Tuesday, June 16, 2009


(L - 2006 LMT champ Heidi Keller-Miler is intent on returning to the Winners Circle on Saturday. Photo by Wayne Kryuba. R - Tony Schiller turned in an unbelievable performance at LMT last year.)

Fifty-year-old guys can't do what Tony Schiller did at the Lake Minnetonka Triathlon last year. Can they?

What did he do? 

He won the race in course-record time. Not an age group record; he took that down by 11:33. Not a masters record; he lowered that by 2:55. Nope, he re-set the men's overall record, besting Brett Lovaas' 2006 mark by a circumstantially porcine 59 seconds.

They truth is that 99.99% of cinco-genarians cannot do what Tony did at Excelsior Commons in 2008. And it's possible that the listed percentage of "coulders" is too high. Tony may be the only 50-plusser--though Pennsylvania's John Brockenbrough might be able to come close--who could have pulled this off.

Schiller's bike and run paces at LMT were frighteningly fast: 26 mph and 5:30 mpm. The result was a 1:03:37 on the scenic 1/2 mile - 15 mile - 3 mile route. Most of his peers suspected he would be fast. After all, three weeks earlier he won his 6th age group World Championship crown. What they didn't expect, though, is that he would be so darn competitive, much less dominant.

Can Tony, now 51, do it again on Saturday? 

His performance at Manitou Sprint last weekend demonstrated that he is fit, though not at the level of a year ago. Had he cracked the top 5 at White Bear Lake (he was 9th), then a repeat performance in Excelsior would seem more possible.

What narrows Tony's chances more significantly is the fact that three-time LMT winner Brett Lovaas is in the field, and he (Brett) appears to be in, as they say, the "shape of his life." His stunning triumph at Liberty Olympic last weekend would seem to instantiate this claim. 

If the weather cooperates, don't be surprised if Lovaas comes away back-to-back course records. And he'll get a great push from Tony and John Shelp (2nd at Liberty Olympic last weekend), three-time Junior of the Year Michael Williams, who raced brilliantly--7th--at Manitou last Sunday, Eric Hendrickson (two-time podium finisher at LMT), former Rookie of the Year and Most Improved, Jeremy Sartain and 2008 USAT All American Steve Sander.

The race for female supremacy  will a "Battle of the Titan-esses." Past champions Jan Guenther and Heidi Keller-Miler, both of whom possess world-class creds, will be the ones to watch. And while Jan, winner in 2008 at age 49, and Heidi, 44, victorious in 2006, should leave the rest of the girls behind, the likelihood of a course record is rather slim. 

You see, Jan is training for Ironman Wisconsin--she set the masters record there in 2002 in a time that still stands as one of the event's top 3 fastest women's clockings--and should be very strong, but lacking a little speed. Heidi is still recovering from multiple injuries. Nevertheless, look for Jan and Heidi to set the pace. Lauras Swartz and Mills, and perhaps Caroline Skaar-Page, should fight over the final podium step.

It should be noted that the Lake Minnetonka Triathlon, which enjoys a brief but proud history and a charming New Englandly venue, filled faster than any other Minnesota multi this year.