A Great Day in a Great Place...

nicole(FB Photo - 50-54W champ Susan Woods & women's surprise runner-up, Nicole Heininger, discussing footwear.)

Lake Waconia - The 24th Lake Waconia Triathlon was a true celebration. A celebration of a lifestyle and its physical, spiritual and social benefits. A celebration of youthfulness and movement. A celebration of friendships, old and new. A celebration of the belated arrival of the Minnesota summer, and at their best, there are no finer summers anywhere. A celebration of Midwestern life.

A celebration of Triathlon.

Last Sunday was a great day to be triathlete and there was no better place to be one than at big, beautiful, albeit slightly bumpy, Lake Waconia....

The LWT is one of our region's, if not our country's, most challenging "long sprints." At .5 - 20 - 4, it is closer to an "international" (distinguishable from "Olympic," which needs to fall within very precise distance parameters) experience than a true sprint. The bike route rolls and wind is always just part of the deal. The run is hilly and starts with the ascent of Mount Death, aka "Cemetery Hill."

Minnesota's winningest (84 Ws) triathlete, David Thompson, and Suzy Fox came into the competition as favorites and did not disappoint. Fatigued from his 3rd place finish at St.Louis (MO) 5150 the day before, DKT, who also won here in 2004 (different routes), was nevertheless able to post the 2nd fastest time--1:20:54--in the history of this course, which has been used since 2007.

marcusDavid wasn't as dominant up front as he would have been had he not raced on Saturday. Arriving at T2, his lead over eventual amateur champ, Matt Payne, was less than half a minute, which he (DKT) was able to extend slightly during the transition process. David's eventual margin of victory was 1:14.

For Payne, the victory avenged the gear placement penalty he was tagged with in 2012 that resulted in a drop from 1st to 3rd place. The win on Sunday over an august assemblage of national class guys also demonstrated clearly that, barring catastrophe, Matt Payne should be in the running for 2013 US Athlete of the Year.

Rounding out the men's podium was Marcus Stromberg, who outperformed his breakout effort here in 2012. Last year he finished 4th in 1:25:46. On Sunday his time was 1:23:20. FYI, in addition to being a tremendous triathlete, Marcus, as many know, is one of the most honorable guys in the history of honorable guys. Last year he turned down a sponsorship offer from "Condom Kingdom." We're not making this up! We googled "Condom Kingdom" and concluded that prominent placement of their logo on one's trisuit would be in poor taste.

But it would also be a HOOT!

Getting back to Suzy, she rocked a brilliant 1:34:23, thanks to a regnant (Word of the Day) bike split and the 2nd fastest run of the morning. Only former US AOY Cathy Yndestad has turned in a faster time (1:33:59) on this route, doing so in 2007.

Suzy's margin of victory was huge, 4:39 faster than the 2nd woman who crossed the finish line. That woman was Stephanie Solfelt, who managed to pass Julia Weisbecker approximately fifty yards from the final turn. Exciting battle! Steph assumed, as did everyone else, that she had claimed the runner-up spot for the second consecutive year. At the awards ceremony, though, we learned that a tri rookie named Nicole Heninger, who, thanks to the awesome Time Trial wave start system, was one of the last fifty athletes to go in the water. In the end, Nicole, who was racing in only her 5th multi, recorded a 1:38:22, which proved to be a 40 second improvement on Solfelt's time. Heininger's raced featured a monster bike split, her time and mphs second only to Fox's.

Nicole's three other performances in 2013 were a 21st at Great Clermont (FL), a 2nd at Cinco Du Mayo (Long Course) and a 6th at Liberty Half (4:57:13). To call her LWT performance a breakout would be an understatement, as would the claim that she is the current frontrunner for Minnesota Rookie of the Year. Every year a special female triathlete comes, as they say, out of the woodwork, which creates a mental image that we find totally confusing. In 2008, it was Kortney Haag. In '09, it was Suzy Fox. 2010 introduced Jenny Shaughnessy. In 2011 Claire Bootsma made her smiley presence felt. And the brightest new star in 2012 was Heather Lendway, who has now won half of the 10 races she has entered. It certainly looks like Nicole Heininger will keep this impressive legacy alive.

