Monday, July 6, 2009


The men's field has lots of depth, but also lots of question marks. World class 50-plusser Jan Guenther should chalk up her 4th Timberman win, if she races like she did at Lake Minnetonka and Waconia, that is. And most of the divisional records should remain intact, although the men's 55-59 CR should go down hard.

Defending short course women's champ Jody Quesnell (photo) hopes to make it two-in-a-row. (Photo courtesy of And defending men's winner Tim Andrew hopes to chalk-up his umpteenth T-Man Short Course W.

One of the men's favorites is Brett Lovaas, who, after posting two stunning course records--Liberty Olympic and Lake Minnetonka--sustained a serious toe injury at RochesterFest.

Brett, will you be ready to rock 'n roll on Saturday?

"...I was able to get some good training sessions in over the weekend. As for how fast...we'll have to see. I am more focused on Racine and hopefully racing well there. First time in a half...unknown territory for me. As always, I'll give it my best shot and hope for a great day of racing!"

When asked to be more specific about the state of his toe, Lovaas had this to say:

"I don't think it is broken, but you never still really hurts if one of the kids steps on it!"

Under normal circumstances, John Shelp would be listed among the favorites, but life has been anything but normal for John the last few years. He had these comments:

"I have been really struggling with health and energy this year. Not super sure why, but mostly I'm just overcooked--doing too much and chasing children. I'm sure the cancer (non-Hodgkins Lymphoma) doesn't help, but that's not the main concern. I took a good 1.5 week break and the family went on vacation to Disney. I'm back and training this weekend was encouraging. I don't think I'll be contention this weekend and was considering not doing it (Timberman) but my wife and I decided that we love to go to the races with the kids and since I'm feeling a bit better, I'll give it a go."

When asked if MTN could publish his comments, John sent back this classy response:

"I don't mind your using any comments I make but I hope they don't make me look like I'm making excuses. Everyone out there has something in life they're dealing with and it's always amazing to me to see all the athletes overcoming their own demons."

Then there's Dan Cohen, Brooks Grossinger and Josh Blankenheim. Dan is the defending champion, who claims that his 2008 Timberman victory was his best performance ever. His margin of victory was huge, almost three minutes. He'd love to repeat but, with the exception of his recent victory at Croixathlon, is suffering through perhaps the worst season of his career.

And Brooks is not having a great season either, though it started well. (A podium finish at Gear West.) Like Dan, he'd love to resuscitate his season with great performance this weekend.

As for Josh, the question is whether he's ready to win a "Big" race, like Timberman. He's won two races in his young career, but his best effort in a Midwest Multisport Series event was a 6th at Timberman in 2008. After his runner-up effort at Lake Minnetonka three weeks ago, it appeared that he was ready to take his place among the region's true elite. He then followed that performance with a well-off-the-pace 9th at Minneman.

There is one elite male entrant whose season has not been marred by inconsistency. He continues to strut his impressive stuff in his native Canada and on his two trips this year to races in the Lower 48 he has come away with a win--Liberty Half--and a 2nd--Buffalo Olympic.
His name is Jonathan Balabuck and he'd like nothing better than to improve upon his 2008 performance at Timberman, where he finished 2nd.

Who will win on Saturday?

Prediction: Either Cohen and Balaback will come out on top.

Who will share the women's podium with Jan Guenther on Saturday?

Good question.

Lydia Novotny appears to be the strongest candidate. A Rookie of the Year nominee in 2008, Novotny already has two wins to her credit, the most recent being the citizens competition at Lake Waconia.

Ann Snuggerud and Angel Hohenstein are also solid candidates for a top 3 overall finish. Snuggerud's 2009 scorecard features a 9th at Lake Waconia Elite and 6th at Lake Minnetonka. Hohenstein placed 4th at Timberman in 2008.

The men's 55-59 CR --Fred Clayton's 2:11:49, set in 2004--should go down hard. In fact, two, or even three, men-- Gary Bork, Greg Taylor and perhaps 2008 divisional winner Mike Colaizy--should better the old mark. Taylor, who already owns the 50-54 CR and posted a 2:01 last year at the age of 54 (in lousy weather, to boot!), should come away with the record. Expect him to take the mark all the way down into the 2:03-2:05 range.

UPDATE: Timberman Race Director Kathy Kooda just received (Tuesday AM) this e-mail
from women's favorite Jan Guenther:

"Hi everyone at Timberman, you all so nicely signed me up and I cannot make

it. I promised a disabled friend of mine last year that I would help her

make it thru the Lifetime Triathlon-- but she got injured trying to train

last year so I was able to make your race. I did not know if she would be

able to attempt it with her condition (ataxia) this year, but she will be

able to try to do the race (I have to pull her in the swim etc...) and

therefore I cannot do your race (DARN DARN DARN! I love the Timberman).

Thanks so much for letting me in and I so wish they (Timberman & Lifetime) were

not on the same day--"

To which, Kathy replied:

"What a great person & probably the best reason we have heard for not being

able to come."