Monday, November 16, 2009


* 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