Monday, November 30, 2009


"Ryan was born on 3/26/09. I was busy working during tax season and Ryan came three weeks early. He was healthy and Shannon (my wife) and I couldn't be happier...Being a dad has been wonderful."

Two-time Team Minnesota member Dennis Dane continued:

" I had a really hard time getting motivated for the 2009 season. I loved being at home with my family. Long bike rides were not as important to me. Cutting some workouts short was okay.

"In mid-June I started to get my racing form back and ended up having a surprisingly good year. I think Curt (Wood) and Jeremy (Sartain)--whose wives are currently preggers--will go through the same thing. They will find it hard to work-out, but will eventually find a way to schedule training around family time."

If you know Dennis, you know that he is sickeningly humble and generous. He's a devote Christian and family man. A CPA, he's never been indicted, much less convicted.

He seems squeaky-clean and too darn good to be true. Right?

But he has a dark side. In fact, he's a killer!

Dennis "The Hunter" Dane has taken more life, including Bambi! (see photo below!) than Freddie Krueger, Hannibal Lecter and Jeffery Dalmer combined. Sure, he (Dennis) has yet to kill a human being, but he has wrought significant carnage among the ectothermic aquatic vertebrate, Galliformes and Artiodactyla populations in the upper-Midwest and central Canada. His weapons of choice: the rod, the bow and the 12-gauge.

Here's some other disturbing stuff you may not have known about the seemingly perfect Dennis Dane.

He loves to bowl. How many triathletes do you know who are "keglers," and darn good ones, to boot. Heck, he almost went pro. No kidding! He used to average 194.

Sure, bowling isn't a crime, but practitioners display odd behavior, like wearing Fart Shirts with ironed-down collars and printing on the back, e.g. Bubba's Auto Glass or Nerdlemann's Life, Home & Auto. They borrow each other's shoes, most of them smoke and a distressing number of them have "comb-overs."

Have you heard the rumors that Dennis is also a Communist sympathizer? If his drink of choice--White Russians--is any indicator, we may have a Pinko in our midst.

Here's some other stuff you may not know about about Team Minnesota's Dennis Dane:

Occupation: CPA

College? Northwestern College Where? St. Paul, MN Degrees? Bachelor's of

Science in Accounting

Favorite food: Wings

Favorite books: The Client, Babywise (things change after kids)

Favorite Movies: Forrest Gump, Catch Me If You Can

Favorite actor: Tom Hanks

Favorite TV shows: The Office, Seinfeld

Favorite Singers or Bands? Mercy Me, Casting Crowns

Favorite Songs? Mighty to Save

Favorite Junk Food: Ice Cream (is this really junk food??)

Your Perfect Meal: Chicken Parmesan with garlic bread

Favorite Restaurant: Buffalo Wild Wings

Favorite Alcoholic Beverage: White Russian

Non-Tri Hobbies: Bowling, Hunting and Fishing

Favorite Pro Teams: Twins and Cubs

Favorite College Team: HAWKEYES!

Heroes? Simon Whitfield (this guy has guts! He is a really good dad too)

Dream Vacation Destination? Canadian fishing trip

Winter Training? How do you train in the off-season? I take a few weeks off

then start with some easy training. By December I'm putting in more volume.

Tax season makes it tough to train so I have to squeeze in the workouts.

Thanks for being such a good sport Dennis. FYI, the venison was delicious. Ed.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


David Thompson has been called a man of few words. This couldn't be further from the truth. He's a man of many words. Most of them, actually. It's just that he reserves the majority of his syllables for inner dialogue or telepathic communication with his similarly spooky-bright and tight-lipped bride Hannah Sullivan. How many couples do you know who can non-verbally finish each other's unspoken sentences?

We were somewhat shocked, and very pleasantly surprised, when the introspective Mr. Thompson, our state's premier multisportsman since 2002, responded, non-verbally, of course, to our questionnaire. As you'll learn, he's a a very cool and interesting fellow; a guy who loves to eat and do home improvement stuff. Here are his written responses:

Occupation: Professional triathlete

College? BS and MS
Where? Not to be named undergrad institution, MIT for grad school
Degrees? BS Marine Systems Engineering, MS Nuclear Engineering
Favorite food: cereal, trail mix, McChicken, Spicy McChicken, Boston Creme, Craisins, Deluxe Breakfast, Local Deluxe Breakfast (Hawaii only)
Favorite books: Coal, Lance to Landis, Breaking the Chain
Favorite Movies: Blue Harvest, Top Gun, With out Limits
Favorite actors & actresses: Brad Pitt
Favorite TV shows: Family Guy
Favorite Singers or Bands? Andrew Bird
Favorite Songs? whatever's on the Current
Favorite Junk Food: peppermint patty
Your Perfect Meal: Cereal, Thanksgiving dinner
Favorite Restaurant: McDonalds
Favorite Alcoholic Beverage: Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
Non-Tri Hobbies: dry wall, finish work, framing, concrete staining, power tools, excel vba programming
Favorite Pro Teams: European cycling teams, Vikings, Premier League Football
Favorite College Teams: MIT cycling team
Heroes? Spiderman, Hannah Sullivan, Henry Thompson aka Big Dawg
Dream Vacation Destination? anywhere in Hawaii
Winter Training? Yes, plus swim meet and indoor track
How do you train in the off-season? Swim inside, run outside, ride my Tacx fortius inside

Thursday, November 26, 2009


You can tell a lot about a person from their ringtone. Matt Payne's is "In the Meantime" by Helmet.

If you are not familiar with Helmet, they are a very influential Alternative Rock band. Terms like Post Punk, Alternative Metal, Post Hardcore, Noise Rock are used to describe its genre. The music is spartan and spasmodic, stripped of excess, both lyrically and melodically as it unapologetically flagellates conformity.

