Friday, July 31, 2009

HANK, BEN & BOB - MINNESOTA'S NATIONAL CLASS 60-PLUSSERS!


Bob Bailey, Ben Ewers and Hank Larsen are three of the best over-age-60 mulisportsmen in America. Ewers, in fact, is probably the very best 60-64 triathlete in the Land. And there may not be a faster 69-year-old swimmer-biker-runner in the U.S.A. than Larsen. And Bailey may well return from North Carolina next month with a World Duathlon Championship medal around his neck.

There are many talented 60-plussers in our state, but these guys are currently setting the highest standards. Here's what they've done thus far in 2009:

* Bob Bailey, 65, Woodbury

Divisional wins at Winter Be Gone, Falls Duathlon, Apple Worlds Qualifier & Du the Dam, where he finished 9th overall!

* Ben Ewers, 63, North Oaks

Divisional victories & course records at Albert Lea, Buffalo Olympic, Lake Minnetonka, Lake Waconia & Graniteman. He also dominated his division at the prestigious Vineman 70.3 (4:58!), winning by almost 40 minutes.

* Hank Larsen, 69, Glencoe

Divisional winner at Oakdale Duathlon, Gear West, Lake Waconia and Heart of the Lakes. He lowered his own divisional record at HOLT. He finished 2nd in his division (behind Bob Bailey) at The Apple.

(Photos: Bob Bailey running at The Apple and Ben Ewers after the Lake Waconia.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

TIMBERMAN IMAGE...

MTN thanks the Savstrom Family for submitting this, and other, images from this year's Timberman Triathlon.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

HONORARY MINNESOTAN...

Thunder Bay's Jonathan Balabuck has been racing, and winning, in Minnesota for almost a decade. He'll be one of the favorites at the Brewhouse Triathlon in Duluth this Sunday.

Great border state athletes like Marnie Walth (ND), Melanie Carvell (ND), Rob Gilles (ND) and Kim Fordham-Lien (SD), who have raced often on Minnesota soil, have been nominated for (and on occasion, have won) Minnesota Multisport Awards and spots on Team MN. Perhaps this will be the year that an athlete from The Great White North--Jon Balabuck-- receives MMA consideration?

Why?

Check out Jon's Minnesota scorecard for the last four seasons:

2009:

1st @ Liberty Half - 4:13:09
2nd amateur @ Buffalo Olympic
5th @ Chisago Half - 4:00:22

2008:

1st @ Duluth Duathlon
1st @ St. Croix Valley Sprint - Course Record
2nd @ Timberman
4th @ Brewhouse
4th @ Pigman Half

2007:

2nd @ Duluth Duathlon
2nd @ Liberty Half
4th @ Brewhouse
10th @ Apple Duathlon

2006:

1st @ Duluth Duathlon
1st @ Chisago Lakes Half
4th @ Buffalo Olympic


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

WASECA PREVIEW...

Three hundred athletes are expected to descend on the bucolic community of Waseca in southern Minnesota on Sunday for the inaugural Waseca Triathlon.

Eden Praire's Dan Cohen comes in as the men's favorite in the 1/3-iron and is expected, along with Richfield's Steve Sander and Minnetonka's Brett Lovaas, to burn up the lightning-fast bike course. If Dan wins, it will be his 3rd victory in his last four starts.

National class master Doug Davis of Lakeville, will set the bar high for the 40-and-over crowd and will probably crack the overall Top 5.

A pair of Rochesterites, Johanna Hall and Diana Koepp, should garner podium spots in the women's 1/3-IM. Hall should reach the top step. 2009 Rookie of the Year frontrunner, Suzie Finger, who won the Chaska Triathlon, also has a shot at a Top 3 finish.

In the companion sprint course race, it appears that Red Wing's Jesse Nelson will be the man to beat. A win on Sunday would be his 3rd of the season.

Women's short course favorites include Michelle Creasman of Morristown, Jennifer Rabbitts of Rochester and Amy Klosterman of White Bear Lake.

UPDATE: The Waseca Tri had filled.

Monday, July 27, 2009

MTN's JULY 2009 ATHLETES OF THE MONTH -Presented by PEACE COFFEE..



(Pictured: Cathy Yndestad, Devon Palmer, Greg Taylor (top right) and Jan Guenther. Photos of Cathy & Devon are courtesy of Yndecam.com. Greg's photo provided by Kristen Taylor. Jan's pic provided by Denny Johnson.)

Minnesota Tri News and Peace Coffee is proud to present its July Athletes of the Month:

OVERALL: Cathy Yndestad, 31, Apple Valley & Devon Palmer, 22, St. Paul

In July, Cathy won the prestigious Life Time Fitness Elite Triathlon for the fourth (!) consecutive year. The next weekend she blew away the women's long-standing Course Record at Heart of the Lakes / Minnesota State Triathlon Championships.

Like Cathy, Devon was victorious at Life Time Fitness Elite and Heart of the Lakes against the two deepest fields that will be brought together for a Minnesota event this year. In fact, LTF had arguably the deepest amateur field of any triathlon staged in the U.S. thus far in 2009. Palmer's time at HOLT was the fastest amateur men's clocking since 1995.

AGE GROUP: Jan Guenther, 50, Mound & Greg Taylor, 55, Mankato

In July, Jan crushed the 50-54W course record at Heart of the Lakes and placed 4th overall. She then turned in the 2nd fastest (unofficial) 50-54W half IM effort (4:36:05) of All Time at Chisago Lakes.

Taylor not only won his division at Timberman and cracked the overall Top 10, his time (2:06:23) was the fastest masters clocking of the day. At Chisago he finished an amazing 16th overall in 4:21:03. Had the course been the precise 1.2-56-13.1 distance, his time would have been in the 4:27-4:28 range, which would have bettered Carlos Luis Ribiero's' 55-59M World Best Time (4:29:37) by almost two minutes.

Other AG considerees: Jeanne Fleck, 44, Proctor; Ben Ewers, 63, North Oaks & Nick Madrinich, 19, Chaska.

Yndestad, Palmer, Guenther and Taylor will receive Columbian Heavy Pedal Coffee, courtesy of Peace Coffee.

PAST WINNERS:

* June Overall - Kevin O'Connor & Cathy Yndestad
* June AG - Ben Ewers, 63 & jan Guenther, 50

* May Overall - Matthew Payne & Marlo McGaver
* May AG - Todd Firebaugh, 47 & Jan Guenther, 50

Eligibility Criteria: Athletes must turn in a minimum of two outstanding performances during the month. Athletes age 19 & under and 40 & over are eligible for AG award consideration.

Three members of the Minnesota Multisport Awards Selection Committee--Heidi Keller-Miler, Stephen Bullard and Jerry MacNeil--serve on the MTN AOM Selection Committee.

