An Annual Classic...

runnersLake Waconia XXIV - The most competitive of the five tris that will be staged in Minnesota (and Hudson, WI) this weekend will be the Lake Waconia Triathlon. Races don't have to have crazy-good fields to be excellent, of course, but those that do invariably have an extra layer of excitement.

The LWT has been Minnesota's qualifying event for the Best of the US National Championship since the BOUS Series began in 2005. Though this has doubtlessly contributed to LWT's impressive field quality, one need only look at the fields that were assembled prior to ought-5 to see that this race has always appealed to fast folks.

Who'll will be racing on Sunday? Here are some of the fast guys and gals that will be there.

- David Thompson - DKT hasn't raced here since 2004, his first season as a pro. He won that year. (He placed 3rd in his only other LWT appearance in 2001.) He has not raced on the current .5-20-4 course, which has been in place...

since 2007. The current course record is Dan Hedgecock's two-year-old 1:20:27. Though David is coming off a 3rd place half IM finish last Sunday, we still think that he will break the 80-minute mark.

- Patrick Parish - A two-time winner here (2012, 2010), Patrick owns three national titles, one du and two sprints.mainstreet

- Mark Harms (Madison, WI) - Is this the year that an out-of-stater takes the amateur crown? It might be. Mark is a three-time AG National Champion, owns at least one World Championship medal and has cracked the overall Top 5 at Nationals twice.

- Matthew Payne - The battle between Matt and Mark for the amateur title will be epic. Matt is a two-time AG National Champion and has won the Best of the US National Championship (2011). A gear-placement penalty knocked him off LWT's Top step last year. He won't make that faux pas again. FYI, the last time Matt and Mark faced each other was earlier this month at the BOUS Championship. Matt finished 2nd; Mark, 3rd.

- Kevin O'Connor - Kevin is undefeated in four starts this season and is a perennial Top 5 finisher here.

- Marcus Stromberg - Most Improved award winner in 2012, Marcus is intent on matching or bettering his breakout 4th here last season.

- Sean Cooley (Grand Forks, ND) - Over the last three seasons, Sean has built a national reputation. He is clearly his state's numero uno male multisporter. He placed 6th here in 2012.

Other dudes to watch include Scott Myers, Andy Schiesl, Ross Weinzierl, John Shelp, Mike Ladendorf and David Phillips.

- Suzy Fox - With 13 career victories and three MMAs since becoming a multisport athlete in 2009, Suzy will come into Sunday's race at the women's favorite.

runners- Andrea Myers - This BOUS veteran was 4th here in 2012 and was 3rd in her previous appearance back in 2001. We'd be surprised if she didn't podium on Sunday.

- Christina Roberts - Christina's emergence has been fun to watch. BOUS Executive Director, Trudy Marshall, foresees a Team Minnesota slot for her.

- Stephanie Solfelt - Her 2nd place finish here in 2012 is arguably her best performance to date. We don't believe she's raced yet in 2013.

- Catherine Lee - Returning to action after maternity leave, Cathy, who was nominated for Minnesota Triathlete of the Year in 2010, has a win and a 2nd in two starts this season.

- Liv Williamsen - A Top 5 finisher here in 2012, Liv, pronounced "Leave," is coming off a podium effort at Lake Minnetonka.

Other women to watch include Ann Snuggerud, Sarah Mercer, Julia Weisbecker, Veronica Bond, Greta and Paige Danielson and Christel Kippenhan.

Additionally, several of the AG battles will be intense. We're especially interested in the 55-59W division, which is one of the deepest AGs in the race and features Beth Guck, Carol Markham-Cousins, Helen Gunther, Peg Sorenson and a several others.

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