Many of Matt's responses to MTN's questionnaire demonstrate his "Strength to Minimize" (a line from "In the Meantime"), which refers to not allowing the prescriptions of culture to get in the way of finding what defines and satisfies oneself.

Fashion and self-understanding are rarely compatible.

Here are his unedited answers:
Occupation: Aeromechanical Design Engineer, Alliant Techsystems Inc.
College? Where? Degrees? I was on the 10-year plan. 2 years at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY that resulted in no degree and a huge bill, followed by about 5 years of driving all over the US in a beat up old conversion van with my buddies seeking rock stardom (interspersed with a bunch of random manual labor temp jobs and one year at MSU-Mankato that didn't amount to anything). Somehow I ended up at the University of Minnesota where I received my BS in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics.
Favorite food: Chipotle: Steak burrito, no beans, extra hot sauce, tons of cheese (plus the chips and salsa). If you ever need to pound down 1500+ calories in a hurry after a race, there's nothing better on earth.
Favorite books: I'm a total sci-fi nerd. Lately I've been into Orson Scott Card and John Scalzi.
Favorite Movies: I don't really stay up to date on Hollywood's latest. I pretty much end up going to whatever my wife drags me out to. The last movie I was legitimately excited to see was District 9, which was excellent.
Favorite actors & actresses: See above.
Favorite TV shows: The only TV show I'm catching with any regularity right now is The Office.
Favorite Singers or Bands? I still listen to the exact same stuff as when I was in high school, which is predominantly mid-90's era NYC post-hardcore (I'm sure that will make sense to about 1% of the people that will eventually read this). Helmet, Quicksand and Orange 9mm are my all time favs.
Favorite Songs? Meantime by Helmet. Hearing that song for the first time in 1992 inspired me to quit the high school CC and track teams and join a band (thus kicking off the 10-year bachelor's degree plan). When I hear it today I still want to drop whatever I'm doing and pick up a guitar.
Favorite Junk Food:
Tortilla chips. I'm the guy who can't possibly open up a bag of chips without eating the entire thing in one sitting.
Your Perfect Meal: I'm really low maintenance when it comes to food. I'll take a backyard barbecue with my friends over some outrageously priced 5-star gourmet fluff any day.
Favorite Restaurant:
Based on the portion of my paycheck that ends up in their cash register, Chipotle. But the Lions Tap would give them a run for their money if I lived closer.
Favorite Alcoholic Beverage: Good ol' American beer in a can. I'm not the slightest bit picky here.
Non-Tri Hobbies: Poker, reading, video games.
Favorite Pro Teams:
The Twins are the only pro team I really follow at all.
Favorite College Teams: The Gophers I guess, but I'm a casual fan at best.
Heroes? My Dad and both of my Grandfathers. They were just all around solid guys who worked hard 100% of the time and passed on a much better life to my generation than we really deserve.
Dream Vacation Destination? Maui. A) You can swim out 50yd from pretty much any beach on the island and be surrounded by sea turtles, which is awesome. B) The bike ride up Haleakala (10,000 vertical feet of non-stop climbing over 35 miles) is absolutely epic and should be on every cyclist's bucket list.
Winter Training? How do you train in the off-season? Swimming, swimming, some more swimming, followed by a little bit more swimming (with just enough running and cycling mixed in to not forget how). Right now I'm giving up a minute or two in the water to most of the other Team MN guys. I hope to rectify that situation by next summer.
It's a pleasure to know you, Matt!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


By Lee Gruenfeld

(Tempe, AZ - November 22, 2009) I'm not normally a sentimental human being, unless by "sentimental" you mean cynical, sarcastic, skeptical and curmudgeonly. When I hear the moniker "hero" conferred on a 6-year old who dialed 911 after he smelled smoke, my gag reflex kicks in. People and events worthy of our collective admiration are scarce in real life and it doesn't do us proud to keep inventing headlines out of thin air just because we're hungry for some positive news. READ

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


(Photo: Kortney with newborn son, Owen.)

She's doesn't eat meat or listen to Heavy Metal music. She loves sappy love story movies, though her husband refuses to watch them with her. She'd love to wash down her Thanksgiving Tofurkey with a nice glass of Argentine Bonarda or any of the fragrant Malvasia varietals. And as much as she appreciates these and other fine wines, if she had her drothers, she'd slam a few beakers of Caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil (Caipirinha is made with Cachaca, which is like rum, sugar and lime).

But alas, Kortney Haag will need to lay off the booze for another eight months or so. You see, the number 2-ranked woman on Team Minnesota learned recently that she is preggers with her second child.

Other stuff you may not have known about Kortney Haag:

* Education: BS Business Management (Northern Iowa University)
* Occupation: Mom; employed part-time by City of Golden Valley
* Favorite Food: Thai
* Favorite Restaurant: Cafe Lurcat
* Favorite Junk Food: Brownies with ice cream
* Favorite Books: Shopaholic Series
* Favorite Music: Anything on 89.3 - The Current
* Non-Tri Hobbies: Baking, playing Star Wars with Owen (her son)
* Favorite Teams: Chicago Bears & Iowa Hawkeyes
* Dream Vacation Destination: Bora Bora

Monday, November 23, 2009


When Sean Penn's name was announced as the winner of the "Best Actor in a Leading Role" Oscar last February, nobody was happier than triathlete/tri-coach Dan Cohen (left). He--Cohen--sprang joyfully from his sofa. As he did, his right knee caught and lifted the edge of the coffee table, sending the styro carton containing the remaining four "Blazing" chicken wings--he'd ordered the 18-pack from a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings and did not plan to share--to the chronically un-vacuumed carpet.