BREWHOUSE PREVIEW ...


Will nine-time Brewhouse Champ Brian Bich be ready to rock 'n roll on Sunday? Is he still nursing the calf-strain that kept him out of HOLT? And what about Marlo McGaver? Will she be there?

The men's field will be very solid, featuring two-time champ and Pro CR holder David Thompson, who seems to blow away records every time he toes the line this season; Amateur CR holder Curt Wood; and yes, nine-time winner and owner of six of the 12 fastest times in Brewhouse history, Brian Bich.

While David can be expected to go off the front, Curt and Brian will have all they can handle keeping Patrick Parish at bay. The field also includes local star Josh Blankenheim, and don't be surprised if Thunder Bay's Jon Balabuck, who is not currently registered, shows up. Balabuck owns two of the event's 10 fastest times.

Also in the mix will be 45-year-old Rhett Bonner, who is racing brilliantly this season.

The women's field hasn't taken shape as yet. Two-time champion and course record holder Marlo McGaver has yet to sign-up and masters phenom Jeanne Fleck has yet to decide which of the races to enter (she won the short course race in record time last year). She had this to say (via email):

"I'm ..not sure whether it will be the sprint or the long course yet. I have calcaneal bursitis and some achilles problems so I may have to opt for the sprint (short run) if we can't get it calmed down before the weekend. I'm optimistic that it will be fine and I will do the long course, but we'll see.

"
World Duathlon Championships is coming up (September) and it's the race that has been the focus of all my training this year. So, I don't want to set my running back any further by pushing my luck this weekend. Either way, we will be there on Sunday." -JF

If Marlo opts not to race and Jeanne takes the conservative route (short course), the women's favorite should be 2006 Rookie of the Year Marta Lewinski. For the last two seasons, Marta's racing has been compromised by health issues (asthma). Fingers are crossed for Ms. Lewinski. Let's hope that the race on Sunday marks the beginning of her reemergence.

UPDATE: MTN has just learned via e-mail that both Marlo McGaver and Jon Balabuck will be racing at Brewhouse on Sunday.


CHISAGO PHOTO ESSAY BY ERIK HULL..

Marnie catches Heather. Jeremy climbs out of the saddle. Julie happy with her finish. Susan and Mary Beth head for T1. Wisconsin's Jeff Tarkowski hammering.



PHENOMENAL 50-PLUSSERS ROCK CHISAGO...


(File Photos: Top - Greg Taylor "napping" at the finish line of the 2009 Timberman. Left - Jan Guenther leaves an angry Lake Waconia behind.)



Mankato's Greg Taylor, 55, and Mound's Jan Guenther, 50, turned in extraordinary efforts at Chisago Lakes Half.


How extraordinary?

How about "Best in the World" extraordinary?

At the 2007 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, FL, a terrific triathlete from Brazile named Carlos Luis Ribiero won his division in 4:29:37, which is believed to be the fastest half time ever for a 55+ male.

On Sunday at the Chisago Lakes Half, Mankato's Greg Taylor swam, PowerCranked (yes, he was riding PowerCranks) and ran his way to a 4:21:04.

Yup, you read correctly. A 4:21.

An official World Record?

No. But definitely a World Record-worthy performance.

Huh?

The Chisago Lakes Half had slightly short swim (1.1-ish) and bike (55.4 miles) segments. The times, as a result, were a bit faster than if the event were a spot-on 1.2-56-13.1.

How much faster?

For elite athlete males, perhaps four minutes; perhaps five for elite females.

Even if 6-7 minutes were added to Taylor's finishing time, it would still have been significantly faster than Ribiero's clocking.

As for Guenther's 4:36:05, only Denver's Ellen Hart, the 2008 USAT Master of the Year and former Olympic-calibre runner, has covered a half faster, a 4:35:29 at 70.3 Worlds last fall.

Minnesota is blessed to be the home of three--Taylor, Guenther and six-time World Champion Tony Schiller-- of the very best over-age 50 triathletes in the World.



Sunday, July 26, 2009

SHOREVIEW'S HAUCK WINS CORNHUSKER STATE GAMES TRIATHLON...

(Lincoln, NE - July 26, 2009) Shoreview's Sam Hauck won the Cornhusker State Games / Best of the US Nebraska Qualifier Triathlon in Lincoln on Sunday in convincing fashion. A medical student at Creighton University in Omaha, Hauck is, by rule, eligible to represent Nebraska at the Best of the US Championship in Mission Viejo, CA on September 27. Marc Ellingson of Waconia, who also attends Creighton's Medical School, placed 3rd and is in the final passdown position if neither Hauck nor runner-up Scott Bredehoft of Lincoln, accept the invitation. Ellingson represented Nebraska at the 2008 Best of the US Championship in Tempe, AZ, where he finished 18th.

Hauck, who was 3rd at the Heart of the Lakes Minnesota State Triathlon Championship on July 19, is the reigning Turtleman champion and plans to return to defend his title on August 8.

Cornhusker Games Tri Results:

CHISAGO LAKES HALF...THE AMAZING RACE...

(File Photo: Marnie Walth & Kortney Haag at The Apple. These girls made their half IM debuts on Sunday. And the results were stunning!)

(Chisago City, MN - July 26, 2009) The day was perfect for fast racing. The field quality was extraordinary. And the highlights were too numerous to, well, enumerate.


But we'll try.


* FOUR MEN BREAK 4!

David Thompson came into the race as the favorite. Good weather and a push from a talented supporting cast promised to get him to the finish line in record time; certainly under 4 hours.

How far under that magic mark? That was the question. 3:55, perhaps? 3:50? David's PR at the distance is 3:49:38. Was this the day he went even faster?

Yes.

Separating himself from co-leader Tim Hola (Highlands Ranch, CO) in T1, David hit the time trial trail. The end result was a 3:47:17, which lowered Jonathan Balabuck's Chisago race record, --this event's course has been tweaked annually--by 18:31. For DKT, it was his 55 career victory and 7th W and 6th course record of the 2009 season.

Ultimately, the story of the race up front was not about supporting characters pushing the leader to an amazing time. More likely, it was about the leader pulling others to the performances of their lives. Three more men dipped under 4 hours, and five others dipped under the old CR. One of those guys was Thunder Bay, Ontario's Balabuck, who finished 5th in a totally satisfying 4:00:22.

Second place went to 1st-year pro Justin Henkel of Madison, WI. A USAT Athlete of the Year Honorable Mention in 2008, Justin's previous best at 70.3 was 4:00:43, a 30-34M gold medal effort at Clearwater '08. At Chisago, the lanky Henkel, who placed an impressive 4th at Ironman Coeur D'Alene five weeks earlier, popped a 3:52:35.

