Friday, October 30, 2009


(Photos: Cindy, Curt, Nathaniel, Joe & Ann)

Here are the 2009 MMA Presenters and brief explanations of why they were selected.

* Tony Schiller (Thorpe Running Inspiration) - Founder of the award; accomplished public speaker.
* Diane Hankee (Grand Master) - Almost nominated in two categories - Duathlete & Most Improved. Great sense of humor and cool Canadian accent.
* Kortney Haag (Rookie) - The prior year's recipient is always first choice to present this award.
* Devon Palmer (Junior) - He's the Zach Efron of Minnesota's Triathlon Scene.
* Cindy Schafmann (Female Master) - She's one of the best physical therapists in the World.
* Nate Tollefson (Male Master) - This is a "Do Over." He was scheduled to present last year and was languishing in traffic while Jonny J. filled in for him.
* Joe Moyer (Duathlete) - He's a cool guy from Rochester who almost got a Duathlete of Year nomination.
* Wayne Chapman (Female Most Improved) - Speaking of improvement, Wayne used to weigh 4000 pounds (350ish actually) and is now an ironman. And he's from Australia. He has a cool accent.
* Ann Moyer (Male Most Improved) - Like her husband/fellow presenter Joe, she's an elite level athlete who drinks lots of Peace Coffee.
* Matthew Payne (Female Performance) - He's one of the fastest rising new stars on the regional multi scene and a really cool guy.
* Thea Fleming (Male Performance) - A two-time MMA nominee--Rookie in '05, Most Improved in '07--she and Devon Palmer seem to have a "thing" going on. Love is a beautiful thing.
* John Shelp (Female Triathlete) - A wonderful, funny guy. He was a presenter in 2005 and did a terrific job.
* Kris' Choice (Male Triathlete) - MMA Emcee Kris Swarthout has the option of presenting this award himself or selecting some unsuspecting soul from the audience to do the honors. Kris has presented before, though he was on crutches at the time (2004). He should be upright and ambulatory this time around. (UPDATE: Kris has selected Hannah Sullivan tp present this award. Do you know her? She's David Thompson's "better half.")
* Heidi Keller-Miler and Curt Wood (Team Minnesota) - They co-announced this category in 2006 and were a hoot. We knew that Heidi would be funny because she had several glasses of wine in her. Curt's cool sense of humor was a pleasant surprise. Who knew?
* Gregg Garrettson (Race of the Year) - A people-person who is a perfect choice to present this award. He races often and as long as there are other folks at the event, he is doomed to enjoy the experience.


The deadline for members of the MMA Selection Committee to submit their final choices in each of the various award categories was last Wednesday evening. All but one of the members could comply.

The other was busy. Distracted, you might say.


At 6:07 PM on Wednesday, October 28, Kari Bullard, wife of 51-year-old MMA Committeeman/triathlete/adventure racer Stephen Bullard, gave birth to beautiful 7-pound, 2-ounce, 20-inches long Sydney Hope.

Congratulations Stephen and Kari. And welcome to the World, Sydney.

Stephen turned in his selections on Thursday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


(Photos: Mark Carey and Cathy Yndestad are our state's fastest irondude and irondudette of the decade thus far.)

Our research suggests that the athletes listed below are the 10 fastest male and female Minnesotans at iron-distance since the turn of the millennium. Let us know if we missed anyone.

(OOPS! Apologies to Sarah Mercer, who turned in three sub -11 hour IM efforts during the decade.)

Note the presence of uber-masters Greg Taylor, Jan Guenther, Sue Rubens and Melinda Silbernick on this august list.


1. - 9:11:41 - Mark Carey, 37, Rochester (Ironman Florida '07)
2. - 9:13:10 - Dan Arlandson, 33, Burnsville (Full Vineman '09)
3. - 9:13:42 - Dan Arlandson, 32, Mendota Heights (Ironman Florida '08)
4. - 9:17:54 - Mark Carey, 31, Rochester (Ironman Florida '01)
5. - 9:17:55 - Dan Arlandson, 32, Mendota Heights (Full Vineman '08)
6. - 9:26:19 - Mark Carey, 39, Rochester (Ironman Louisville '09)
7. - 9:30:19 - Greg Taylor, 48, Mankato (Ironman Florida '02)
8. - 9:35:13 - Kevin O'Connor, 36, Corcoran (Hawaiian Ironman '07)
9. - 9:37:20 - Greg Taylor, 51, Mankato (Hawaiian Ironman '05)
10. - 9:37:43 - Rod Raymond, 36, Duluth (Hawaiian Ironman '00)

NOTE: Edina's Josh Riff has a IM PR of 9:27, but it was set before his relocation to Minnesota.


1. - 10:12:56 - Cathy Yndestad, 29, Apple Valley (Ironman Florida '07)
2. - 10:14:31 - Sue Rubens, 41, Plymouth (Ironman Florida '07)
3. - 10:20:13 - Becky Burdick, 33, Plymouth (Ironman Florida '05)
4. - 10:22:47 - Melinda Silbernick, 47, Maple Grove (Ironman Florida '02)
5. - 10:23:26 - Tina Paulson, 36, Andover (Ironman Wisconsin '02)
6. - 10:24:47 - Jan Guenther, 42, Mound (Ironman Wisconsin '02)
7. - 10:24:57 - Sarah Mercer, 32, Golden Valley (Ironman Canada '01)
8. - 10:26:44 - Sue Rubens, 43, Plymouth (Ironman Canada '09)
9. - 10:27:23 - Catherine Lee, 32, Chanhassen (Ironman Arizona '06)
10. - 10:28:19 - Jan Guenther, 50, Mound (Ironman Wisconsin '09)

Other Sub -11 Hour Minnesota Women:

10:32:12 - Julie Hull, 36, Farmington (Ironman Florida '08)
10:35:59 - Sarah Mercer, 38, Golden Valley (Ironman Wisconsin '07)
10:37:38 - Pam Nielsen, 32, Minnetonka (Ironman Arizona '08)
10:42:28 - Robyn Wangberg, 29, Winona (Ironman Canada '08)
10:45:00 - Catherine Lee, 32, Chanhassen (Hawaiian Ironman '06)
10:46:45 - Cathy Yndestad, 30, Apple Valley (Hawaii Ironman '08)
10:49:17 - Melinda Silbernick, 49, Maple Grove (Ironman Wisconsin '04)
10:49:18 - Sarah Mercer, 39, Golden Valley (Hawaiian Ironman '08)
10:49:34 - Jan Guenther, 43, Mound (Hawaiian Ironman '03)
10:52:21 - Pam Nielsen, 33, Minnetonka (Ironman Wisconsin '09)
10:54:18 - Merilee Sander, 48, Northfield (Ironman Arizona '08)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Many of you know about courageous amputee triathlete Rudy Garcia-Tolson. Some of you may have read the story that we're linking to here on Written by the eloquent Lee Gruenfeld, a best-selling author of numerous novels and biographies, this story deserves to be read. Or read again.

" About fourteen years ago, me bride Cherie was swimming laps in a pool in Rialto, California, minding her own business, when she was suddenly struck by a torpedo....READ

(Photo: Rudy's Legs)


In case you haven' seen or received the latest press release from the TriNight '09 Committee, here it is:

Do you have your ticket for Tri Night 2009, happening on November 7th at Saint Paul College in St. Paul? Prices are going up to $30 on November 1st so don’t wait. If you have your tickets but have friends that are planning to come, remind them that if they don't buy their tickets now, they might be out of luck as we are limited to 250 attendees and we are expecting to sell out. Remember that tickets are available for purchase at and that the evening starts at 5:30 PM and runs until 10 (perfect for those of us who have an early workout on Sunday).
Here are some absolutes for Tri Night 2009, compliments of the event organizing committee.
First off is the menu. Most ingredients are organic and/or sustainable. If you don't know what that is, just know that it's fantastic food. Think of the ticket price (just $26 through October 31st ). It's like we're paying you to show up!
Second is our guest speaker. Troy Jacobson has been around the world of cycling and triathlon for what seems like forever. If you’ve ever ridden on your trainer in the dead of winter to a Spinervals video, you can blame thank Troy for that. If you’ve wondered who coaches some of the world’s best athletes, that’s Troy. He’ll have stories that are sure to enrich your lives. Don’t miss it.
Third is the raffle. You must attend to win the stuff. There are all kinds of things that are super duper valuable. Our awesome sponsors have donated over $2000 of prizes for you to win. If you win something it's going to save you tons of money in gear costs and such for next year.
Fourth are the attendees. Finally you will get a chance to mingle with many of your friends and competitors in a setting where no one is wearing spandex (at least not the tri suit kind), some are wearing slacks and a sweater and some are even wearing suits and dresses. Make some new friends for offseason and next season training and socializing. Triathlon is a lifestyle and it's the people who live it that make it fun. Come experience it even if this is your first year in triathlon, over half the attendees at any given event will be newbie's and Tri Night 2009 is no exception.
Fifth are the awards. From the People's Choice awards to the Minnesota Multisports Awards, you'll be entertained with stories about people who had significant accomplishments or contributions to our chosen sport. Maybe you will win an award or get inspired to win one next year!
Sixth – you can book a hotel at the Kelly Best Western in St. Paul at a great rate (call them at 651-227-8711
and mention TRINIGHT to get a non smoking room for $77 plus tax), park there and walk over to the college, have fun and stumble back.
Last but not least - the organizing committee (made up of people from all clubs, shapes, sizes and even both sexes) have been working incredibly hard on organizing what is sure to be the best Tri Night in the history of the world. We've sold a lot of tickets and we only have a few left but want to sell the night out. With great food, great prizes, great speakers and attendees, streamlined organization of the flow of the evening – the only thing left out is YOU (if you haven't purchased your ticket) or YOUR FRIENDS (if they haven't purchased theirs). So get your tickets today. Right now. Before happy hour. Prior to walking the dog. Right before hitting the gym. And definitely before it's too late!
Steve Gunther
Chief Executive Officer and Owner, VO2 Max & Anytime Fitness Savage

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


While web cruising recently we stumbled upon two great articles by Pat Miller. (Pat writes for the Northwood Press in Nevis, MN.) Attached here is Pat's separate coverage of the men's and women's races at the Northwoods Triathlon last August.

Men's Race: READ.

Women's Race: READ.

(Photo: Northwoods Triathlon men's champion Brooks Grossinger.)


Some triathletes don't disappear into the crowd. They have something that sets them apart. A sparkle. A magnetism. Kevin O'Connor, for instance, has a ubiquitous "Magic Johnson" smile. Eighty-four-year-old Bob Powers exudes a palpable warmth and an understated gregariousness. He truly likes people. Gregg Garrettson is more overtly extroverted and at 6'5ish, is impossible to miss. When he asks you how are you doing, you know he cares about your answer.

These and others remind us that races are as much social experiences as they are athletic tests. Don't you feel sad for that person who arrives at the venue, talks to no one and leaves as soon as the race is over, the value of his or her time spent measured only by whether his/her competitive goals were met or not?

Another person who can light up a race venue is Minneapolis' Karen Bebchuk, a 43-year-old mother of two girls. And her O'Connorian smile, Powersian warmth and Garrettsonian congeniality are not the only things that make her stand out in a crowd.

She is also the "Skort Lady."

Sure, lots of women race in skorts these days, but Karen was one of the first Minnesotans to don this particular garment. She's been "skorted" for years. She owns numerous pairs, some of which sport rather flamboyant patterns. (Note the floral motif that she's wearing in the purloined Facebook picture above.)