Imposing the "5-Second Rule," Dan frantically scooped

up the befouled appendages, plucked away the visible debris, and resumed consumption.

This did not really happen.

But it could have, because there are few things that Dan Cohen loves more than Buffalo wings and Sean Penn movies.

You probably didn't know that, right?

Well, there's a lot of stuff that most people don't know about Dan. Sure, he's a tremendous multisport athlete and successful coach. We all know that. But he is also, according to his own resume, an "Adjunct Instructor."

What the heck is that, you ask?

We don't know either, but it sounds important.

We sent out a questionnaire to all 20 members of Team Minnesota '09 asking them to share some personal, non-tri-related information about themselves. What we learned is that these great athletes are also cool and occasionally down-to-earth people.

Here's some of what we learned about Dan Cohen:

* College: BA Psychology (St. Mary's University); M.Ed Kinesiology/Exercise Science (University of Minnesota)
* Favorite TV Shows: "House" and "Iron Chef"
* Favorite Movies: "Fletch", "Color of Money", "Lord of the Rings"
* Favorite Actors: Sean Penn, Robert Downey, Jr. & Jody Foster
* Music Preferences: Phish, Widespread Panic, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead
* Favorite Junk Food: Ice Cream & Apple Crisp
* Favorite Restaurants: Pei Wei, Spoon River, Sakura Sushi
* Favorite Adult Beverage: Any beer; the darker the better
* Non-Tri Hobbies: Movies & Traveling
* Dream Vacation Destination: Hmm...A lot of places in Europe

Coming next...Kortney Haag...Getting ripped on Caipirinha...


(Tempe, AZ - November 22, 2009) MTN congratulates all the Minnesota Ironmen who took the IM Arizona challenge last weekend. We are proud to publish your results:

* Brooks Grossinger (Mayer) - 9:52:06
* Greg Taylor (Mankato) - 10:09:28 - 55-59M Course Record
* Jen Lenarz (Apple Valley) - 11:24:34
* Ben Ewers (North Oaks) - 11:32:49 - 2nd 60-64M
* Wade Folske (Golden Valley) - 11:33:22
* Marty Weiland (Lakeville) - 11:40:45 - See photo - Can you guess Marty's favorite beer?
* Dave Flynn (Woodbury) - 11:51:15
* Kelli Hayes (Winona) - 11:55:28
* Angie Hong (Savage) - 12:05:11
* David Barnes (Lakeville) - 12:19:24
* Joe Conlin (Deephaven) - 12:21:05
* Lindsay Osborn (Shakopee) - 12:28:17
* Mitchel Talbot (St. Louis Park) - 12:37:25
* Don Weirens (St. Louis Park) - 12:55:01
* Matthew Snell (Blaine) - 12:57:22
* Gerry Hagen (Minnetonka) - 13:02:41
* Michael Sherer (Duluth) - 13:04:09
* Kim Locher (Lakeville) - 13:09:31
* Sara Will (Burnsville) - 13:16:13
* Frank Blackstock (Plymouth) - 13:23:04
* Julian Jones (Elk River) - 13:26:29
* Dawn Garlough (Bloomington) - 13:41:32
* Rob Bryant (S. Paul) - 13:41:42
* Caroline Hale-Coldwell (Minneapolis) - 13:47:45
* Mark Kwamusi (Pequot Lakes) - 15:00:21
* Anthony Maiers (Hutchinson) - 15:02:02
* Harvey "Smiley" Thorleifson (Minneapolis) - 15:12:31
* Sue Weiskopf-Larson (Lino Lakes) - 15:16:37
* Noburo Tobonari (Northfield) - 15:43:21
* Joseph Pedersen (Lindstrom) - 15:53:33

UPDATE: We received this e-mail:
"....forgot about the western Wisconsinites that routinely compete in the metro in the Ironman AZ results?

Jim Felling (30-34M) and Cindy Tiedke (50-54W) of the Wild River Tri Club posted PB's of 10:08:02 and 13:50:33 respectfully!"
Congratulations Jim & Cindy! Thanks for the heads-up.

Did we miss anyone else? Let us know.

NOTE: No Minnesotans were on the DNF list!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Sunday - 6:25 PM - Another CR for Greg Taylor! Greg smoked the old 55-59 course best, taking it from 10:27:39 to 10:09:28! It's Taylor's second IM CR this year and could earn him a USAT Master of the Year HM. We'll see!

Way to go Brooks! Mayer's Brooks Grossinger just joined the Sub-10 Club! His PR time was 9:56:02!

Sunday - 5:05 PM - Samantha McGone sets the women's record, a brilliant 9:09:19!

Sunday - 4:50 PM - McGlone is still leading the women's race but Montana's Lindsay Corbin is only 3 1/2 minutes back with about 8K to go. Everyone, as expected, is slowing down. Michellie's mark may stand for another year.

Sunday - 4:15 PM - Scarborough, NY's Jordan Rapp has won Ironman Arizona. His 8:13:35 bettered Andreas Raelert's course record by 41 seconds and the time he (Rapp) recorded here in November '08 by 6:10. Rapp was also victorious at Ironman Canada last August. As he did in April '08*, Des Moines' TJ Tollakson finished 2nd, his 8:20:22, lowering his PB by 12 minutes.

(* There were two Ironman Arizona races in 2008. Several errors were made in earlier editions of this post. Thanks to the ever-observant Terrance Lee for updating our information.)

Canada's Samantha McGlone appears to be in control of the women's race. And, yes, Michellie Jone's CR (9:12:53) is in jeopardy.