Third went to relative newcomer Jeff Tartowski of Green Bay. In only his 3rd year in the sport, he has raced only a handful of times, two of which produced victories at the High Cliff Half (2009, 2008). The humble, soft-spoken Tartowski owned a previous PR was 4:01:58. On Sunday he went 3:54:14.

The other sub-4 was turned in by 2005 Triathlete Magazine Amateur Athlete of the Year Tim Hola. The former US Half Champ and 4-time amateur winner at Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3. His previous best at the distance was in the 4:01-4:02 range. At Chisago, his time was a triumphant 3:54:32.

Sixth through 10th went to St. Paul's Jeremy Sartain (6th - 4:02:11-lowered PR by 4:48), Mayer's Brook Grossinger (7th - 4:03:47 - lowered PR--according to MTN's records--by 24:28!), Edina's Josh Riff (8th - 4:05:14 - PR?), Rochester's Alex Hooke (9th - 4:06:16 -lowered PR by 8:08) and Madison, Wisconsin's affable Mike Lavery (10th - 4:08:40). Lavery placed 3rd (4:03:51) at Spirit of Racine the previous weekend.

* 21 GIRLS BREAK 5!...

Madison, Wisconsin's 23-year-old Jackie Arendt is an amazing triathlete who excels at the long stuff. Seventeenth (including pros) at Ironman Wisconsin last year (10:47), Jackie has been ripping the region's half scene this year. Her wins at Door County and High Cliff featured fast times (4:41:34 and 4:42:15) and huge margins of victory (8:06 and 11:18). She was also top amateur (2nd overall) at Illinois' Rockman (4:44:16).

Jackie turned in her fastest half of the season, perhaps of her career, at Chisago on Sunday. She posted the fastest women's swim and run splits of the day en route to a brilliant 4:26:05, which was 11:08 better than the race record.

And Jackie Arendt finished 4th.

That's how talented the women's field was. In fact, 21 girls broke the 5-hour mark. In the first three years of this event, only a dozen women were able to accomplish this feat.

Here are the top girls:

1. Heather Haviland, 36, Waukesha, WI - Course Record: 4:23:25

The long-time pro and former Pigman Half champ was ecstatic with her performance. For the last several seasons her coaching has taken precedence over her racing.

2. Marnie Walth, 40, Bismarck, ND - 4:23:46

Marnie's amazing long course debut should earn her a 2009 Minnesota Performance of the Year nomination. Walth turned in the fast bike split of the day (2:22:58 ).

3. Kortney Haag, 30, New Hope - 4:25:54

This was Kortney's maiden voyage at this distance. Like Walth's, it was astonishing. We invite you to read her race report at http://www.kortneyhaag.blogspot.com.

4. Jackie Arendt, 23, Madison, WI - 4:26:05

5. Jolene Wilkinson, 36, Park City, UT - 4:29:31

This pro is a two-time 20-24W AG World Champion. Like Haviland, her coaching often overrides her racing. Also like Haviland, she was very pleased with her performance at Chisago.

6. Julie Hull, 36, Farmington - 4:30:52

For Julie, Chisago Lakes 2007 champ (4:37:13), her PR effort came on the heels of a 7th place finish (4:31:41) at Spirit of Racine the previous weekend.

7. Jan Guenther, 50, Mound - 4:36:05

Only 2008 US Master of the Year Ellen Hart, 51, of Denver, CO has a faster 50+ half finish, a 4:35:29 at Clearwater 70.3 '08. These two girls need to race each other!

8. Jenny Wilcox, 34, Cottage Grove - 4:38:41

Apparently Jenny's prep for her Ironman debut at Wisconsin in October is going well. At CLH she lowered her half PR by an elephantine 38:52

9. Marlo McGaver, 38, Duluth - 4:41:05

A former winner (2006) and runner-up (2008) here, Marlo's '09 time is a 12 second improvement on her PR at this race. McGaver has won four halves in her illustrious career.

10. Nicole Cueno, 29, Minneapolis - 4:49:13

A decorated runner (2:42:03-marathon, 16:54-5K, 34:52-10K), we were only able to locate one prior multi experience for Nicole, a 6th place finish at Iron Girl-Bloomington last fall. If this was her tri debut, it is nothing less than astounding. We hope you stick with this, Ms. Cueno.

Here are the non-open-class* records that were set at CLH IV:

* 00-19W - Gabby Keller (Maple Grove, MN) - 5:38:15
* 40-44W - Marnie Walth (Bismarck, ND) - 4:23:46 (Old Record: 5:04:21 - 2006)
* 45-49W - Tracey Lamers (Ridgeway, WI) - 4:57:08 (Old record: 5:07:13 - 2008)
* 50-54W - Jan Guenther (Mound, MN) - 4:36:05 (Old Record: 5:15:40 -2006)
* 55-59W - Pam Stevens (Sartell, MN) - 5:38:42 (Old Record: 6:15:44 - 2008)
* 50-54M - Charlie Roach (Lakeville) - 4:33:37 (Old Record: 4:42:39 - 2008)
* 55-59M - Greg Taylor (Mankato) - 4:21:04 (Old Record: 4:48:56 - 2008)

* Open Class athletes are those between the ages of 20 and 39.


Chisago Results:

MTN encourages athletes to submit brief race reports or commentary. Via email, Jeremy Sartain discussed his inspiring effort at Chisago:

"Chisago Half was a true breakthrough race for me this year. My major goal for 2009 is Ironman Wisconsin with the intent of qualifying for Hawaii, and yesterday I proved that this is truly a realistic goal. My run has been struggling but a couple weeks ago I finally began to sort it out. It turns out that there is a ton of scar tissue in my left lower leg and foot left over from my accident last year. Although I had huge gains in rehab that allowed me to complete Hawaii 10 weeks post crutches last year, my PT, Mike Mancini, moved home to Canada last October so I haven't really been doing much on the rehab end since. Fortunately I began to work with Dr. Josh Sandell at Spine and Sports Institute. Josh is much like Mike in that he does a ton of soft tissue mobilizations and is amazing at biomechanical analysis. In less than two weeks I was able to run a half in the same pace as I was running 10k's. My main goal at Chisago was to run sub 1:30. I ran a 1:26 and had a solid swim (for me) and bike. I couldn't be happier with how the race went! At every race I hear spectators and other competitors cheering me on, many of whom I don't personally know. Thanks for all the cheers and well wishes - it really is motivating!" - JS

MTN thanks triathlete Dan Hawkins for sending in this wonderful report:

"Just thought I'd share a quick story from this Chisago this weekend. I was going the 1/2 (and having one of my worst bikes ever) when I passed someone with a flat at mile 45. Normally I make sure they have what they need, etc, but I was generally too miserable to say anything and figured other athletes would help if necessary. I was feeling guilty about riding by and looked back to see that she was walking--i.e. race over. My race was over long ago, so with nothing to lose I turned around and rode back to offer my help.

