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Big Doings at Big Lake...

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GRANITEMAN BIG LAKE PREVIEW - There's four great races--Big Lake, Brewhouse, Waseca, Minnewaska--to choose from this weekend. We certainly hope that you do one (or more) of them.

Today we are previewing the Saturday's 7th annual G-Man Big Lake Triathlon. A great event at an awesome venue. It is also the third and final race of the Graniteman Tri Series.

Let's share some history and make a few predictions.

HISTORY

Big Lake Sprint Course Records:  MARCUS STROMBERG - 1:01:48 (2012) & BECKY YOUNGBERG - 1:06:28 (2011)

Sprint AG Records: 

0019 - TYLER HECHT - 1:06:54 (2012) & GRETA DANIELSON - 1:10:45 (2013)

4044 - JESSE SHAW - 1:07:32 (2013) & JAMIE HEYING - 1:09:17 (2013)

4549 - JEFF GREBNER -  1:02:39 (2013) & JEN NEUMAN - 1:14:49 (2016)

5054 - SCOTTY ERICKSON - 1:06:47 (2014) & LISA HINES - 1:14:35 (2013)

5559 - DAVE DOW - 1:11:41 (2012) & JUDY MURRAY - 1:23:00 (2014)

6064 - BRYAN SWENSON - 1:12:47 (2014) & BETHANY COLLINS - 1:28:22 (2015)

6569 - TOM COUILLARD - 1:34:12 (2016) & NANCY BAUER - 1:39:22 (2016)

 

Big Lake Olympic Course Records - DAVID HOLDEN - 2:00:52 & KELLY TROM - 2:16:48 (2016)

 

Big Lake Olympic AG Records:

 

0019 - SILAS NELSON, WI - 2:35:05 (2015) & JESSICA STAPLES - 3:06:09 (2015)

4044 - ALEX SCHAD - 2:21:59 (2015) & ALISON FORNEY-GORMAN - 2:22:08 (2015)  ....

Three Decades of Awesomeness....

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BREWHOUSE XXXI PREVIEW - The 31st Brewhouse Triathlons, the fifth at its spectacular Island Lake venue, will happen next Sunday, and the question is: Which race will be Epic-er, the Olympic or the Sprint?

Interestingly, the women's field in the Sprint is deeper this year than the group that is currently signed up for the longer race. Still, the Olympic women's race features a pair of true stars who have yet to face each other.

As for the men in both races, according to the registration list we perused, the favorites are clear: JOSH BLANKENHEIM and MIKE WARD. Both are defending champs, and while Blank will be gunning for his 2nd straight Olympic win, Ward has his sights set on his 6th Sprint title. 

Back to the Olympic women.

The clear favorites are BH veteran ELAINE NELSON, winner here in 2014, and DANI VSETECKA, who will be making her Olympic debut on Sunday. 

Can Dani give Elaine a great race? Absolutely. Despite her inexperience at this distance, she is arguably one of the Top 3 amateur female duathletes in the US, and perhaps our country's fastest amateur female 70.3 racer. She's simply a great triathlete, one with a pro future, if she decides to go in that direction. Certainly a fast 32-mile race is something that Vsetecka (pronounced "Sheh-teska") can master on her first attempt.

The Elaine/Vsetecka match-up could produce a course record. (Oops! We've started to wet ourselves. Can't wait to watch this battle unfold.) We also think that TIFFFANY KARI will match her 3rd place effort of 2016, doing so in a PR in the 2:17-2:18 range.

Back to the women's sprint field. Check out this alphabetical list of podium contenders:

- LORI DESCHAMPS, 46, Anchorage, AK - A frequent medalist at Nationals, Lori could crack the Top 3, but it won't be easy.

- BETTINA KEPPERS, 34, Duluth - She's done this race twice, setting a course record last year after placing 3rd in 2015. Bettina has been on fire for the last two years. We predict that she will duke-it-out with Lendway for the W....

Cooley's Conquest....

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CHISAGO LAKES HALF - Despite wetsuitless water (80.3 degrees) and mounting heat, which eventually reached the mid-80s, there were plenty of fast times and personal bests at the 12th edition of this annual classic.