Sunday - 3:50 PM - Through the swim and bike portions of today's Ironman Arizona several Minnesotans are racing strongly. Remember, it's 140.6 and anything can happen (and often does). Nevertheless, Greg Taylor and Ben Ewers are on pace to set divisional records and Brooks Grossinger and Jennifer Lenarz, appear to be heading for personal bests.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


(Photos: Greg Taylor napping at Timberman and Jen Lenarz kicking tush at Chain of Lakes.)

Weather should be an ideal for racing at Ironman Arizona on Sunday. Temps should range from 50 degrees at the start to 75 by mid-afternoon. The pro fields are deep and Michael Lovato's and Michellie Jones' course records (8:20:56 and 9:12:53) could fall. Prediction: Canada's Samantha McGlone will dip under 9:10.

Several AG records should be rewritten, and don't be surprised if a pair of Minnesotans do some of the editing.


Mankato's Greg Taylor and North Oaks' Ben Ewers.

Taylor, 55, has already set one divisional IM record this year, doing so at Coeur D'Alene. If he were to match his CDA time--10:22:40--on Sunday, he'd trim 4:59 off AZ's 55-59 CR. Greg is hungry after his DNF in Kona last month and also knows that a victorious effort in Tempe could put him back the hunt for a USAT Master of the Year Honorable Mention.

Based on his winning effort at Vineman 70.3, Ewers, 63, who was crowned Minnesota Grand Master of the Year at TriNight on November 7, appears capable of slipping under the 11-hour mark at Arizona. (The formula: 2 x your best half + 1 hour. Ben's 70.3 time was 4:58, thus he should be able to go as fast as 10:56 on Sunday, if he has maintained his fitness, that is.) The current 60-64CR is 11:09:21.

While Taylor and Ewers chase records, the fastest of the 37 Minnesotans who will be racing on Sunday should be Mayer's Brooks Grossinger. If everything goes well, i.e. if he races like he did a Chisago last July (4:03:47), expect Brooks to crack 10 hours.

And who will be the fastest Minnesota woman on Sunday?

Our guess is that Jen "Swat Girl" Lenarz of Apple Valley, will outdo the 11:37:26-PR she set at Louisville last August. We also think that Shakopee's Lindsay Osborn will better 12-hours.


St. Louis Park's Suzie Finger was the 2009 Minnesota Rookie of the Year. Do you know who the national Rookies of the Year are?

Of course you don't.

Presently, neither USAT Triathlon nor the national tri mags (Inside Triathlon & Triathlete) include ROYs in their season-ending athlete recognition. Hopefully, this will change in the relatively near future.

Since 1998, MTN editor Jerry MacNeil has assisted in USAT's AOY selection process by providing athlete bios. In the research process, he has come across some very talented first-year triathletes. Had the Federation had a ROY category in 2008, for instance, Jerry would have recommended New Jersey's David Slavinski for the men's award.

Who would his 2009 nominees be?

Florida's Sean Jefferson and Massachusetts' Crystal Anthony (pictured above).

These athletes have made impressive transitions from elite running to multisports. Anthony demonstrated great range, excelling in long and short course triathlon, and, less surprisingly, in duathlon. Jefferson's early season efforts were "medium-dazzle," but from August on he raced as well as any US amateur.

Check out these resumes:


* 1st amateur @ Lake Steven's 70.3 - 9th overall woman (4:46:54)
* 1st overall @ Pumpkinman Half - 4:30:41
* 1st overall @ Mayflower International
* 2nd overall @ USAT Duathlon Nationals (She finished 8 seconds behind NJ's Suzanne Huelster, the 2008 USAT Duathlete of the Year and 2009 ITU World Amateur Champion)
* 3rd overall @ Mooseman Olympic
* 8th amateur @ 70.3 Worlds - 4:21:21

SEAN JEFFERSON, 27, Palm Beach Gardens FL

* 1st @ Huntington's Disease Triathlon
* 1st @ Loggerhead Triathlon
* 1st @ Tropical Triathlon
* 2nd overall amateur (25-29 National Champion) @ USAT AG Nationals
* 3rd overall @ Toyota US Open Elite
* 4th @ FAU Wellness Triathlon
* 4th @ Tradewinds Triathlon
* 10th @ Key Biscayne

Some may wonder why National AG Champion Joey Maloy of Brighton, MA was not recommended for ROY honors. Many believe that 2009 was his first year in the sport. The truth is he raced at least twice in 2008 (Witch City and Belleplain).

Anthony's closest competition for 2009 ROY was Emily Dewald, 26, of Bloomington, IL. Dewald's scorecard featured several regional wins, a 2nd (behind Minnesota's Kortney Haag) at Pigman Half and a 3rd at Chicago Elite.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The late 80s and early 90s were the "Glory Years" for the sport of duathlon. The Coors Light Series was as popular as the USTS/BLTS (United States Triathlon Series / Bud Light Triathlon Series) back then.

By 2000 both the Dannon Duathlon Series and Powerman Alabama, the most prominent events on the national du landscape, began to visibly whither, and by 2004 the sport of duathlon in America appeared to have slipped into a coma.

In 2009, the sport seemed to wake up. Attendance at Nationals was heartening and new races are popping up here and there. Nowhere is the proliferation of duathlons more evident than right here in Minnesota.

Four years ago Minnesota was a "Triathlon State." The four run-bike-runs--Oakdale, Gear West, Apple and Iron Girl--that were on the calendar were generally perceived as waterless tris, contested on dates when local lakes were not swim-ready.

Today, our schedule features at least 13 dus. That's right: 13!

Don't believe it?

Check this out: Winter Be Gone, Cinco de Mayo, Falls Duathlon, Oakdale, Gear West, Apple, Du the Dam, Kingswood Off-Road, Minneapolis, Treadman, Cannon-Wells, Young Life and Osceola. There is also the possibility that the Duluth Duathlon will return in 2010.

