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!"