And it is quite possible that Karen is the fastest skort-wearing triathlete in the Land 'o 10-Grand. Check out her 2009 Highlights:

* 3rd overall woman @ Heart of the Lakes Short Course
* 4th overall woman @ Liberty Olympic
* 7th overall @ the YWCA Women's Triathlon
* 12th overall @ Iron Girl - Bloomington

Monday, October 26, 2009


Multiple Ironman World Champion Cherie Gruenfeld shares some wonderful, inspiring images from the annual CAF Celebration in Southern California. View.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


MTN congratulates the Top 5 Vote-Getters for the 2009 Triathletes Choice Favorite Race of the Year. In alphabetical order, they are:

* Lake Marion Triathlon *
* Lake Minnetonka Triathlon *
* Minneman Triathlon *
* Trinona *
* YWCA Women's Triathlon *

Fifty-Five races received votes. The Apple Duathlon almost made the finalists list, falling just 3 votes shy of doing so. In 7th place was Croixathlon, which came within 18 votes of being included. Heart of the Lakes, Timberman and Manitou rounded out the Top 10 Vote-Getters.

MTN, the presenting sponsor of the MMA portion of TriNight '09, thanks all who participated in the voting process.

The TCROY will be announced at the conclusion of the TriNight '09 ceremonies at St. Paul College on November 7. Tickets are still available.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


A very prominent local triathlete told MTN recently that he doesn't vote for Race of the Year because he suspects rampant cheating. "Ballot Box Stuffing," were his words. And yes, he spoke in capitals.

Guess what?

That triathlete was right!

Well, sorta. Cheating happens, though on what we consider to be a "sub-rampant" scale.

What that triathlete didn't know until it was explained to him, was that the obvious cheating is detected and those votes are deleted and suspicious votes are "Red Flagged." In the end, we do in fact know which event deserves the award.

Here are some of the safeguards we employ:

* Finding & eliminating multiple e-addresses. Example: "TH" had voted three times, using her accounts with gmail, yahoo and hotmail. Two of her votes were deleted.

* Scrutinizing those events for whom more than 40% of their finishers vote for that event. Historically, ROYs have received votes from 35-40% of their finishers. In one case, 71% of the equivalent number of finishers of an event voted for that event. A closer look revealed lots of duplicates, multi-addresses and curious addresses (from people unassociated with the event or "goofy" addresses). This event was eliminated from consideration for ROY.

* Goofy Addresses. Actual Example: We send test e-mails to these addresses, which invariably bounce back as undeliverable. They are then deleted.

* Curious Addresses. Example: A few years back a certain race got 60 votes from a certain municipal address. We red flagged these, knowing that not everyone who works for the City of St. Louis Park raced at the _______ Triathlon.

At the conclusion of voting, we subtract the number each race's red flags from that event's voting total. If doing so affects a potential winner, we scrutinize the addresses even further and contact the race director and send e-mails to addresses that don't seem to link up with names in the results. We have only had to do this on two occasions. Every other time, the number of possible cheaters, have not been large enough to, once subtracted, dislodge the event from its position among the top vote-getters.


He's a handsome, mild-mannered gentleman from handsome, mild-mannered Glencoe, a 6000-resident community about an hour's drive west of the Twin Cities. His name is Henry Larsen, but most folks call him Hank.

Hank Larsen, 69, the 2009 Minnesota Grand Master of the Year and perennial nominee for that accolade, is one of America's premier over-age-60 multisportsman; as accomplished in duathlons as he is in tris. And though he seldom races in long distance events, i.e. half IMs, he never fails to impress when he does.

Hank hopes to repeat as GMOY, but that is easier said than done. Also up for the award are du specialist Bob Bailey, 65, perennial nominee and former National Champion Pam Stevens, 57, and 63-year-old Ben Ewers, who is certainly one of the top 3 fastest 60-plussers in the Land.

As you can see, the GMOY is one serious category. We'll find out on November 7 at the TriNight '09 festivities if the GM Trophy has Hank's name on it.

Here's Hank's 2009 Scorecard:

* Divisional victories at Oakdale Duathlon, Gear West, Lake Waconia, Heart of the Lakes (CR!) and Turtleman. A 2nd place 65-69M finish (behind Bob Bailey) at The Apple Duathlon and a 7th place finish against an astonishingly deep divisional field at the ITU Duathlon World Championships (when he was able to avenge his Apple loss to Bailey, who placed 9th).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Triathletes Choice Favorite

Race of the Year

Voting has been brisk and, to date, 54 events have received votes for ROY. If you have not voted, be aware that voting ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, October 25. On Monday (10/26) the Top 5 vote-getters will be announced on this site. And the winner will be revealed at the conclusion of the Minnesota Multisport Awards portion of the TriNight '09 festivities on November 7 at St. Paul College.

Have you gotten your tickets yet? If not, link here.

ROY History: Past Winners

2008 - Minneman

2007 - Minneman

2006 - Minneman

2005 - Turtleman

2004 - Turtleman

2003 - Tri-America Oakdale

2002 - Turtleman

2001 - Timberman

2009 - Timberman

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


(Photo: Jon is the guy on the right.)

Wouldn't you know it?

The year that Thunder Bay, Ontario's Jonathan Balabuck becomes eligible for Minnesota Multisport Award consideration he won't be able to attend the TriNight festivities on November 7.

That's because the Triathlete of the Year nominee will be on what is known as "The Redneck Riviera." More specifically, he'll be in Panama City, Florida, a place that looks and feels a lot like Mexico, albeit with a fresh coat of paint. Well, maybe not that fresh. And it has the most beautiful beaches anywhere.

Panama City is the site of Ironman Florida, and Balabuck is registered for this year's race.