Leading the way for the guys was SEAN COOLEY, whose Every Man Jack tri suit should have been baggy in the back after he biked his buns off (2:09), riding four-plus minutes faster than the next fastest cyclist.

Some wondered if he had left it all on the bike course, but he then posted one of the fastest run splits of the day. The result was a 4:06:52, his second fastest 70.3 effort ever. The win was his 17th since he started racing on MInnesota soil, and five of those Ws have been half IMs.

Pro DANIEL BRETSCHER came in as the favorite, but had to settle for 2nd in 4:10:27. Though not one to complain, Daniel has a new infant at home--Noah James (he's gorgeous!)--and training and sleep have been severely limited of late. Family first, Bretscher left to be with his family shortly after he crossed the finish line.

He's a classy guy.

Arguably the performance of the day for the men was turned in by third placer JOE ADRIAENS (photo L), whose wetsuitless 4:13:26 was a sixteen-plus minute PR. He looked strong throughout the entire race. Joe will likely receive serious consideration for a Most Improved nomination....

#50 For Payne...

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CHISAGO LAKES SPRINT XII - We love to witness breakout performances, and the Chisago races never fail to deliver in that regard.

Let's start with the Sprint. On paper, MATTHEW PAYNE's 50th career win appeard to be, as they say, in the bag; as long as he doesn't crash, like he did at HOLT, or make a wrong turn, like he did at Lake Waconia.

Matt would indeed claim his landmark half-century W, but it wasn't easy. In fact, it was hard as heck, thanks to a breakout effort by 2015 Minnesota Junior of the Year NICK KLONNE, who dogged the Payne Plane (he's a pilot, you know!) the ENTIRE race.

When Matt topped the final hill and had only fifty downhill meters to go, the pesky Colorado School of Mines junior was still in his reaview mirror.

Payne had only ten seconds to catch his breath before Nick's timing chip burped for the final time. Klonne proved unequivocally that he is ready to bark with the Big Dogs. Good stuff!

 

For Payne, 40, his 1:16:33 was a masters record, lowering SCOTT PENTICOFF's 2010 mark by five seconds. Howevr, a glance at the splits suggest that the run was longer than 5K, at east a tenth, perhaps two. 

Rounding out the men's podium was a guy who seems to be having breakout performances every time he races this season. We're talking about ANDY WIBERG, who finished only eight seconds behind Klonne (pronounced "Clone -nee")....

Walker & Hoot Lake Coverage...

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Fun Bringers (L-R) - Tiff, Leanne and Nicole.

 

WALKER TRIATHLON - Saturday's race, contested under ideal conditions on beautiful Walker Bay, was won by 2016 Rookie of the Year nominee JOEL LAFRANCE, and JACQUELYN BACIGALUPI, whose last name is Italian for "kiss of the wolf." Cool, huh? For LaFrance, the win was the 2nd of his young career.  For Bacigalupi, it was her 3rd career W, and her second consecutive victory at Walker. 

Joel's closest challenger was, unsurpringly, DAVID LEWIS, who was also 2nd the last time he raced here, which was in 2011. Third place went to THOMAS LOEGERING of West Fargo. He was 7th here in 2016, and more than two minutes faster this time around.

Just as unsurpring was TIFFANY KARI's silver and LEANNE BRONSON's bronze medal efforts. Bronson won the inaugural version of this race back in 2010.

Do you know Tiff and Leanne? They are both HOOTS!

Other outstanding performances were turned in sisters TAYLOR and SIMONE LUNDQUIST. Taylor, 17, took the junior title for the second straight year, and placed 4th overall for women. She also managed to break 1:20, her 1:19:07 the second fastest teen time in the eight-year history of the race. Simone, only 14, finished 6th overall in 1:24:56.

Divisional course records were set by NEIL KING, 67, whose 1:18:43 placed him 11th overall and lowered the 65-69M mark by an elephantine 26:01,  JAN HANDLOS, 63, took her own 60-64W mark down from 1:30:14 to 1:28:28, and JOHN ROHDE. Rohde, 72, lowered his own 70-74M mark by a ton.  RESULTS ...

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