"As it turned out, the woman with the flat was completely deaf and most likely unaware of any offers for aid. I happen to know some sign language and was able to communicate with her enough to help her get her tire fixed and back on the road. So what otherwise would have been a pretty awful day for me turned out to be very rewarding.

"So to the deaf lady with the flat tire--great job on finishing the race and I hope to see you on the road again!" -
DH

(UPDATE: The deaf triathlete was #389, Beckie Perkins.)

Chisago runner-up Marnie Walth emailed this report:

"After getting out of the lake in about 10th place (great swim for me), I started catching the others on the bike--approx. one rider every 4-5 miles.


"On the run, Heather (Haviland) caught me quickly and I was able to tuck in behind her, letting her set the pace while I caught a little draft. She upped the pace with two miles to go and pulled away from me. Heather had a great finish and I simply couldn't go any faster.


"I am very happy with the finish. I had no expectations and so to get through that long race feeling strong and finishing second was a great experience.


"What a wonderful event--beautiful race course, awesome volunteers and outstanding organization." -Marnie


PARISH & WILLIAMS LEAD THE WAY AT CLS...


(Chisago City, MN - July 26, 2009) Minneapolis residents Patrick Parish and Susan Williams won the fourth annual Chisago Lakes Sprint on Sunday. For Parish, it was his 5th career victory, and perhaps his sweetest. It was the 2nd time that Susan Williams has climbed the highest step on the podium..

The race for 2nd for the men was exciting, as Duluth's Josh Blankenheim ran out of race course in the attempt to reel-in eventual runner-up Scott Penticoff of Woodbury. Just three seconds separated these adversaries. For Blankenheim, it was his 3rd consecutive podium finish at CLS. For Penticoff, a three-time Minnesota Most Improved nominee, it was his 2nd appearance at Chisago. He was fourth in 2008 in the half (4:12:49).

St. Paul's Anton Pshon and Minneapolis' Tyler Olson rounded out the men's top 5.

Williams has raced consistently well throughout her seven-year tri career but hasn't posted a victory since September 3, 2005. All that changed on Sunday. Racing within spitting distance of each other through the first two segments (1/3 mile swim, 22-mile bike), the long-legged Williams separated herself from eventual runner-up Mary Beth Tuttle of Pine Springs, over during the 3.3 mile run. Her eventual margin of victory over MBT, the 2007 CLS champ, was 46 seconds.

St. Paul's Tracie Kent, Minneapolis' Sarah Viamonte and Illinois' Mary Ann Butzke grabbed the next three places.

The Chisago Lakes Sprint and Half drew 1300 participants.

(File Photo: Patrick Parish en route to a 2nd place amateur finish at Minneman '09. )

Chisago Lakes Sprint Results:

CZARNOMSKI & CAMPBELL TRIUMPH AT HOOT LAKE..

(Fergus Falls, MN - July 26, 2009) Lake Elmo's Kari Campbell picked up her 3rd Hoot Lake win on Sunday. She was joined in the Winner's Circle by Mariusz Czarnomski of Grand Forks, ND. Czarnomski was 3rd here in 2008.

Hoot Lake Results:

(Bemidji, MN - July 25, 2009) The fourth edition of the Paul Bunyan Sprint Triathlon was won by Duluth's Steven Kramer and Bemidji's own Christel Kippenhan. Kippenhan's 1:09:15 placed her 2nd overall behind Kramer's 1:06:18. The inaugural Long Course race (1 mile - 20+ miles - 5 miles) was won by pre-race faves Rod Raymond of Duluth, and Laurel Sundberg of Minnetonka.

Paul Bunyan Long Course Results:

Paul Bunyan Sprint Results:

Friday, July 24, 2009

COMING...


Stay tuned for the following posts:

Saturday - Paul Bunyan Capsule & Results.
Sunday - Chisago Lakes Overview & Results Link. Hoot Lake Results.
Monday - Chisago Lakes Race Coverage & Photos.
Tuesday - Peace Coffee JULY ATHLETES OF THE MONTH..
Wednesday - Brewhouse Preview.
Thursday - Waseca Preview.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

PAUL BUNYAN PREVIEW.....




The 4th annual Paul Bunyan Triathlon, featuring intermediate and sprint distance courses, is slated for Saturday, July 25.

MTN predictions: A pair of 41-year-old athletes from Park Rapids - David Bjorklund and Angie Walther--will win the short course event. The inaugural intermediate distance race will be won rather handily by Duluth's decorated "Rocket" Rod Raymond (pictured) and Minnetonka's Laurel Sundberg. This would be the first career multisport victory for Sundberg, whose 2009 resume includes at 3rd at Liberty Olympic, 4th at Graniteman and 8th at Lake Minnetonka.

HULL & TUTTLE TO RACE AT CHISAGO...


MTN has just learned past champions Julie Hull and Mary Beth Tuttle are late entrants in Sunday's Chisago Lakes Triathlon. Hull set the women's half course record (4:37:13) last year. Tuttle won the sprint race in 2006, also in CR time. The presence of these two stars significantly upgrades already stellar fields.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"THE SPEW"....JEREMY SARTAIN'S CHISAGO PREVIEW...

Jeremy Sartain, winner of the 2007 Chisago Lake Half, talks about this Sunday's race...


Crap. I just looked at the start list and there are some fast buggers planning to try and take MY prize money. David Thompson, some fellas from cheesville, Mark Carey, Alex Hooke, and more. I thought I only needed to worry about getting beaten by Julie Hull and Marlo Crosby McGaver. I guess I have my work cut out for me this weekend!

When asked to give my two cents on how the Chisago long course race will go, I came up with three possible versions. You decide which one is which.

Version 1 needs some background information first: I have the same swim coach (Duane Dobko) as David Thompson, thus I should swim as fast as him. I just purchased a brand new nose trimmer and Norelco body groomer, so my aerodynamics on the bike just improved significantly. I’ve been seeing Dr. Josh at Spine and Sports to rid my leg of remaining scar tissue (Josh fixed David a couple of times too) so I’m feeling rather bionic on the run. As you can see, I can’t be beat, so all the other fast kids with low 4 hour or sub 4 hour previous splits better be ready to go sub 3, cuz that’s how I’m gonna role!

Version 2: David is late to registration like he was last year and has to start the swim with the novice wave. He’s a super nice guy and thus takes 1.5 hours to complete the swim as he finds himself helping all the novices and in fact resuscitates a woman who looks a lot like Hilary Swank. David makes a ton of time up on the bike and run (1:59 bike and 1:11 run) and finishes the day in 2nd overall behind Jeremy Sartain. Mark Carey offers cheese to the guys from Wisconsin right before the start of the swim and this completely eliminates Mike Lavery (who apparently looks like Hilary Swank) and Tim Hola (who looks just like Tim Hola). Mark nabs 3rd.