Windiness and an uncongenial lake were doubtlessly to blame for a paucity of AG records. Two did fall, however. Pammy Stevens, perhaps the fastest 60-64W in the US, posted a 1:52:44, which was almost eight minutes faster than the previous CR. And 81-year-old Lou Harris' 2:37:23 was a minute-and-a-half better than his own 2012 AG best.girls

MEN:

1. David Thompson - 1:20:27 - LTW Pro Record & DKT's 84th career win.

2. Matthew Payne - 1:22:08 - Amateur champ. 21st career victory. BOUS Invitation.

3. Marcus Stromberg - 1:23:20 - PR on this course - BOUS Invitation.

4. Mark Harms (WI) - 1:23:58 - Three-time Worlds Medalist. Three-time national AG champion. Four-time US AOY HM.

5. Kevin O'Connor - 1:25:06 - Top Master. Has cracked Top 5 here every year since 2009. BOUS Invitation.

6. Sean Cooley (ND) - 1:26:19. 7. Andy Wiberg - 1:27:37. 8. Ross Weinzierl - 1:28:04 (Rossy threw a great post race party! That's where we learned about Marcus' turning down a sponsorship offer from Condom Kingdom. Also, Harvey Skees was a HOOT! He claimed that if he were leading his AG off the bike, he'd have a 50/50 chance of placing 3rd in his division. Yogi Berra couldn't have said it better.) 9. Scott Myers - 1:29:40. 10. Bob Wolter - 1:29:59.

WOMEN:

1. Suzy Foxy - 1:34:23 - 14th career win. Her 30th B-day is next Friday. Have you gotten her anything yet? BOUS Invitation.

2. Nicole Heininger - 1:38:22 - Breakout performance by this tri-rookie. BOUS Invitation.gillian

3. Stephanie Solfelt - 1:39:02 - Impressive first multisport race of the year. BOUS Invitation.

4. Julia Weisbecker - 1:39:06 - Top Master. Great performance!

5. Lisa Johns (WI) - 1:39:19 - She's Mark Harms girlfriend. She's very nice.

6. Christina Roberts - 1:40:05. 7. Liv Williamsen - 1:40:35. 8. Andrea Myers - 1:40:44. 9. Sarah Mercer - 1:40:50. 10. Ann Snuggerud - 1:41:19. (NOTE: What an awesome showing by the 45-49 women! Julia Weisbecker, Sarah Mercer and Ann Snuggerud all cracked the Top 10 and Christel Kippenhan placed 14th.)

00-19 - Parker Roehl (pronounced "Rail") - 1:45:51 & Greta Danielson, 19 - 1:42:24

40-44 - Kevin O'Connor - 1:25:06 & Gillian (pronounced "Gill-ee-un," not "Jill-ee-un") Auslander - 1:41:57 (photo R)

45-49 - Greg Timmons - 1:38:38 & Julia Weisbecker - 1:39:06

50-54 - David Goldberg - 1:36:47 & Susan Woods - 1:56:19

55-59 - Tom Egger - 1:37:32 & Beth Guck - 1:54:19

60-64 - Bill Schmitt - 1:44:00 & Pam Stevens - 1:52:44 - CR

65-69 - Roman Scibora (pronounced "Sih-bor-ah," it's a German thing) - 2:08:50 & Peggy Buxton (MA) - 2:19:57 (Six-time AG winner here!)

70-74 - Hank Larsen - 2:02:09

80+ Lou Harris - 2:37:23 - CR

Great Photos provided by Nick Morales and Terrence Lee. Visit their Facebook pages to see more great pics from the 2013 LWT.

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