Sure, the attendance at some of these events are small (less than 200 entrants), but trends suggest that they will grow. And some of these races are in the "good size" range e.g. Gear West, Oakdale, Apple, each drawing more than 400 participants. Two of our state's dus--Minneapolis and Iron Girl-- pull 4-digit fields.

To be continued...Coach and du advocate Jason Digman will assess the state of duathlon in America in future posts.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Angie Schmidt (photo by was one of several Minnesotans who turned in strong efforts at the 70.3 World Championships last weekend. Here, in alpha order, is how the triathletes from our state fared (let us know if we missed anyone):

* Jey Carlson, 43, Minnetonka - 4:39:14
* Errin Farrens, 29, Maple Grove - 4:58:05
* Todd Firebaugh, 47, Woodbury - 4:20:59
* Julie Hull, 37, Farmington - 4:36:35
* Tracie Kent, 35, St. Paul - 5:04:48
* Julie McMonagle, 43, Eagan - 5:21:05
* Angie Schmidt, 39, Woodbury - 4:42:22
* Nathaniel Tollefson, 43, Minneapolis - 4:36:47
* Michael Wendt, 34, Minneapolis - 4:27:43
* Cathy Yndestad, 31, Apple Valley - 4:24:02 (2nd 30-34W)


* Ambivalence about the MMAs....(Photo: Marlo McGaver.)

Selecting nominees then determining winners is an inherently controversial process. And it is the disputatious nature of this enterprise that makes it newsworthy. As the Selection Committee Chairman, I have had several arguments, most of them of the good-natured variety, with those who disagree with the final picks.

The truth is, I disagree with some of the final picks, too. The selection process, you see, is democratic; members submit their picks individually and the athletes receiving the most support take home the awards. Not every committee member gets what they want.

The further truth is, and I think I speak for all five of the Committee members, we feel both good and bad about the selections. In my case, I'm very happy that Kevin O'Connor was named Duathlete of the Year, but I'm sad that an athlete of Marlo McGaver's caliber and '09 resume went home empty-handed. I'm happy for Jan Guenther (Master of the Year), but feel blue that Jeanne Fleck didn't win anything. I feel badly for Hank (Larsen), Rhett (Bonner) and especially Greg (Taylor), while I heartily applaud the winners in their respective categories. And I feel badly for EVERYONE nominated in the Performance of the Year categories, except for the winners, of course.

And then there's Team Minnesota. What a super assemblage of athletes! I think the names are correct, but the order needs tweaking. I won't mention who I feel are ranked too highly, but I will say that I think that Dan (Cohen) and Brook (Mutzenberger) placed lower than I though was appropriate.

In the end, though, one fact is clear: There would be no controversy if there wasn't so goshdarn much talent in this state.

* Jan Guenther's 50-54W US Iron-distance record, set in Madison, WI last September, was short lived. Forty-nine days, to be exact. Atlanta's Laura Sophiea posted a new divisional record at Ironman Florida. Laura's 10:27:25 was 54 seconds faster than Jan's. Sophiea, a two-time US Master of the Year (2001, 2006) who will also be considered for that honor in 2009, has won the 50-54W division at Kona four of the last five years.

We still contend that Jan's performance at Ironman Wisconsin is the AG Performance of the Year in the US.

(Photo: Laura Sophiea racing at Hawaii's Lavaman Triathlon.)

* Thinking about Clearwater....What's with the pro times? In the first three years of this event, pro times appeared "semi-reasonable" while amateur times were insane. This year the amateur times did not seem outrageous, or at least by comparison to 2008 clockings. But the pro times were nuts. 3:34:04! This result lowered last year's men's WB by 6+ minutes. On other "fast courses," e.g. Eagleman, CRs are in the 3:44 range. (The non-Clearwater WB is 3:42.)

So how does Michael Raelert, an infrequent Top 5 finisher in major events, swim a quasi-reasonable 21:58, followed by a 1:59:35 (and 12 guys had FASTER splits!), which is more than 1 mph faster than he's ever covered an Olympic distance course, then a 1:09:06 finish. Geez, wasn't he tired coming off the bike? Well, he supposedly popped a 3:34:04, which, according to our research was a 28 minute improvement on his 70.3 PB.

What's written here is not intended to impugn Mr. Raelart, or any of the wicked-fast pro competitors. There are no accusations here. Just the desire to understand.

Explanations and/or theories are invited. Send them to

Friday, November 13, 2009


What is it about Clearwater? What makes this course so darn fast? It's a conscientiously produced World Championship, thus we can assume that courses are accurate and drafting was stridently monitored and violators penalized. Right? Well, it must be a combination of field quality, media hype and the extra adrenaline these factors stimulate.

Here's a peek at the Top 5 pro women, what they just did and how it compares to their best times (according to our research) on courses that aren't located on the gulf side of central Florida.

1. Julie Dibens (GBR) - 3:59:33 (Non-Clearwater Best - 4:10:58 @ 5430 '09)
2. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) - 4:03:39 (Non-Clearwater Best - 4:33:34 - Lake Stevens '08 - Note: MB also placed 2nd at Clearwater '08; her time was 4:04 and change.)
3. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) - 4:05:27 (Non-Clearwater Best - 4:12:29 - Boise '09)
4. Caroline Steffen (SUI) - 4:05:33 (Non-Clearwater Best - 4:31:50 - Austria '09)
5. Laura Bennett (USA) - 4:07:39 (Non-Clearwater Best - 4:18:36 - Augusta '09)

The men's winner was Germany's Michael Raelert, whose 3:34:04 lopped six minutes off the WB. Our notes suggest that his previous 70.3 best was a 4:05:25 at Weisbaden earlier this season.