Version 3: David Thompson wins with a sub 4 hour and new course record. There is a huge battle for 2nd through 6th or so place. I’m hopefully off the bike in 2nd behind David and will try like mad to run under 1:30, but this time will likely not cut it for a podium with such a stellar talent pool assembled. Regardless, I’m going to rip this race as hard as I am capable of on the day. Unfortunately it’s too difficult to make any guesses on who will fill out the podium as there are just too many guys with incredibly similar results. Regardless, this is going to be an epic battle!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

FLEMING & RUBENS SHINE AT DOOR COUNTY HALF...



MTN congratulates Minnesotans Thea Fleming and Sue Rubens on their sterling performances at the Door County Half IM on July 19. Fleming, a former Rookie of the Year and Most Improved nominee finished 2nd overall in 4:49:41. Rubens, and Elite Master, placed 3rd overall in 4:56:59.

ALSO: Minnesota's Bennett Isabella finished 6th at the High Cliff Half earlier this month. His time was 4:22:20.

(Photo: Thea Fleming at RochesterFest Olympic.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

CHISAGO PREVIEW.....

(Photos: Marlo McGaver and Tim Hola)

(Chisago City, MN - July 21, 2009) Jonathan Balabuck's race record--4:05:48, set in 2006--is solid, but probably not solid enough to stand for another year.

Why?

David Thompson, Tim Hola and Jeremy Sartain. And these guys are certain to get a great push from last year's runner-up Mark Carey, and a young man named Alex Hooke, who seems poised for a breakthrough. Let's grow this list with names of Wisconsinites Jeff Tartowski and Mike Lavery.

Julie Hull's course best 4:37:13 is also very solid. It might stand for another year, but it will be seriously challenged on Sunday by decorated Wisconsin pro Heather Haviland, 2006 winner and '08 runner-up Marlo McGaver, Utah-based pro Jolene Wilkinson, and a pair of tremendously talented triathletes who will be making their half IM debuts at Chisago: Kortney Haag and Marnie Walth. Julie, who raced at Racine last weekend, will not be on-hand to defend her title.

In the sprint course race, it looks like defending women's champ Katherine McCann and her friend and training partner Susan Williams will be the girls to beat. For the men, Scott Penticoff and Josh Blankenheim appear to be the top guys.

UPDATE: We have just learned that 2009 Minnesota Rookie of the Year runner-up Patrick Parish will participate in the Chisago Lakes Sprint. Patrick has raced brilliantly this year and certainly deserves the role of favorite.

Here's a peek at the half IM highlights of some of the favorites:

David "DKT" Thompson, 31, St. Paul

* 1st @ Pigman '07 (3:58:17), '06 (3:59:35), '05 (4:02:55), '01 (4:11:44 -LC Debut)
* 1st @ Spirit of Racine '07 (3:50:56)
* 1st @ 5430 Half '07 (3:49:38)

Tim Hola, 35, Highlands Ranch, CO

* 2009 - 1st amateur/7th overall @ Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3
3rd amateur @ Kansas 70.3, California 70.3 & Wildflower

* Career - 1st @ 2005 US Half Championship
1st amateur @ Wildflower '05, Buffalo Springs lake '05, '06, '08, '09 Kansas 70.3 '08, Ironman Florida '05 (Ironman PR - 8:52:04 - Florida '07)

Jeremy Sartain 35, St. Paul

* 1st @ Liberty Half '07 (4:11:17)
* 1st @ Chisago Lakes Half '07 (4:06:59)
* 1st amateur @ Pigman Half '07 (4:11:45)
* 3rd @ Chisago Lakes Half '06 (4:22:30) - Half Debut

Mike Lavery, 24, Madison, WI

* 2nd @ 2009 High Cliff Half (4:15:57)
* 3rd @ 2009 Spirit of Racine (4:03:51)
* 4th @ 2009 Rockman Half (1st amateur)

Mark Carey, 38, Rochester

* 1st @ Pigman Half '99
* 1st @ Rockman Half '07 (4:18:46), 2006 (1st amateur)
* 2nd @ Chisago Lakes Half '08 (4:10:56)
* 3rd @ US Half Championships '04, Chisago Lakes '07 (4:16:13)
* 4th @ Pigman Half '04, Pigman Half '06
* 5th @ Rockman Half '08, Pigman Half '07

Alex Hooke, 25, Rochester

* 4th @ 2009 Liberty Half (4:20:36)
* 11th @ 2006 New Jersey Devilman (4:24:19)
* 31st -1st 20-24M @ Eagleman 70.3 '07

Jeff Tartowski, 36, Green Bay, WI

* 1st amateur/2nd overall @ 2009 High Cliff Half (4:01)

Marlo McGaver, 38, Duluth

* 1st @ Liberty Half '07 (4:58), 2006 (4:41:53)
* 1st @ Square Lake Half '07 (4:33:26)
* 1st @ Chisago Lake Half '06 (4:50:04)
* 1st amateur / 2nd overall @ 5430 Half '06 (4:34:19)
* 2nd @ 2008 Chisago Lakes Half (4:41:17)
* 5th amateur @ 5430 Half (4:42:28)

Heather Haviland, 36, Waukesha, WI

* 1st @ Pigman Half '01 (4:42:52)
* 2nd @ Cutting Edge Half '04 (4:43:35)
* 3rd @ Spirit of Racine '05 (4:48:14)
* 3rd @ Ironman Wisconsin '05 (10:24:24)
* 4th @ Rockman Half '09 (4:48:45)
* 4th @ Ironman Wisconsin '07 (10:06:27)
* 6th @ Spirit of Racine '06 (4:40:39)
* 6th @ Muncie Endurathon '04 (4:31:30)
* 7th @ Eagleman 70.3 '05 (4:39:50)
* 8th @ St. Croix 70.3 '05

Jolene Wilkinson, 36, Park City, UT

* Jolene is a two-time 20-24W World Champion & former Junior National Champ. She is also a two-time winner (and former course record holder) at the Columbia Triathlon.

* 3rd @ PlayTri Half '08 (4:45:03)

Becky Burdick, 38, Plymouth

* 1st @ High Cliff Half '04
* 2nd @ Square Lake Half '02
* 4th @ Square Lake Half '05 & '01
* 6th amateur @ Ironman Florida '06 (10:20:13)
* 7th @ Chisago Lakes Half '08 (4:54:42)

Kortney Haag, 30, New Hope

* Chisago Lake will be Kortney's first half. Kortney was the Minnesota Rookie of the Year in 2008. Here are her 2009 highlights:

* 1st @ Buffalo Olympic
* 2nd @ Heart of the Lakes
* 4th @ Life Time Fitness Elite

Marnie Walth, 40, Bismarck, ND

* Like Kortney, Marnie will be making her LC debut at Chisago Lakes. Nevertheless, Walth, like Haag, comes into the event as one of the favorites.

