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.