Via e-mail, Jon, pictured above with his son, talks about his iron-history and his preparation for IMFL '09.

"Ironman is like a favorite food. In little portions, you crave it, but once you have over-indulged; you can't wait until you've digested it and are completely done.

"I had my first crack at Ironman back in 2004 at Lake Placid; went in blind, and finished with a whole new view of what serious training meant.

"We have had snow here already, no leaves for a month, and the last time I open water swam was September 11th (Burrito Union 10 Hour Tri). So why would I want to do a late season Ironman? Like I stated earlier, I crave one last race and hopefully all the cards will fall right. That is what has been keeping me going. That is what puts me on the indoor trainer for long rides, in a wetsuit in the pool, and on the treadmill during the dark. The idea that just being able to do something so big has enough clout to earn one's respect. I respect Ironman (the distance).

"In 08, I DNFed in Arizona due to paracarditis (viral infection of the heart wall)

but at the time I thought it was just a bad day. It turned out to be a really bad day, both physically and emotionally. I had always promised myself never DNF and walking it in was some form of respect to all other athletes; much like Rutger Beke did in 07- he walked the marathon in Hawaii, when I passed him he said 'good job' and I always respected that mentality of triathletes.

"In Arizona I was sick, and when I finally admitted defeat on the race course, I was a broken man. Florida is in a way a redemption for that race. So Training may have been less than ideal, but my passion to wake up and give it a solid go is strong, so only the day itself will dictate how the script will unfold.

"Prediction? I do have number stuck in my head, written down on a piece of paper hidden even from my wife and child, but those who train with me, know this number- It is written in marker on my pull buoy and paddles to remind me why when I start slipping.

"In the end it is the journey, and the journey has been fun. All the races in Minnesota are gems and if I find success on race day in Florida, every single person that toed the waters edge with me have made it possible.

"To all the volunteers, race directors athletes...Thanks for the memories and see you at the races in 2010." JB


(Photo: Steve Sander at Young Life Triathlon)
"I saw your review of Most Improved and of Triathlete of the Year -- how is it that Steve Sander makes the Most Improved list, over Triathlete of the Year? He WON the overall of the TRI Minnesota Series. Wouldn't that put him in the running--or at least 'considered'?

"Palmer, Payne- most improved? Improved from what? Kicking butt in 08 (or more years for Palmer) to kicking butt by a bigger margin in 09?" - Mario Minelli
Mario, thank you for the opportunity to explain the rationale used by the MMA Selection Committee to determine award nominees.
First of all, Steve's name was discussed when the committee was determining TOY nominees. So were Patrick's, Matthew's and Dan Cohen's.
Steve's name was dropped from the discussion when his head-to-head performances with each of the eventual nominees, plus Patrick, Matthew and Dan, were reviewed. He did not win any of the head-to-head battles. Also, the margins which separated him from these rivals was often significant.
Next, those who did receive nominations excelled in events with greater perceived field quality. A few years back Lynette Bacon won all seven of the multis that we were aware of her having entered, still she did not earn a spot on Team MN, i.e. those perceived to be the 10 most accomplished male and female multisport athletes in the state that year. Why? She did not face any of the state's top women, like Cathy Yndestad, Julie Hull, Marlo McGaver et al. How then did we measure her performances? What we did is make a list of the 2nd placing girls in each of the races that Lynette won. We then compared their times and places to those recorded by the top finishers at our state's most competitive events.
The results were interesting.
Only one of the runners-up--Jen Lenarz--had cracked the Top 10 in a Midwest Multisport Series event that year. Jen had actually finished 7th twice and an 8th on another occasion in MMS events and the time differential between her and the winners in each case was several minutes.
The point we wish to make here is that the Committee truly scrutinizes the performances; we take this process very seriously. Lynette is a talented triathlete and so is Steve, but wins alone do not determine whether one is worthy of a TOY nomination. Field quality, head-to-head battles and relative splits are all taken into consideration.
Mario, we have a question for you. Who would you bump from the TOY list to make room for Steve? Devon? Kevin? Brian? Sam ? Jon?
That's a hard one, isn't it?
There is soooooooo much talent in Minnesota that limiting the nominations to just 4 or 5 will invariably leave a deserving athlete or two behind. Steve is an emerging talent and we haven't seen his best racing yet. There should be lots of nominations coming his way in the years to come.
Now for the "Most Improved" issue. Devon Palmer won ONE race in 2008, the Liberty Half, and he was helped by the fact that Dan Arlandson, Dan Cohen and John Shelp all made mileage-adding wrong turns on the bike course. His runner-up efforts at Manitou and Lake Waconia were actually his best performances of the year. In 2009, he won FOUR big races--Manitou (CR), Life Time Fitness Elite, Heart of the Lakes and Turtleman--and placed 3rd overall at AG Nationals. He's gone from being ranked 7th on Team Minnesota to being a contender for 2nd (Top Amateur) behind perennial #1 David Thompson.
That's major improvement, Mario.
Now for Matthew Payne's "MI" nomination. In 2009, Matt won one race (Graniteman) and finished 2nd in one other (Lakes Country). He had no other podium finishes. This year, he won three races--Chain of Lakes, Albert Lea and Buffalo Olympic--and reached the podium in five other races. And his lowest finish was a 7th at Life Time Fitness Elite; last year he failed to crack the overall Top 10 in four races.
Matt was good last year, but not quite good enough for a spot on Team Minnesota. He'll definitely make the team this year.
Steve Sander sent us this response:
"Just saw that I seem to be at the center of a little controversy. If I may point out that I had a few races in 2005 but was deployed to Iraq in 06 and 07 so last year was essentially my rookie year for being a competitive triathlete. Although I was an All American I believe I didn't get a lot of recognition because I was just out of the lead pack. However, if you look at Buffalo 08, Mankato 08 and Waconia 08 Matt and I were very close if not evenly matched. Matt just did more high profile races to include winning the Tri MN Series last year. At the beginning of the season Matt blew me out of the water. By the end of the season I was starting to catch up. Devon on the other hand was fast last year and super fast this year. In my opinion Devon has easily demonstrated that he has improved greatly this year and could if not should win Athlete of the year. Then there is Patrick. Besides the fact that if you take a picture of him while running it is guaranteed to be fuzzy he has improved as an all around triathlete with much improved swim and especially bike splits. I'm glad I'm not voting on this one.