* Career Highlights include wins at: The Apple, Heart of the Lakes, Lake Waconia, Timberman & Square Lake Sprint. She was 2nd at Life Time Fitness Elite in 2007 and 4th later that year at the Dallas US Open Elite Championship.

Pam Nielsen, 33, Minnetonka

* 3rd @ Liberty Half '09
* 8th @ Liberty Half '08
* 12th amateur @ Ironman Arizona '08 (10:37:38)


FAST GIRLS AT HOLT..

MTN thanks Greg Fleck for submitting these photos of Kortney Haag (top), Jan Guenther (drinking), Jeanne Fleck (#14) and Brook Mutzenberger (lower right).


CATHY, JULIE, JMATT & MERILEE ROCK RACINE!

(YndeCam file photo: Julie Hull at LTF.)

(Racine, WI - July 19, 2009) Several Minnesotans, led by Catherine Lee and Julie Hull, turned in noteworthy efforts at the Spirit of Racine Half Iron on Sunday. MTN congratulates:

* Cathy Lee, 35, Minneapolis - 4:31:30 - 6th overall women. Cathy was the first woman to cross the finish line, but girls from later waves eventually turned in faster times.)
* Julie Hull, 37, Farmington - 4:31:14 - 7th overall woman.
* JMatt Kiel, 35, Minneapolis - 4:17:22 - 22nd overall.
* Jonathan Neumann, 25, Sartell (now Madison, WI) - 4:18:47 - 29th overall
* Merilee Sander, 49, Northfield - 4:44:36 - 20th overall woman. 1st 45-49W.
* Julie McMonagle, 43, Eagan - 5:02:43
* Brett Lovaas, 35, Minnetonka - 4:21:53 - 45th overall.

The Racine results do not include hometowns & states. MTN is indebted to those who provide us with information that was initially missed. For instance, Jessica Hill informed us that the following Minnesota athletes also turned in truly outstanding efforts at Racine last Sunday: Bryan Hill - 20th overall - 4:16:55, and Philip Faulkner - 44th overall - 4:21:52.


SAM REFLECTS ON HOLT...

(Sam Hauck is in this picture. Can you find him? Photo courtesy of Greg Fleck.)

(Omaha, NE - July 20, 2009) Shoreview's Sam Hauck made the trek from Omaha, where he attends medical school at Creighton University, to Annandale with one goal in mind: to win the amateur title at Heart of the Lakes. He just missed doing so in 2008, finishing 2nd, just 20 ticks behind six-time champ Brian Bich, of Duluth.

In an e-mail the morning after he placed 2nd (amateur) at this year's HOLT, Sam had these comments:

"...sorry I had to jet out early from the race, but I just wanted to say how good it felt to be back racing in Minnesota. I was a little disappointed about not coming away with the amateur title, but considering Devon's (Palmer) herculean performance, I can definitely say I am pretty satisfied with my result. The battle for second was epic in and of itself, with Kevin (O'Connor) and I trying to break each other for most of the bike and run. I think we would both agree that this race is a testament to Minnesota having one of the best, if not the best, amateur triathlon scenes in the country. Anyway, I will be back...for Turtleman." -Sam


NOTE: Sam's time at HOLT was 1:27:59, which was 2:38 faster than his runner-up clocking a year ago. He is also the defending champion at Turtleman.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN'.."

24th Heart of the Lakes Triathlon
(Annandale, MN - July 19, 2009) The air was abuzz. It was like a communal tinnitus. Change was in the air, a new era was being heralded.

The first 23 editions of the Heart of the Lakes Triathlon were the prelude to a new age, one that started loudly and without equivocation on July 19. For the old-timers, there was a Dylanesque quality about it.

The times they are a-changin'.

Everything was in place on July 19. The weather was perfect and the fields' depth and readiness was beyond what it had ever been before.

Extraordinary things were going to happen.

It started with David Thompson. The pro from St. Paul strung together near-perfect splits en route to his 53rd career win in a time--1:25:26--that for many, was heretofore inconceivable. Tony Schiller's course record 1:26:34 had stood for 14 years, a period during with it had only been nibbled-at once, in 1999, and by Schiller, himself. In case you don't know, Tony is a six-time World Champion and arguably the most decorated amateur male triathlete in the history of the Sport. He has also won the HOLT on 10 occasions and still owns half of the 10 fastest times in the history of the event.

The magic number at HOLT is 90. In 24 years, only 12 guys have gone faster than 90 minutes on this storied 1/2-21-5.3 route. In 1999 and 2001, three men managed to dip under the venerated standard. On Sunday, six guys--five amateurs--accomplished this formidable feat: David Thompson (1:25:26), Devon Palmer (1:27:45), Sam Hauck (1:27:59), Kevin O'Connor (1:28:14), Dan Cohen (1:29:47) and Matthew Payne (1:29:48).

(YndeCam.com file photo: Devon Palmer wins LTF Elite. Devon went on to win at HOLT in the fastest amateur time since 1995.)

Palmer, coming off a Performance of the Year effort at Life Time Fitness, should also receive a POY nomination for his amateur win at HOLT. With a great finish at Nationals in Alabama next month, Devon could earn a nomination for USAT Athlete of the Year.

Palmer and Payne also appear to be shoo-ins for Minnesota Most Improved nominations. Palmer, O'Connor and Hauck are looking at Triathlete of the Year nominations. HOLT absentee Brian Bich, the reigning TOY should also receive a nomination, and don't be surprised if Dan Cohen receives this consideration, as well.

As epic as the men's race was, it could even have been slightly more exciting, and revealing, if six-time HOLT champ Brian Bich had been healthy enough to enter the scrum. Brian, the 2008 US Master of the Year is currently nursing a calf pull. He hopes to be back in action in two weeks for his hometown tri, The Brewhouse, a race he's won nine times.

Cathy Yndestad's win at HOLT, her 3rd consecutive, was her 6th victory in eight starts this season, and 38th of her amazing career. Like Thompson, she posted her gender's fastest swim and run splits, and was out-biked by only one girl, runner-up Kortney Haag, who's split was only 11 seconds quicker. A near perfect performance which produced a time--1:39:16--that decimated Becky Lavelle's 1996 amateur record (1:38:58).

Haag's 2nd place finish in 1:42:11 was remarkable, given the fact that this was her HOLT debut. Only Lavelle's debut, the aforementioned ACR, was faster, but she (Becky) had several years of tri competition under her belt when she toed the line in Annandale. Kortney, on the other hand, is in only her 2nd year in the sport.

