Sunday, July 19, 2009


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).

( 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.