"I have only to blame myself for not being considered for Athlete of the year. At best I could hope for an honorable mention but I didn't compete in the races I needed to so I could show how I compare against the "Big Dogs". That coupled with a few beginner mistakes I made in the big races I did compete in. I am honored and ecstatic that I am even being considered for most improved against guys like Matt, Devon and Patrick. If I don't make those same mistakes next year I will have a better shot at being considered for larger awards but for now I will bask in the honor of both a great season and being noticed enough to be in a controversy. " SS

Sunday, October 18, 2009


It's not hard to get a Minnesota Master of the Year nomination.

That is, it's not hard if you are a perennial nominee for US Master of the Year (Brian Bich), or the reigning 45-49 National Champion and overall winner of the Square Lake Half IM (Rhett Bonner), or you set a 55-59M record at Ironman Coeur D'Alene AND turned in a half IM time that would have nuked your division's World Best had the course been accurate (Greg Taylor), or if you are simply the most decorated amateur triathlete in the history of the Sport (Tony Schiller).

Do you know the guy who's pictured here? He's one of several wicked-fast over-age-40 Minnesotans who almost received an MOY nomination. His name is Charlie Roach, he's 51 and lives in Lakeville.

Here's what Charlie did this season.

He kicked off the year with a 5th place overall finish at the Falls Duathlon. He followed that with a 3rd place overall finish at Paynesville. His next effort was a 4:33:37 at Chisago Half.
In August he cracked the overall Top 10 at both Lakes Country (7th) and Minneapolis Duathlon (10th).

MTN congratulates Charlie Roach on his super season. We want him to know that his accomplishments have not gone unnoticed.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Cherie Gruenfeld is the best 65+ female ironman in the world. Her husband, Lee, is the author of numerous wonderful books and Cherie's biggest fan.

You may have read this piece on If you haven't, you're in for a treat. If you have, well, it's worth reading again.

And again.

Experience is a harsh teacher -- she gives the test before she gives the lesson - and once in a while we need a reminder that toeing the start line at Ironman isn't an automatic ticket to a lifetime of bragging rights. Read...

Friday, October 16, 2009


Edina's Josh Riff files this report:

Kona Race Report 2009

October 10th, 2009. Bobbing up and down in Kailua bay, Kona I reflected on the last two years and drew the strength that would get me through this Ironman. I know Kona is a special race, I had done it before, however this time would be different.

This quest to Kona started in 2006. I had qualified for Kona at IM Arizona with a 9:37 and had trained while living in Tucson. I was working as an ER doc and had tons of time to train and we had our first child on the way so I thought this would be my last big dance. A week before the race I was hit by a car while on a training ride and my life changed forever. Thinking my racing was done I accepted a dream job working for Target as a medical director and moved to Minneapolis. I also started to grow a family and we had our second child a year and half later. After 2 years I began to feel the itch and decided I needed psychological closure and signed up for IM AZ. I thought this would be my last IM but I ended up qualifying for Kona with a 9:29 finish. I took the spot.

Training for Kona was interesting. In June I was promoted to be medical director of Target, I still worked in the ER Monday nights, my children were 2 years old and 6 months, and my wife, while perfectly understanding, is not a huge fan of 6 hour rides on a Saturday. Some days had me working out at 3 am to get a workout completed by 9 am. My computrainer saw a lot of action. What I underestimated, and as a doctor should have known better, was that despite getting in the training I was not getting in the recovery and about 6 weeks prior to the race developed a knee pain that would have me limping mid run. Despite aggressive physical therapy, cortisone injections, and even acupuncture it never improved. After 4 weeks of water running it still was hurting. I knew this was going to be a painful race.

Race morning was uneventful. There is an electric energy to the race in Kona and you can feel the excitement in the air. I lined up 2 rows back in the swim and without any warning the cannon went off. The first 5-10 minutes of the Kona swim is a washing machine ride full of elbows. I was able to make it through the swim relatively unscathed in 1:03. My goal was 60 minutes but such is life.

Running into transition was painful to my knee and I knew today was going to be a long day. I have a rule about never making last minute changes but on this day I decided to race with a front 303 and to use arm coolers (Thanks Kevin of Gear West). This was an awesome decision as immediately on the bike it started to heat up and dumping water on my arms was a welcome reward. The ride to Hawi was easier then I remembered and I was slingshotting along.

Normally I can bridge packs of riders pretty aggressively but knowing that I was going to have a long, painful run I decided to enjoy my time on the bike and never went all out. This was very different from my usual style of ride until I want to throw up, but hey I am an older, wiser man. The ride was completely enjoyable and before I knew it, it was over. The hard part was about to begin.

As I entered T2 I actually sat down to get ready. I really took my time and even stopped to say hi to Dan Arlandson. I decided it was time to go and started to run. OK I started to limp. My first mile was in the 8 minute range. I was in real pain but worse was the fact that I was being passed by 100s of people. It was rather demoralizing as I had great fitness (I was training for a 3:10 run) but did not have the chassis to support it. At mile 3 I saw my friend a physical therapist who shouted You look terrible, but I think you can finish. I continued to limp until mile 5 when I thought my knee could not get worse and then I picked up the pace for 100 steps, then I would slow down to ease the pain. When I hit Palani hill I got a boost of adrenaline as the Target Kona store was volunteering at the aid station and went crazy when I came by. After jogging up Palani I hit the highway and made a pact to sort of run aid station to aid station which I would walk and get ice. The aid stations were my savior.

