Wednesday, November 4, 2009

THE NEW 40...

(Photo: Two-fisted drinker, Greg Taylor, 55, of Mankato, at Timberman. Greg's 2009 tri resume will be reviewed by USAT's AOY Selection Committee.)

Since 2000, MTN Editor Jerry MacNeil has been a consultant to USA Triathlon's AOY (Athletes of the Year) Selection Committee. His role is to research the competitive resumes of dozens of American amateur triathletes and duathletes in several categories, i.e. overall, juniors, masters, grand masters, and submit bios, with recommendations, to the Committee's Chairperson. The recommendations are not always supported, for example, Colorado's Ellen Hart was named 2008 US Master of the Year despite MacNeil's strident advocacy for Florida's Linda Robb. The selection process is inherently controversial and the arguments often are heated. It is democracy in action, and Jerry loves every minute of it.

Last year's men's masters race came down to a pair of fantastic 40-44 guys, New Jersey's Doug Clark and Minnesota's Brian Bich, with Bich ultimately prevailing thanks largely to his season-ending podium finish at the Best of the US Championship in Tempe, AZ.

Well, Clark is back in the mix this year, but his stiffest challenge will not come from fellow 44-and-under athletes. It will most likely come from a 46-year-old Californian named Tim Sheeper and a foursome--that's right, a foursome--of 55-59 gents.

This is unprecedented and very, very cool.

In alphabetical order, the fab four are Dean Harper, 56, of Walnut Creek,CA, Kim McDonald, 55, of Del Mar, CA, Kevin Moats, 55, of Atlanta, GA, and Greg Taylor, 55, of Mankato, MN.

Here's what each of these guys has accomplished this season:

* DEAN HARPER - Divisional wins @ Gold Coast (AUS) World Championships, California 70.3, Wildflower, Treasure Island and Escape from Alcatraz. Additionally, he placed 2nd at AG Nationals.

* KIM MCDONALD - Divisional wins at AG Nationals, Pacific Coast/US Sprint Championships, San Diego Olympic and Encinitas Sprint. He finished 2nd at California 70.3.

* KEVIN MOATS - Divisional wins at the Hawiian Ironman World Championships, Hawaii 70.3 and St. Croix 70.3. Moats placed 3rd at AG Nationals.

* GREG TAYLOR - Greg set a divisional course record at Ironman Coeur D'Alene and turned in a "World Best Equivalent" performance at Chisago Lakes Half. His regional resume was impeccable.

The USAT AOY Selection Committee plans to announce its Athletes of the Year later this month. In each category a winner will be named, as will five Honorable Mentions. It's reasonable to assume that at least two of the six male masters that will be honored will be from the 55-59 AG.