Thursday, June 4, 2009


(Photo: Rising star Kortney Haag)

(Buffalo, MN - June 7, 2009) "It's not warm here," triathlete Gregg Garrettson grinningly declared after finishing this year's superbly produced Buffalo Triathlon. Duh. Other applicable  examples of understating-the-obvious on this morning might include, "It was not unwindy today," and "Matthew Payne and Kortney Haag are the real deal." 

Temps stalled at 48 degrees but felt colder, thanks to the wind and the mist. Twas not a day for records to fall, though somehow two did. It was a challenging day and most participants were truly up to the task.

As usual the pro du jour prevailed. Kiwi superstar Terenzo Bozzone worked just hard enough to keep himself in front of amateur favorite Matthew Payne of Columbia Heights. Undefeated in four starts, Payne was not concerned about catching Bozzone, whom he managed to out-split on the bike. He was more intent on keeping Thunder Bay's Jon Balabuck, a dude who invades Minnesota races often and has come away the victor on five occasions, in his rearview mirror. Ultimately, Matt's big bike offset Jon's big run; the result being a 1:17 win for Payne. Minneapolis' Patrick Parish and USAT All American from Richfield, Steve Sander rounded out the men's top five.

Parish finished 2nd to New Hope's Kortney Haag in the voting for Minnesota Rookie of the Year in 2008. Both are destined for stardom, though Kortney appears to be on a faster track. Her win at blustery Buffalo in a circumstantially impressive 2:18:31 suggests as much. Moreover, her margin of victory over defending champ Katherine McCann of Andover, who finished 2nd this time around, was 45 seconds. Kortney claimed that her early season duathlon success--4th at Gear West and 7th at The Apple--has made her a tougher athlete. It showed today.

Rounding out the women's talented top 5 were Buffalo's amateur course and masters record owner Heidi Keller-Miler of Chaska, transplanted Illini Brook Mutzenberger and former Rookie of the Year nominee Susan Williams of Minneapolis.

Keller-Miler's performance was pleasantly startling. Her training has been spotty for the last year and a half and her injuries stubborn. She was jubilant after the race and is now looking forward to a season that includes more racing than spectating.

White Bear Lake's Mo Mouw, 45, and St. Paul's Jeremy Sartain turned in satisfying top 10 performances. Mo, a decorated former pro who appears to be on the comeback trail, placed 7th. More impressively, he managed to break Todd Firebaugh's divisional record, set in 2007, by almost two minutes. Sartain's 9th demonstrated that his rehab and return to form after a devastating motorcycle accident a little over a year ago, is ahead of schedule. Jeremy predicts that he'll return to his winning ways perhaps as early as mid-July.

The other AG course record that went down was felled by Ben Ewers, 62, of North Oaks. The former  Triathlon Today! All American (1991 & 1992) took Patrick McMorrow's CR down by a porky 5:42.

Conditions did not allow the top men in the accompanying sprint course race to crack the 1 hour barrier. Troy Anderson of Big Lake, came closest with a 1:00:47.  Runner-up Nate Hoffman was almost a minute back and Red Wing's Jesse Nelson, who posted a 59:36 here (2nd overall) in '08, was 3rd. 

Defending women's champ Laura Swartz of St. Louis Park was prevented from repeating by Shelley Nelson, also of St. Louis Park. Nelson was the only woman who managed to dip under 1:10, which she did rather substantially (1:08:04). Dawn Studstad of Minneapolis, was 3rd, just six seconds behind Swartz.