Race Coverage

Kris & Christina Throw Down...

mg-transition.gifLIFE TIME TRI - MAPLE GROVE - A huge field (1500+) and ideal racing conditions (cloudy with mild temps) contributed to exciting racing on Saturday at spectacular Weaver Lake Park in Maple Grove.

The fast times, though, were more a result of heavy-duty pulling and pushing on the race course than field size and cooperative weather.

The men's Olympic was highlighted by Kevin O'Connor pulling eventual winner Kris Spoth to a personal best victory, one which earned him (Kris) his yet unclaimed three "Fun Size" Snicker's bars, provided by MTN. Climbing the seemingly Alpsian hill that took the athletes on their second 5K lap of the run course, it was clear that...

Spoth would soon overtake O'Connor, a fellow Iowa State Cylcone, albeit from different eras. KO's pace had been relentless and KS knew that he needed his best race ever if he hoped to win.

And that's what he did, thanks to his 34:28 run split. His final time was 1:57:59, which bettered his PB set at Nationals a few weeks back by 35 seconds.

O'Connor, 43, and admittedly a bit tired and sore from his 4th place / 2nd amateur / 1st Master effort at Pigman Half the week before, hung on for 2nd, finishing in 1:58:52, a time that was only five seconds off his Silver Medal pace at Nationals.lindsey-and-hessam.gif

Spoth and O'Connor are the only men to have broken two hours at Maple Grove in its five-year history.

The men's Olympic podium was rounded out by Maple Grove Collegiate Division champ Robbie Greco (2:00:45 - PR), who looks a lot like actor James Franco's little brother, Dave, who played dextrous "Jack Wilder" in the movie "Now You See Me." Did you see it?

In the women's race, Christina Roberts was having the race of her life, one in which she pulled several of her pursuers to great times. Christina pushed hard the entire way and crossed the finish line in a personal best 2:11:25. Hoping to close a gap that would not shrink fast enough, Diane Hankee, who was in 5th place after the swim, 8:30 behind leader Gaby Bunten, who would ultimately finish in 3rd in 2:15:15, her second fastest Olympic effort ever, and was unable to improve her (Diane's) position during the bike, despite having the the best cycling split of the day, threw down the fastest women's run time (39:17). Systematically, she reeled in Lisa Lendway, who would nevertheless charge on to a 4th place finish in a PR -2:16:20 despite a couple of spills that resulted in some gruesome rashes, and eventual 3rd placer Bunten to claim the overall Silver Medal spot.

The women's race was a great example for athletes pushing and pulling each other to stellar efforts. Very cool, and exciting to behold.

Eight women, including 6th-placing 50-year-old Heidi Keller Miler (2:17:46) broke the 2:20 mark, which was one more than the total number of women who had done it in the past. To be fair and historically accurate, though, the bike segments during the first four runnings of the event had been 42K, not 40.

The Maple Grove Sprint was won in convincing fashion by pre-race faves Brian Sames (56:59 - margin - 3:55) and Cheryl Zitur (1:04:43 - margin 3:12). The 49-year-old Zitur appears destined to receive a Master of the Year nomination. Her win on Saturday was her 3rd of the 2014 season.

Filling ot the podiums were 2013 MGS winner David Phillips (1:00:54) and ex-rugby star Greg Dummer (1:01:01), whose arms are bigger than most guys' legs, and Jennifer Fitzharris-Funk (1:07:54), who has an adorable new puppy named Koa, and Laura Greer (1:07:55), who also cracked the Top 3 at Trinona Sprint. RESULTS

 Photo - Race Founder Lindsey Kurhajetz and Race Director Hessam Salim trying to out-grimace each other.

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