Wednesday, May 26, 2010


There isn't a better duathlon in America!

Sure, some dus are larger and some feature fancier staging--bells and whistles that mean little if the event isn't expertly produced and participants aren't treated like rock stars.

Since 2000, the year The Apple hosted the USAT Age Group Duathlon National Championship, this event has done everything right. We have founders/directors Daryl and Pam Stevens and their "Committee of Carers" to thank for this. These folks were completely dedicated to satisfying the participants of their event.

Daryl and Pam are no longer at Apple's helm, but new director Brandon Testa is intent on promulgating (great word!) the legacy that the Stevens' built.

From a management and execution standpoint, as well as athlete amenities, the Apple is first-class. It is also an amazingly competitive event and may generally deserve to be recognized as America's Most Competitive "Small" (500 participants or less) Multisport Race. We use the adverb "generally" because this year's event, while featuring an extremely strong field, will not be quite as formidable as in the recent past. This is because the '10 race will not be a Team USA World's Qualifier. Losing it's qualifier designation, it should be noted, will not diminish this event in any way. If you have been reluctant to register, don't be. REGISTER

It's time to make some totally foolhardy predictions AND to recommend a great place to get pizza in the St. Cloud area.

* MEN'S WINNER - David Thompson. (DKT is 5-for-5 at The Apple and owns 4 of the six fastest times ever.)
* MEN'S TOP 5 - DKT, Justin Hurd, Kevin O'Connor, Patrick Parish & Brooks Grossinger.
* WOMEN'S WINNER - Cathy Yndestad. (The 2009 US Athlete of the Year beat an amazing field at Gear West last weekend. A win on Saturday would be the 41st of Cathy's stellar career.)
* WOMEN'S TOP 5 - Cathy Yndestad, Marlo McGaver (4-time Apple winner), Julie Hull, Suzie Finger, Tara Croteau.
* COOLEST AG CATEGORY: 65-69 Men. This division features the regionally undefeated--in 2009 and thus far in 2010, that is--Bob Baily, 2008 Minnesota Grand Master of the Year Hank Larsen, who's won his AG here four times since the current course distances--5K-33K-5K--were established, and Nick Vanduzee, a three-time divisional winner at Apple. We wanted to post a photo of Nick, but we didn't have one. Because he kinda sorta looks a little-bit-but not-too-much like everyone's favorite Bolshevik, Vladimir Lenin, we decided to post a shot of the Soviet revolutionary. Vlad is a totally cool-looking guy. And so is Nick. FYI, Nick knows more about musical stuff than the long-dead Commie ever did.

* BEST PIZZA IN ST. CLOUD & SARTELL: House of Pizza. (Yes, HOP happens to be owned by Apple's Race Director. It is also billed as "Minnesota's Favorite Pizza Restaurant." Do yourself a favor and check it out. See if you don't agree with the slogan. WEBSITE)