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

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.