, June 15, 2009


A week after placing 4th at the Rev 3 Half in Connecticut, St. Paul's David Thompson finishes 2nd at Escape From Alcatraz. More to come...

Have you visited Thompsontri.com yet?


Triathlete on Top 

Months After 

Motorcycle Crash

WCCO's Story & Inspiring Video..


(Getting wet in Winona. Photo courtesy of Trinona Race Management)

With six multis contested on June 13-14, this weekend was clearly the busiest of the 2009 season thus far. Below are results links for TRINONA, FAIRMONT, DU THE DAM and PAYNESVILLE. Capsules and photography will follow. Also, MTN would like to acknowledge some of the Minnesotans who raced in out-of-state events last weekend:  Erin Ferrens placed 20th (5:03:11)  (pros included) at Boise 70.3; while Buffalo Sprint winner Shelley Nelson (5:03:21), April Morgan (5:09:27), who excelled at Buffal0 Olympic (8th woman), emerging newcomer Angie Schmidt (5:10:14), Cinco de Mayo victor Diane Hankee (5:20) and New Bri Tri Champ Brendon O'Flanagan (4:28:30) turned in credible efforts at Kansas 70.3.

(Winona, MN - June 14) Rochester's premier multisportsman Mark Carey dominated on the hellaciously scenic and challenging Olympic distance course, while women's champ Sarah "Queen of The Bluff" Kolpin of Minneapolis, had to run down Winona's Megan Ping. Rochester's Rick Hoover and Owatonna's Amber Lutz were victorious in the companion sprint. This event drew almost 300 participants, an outstanding inaugural turnout on such a busy weekend. 

MTN received this e-mail from Bill Corcoran, Director of the Paynesville Area Triathlon:

Dear Minnesota Tri News, 

Hey.  The race this weekend went very well.  We ended up with about 124 total participants, which is a 30% growth from last year which was awesome....Our course changed a bit from last year, so the course records weren't completely accurate, but being that our 5k run was actually a little longer than a 5k and the bike and swim were exactly the same, times were pretty good.  Team Scheels/ HED Wheels knocked 7 minutes off of the old course record in the relay division, so they set the bar pretty high for the relay teams in the future.  Input on the course and the hills was awesome from the athletes. 
Bill Corcoran
Head Coach & General Manager
North Crest Gymnastics, Dance, and Cheer.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Palmer & Yndestad spray the champagne at 20th Anniversary Manitou Sprint

(Devon Palmer digging deep with the finish line and the course record in sight. Photo by Christine Wood.)

If there was any doubt that Devon Palmer is the real deal, his course record performance today at Manitou should put the lid on it once and for all. Kevin O'Connor broke the course record he set last year--and still was 1:06 behind Palmer, who blazed in at 1:00:04. Curt Wood finished just 20 seconds behind O'Connor.

Cathy Yndestad took the women's race, as expected (her 4th win there), with Jeanne Fleck second and Alaskan Lori Deschamps, who won Liberty Olympic yesterday, in third.

The new double out-and-back swim course was "a big hit" according to race director Kris Swarthout. The change treated spectators to the opportunity to actually watch their athletes swim...and resulted in the delightful sight of 85-year-old triathlon fixture Bob Powers stroking into his opening swim, side-by-side with Kevin O'Connor on his second lap.
--Trudy Marshall

Saturday, June 13, 2009

News & Notes from Liberty Tri

(Top - Thunder Bay's Karen Rosehart wins Liberty Half again. Bottom - Brett Lovaas runs away from the competition at Liberty Olympic. Photos courtesy  of YndeCam.com)

The Canadian duo of Jonathan Balabuck and Karen Rosehart, both of Thunder Bay, took the long course wins at Liberty today. Balabuck has racked-up five wins on Minnesota soil in the last three years.

Brett Lovaas nuked the men's Olympic course record (by about 3 minutes) and Alaskan Lori Deschamps bested the rest of the field by a full 11 minutes. Lovaas has won 16 races since coming to Minnesota a decade ago. This victory rivals in magnitude his win at Turtleman in 2006.  Deschamps was 8th place woman at the 2007 Best of the U.S. National Championship. --Trudy Marshall

UPDATE: Several AG records fell on that beautiful June 13 morning. MTN congratulates the following athletes for raising the bar:

* Lakeville's Doug Davis lowered his own 40-44/overall masters record, set in '06, by a slim two seconds. New Record: 4:30:31

* Chisago City's Tom Krenz lopped a healthy 5:11 off the men's 45-best:  New Record:  4:36:41

* Hudson, WI's Patrick McCann took a 5:19 bite from the men's 50-54 mark. New Record: 5:08:29.