MINNESOTA UPDATE: Preliminary results show that Apple Valley's Cathy Yndestad placed 2nd in the 30-34W category. Her time was 4:24:02 and she beat fellow AOY contender Mandy McLane by a gaunt 2 seconds. Additionally, it appears that Lindsay Whalen, also an AOY frontrunner, has beaten Cathy by ONE SECOND. (Remember, these are preliminary results.) Yndestad has faced Whalen five times this year--Nationals, Life Time Fitness, St. Anthony's, Dallas US Open and 70.3 Worlds--and come out on top in three of those confrontations.


Decorated triathlete, physical therapist and athletic trainer Cindy Schlafmann manages the Physical Therapy Department at TRIA Orthopaedic Center in Bloomington. MTN is pleased to announce that Cindy will make regular editorial contributions to this site dealing with such topics as injury treatment and prevention, attaining and maintaining fitness, and improving performance.

Welcome, Cindy.


The three amateur women who appear to be the frontrunners for USA Triathlon 2009 Athlete of the Year are Florida's Mandy McLane, Illinois' Lindsay Whalen and Minnesota's Cathy Yndestad (pictured).

These girls will face each other tomorrow (Saturday) at the 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, Florida, and it is quite possible that the fastest member of this triumvirate will be crowned AOY. If Cathy wins the award, she will become the first Minnesota woman to do so. If she does not win, she will be named AOY Honorable Mention for the 3rd consecutive year.

Other athletes from our state who have earned post-season honors are Tony Schiller (AOY '95, Master of the Year '02), Jan Guenther (Master of the Year '99) and Kristin Miller (Duathlete of the Year '06, '05).

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Two-time MMA winner--2008 Rookie of the Year, 2009 Most Improved--Kortney Haag recently reported in her blog that she and husband Derek are expecting their second child. The due date is June 17. We'll miss watching you race next season, Kort.

Kortney enjoyed a brilliant sophomore season in '09 and was ranked 2nd on Team Minnesota '09.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The Nevada Silverman and Ironman Florida are 140.6-mile events that are staged on the same day. That may be where their similarities end.

How are they different?

Well, at Florida, some folks finish when the sun is still shining. At Silverman, the sun had been on the other side of the Spring Mountains for 44 minutes and 37 seconds when the men's winner, Chris Williams of Bend, OR, arrived at the Henderson Multigenerational Center, the site of the ST finish line.

And the respective race courses couldn't be more different. In Nevada, cyclists negotiate 12,000 feet of climbing. No one averages 20 mph. In Florida, bridges and overpasses account for almost 50 feet of elevation gain and the fastest female cyclist out-splits ST's fastest male cyclist by over an hour.

In Florida, entrants dream of racing fast and setting PRs. In Nevada, participants entertain no such fantasies.


'Cuz Ironman Florida is probably the fastest 140.6 in North America, while Silverman is the continent's slowest ultra, and may actually be the World's slowest.

MTN congratulates all who took the Florida or Silverman challenge this past weekend.

Silverman '09:

* Brian Moynihan, Eagan - 11:58:06 (2nd 45-49M)
* Adam Krueger, Moorhead - 12:13:00 (5th 25-29M)
* Brian Magnuson, Minneapolis - 13:30:06 (14th 30-34M)
* Joseph Butterfield, Minneapolis - 15:56:03 (14th 25-29M)
* David Becker, Bemidji - 15:40:24 (13th 50-54M)

Ironman Florida '09:

* Jonathan Balabuck, Thunder Bay, ONT - 10:23:21
* Margaret MacMillan, Minneapolis - 11:01:01 (3rd 45-49W)
* Julia Lyng, Bursville - 11:09:24 (11th 40-44W) - 1st IM!
* Michael Murray, - 11:33:28 (38th 50-54)
* Igor Epshteyn - 11:52:19 (161st 40-44M)
* Nicholas Oswald - 11:55:48 (50th 11:55:48M)
* Margarita Sevilla - 12:00:23 (27th 35-39W)
* Ryan Naatjes - 12:01:40 (191st 35-39M)
* Igor Kotlovsky - 12:04:49 (175th 40-44M)
* David Voss - 12:09:12 (137th 45-49M)
* Shawn Husband - 12:11:21 (202nd 35-39M)
* Cindy Cook - 12:50:20 (32nd 35-39W)
* Kirk Hanson - 12:25:50 (209th 40-44M)
* Jeff Groffsky - 12:44:26 (101st 50-54M)
* Michael Koetting - 12:49:29 (248th 40-44M)
* Scott Beesley - 12:50:44 (146th 30-34M)
* Gregory Hayes - 12:56:57 (262nd 35-39M)
* Sharon Hobbs - 13:19:10 (9th 50-54W)
* Christopher Hoff - 13:34:35 (310th 35-39M)
* Lisa Sturk - 14:06:23 (69th 30-34W)
* Michael Bryant - 14:16:34 (321st 35-39)
* Hans-Jurgen Van Heteren-Freeze - 15:24:37 (378th 40-44M)

(Photo: Eagan's Brian Moynihan, the fastest Minnesotan at Silverman V.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


(Photos: Honoree Bill Rataczak and Thorpe Running Inspiration award founder and presenter Tony Schiller.)

By Tony Schiller

The 2009 Thorpe Running Inspiration Award recipient is a pioneer in Minnesota racing and multi-sport, Bill Rataczak.

If you don’t know Bill, this is an opportunity to learn about a person whose life has touched and inspired so many and now it’s our turn to say, “Thank You”, and to offer a little encouragement and inspiration back to the guy that’s been cheering us on for so long.