As I entered and exited the energy lab I was beginning to feel psychologically better. I knew I would finish the race and would not be walking all night. Between mile 21 and 24 my knee really started to stiffen up and began to lock up forcing me to stretch it out. At mile 24 I was at 9:43 overall time. I debated trying to break 10 hours but decided today was not my day. After cruising through the aid station at mile 24 I saw two pro friends of mine walking and they invited me to finish with them. As tempting as it was I decide to finish this sucker as fast as I could. The last 1.2 miles of Kona are the longest 1.2 miles of your life. As I finally turned the corner on Alii drive I was getting the Looking good to which I responded I do not think so. I ran in to finish in 10:06 with a 3:46 marathon. Ouch.

Looking back I am proud of my accomplishments. While I could not execute on the race I trained for, I adapted and truly enjoyed my time racing. While I normally race for a PR or a podium finish this time I raced for personal redemption. In 10 or 20 years from now I will not remember my finish time but I will remember the feeling of flying down the Queen K highway, of crossing the line and being greeted by fellow Target team members, and of overcoming injury to finish what I started. This year made me stop and think about what racing an IM really is about and it made me reflect on the personal and professional sacrifices it takes to be competitive in an IM. When I was younger it was about pushing the body faster and further than I had before and it was about competition. This years race was a turning point. It made me realize Ironman is not about swimming, biking, and running 140.6 miles as fast as you can, it is about getting to the starting line and hopefully making it across the finish line with the respect and love of those who are special to you.

Riff, Joshua

S - 01:03:32

B - 05:09:09

R - 03:46:00


Thursday, October 15, 2009


(Larry Rosa Photo: Kona at Midnight. There's no place like this place.)

Race Day

"Awoke at 4 am feeing pretty good. Got dropped off by my family at the Kona Pier at about 5:30, with lots of activity going on already. I found my way through the maze of the King Kamehameha Hotel to the body marking area which was running very smoothly compared with when I was here in 2004. I then went and pumped my tires up and made sure my bike and bike shoes were attached to each other and were ready to go.....READ..

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Devon Palmer chasing Best of the US National champion, Brian Duffy at the Toyota US Open in Dallas. (YndeCam Photo)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


(Below - Hammering through the gloom, Cathy Yndestad heads for downtown Dallas. Image courtesy of Right - Florida's Mandy Mclane winning her 2nd major Olympic distance triathlon of the year.)

Most of the girls who will receive 2009 USAT Athlete of the Year consideration were in Dallas for the 3rd annual Toyota US Open last Sunday. Apple Valley' s Cathy Yndestad, a two-time AOY Honorable Mention, and Windemere, Florida's Mandy Malone went off the front; not only in the Race to the Toyota Cup, but in the battle for the AOY award.

The morning was dank, gray and chilly and conditions were not going to improve. The downtown highrises were decapitated by gauzy mist. Twenty-plus miles away, Cathy stood on the slope leading into the slate waters of Joe Pool Lake. Standing nearby were fellow Elite Championship wavers Lindsay Whalen of Chicago, Florida's super master Linda Robb, the vastly improved Jenny Fletcher, a transplanted New Yorker who now calls Santa Monica, California home, and Mandy McLane. All of these girls are vying for post-season honors. The question is, which would get the Big Prize--the US Athlete of the Year crown--and who would settle for Honorable Mention.

From the get-go, Mandy and Cathy demonstrated an aggressive purposefulness that the others couldn't match. In the early miles of the bike segment it became clear that one of these girls would win. Cathy had faced Mandy twice this season, at Life Time Fitness and at Nationals, and come out on top both times.

But this was a different Mandy Mclane.

As always, Cathy fought tooth-and-nail, but this was Mandy's day, her eventual margin of victory 47 seconds. Lindsay Whalen rounded out the women's Elite Championship podium, finishing 1:17 after Cathy.

Here's a look at the seasons of these three great triathletes. Who do you think is in the driver's seat in the race to the AOY award?

* Cathy Yndestad - Six wins in 11 starts plus a 3rd place overall finish at Nationals, where she out-raced both Lindsay (8th) and Mandy, who did not crack the Top 25, highlight her 2009 scorecard. Additionally, she only missed the podium on one occasion, a 4th at St. Anthony's. In nationally visible events, she has one win (Life Time Fitness) and two 2nds (Buffalo Springs Lakes 70.3 and Toyota US Open). In Cathy's favor here is her consistency and the her head-to-head records against Mandy (2-1) and Lindsay (3-1).

* Mandy Mclane - Huge wins at Chicago, Florida 70.3 and Toyota US Open are her highlights. Non-elite efforts at Nationals and the Florida Challenge Half, and placing behind both Cathy (by 2:48) and Lindsay (by 1:12) at Life Time Fitness raise the question of consistency.

* Lindsay Whalen - Like Mclane, Whalen has several big wins--Hy-Vee, Memphis in May, Miami International and Augusta 70.3--this season. On the downside, Mandy beat her by more than 4 minutes at Chicago and 2:04 at Dallas, and Cathy outperformed her at Life Time (by 1:36), Nationals (by 1:30) and Dallas (by 1:17).

Cathy will face Mandy and Lindsay one more time this season, that being at the 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, FL on November 12.

US Open Results:

Editor's Note: Other girls who should also receive AOY consideration include long distance stars Kathleen Calkins and Meredith Brooke Keeran.


(Competitive Image / Paul Phillips Photo: Devon doing what he does better than anyone else.)

St. Paul's Devon Palmer had a great race against a super field at the Toyota US Open Triathlon in Dallas last Sunday. It wasn't until the 2nd mile of the run that Pennsylvania's Brian Duffy pulled away from Palmer and strode on to victory.