Becky has gone on to super-stardom as a pro. Kortney will also go far.

Third through sixth in the women's race went to a trio of super-masters--'08 MOY & Most Improved recipient Jeanne Fleck (3rd), Jan Guenther (4th), who toasted the 50-54W mark, and Heidi Keller-Miler (6th)--and reigning Lake Waconia champ Brook Mutzenberger (5th), whose HOLT debut produced an impressive 1:45:31.

The following long course records were lowered this year:

* Six men beat 1:30 (Old Record: 3 sub-1:30 men in 1999)
* 10 Women beat 1:50 (Old Record: 9 sub-1:50 women in 1999)

* Overall Professional Record: David Thompson's 1:25:26 (Old Mark: 1:27:55, set in 2006)
* Overall Female Amateur: Cathy Yndestad's 1:39:16 (Old Mark: 1:39:58, set in 1996)
* 50-54W - Jan Guenther's 1:43:23 (Old Mark: 1:55:39, set in 2006)
* 55-59M - Kent Schwitzer's 1:46:53 (Old Mark: 1:48:19. set in 2006)
* 55-59W - Pam Steven's 1:57:09 (Old Mark: 2:00:10, set by Pam in 2008)
* 65-69M - Hank Larsen's 2:00:28 (Old Mark: 2:01:28, set by Hank in 2007)

* Devon Palmer set a bike course record: 45:31 (27.7 mph) - Devon, David Thompson (45:51 - 27.5 mph) and Dan Cohen (45:56 - 27.4 mph) all broke 46:00 on Sunday. They are the only men ever to have done so on this scenic and undulating 21-mile course.

Visit Cathy Yndestad's blog for her HOLT race report.
Visit Kortney Haag's blog for her HOLT race report.

In HOLT's short course event, 20-year-old Stillwater resident John Heinlein III parlayed a monster bike split into a 50-second win over Roseville's Tim Quesnell, 42, who enjoyed the luxury of being the first short-courser to cross the finish line. Third place was earned by amiable 18-year-old stringbean Brandon Onopa.

For the third consecutive year, the women's SC race was won by Jody Quesnell, whose hopes for sharing the top step of the podium with her husband were dashed when she and Tim learned that later starter John Heinlein III actually posted the fastest time of the day. Second place went to 2006 SC champ Kelly McCann, of Hudson, WI. Kelly was 2nd here last year, too. And third was taken by Plymouth's ever-smiling Karen Bebchuk, a former top 10 finisher (2006) in HOLT's long course event.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

COMING NEXT...HEART OF THE LAKES COVERAGE..

YOUTH PREVAILS AT CHASKA VI


(Suzie Finger en route to 2nd place finish at Du the Dam.)

(Chaska, MN - July 18, 2009) Chaska's Nick Madrinich, 19, and St. Louis Park's Suzie Finger, 26, posted the first wins of their respective multisport careers on Saturday at the sixth edition of the Chaska River City Days Triathlon. Madrinich, who appears destined to receive a Junior of the Year nomination at season's-end, relied on his signature fast swim, coupled with a strong run, to keep himself in front of eventual runner-up Chris Frykman of Minneapolis, who turned in the fastest bike split of the morning. River Falls, WI's Jim Felling took 3rd.

For Finger, a softball player-turned-multisportswoman, this was her triathlon debut (she'd raced in three duathlons- -Oakdale, Apple and Du the Dam-- earlier this season) and her cycling (21 mph) and running (6:18 pace) were impressive, as was her overall time (1:17:36) over the 1/3 - 16 - 5K route. Only five women, all veterans with elite credentials, have ever gone faster on this course. And only 22 of the 115 female finishers out-swam her today. Not bad for a girl whose first swim lesson was four weeks ago. Like her co-champ, she too should get a post season award nomination (Rookie of the Year).

Finger is scheduled to race next at the Waseca 1/3 Iron on August 1.

Taking 2nd, as she did in 2008, was St. Paul's Christina Roberts. Third went to Lindsay Osborn of nearby Shakopee. Fifty-year-old Duluthian Robin Tedlund, a 14-time Triathlon Today!/Inside Tri All American placed 4th.

The following Age Group Records were set on this coolish (60 degrees), cloudy morning:

* 19U Boys - Nick Madrinich's 1:10:09 (Old Record: 1:12:10, set in 2006)
* 70+W - Judy Rykken's 2:12:33
* 70+M - Bob Erickson's 2:07:06

UPDATE: Suzie Finger commented via e-mail on her tri debut at Chaska:

""I will remember my first tri for the rest of my life, it was so much fun, I'm hooked. Dan Cohen (SCS Multisport) is the most amazing coach. At my first swimming lesson with him 4 weeks ago I couldn't even swim 25 meters. I went home after our swim sessions and googled terms he used like 'catch' & 'pull' because I was too embarrassed to confess how aquatically clueless I was. Dan is a blessing to my training. Together we turned my doggy paddle into a middle of the pack freestyle in just a few short weeks. It meant the world to me to have him watch me cross the finish line at Chaska, I'll never forget the look on his face when he told me I won. We still have tons of work to do but I look forward to competing in 3 more tris this season and I am hungry to train hard & improve in all three areas."

Friday, July 17, 2009

(Racine, WI - July 17) Rod Raymond and Julie Hull will not be available to defend their titles at the Chisago Half next weekend. Instead, they will be racing this Sunday at the Spirit of Racine Half.

Raymond, 44, of Duluth will be one of the favorites to win the Elite Masters category. Hull, 36, of Farmington, will be one of the favorites to win the women's overall title. If she manages to do so, it will be her 3rd half win in as many seasons.

Other Minnesotans who can be expected to race at, or near, the front, include Minnetonka's Brett Lovaas, who will be making his 70.3 debut, Minneapolis' Catherine Lee, and Elite Masters Julie McMonagle of Eagan and Merilee Sander of Northfield. For Lovaas, who has set two course records thus far in 2009, SOR will be his 200th career multi. Lee has already excelled at this distance this season, finishing 4th at New Orleans 70.3 last spring. Sander, 48, popped a 4:57 at Racine in 2008. McMonagle, 42, finished 6th here in 2006, in a time of 4:54:39. He fastest half was a 4:49:41 at Square Lake in 2004.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

CHASKA PREVIEW....

The 6th annual Chaska Triathlon will be staged at Fireman's Park (in downtown Chaska) on Saturday. You can still register.

An immensely talented 50-year-old--Brett Elizabeth Schulze-- was the women's overall champion here in '08. Don't be surprised if another cinco-genarian wins this year, too. Fourteen-time TT/AA All American Robin Tedlund, 50, of Duluth, will come in as one of the favorites.