From Bill’s earliest memory he had only one life dream. It was to fly airplanes for a living. For 34 years he achieved that dream, flying jumbo jets around the world for Northwest Airlines. If you ever flew on one of Bill’s flights, you were in good hands.

He was the guy you wanted flying your plane if you had a heart attack and needed someone to perform CPR to save your life.

He was the guy you wanted flying your plane if you got hijacked. That’s right. He was the co-pilot of the infamous DB Cooper hijacking in 1981. You might recall Cooper as the businessman who got on board with a backpack full of dynamite, cleared the plane of all but the crew and demanded parachutes and $200,000. Once in possession of the loot, he demanded they fly to Mexico keeping the plane under 10,000 feet and 175 mph, the minimum speed needed to keep the 727 airborne. Soon thereafter, he opened the tailgate, lowered the steps and leapt into a nighttime blizzard in the Cascade Mountains, never to be seen or heard from again.

Bill’s convinced the jump killed him, but tales of Cooper sightings continue to this day as the folklore about his existence only grows. The hijacking changed much about air travel as we know it today. It was the beginning of airport security being ramped up in the US and soon thereafter Boeing changed the 727, making it virtually impossible to jump out of.

And Bill was also the guy you wanted flying your plane if you were a runner and wanted a runner partner to show you the best routes after flying to far away places like London, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Singapore. When the rest of the crew got off the plane and hit the bars, he was the one who hit the streets to log his miles. He did this from the early ‘70s, when running was a lonely pursuit, especially in other parts of the world, but he loved it. It was the best way to see a city and he had marathons to train for.

He ran early versions of Grandma’s, Nike OTC, New York City and the City of Lakes Marathon which was the precursor to the Twin Cities Marathon. And if you ran in any of the first 13 TCM’s it was Bill who called your name over the PA at the finish as he was the voice of the race through 1994.

He was the voice of other races too, notably, a popular 10k he brought to Annandale and directed for many years before he helped change it to a triathlon in 1987. Though that first edition saw half the field stopped at a railroad crossing by a passing train, the race drew raves and the next year sold out as the first Heart of the Lakes Triathlon using the same course used today, sans railroad tracks. A Bill innovation was using a young upstart artist’s nature drawings for race T-Shirts. The popular designs later became among the most desired race awards around… the framed posters still penned to this day by Bill’s son, the award winning nature artist, Jim Rataczak.

For nearly a decade Bill called the finish line at Annandale before finally doing the race himself. He trained hard, finished a strong swim and was riding well when he heard one of his son’s high school buddies call out, “Hey Mr. Rataczak”. Bill instinctively held up his hand and the two landed a high-speed high 5, only the kid forgot to let go. It caused the perfect whifferdale as Bill’s body came to a screeching midair halt and his bike kept going as he crashed hard to the ground while still holding the kid’s hand. Relying on his old pilot training – never let the passengers see your duress – the shirtless Bill got up, smiled and assured the panicking boy he was alright. He fetched his bike, rode off with a wave, and only when up the hill and out of sight did he let out a howling, “OWWWW”.

He finished the ride and limped painfully around the lake repeating to himself, “I’m going back to announcing.” It was his first – and last – triathlon. He remained a staple at every Heart of the Lakes Triathlon, as the official starter and all-around cheerleader congratulating as many finishers as he could shake hands with. He took great joy in seeing all the visitors come to Annandale and was always a great ambassador for the race and city.

It took a lot to cause Bill to finally miss a HOLT in 2005. In the prior February he was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer which was spreading rapidly through his body. He had surgery and went through 6 weeks of intense chemo where he was placed into a painful mask that was locked to a table for his treatments. The treatments worked and killed the cancer but he lost much of his voice and had to feed through a stomach tube as his weight fell from 154 to 127 lbs. Through it all Bill remained positive, promising all who would listen that he’d soon be back to his loves… playing hockey, running, cycling, flying his plane and cheering all of us on at the Annandale triathlon.

He was. He did all those things within a year of starting treatment and was back in a frail state as race starter in 2006. He returned in 2007 looking and feeling much stronger and like his old self again. The next morning, (Monday, July 23rd) he awoke feeling motivated by all the racers and jumped on his bike fore the first of his 4 weekly rides. Nearing the ride’s end, he had a fact to bumper meeting with a 10 ton gravel truck. The truck won. Fortunately, he was wearing a helmet – it was all that saved him – but it was a horrific accident. His forehead was ripped open and peeled back to his skull exposing his brain to gravel and dirt. The impact broke the second cervical vertebrae in his neck and fractured too many other bones in his body to mention here.

He was airlifted to St. Cloud where the battle to save his life ensued as he remained in critical condition for over a week and wound up hospitalized for over 2 months. He was fitted for a bird cage to stabilize his broken neck and began the long, slow and painful road to recovery. Throughout it all, friends and family marveled at Bill’s strength as he stayed positive and kept telling everyone he was doing fine and would soon be back to normal.

He was a good faker but those who knew him best saw that, after the cancer, this second whammy was almost too much for even Bill to handle. It was going to be the struggle of his lifetime to find the courage to hang in there and come back again.

He did just that. If you raced in the 2008 HOLT, you might recall one of the highlight moments of the day. When Bill walked under his own power down to the beach to once again handle his duties as race starter, it was called a medical miracle, but to those who know him, it was what you’d expect from Bill Rataczak. Since his leg strength and body balance is still in question, he hasn’t yet retaken to the roads on his bike or gotten back on the ice for senior hockey. But he is training hard on his Revmaster and has been back in the cockpit of his plane for more than the past year, doing what he was born to do, fly.