Though he was not passed, Devon ultimately finished 4th. Later starters Nathan White of Des Moines, who closed with a 32:05 run split, and super rookie Sean Jefferson, an elite runner-turned-triathlete-just-seven-months-ago, slipped into the 1:12 gap between the winner and the St. Paul resident. FYI, Jefferson covered the final 10K in 31:02! Only two-time Olympic medalist Bevan Docherty (NZL), who placed 3rd in the pro race, ran faster, albeit by seconds.

Devon had every reason to be pleased with his effort. The three men who beat him will all receive USAT AOY consideration. Why? Duffy's '09 resume includes wins at New York City, Philadelphia, Nations and Best of the US. White's scorecard is highlighted by wins at Hy-Vee and Big Creek. And Jefferson's claim to fame is his 2nd place overall finish at Tuscaloosa, just 11 seconds behind National Champion Joey Maloy of Massachusetts.

The roster of elites that Palmer out-raced on Sunday was also very impressive, guys like National duathlon champion Nicholas Sterghos (4th) of Georgia, three-time AOY Honorable Mention Mark Harms (5th) of Wisconsin, Richmond, Virginia's very promising Rudy Kahsar (6th) and Washington DC's Zach Britton (7th). Who knows, maybe Devon will garner a AOY Honorable Mention.

We'll know next month. And if he's not honored this year, you can bet he will be in 2010.

US Open Results:

Monday, October 12, 2009


Rochester tri/du-athlete Joe Moyer (pictured) has been racing like a banshee of late. And with great success. He's won two of the last three duathlons he's entered, and placed 2nd in the other. His wife Ann has enjoyed similar success.

Joe's most recent victory was at the Osceola Duathlon last Sunday. This is his report:

"When pulling into Osceola on race morning, the temperature reading at a bank was somewhere in the 20s, maybe 26. I don't quite remember as I was trying not to acknowledge it. When unloading the bikes from the back of the truck, there was a layer of frost on both of them.

"The bike portion of the race was shortened to 11 miles from 22, due to concerns that the cold...and forecasted windy conditions would be hazardous at worst and unpleasant at best.
The opening 3 mile run and closing 1 mile run remained the same. During packet pick-up, many of the athletes expressed some dissatisfaction that the shortened bike course would cause them to not place as well overall. I could understand their feelings, as I am a much stronger cyclist than runner. That said, I feel that Gloria (the race director) made the correct. decision,

"I was assigned bib #1, so there was some pressure to put in a good effort. I knew I needed to stay close to the fastest runners, so I would have time to....move in front of them on the shortened bike course.

"Ann and I both warmed up well so we could go into the first run at full intensity. When the gun went off.., I settled into a good pace....By the halfway point I moved into 3rd...and was only 10-15 seconds behind the two leaders coming into transition. I saw that Ann was in the lead at this point of the race.

"Transition was a bit slower than I would have liked, as I needed to put on some winter gloves so that my hands wouldn't go numb on the bike.

"On the bike, I settled into a good pace and could see the two leaders...I moved into 2nd...after two miles. At about mile 3 I made my final pass...Knowing how short the bike course was, I was riding right at, or above, anaerobic I needed a bit of a buffer going into the last run.

"Coming into transition, they announced that I had a pretty good lead, so I got the running shoes on as quickly as possible and headed out. I started the run very hard, and maintained that intensity the entire time...Nobody was close enough to pass me, but due to the fact that there were waves of athletes that started behind me, there could still have been another competitor covering the course in a quicker time...

"I crossed the line with a time of 57:23. The announcer told me if nobody else 1:00:23 I would be the overall winer. (The last wave started 3 minutes behind the first wave.)

"1:00:23 came and went without anyone else finishing and I realized that I had won. Immediately I headed out onto the run course to find my wife Ann. I was hoping she could pull off an overall win, as I bet it would be the first time in MN multisport history that a husband and wife won the same race overall.

"Alas, it was not to be, and Ann finished 2nd...which was a very good effort for her considering the cold and her intolerance to it.

"Maybe next year Ann and I can pull off the double win." JM

Editor's Note: Joe, we're not sure that you and Ann would have been the first Minnesota couple to win the same race. We suspect that Suzann and Mo Mouw may have done that on more than one occasion.

2009 Osceola Duathlon Results

1. Joe Moyer (Rochester, MN) - 57:25

2. Jim Felling (River Falls, WI) - 58:30

3. Denver Rogolla (19, Morse, MN) - 59:12

1. Diane Hankee (Lino Lakes, MN) - 1:05:33 (This was Diane's 3rd win in 2009!)

2. Ann Moyer (Rocjester, MN) - 1:06:21

3. Renne Richards (Oshkosh, WI) - 1:06:47

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Photo: Michellie Jones & Rhett Bonner. He insists that they are just "good friends."

(Kailua Kona, HI - Sunday, October 11, 2009) Furnace-like heat. 8000-pound gorilla humidity. Gale-force winds. Unless your name was Chrissy Wellington (women's CR - 8:54:02!) or Cherie Gruenfeld (65-69W CR - 13:22:10), you set your Performance Dial on "Survival Mode" and prayed for a same-day finish. Several fast Minnesotans spent much more time, in some cases extra hours, on the courses than originally hoped.

How'd they do?

