Monday, June 1, 2009


(Photo courtesy of YndeCam.comKate McCann hopes to make it two-in-a-row at Buffalo Olympic.)

The Buffalo Triathlon, Minnesota's second largest multi (1500 entrants), will celebrate its 6th anniversary on Sunday, June 7. 

Since 2005 the Olympic-distance race has been won by visiting male professionals--Aussie Chris Legh in 2008, 2007 and 2006, and Arizona's Doug Friman in 2005. Female pros--Becky Lavelle (CA) and Natasha Badmann (SUI)--are also past champions.

The 2009 Pro du jour is New Zealander with the Italian name, Terrenzo Bozzone, who is arguably the most complete triathlete in the world today. He can do it all at the highest level. Only 24, he has already won 3 World Championships--70.3 in 2008 and Junior Worlds in '03 and '02--placed 2nd in his Ironman debut (8:25 at IM NZL last March) and has established himself as one of the planet's premier Xterra racers. He won't be pushed at Buffalo, so it remains to be seen whether he will attempt to better Chris Legh's 1:50:50 CR. 

The men's amateur Olympic course record--1:57:49--was set last year by Shoreview's Sam Hauck. Two men in Sunday's field have the potential to match and perhaps eclipse Hauck's mark. Unfortunately, health issues may prevent one of those guys--Eden Prairie's Dan Cohen--from posing a serious threat. But let's not count him out just yet. The former Turtleman and Timberman champ may surprise himself and the competition.

The other guy, the red-hot Matthew Payne of Columbia Heights, will certainly go after the record, and even if he doesn't rewrite it, he should still come away with the win, which would be his fourth in as many starts this season. This is assuming that Cohen is unable to pull a rabbit out of his hat, and talented Canadian Jon Balabuck doesn't have the race of his life.

The men's chase pack should include Eric Henrickson (Hopkins), 2008 Rookie of the Year runner-up Patrick Parish (Circle Pines) and Josh Blankenheim (Duluth). 

The women's Olympic race should be hotly contested. Defending champ Kate McCann could become Buffalo's first female repeat champion, but she will have to out-race fellow 2008 Most Improved nominee Michelle Andres of East Gull Lake,  and her own training partner Susan Williams of Minneapolis, who placed 18th against a national level field at Wildflower International in California earlier this spring. 

Kate's stiffest challenge should come from 2008 Rookie of the Year Kortney Haag of New Hope. Kortney's duathlon debut at Gear West last month produced an impressive 4th place finish. She followed that with a 7th overall/4th amateur effort against the best women's du field in the U.S. thus far this year at Apple. Don't be surprised is Kortney racks-up her 2nd career win in bucolic Buffalo this weekend.

Also racing will be women's amateur overall and masters record holder Heidi Keller-Miler. Injuries have kept Heidi on the sidelines since the middle of the 2007 season. Currently, the former pro is cycling like a banshee, but quasi-pernicious shoulder and leg problems should prevent her from racing up-to-par in her two favorite disciplines.

Two other girls who should contend for top spots are Brook Mutzenberger (Eden Prairie) and Sarah Viamonte (Minneapolis).

In the accompanying Buffalo Sprint Triathlon. 2008 men's runner-up Jesse Nelson of Red Wing should be considered the favorite. Last year's women's champ Laura Swartz could repeat, but keep your eyes on Duluth's Laura Mills, who is young--24--and improving.