Wednesday, June 24, 2009


In 2008 Bill Nevala's inaugural RochesterFest Olympic and Sprint Triathlons drew a combined 469 entrants. A great turnout. This year's race, by far the largest of the six Minnesota events with which the RF shares the weekend, will be at least 50% larger. And it's field quality, though only on the men's side, is significantly greater, too.

This is not to say that the women's field is weak. It is simply leaner than 2008's. This is thanks largely to the absence of the last season's top three finishers--Cathy Yndestad, Kortney Haag and Iowa's Erin Anderson--who will be racing elsewhere this weekend. In their absence, expect Heidi Keller-Miler, 44, to come out on top, and do so in a time that falls somewhere between Cathy's CR (2:13:01) and Kortney's 2:18:37. In the process, Heidi will obliterate the existing masters record (2:31:42). Thea Fleming, runner-up at Liberty Half two weeks ago, and Rochester's own Diana Koepp should round out the women's podium.

On the men's side, last season's podium finishers--Sam Hauck (see photo), Brett Lovaas and Scott Penticoff--are returning. And they will be challenged mightily by the likes of Curt Wood, Rob Gilles, Neil Miller, the Ellingson twins, Eric and Mark, and Madison, Wisconsin-based pro Will Smith. This is a talented group of guys, several of whom, weather permitting, should dip under Hauck's 1:56:06 course best.

So, who will finish on top?

With the exception of swim/bike aces Wood and Lovaas, the abovementioned men are accomplished runners, guys who can be expected to close with a 34:00 or faster. For Lovaas to extend his win streak, or for Wood to make his first trip to the Winners Circle this year, they'd need a four minute lead going into final leg. This is a lot to ask.

But is it asking too much?

Maybe not. There are many unanswered questions. Is the oft-injured Smith healthy? How have the pressures of medical school affected the training of Hauck and the Ellingsons? Can Miller and Gilles turn in the kind of bike splits that will keep them in contention? Can Penticoff put together a 1:55?


Wood and Lovaas are fit and ready to race. They should claim podium spots. Hauck or Smith should land on the other step.

Who'll win?

If the race starts on time, we'll know at 9:55 a.m. on Sunday.