Here's how:

* Dan Arlandson, 33, Burnsville - PR - 9:13:42 (Full Vineman '09) - IRONMAN '09 - 10:19:44
* Rhett Bonner, 45, Duluth - PR - 10:42 (Hawaii '04) - IRONMAN '09 - 10:31:14
* Mark Carey, 39, Rochester - PR - 9:11:41 (Florida '07) - IRONMAN '09 - DNF
* Dan Friedrichs, 40, Mankato - PR - 9:47:41 (Florida '02 - Dan's 1st IM!) IRONMAN '09 - 11:04:39
* Josh Riff, 34, Edina - PR - 9:29:59 (Arizona '08) - IRONMAN '09 - 10:06:54
* Greg Taylor, 55, Mankato - PR since turning 50 - 9:37:20 (Hawaii '05) - IRONMAN '09 - DNF

* Sue Rubens, 43, Plymouth - PR - 10:14:31 (Florida '07) - IRONMAN '09 - 11:53:28
* Merilee Sander, 49, Northfield - PR - 10:54:18 (Arizona '08) IRONMAN '09 - 13:33:56

PERSPECTIVE: After winning the 1979 Boston Marathon, a TV reporter asked Bill Rodgers which runner he admired most. She expected to hear a name like Lasse Viren or Toshihiko Seko or Jerome Drayton or Derek Clayton.

"Anyone who spends more than 4 hours to go the distance," was Rodgers' surprising, sensitive and thoughtful reply. He went on to explain that he knows his limits; that he was blessed with speed and that he could tolerate no more than two hours and twenty-five minutes of running.

The abovementioned elite triathletes pushed themselves and persevered for much longer than they had hoped to last weekend. Hanging in there required extraordinary guts and will and they are to be admired even more than had they achieved their original goals. What they did last Sunday was learn first-hand what their less-gifted peers go through every time they toe the line at an IM. Those folks who commit themselves to continuous movement for 13-14-15-16-17-or-more hours; the folks who the great Boston Billy Rodgers believes deserve the lion's share of the admiration.

* Ironman...Results...

Friday, October 9, 2009


(YndeCam Photo: Devon Palmer is nominated for three of his performances this season.

The Minnesota Multisport Awards Selection Committee announces its nominees for 2009Minnesota Male Performance of the Year.

* DAN ARLANDSON, 33, Burnsville - PERFORMANCE: His 2nd consecutive win atFull Vineman (9:13) in northern California. Dan won the 2008 POY award for for his dominating win on this storied race course.

* KEVIN O'CONNOR, 38, Medina - PERFORMANCE: His course-record effort against a stellar field--Brian Bich, Devon Palmer, Nathan White, Curt Wood et al--at Pigman Sprint.

*DEVON PALMER, 22, St. Paul - PERFORMANCE: His course-record-setting victory atManitou Sprint. This effort illustrated that he had, as they say, "gone to the next level."

* DEVON PALMER, 22, St. Paul - PERFORMANCE: His victory at Life Time Fitness Elite, which had arguably the deepest "non-championship" amateur men's field of of the year in the U.S.

* DEVON PALMER, 22, St. Paul --Performance: Devon's brilliant 1:27:45 at Heart of the Lakes was the event's fastest amateur time since 1999.

Other performances receiving serious consideration:

* Kevin O'Connor's CR at Minneman
* Sam Hauck's course record, set under extremely windy conditions at RochesterFest Olympic.
* Jeremy Sartain's stunning course-record at St. Paul Olympic.
* Jonathan Balabuck's amazing 9-laps at Burrito Union 10-Hour. The previous course best was 7 laps.
* Devon Palmer's 3rd-place finish at USAT AG Nationals.

The MMA Selection Committee reserves the right to add nominations as they see fit.

The Minnesota Multisport Awards will be presented Academy Awards-style at Tri-Night '09 at St. Paul College on November 7. Will you be there? We hope so.


(Photos:: Cathy, Marnie, Kortney & Jan.)

Female Performance of the Year

The Minnesota MultisportAwards Selection Committee announces its nominees for 2009 Minnesota Female Performance of the Year.

*KORTNEY HAAG, 30, New Hope - PERFORMANCE: Her victory under the most inhospitable conditions--extremely windy and rainy--at Pigman Half.

* JAN GUENTHER, 50, Mound - PERFORMANCE: Her amateur victory at Ironman Wisconsin, where she finished 11 minutes in front of the 2nd fastest woman.

* MARNIE WALTH, 40, Bismarck, ND - PERFORMANCE: Walth's half IM debut at Chisago Lakes, where she was the women's amateur champion and 2nd woman overall. Her time was incredible: 4:23:46.

* CATHY YNDESTAD, 31, Apple Valley -- PERFORMANCE: Cathy's brilliant 1:36:16 at Heart of the Lakes lowered Becky Lavelle's 13-year-old amateur record by 42 seconds.

Other performances receiving serious consideration:

* Marlo McGaver's win over the deepest women's field ever assembled at the Apple Duathlon.
* Cathy Yndestad's 4th consecutive victory at Life Time Fitness Elite.
* Cathy Yndestad's 3rd place women's overall finish (1st - 30-34W) at USAT Nationals.

The MMA Selection Committee reserves the right to add nominations as they see fit.

The Minnesota Multisport Awards will be presented Academy Awards-style at Tri-Night '09 at St. Paul College on November 7. Will you be there? We hope so.


We'll be following these and other Minnesota athletes at Sunday's Hawaiian Ironman World Championships.

* Dan Arlandson, 33, Burnsville - PR - 9:13:42 (Full Vineman '09)
* Rhett Bonner, 45, Duluth - PR - 10:42 (Hawaii '04)
* Mark Carey, 39, Rochester - PR - 9:11:41 (Florida '07)
* Dan Friedrichs, 40, Mankato - PR - 9:47:41 (Florida '02 - Dan's 1st IM!)
* Josh Riff, 34, Edina - PR - 9:29:59 (Arizona '08)
* Greg Taylor, 55, Mankato - PR since turning 50 - 9:37:20 (Hawaii '05)

* Sue Rubens, 43, Plymouth - PR - 10:14:31 (Florida '07)
* Merilee Sander, 49, Northfield - PR - 10:54:18 (Arizona '08)