On paper, there are two women, both masters, who could keep Robin off the top step of the podium. They are last year's 3rd place finisher Caroline Skaar-Page, 42, of Eden Prairie, and Ann Snuggerud, 41, of Chaska. Ann, a long-time runner who has dabbled in tris/dus in the past (she was 40th at the inaugural Chaska Tri in 2003 and has twice participated in the Iron Girl Duathlon), has become a serious multisportswoman this year. Her 2009 resume is impressive, especially her efforts at Timberman (6th) and Lake Minnetonka (5th).

Ann Snuggerud should win her first tri on Saturday.

A Chaska resident should take the men's crown, too. Nineteen-year-old MJet Nick Madrinich should lower the event's 19U course record, a 1:15:12 set by 2003 Chaska champ Alex Hooke, en route to the first win of his budding career. He should get a nice push from Chris Frykman, 32, of Minneapolis, Jim Felling, 30, of River Falls, WI and Matt Des Marais, 24, of St. Paul.

Approximately 300 triathletes will participate in this year's race.

Monday, July 13, 2009

HOLT PREVIEW...



24th Annual HEART OF THE LAKES TRIATHLON

HOLT artwork by



(Brian Bich will be going for his 7th win at HOLT this Sunday. Photo courtesy of YndeCam.com.)

Who is the best amateur male triathlete in Minnesota this year?

Usually by mid-season, one or two guys have set themselves apart from their elite peers.

This year is different, and as a result, much more exciting and dramatic. There are four guys who appear to be a cut above the rest and it's virtually impossible to say at this point in time which is numero uno.

But this should change on Sunday.

For the first time this season, Brian Bich, Devon Palmer, Kevin O'Connor and Sam Hauck will meet on the same field of battle. That battlefield's venue will be Pleasant Lake City Park in the arcadian community of Annandale.

All but Hauck have raced against each other this year. Bich has faced Palmer once (Pigman Sprint) and come out on top. Bich has faced O'Connor twice. Kevin won the first meeting (Pigman Sprint), Brian the second (Lake Waconia). O'Connor has faced Palmer twice, winning once (Pigman Sprint), placing 2nd once (Manitou). Hauck has raced twice this season and been dominant on each occasion. His course-record-setting win against a stellar field and in spite of inhospitable conditions at RochesterFest was particularly notable.

Who, then, will win at Heart of the Lakes on Sunday?

Here are some arguments for and against each athlete.

Brian Bich.

For: The four-time Minnesota Triathlete of the Year has been HOLT's amateur champion for the last six years and outright winner on five of those occasions. He's fit and fast this year and his age--43--does not appear to be a factor. He is the reigning U.S. Master of the Year, after all.
Against: Devon Palmer, Sam Hauck and Kevin O'Connor. The 2009 versions of each of these athletes are stronger and faster than any versions he's faced in the past.

Kevin O'Connor.

For: Three wins and two 2nds in five starts, two course records and an intimidating balls-to-the-wall aggressiveness.
Against: Brian, Devon, Sam.

Sam Hauck.

For: The 2008 Most Improved award winner is faster this year. His cycling skills are much improved. He's hungry and his inner fire burns hot. Last year he went into races hoping to win. After his stunning victory at Turtleman last August, he now expects to win races. Fueling this attitude adjustment was his performance at the 2008 Dallas US Open, where he placed 4th behind the undisputed top 3 amateur men in the country (New York's David Kahn, Pennsylvanian Adam Webber, and Tennessee's Eric Bell) all of whom are now pros.
Against: Brian, Kevin, Devon.

Devon Palmer.

For: At Life Time Fitness last weekend, Devon convincingly beat the deepest amateur field of the season thus far. Not the deepest field assembled for a Minnesota race; nor the deepest field assembled for a race in our region. Nope. He beat the deepest field in the entire country. He out-raced Ohio's decorated Jared Woodford. He out-raced two-time U.S. Athlete of the Year nominee Mark Harms of Madison, WI. He out-raced HyVee champ Nathan White of Des Moines. He out-raced all (60+) of the elites.
Against: Consistency. He was in position to win at Pigman Sprint and HyVee, but didn't get it done. (After last Saturday, consistency may no longer be an issue for Devon. We'll see.) And Brian, Kevin and Sam.

Prediction?

On Sunday we'll see the most exciting men's race of the entire season. And the times will be very fast. There hasn't been a sub-1:30 on the HOLT course by an amateur since 2006 (Bich's 1:29:35 in very hot and humid conditions) and it has been eight years since more than one amateur--Rob Gilles and David Thompson--broke the elusive 90 minute mark. In '99, an unprecedented three triathletes--Tony Schiller, Doug Davis and Joe Fogarty--popped sub 1:30s. This year as many as eight men could accomplish this feat. In addition to the aforementioned four faves, let's toss veterans Curt Wood and Dan Cohen into the mix, as well as emerging stars Patrick Parish and Matthew Payne.

Who will win?

Brian or Devon or Kevin or Sam.

Clear women's favorite Cathy Yndestad will be going for her 3rd consecutive HOLT victory on Sunday. The amateur women's record--1:39:58--was set back in 1996 by Becky Lavelle. Cathy posted a 1:40:15, which is the 3rd fastest amateur women's time in the 23-year history of the race, last year. It's about time the record went down, and Cathy's just the girl to do it.

The women's elite roster is impressive, featuring the two fastest-rising new stars on the regional scene--Kortney Haag and Brook Mutzenberger--and three of the most talented 40-plussers in America--eight-time HOLT winner Jan Guenther, 50, '08 Minnesota Master of the Year Jeanne Fleck, 44, and winner of the Minneman two weeks ago Heidi Keller-Miler, 44. Others who can be expected to be competitive include Pam Nielsen and Shelley Nelson.

Some of the divisional records are in serious danger, especially the women's 50-54 and 55-59 categories. Jan Guenther, who already owns the 40-44W and 45-49W bests, WILL make mincemeat out of the 50-54 mark (1:55:39) that Pam Stevens has held since 2006. Expect it to be lowered by a full 8-10 minutes.

And Pam Stevens will bounce back by destroying her own 55-59W CR (2:00:10). Pam should knock it down by at least 2-3 minutes.

UPDATE: Two-time HOLT winner and pro CR holder (1:27:55) David Thompson has been added to the start list, as has elite amateur John Shelp.

Who are this year's short course favorites?

Veterans Tim Andrews and David Goldberg can be counted on to race at the front. Tim has won this event three of the last five years, and David is a perennial podium finisher. Let's also throw in talented teen Brandon Onopa, too. He was 5th last year.

The women's race promises to be exciting, with a half dozen women that can come out on top. Four girls to watch are Karen Bebchuk, April Morgan, Kelly McCann and Jody Quesnell. Quesnell has won the last two editions of HOLT SC. McCann was victorious here in 2006.