Sue Abrahamson of Wazata, owner of the women's 40-44/overall masters best (5:01:00, set in 2006), now owns the 45-49 mark, too. She lowered the old standard by an adipose 6:37. New Record: 5:07:43.

And speaking of raising the bar in the Minnesota long course racing community, former mid-Atlantic elite Josh Riff (Inside Tri All American in 2004) relocated to Edina last year. Josh finished 2nd at Liberty in 4:17:37.  Some of his highlights include a 4th place amateur finish atBaja Ironman 70.3 in 2006, a 2nd at the 2005 Tupper Lake (NY) Tinman (half iron) and a 9:29 at Ironman Arizona in 2008. Welcome to Minnesota, Josh.

OLYMPIC UPDATE:  It’s amazing what great conditions and a deeper talent pool can produce. The following divisional records were rewritten at Liberty Olympic ’09:


  • Maple Grove’s Gabby Keller posted her 2nd junior win in seven days and lowered the 19U CR by a cyclopean 14:13. New Record: 2:41:35
  • Minneapolis’ Carol Markham-Cousins abused her own 50-54W best by almost 10 minutes. New Record:  2:43:56
  • Excelsior’s Chap Achen lowered the men’s 40-44 best by behemothic 13:41: New Record: 2:06:10
  • Duluthian Rhett Bonner set a 45-49M/overall masters mark, both by gargantuan margins. This was arguably the day’s best performance. New Record: 1:58:35
  • The 55-59M best went down by 3:11, thanks to Minnetonka’s Kent Schwitzer. New Record: 2:19:48
  • Detroit Lakes’ Bob Koshnick took a humongous bite (13:07) out of the previous 65-69M best. New Record:  2:54:18

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


(Cathy Yndestad separating herself early from the rest of the women's field at Pigman Sprint last weekend. Photo courtesy of YndeCam.com.)

Kevin O'Connor will be going for his 8th career Manitou Sprint win this Sunday. 

Eight? Really?

Yup. He's won in '93, '95, '96, '97, '99, '07 and  '08. His 2007 victory earned  him the Performance of the Year award. His '08 effort resulted in a POY nomination.  

The point is this: Kevin knows how to win on this course. He knows the value of blazing transitions, hard but patient riding and a red-line run finish. He knows how much pain he's willing to endure and that his threshold is greater than most, if not all, of his competitors.

Is #8 in the bag? Well, let's just say that it would be foolhardy to bet against Kevin O'Connor on Sunday. He's in amazing shape right now, perhaps as good as in the early-to-mid nineties, when the majority of his 40-ish career victories were recorded.

The bigger question concerning the men's race, and the women's as well, for that matter, is Who will be 2nd?" 

For the guys let's look no further than the runners-up in '08--Devon Palmer--and '07--Curt Wood. Both enjoyed leads heading into T2, and both were shagged on the run. A similar scenario should unfold on Sunday.

Who will be 2nd, then? Based on what transpired at Pigman Sprint last weekend, the best bet is Palmer.

Can anyone upset Cathy Yndestad? Can anyone prevent her from collecting her 4th Manitou title?

Unless her name is Lindsay or Linda, the answer is no.

Lindsay and Linda?

Lindsay is Chicago's Lindsay Whalen, not to be confused with the former Gopher superstar basketballer of the same name, and Linda is former US Athlete of the Year and Master of the Year Linda Robb of Juno Beach, Florida. These girls and Cathy are currently the three most dominant short course amateur triathletes in America. 

So, who will be 2nd at Manitou? The list of contenders is a lengthy one, starting with 2008 winner Kate McCann. Then there's Julie Hull, of course. Julie was 2nd here in '08 and '06. And let's add masters stars Mary Beth Tuttle (3rd in 2008) and Jeanne Fleck. 

Of the four above-mentioned girls, Fleck has been the most consistently impressive this season (McCann and Tuttle have raced only once thus far in 2009). The battle for 2nd should come down to Jeanne and Kate.

Spicing the women's race is the return of Darcy Franklin, who placed 3rd here in 2007 and 2008. Darcy took the 2008 season off to concentrate on family stuff. And it will be interesting to see where the new-and-improved Jen Lenarz will place. Jen's never finished better than 9th at this ultra-competitive race, but could vie for a top 5 spot on Sunday.

Finally, the masters battles should be heated and should  portend post-season award nominations. the Fleck/Tuttle duel will be exciting, as will the Mo Mouw/Todd Firebach confrontation. Mo was very impressive at Buffalo last weekend, and Todd has two stellar efforts to his credit thus far in '09.