The Thorpe Running Inspirational is named as a 2-way award. It serves not just to show appreciation to the recipient for how they role model for us strength and courage against incredible adversity. It’s also about the racing community coming together to say, “Keep on fighting my good friend… there’s still many races for you to run in life and we want you out there with us for many more years.”

And that’s just what Bill Rataczak intends to do. He was really touched by this award and thanks the entire multi-sport community for all the support and well wishes along the way. He invites all of you to attend the Heart of the Lakes Triathlon in 2010 and looks forward to sending off your wave and cheering you home at the finish line. - TS

Friday, November 6, 2009


(St. Paul, MN – Nov. 7, 2009) Here are the winners of the 11th annual MINNESOTA MULTISPORT AWARDS, which were presented Academy Awards-style last evening at TriNight ’09 at St. Paul College. St. Paul’s Devon Palmer was the night’s brightest star, hauling in three Emmas. Mound’s Jan Guenther was the other multiple winner, her two trophies lifting her career total to an unprecedented 13.


DEVON PALMER, 22, St. Paul & CATHY YNDSETAD, 31, Apple Valley

Cathy, a three-time nominee for USAT Athlete of the Year, was the obvious choice here, though Kortney Haag had a brilliant season. Devon’s big-time victories at Life Time and HOLT, and his 3rd place overall finish at AG Nationals, gave him the nod over Kevin O’Connor, who beat DP twice last season.


KEVIN O’CONNOR, 38, Medina

Undefeated on the local du scene, Kevin was able to wrestle this award away from three-time DOY Marlo McGaver, who did suffer one local loss. Speed comparisons also gave a slight edge to O’Connor. Kevin was measured against elite amateur performance standards, whereas Marlo was measured against professional standards. (FYI, McGaver did get a pro license this season.)



Nick had a great season, one featuring an outright victory at Chaska, a 4th behind Dennis Dane, Brett Lovaas and Jon Balabuck and a Top 10 at Manitou (junior males are simply not supposed to be able to do that).


SUZIE FINGER, 26, St. Louis Park

No surprise here. Suzie was the cream of a very solid crop.


BEN EWERS, 63, North Oaks

A great group of nominees here but Ben was the only one who truly redefined the performance standards in his AG.


BRIAN BICH, 43, Duluth & JAN GUENTHER, 50, Mound

This was the most controversial category. On the men’s side, strong arguments were made for Rhett Bonner and Greg Taylor. The fact that Rhett is only two years older than Brian hurt his (Rhett’s) bid for the award. Age Grading, which almost put the award in Taylor’s hands, could not be applied in Rhett’s case. After hours of debate, Brian came out on top. Anyone who is fast enough to have beaten Devon (Pigman Sprint) and Kevin (Lake Waconia) and placed 7th in the deepest head-to-head field of the year at Best of the US has demonstrated that he is in a class of his own.

On the women’s side, Guenther’s position was strengthened by the fact that she excelled in both long and short distance events. Heidi and Jeanne raced only in short races, and Marnie needed at least one more elite effort to be truly competitive in this category. Though Jeanne beat Jan in each of their three confrontations, the six-year age differential plus the fact that Jeanne was unable to match any of Jan’s existing course records in those races softened the argument. Finally, Jan’s effort at Ironman Wisconsin was perceived to be the Performance of the Year.

This was the most talented group of female masters in the history of the MMAs.


DEVON PALMER, 22, St. Paul & KORTNEY HAAG, 30, New Hope

These athletes had to muscle there way through our state’s most decorated athletes to get to their places on the upper rungs of the Team Minnesota ladder.


Devon Palmer’s Win @ Life Time Fitness Elite

Devon beat one of the 2-3 strongest amateur fields of the year at LTF. His win at HOLT and Kevin’s CR at “Little Pig” were also given serious consideration.

Jan Guenther’s Amateur Win @ Ironman Wisconsin

Age Grading was not part of the decision here. Jan WON a major Ironman race by a huge margin. Cathy Yndestad received staunch support from two of the five committee members. In the end, 10+ hours of high-level racing was perceived to override two hours of red-line competition against superior competition.


Bill Rataczak


Winner – Lake Minnetonka Triathlon

2nd - MinneMan Triathlon

3rd – YWCA Women’s Triathlon.

4th – Lake Marion Triathlon.

5th – Trinona


1. David Thompson, 31, St. Paul

2. Kevin O’Connor, 38, Medina

3. Devon Palmer, 22, St. Paul

4. Brian Bich, 43, Duluth

5. Sam Hauck, 25, Shoreview / Omaha, NE

6. Jonathan Balabuck, 29, Thunder Bay, ONT

7. Matthew Payne, 32, Columbia Heights

8. Patrick Parish, 24, Circle Pines

9. Dennis Dane, 29, Golden Valley

10.Dan Cohen, 35, Eden Prairie

Also receiving consideration: Brett Lovaas, Curt Wood, Mark Carey, Steve Sander and Brooks Grossinger.


1. Cathy Yndestad, 31, Apple Valley

2. Kortney Haag, 30, New Hope

3. Marlo McGaver, 39, Duluth

4. Jeanne Fleck, 44, Proctor

5. Jan Guenther, 50, Mound

6. Julie Hull, 37, Farmington

7. Heidi Keller-Miler, 44, Chaska

8. Brook Mutzenberger, 29, Eden Prairie

9. Marnie Walth, 40, Bismarck, ND

10.Susan Williams, 37, Minneapolis

Also receiving consideration: Thea Fleming, Mary Beth Tuttle, Catherine Lee, Shelley Nelson, Diane Hankee and Suzie Finger.

NOTE: The athlete’s entire resume is taken into account and Age Grading was not employed.