Race Coverage

Superior Stuff, Man...

boat-jumper.gifBy Warren Peece

SUPERIOR MAN III – Last season’s Superior Man won the “Race of the Year” award. Did this year’s event live up to that legacy?

It sure did. In our opinion, SM III was superior to SM II in almost every regard.

It helped that the weather was cooperative. Temps were 30+ degrees cooler than in 2013, and though it was windy and even rained intermittently, the participants didn’t complain. Most of them were too busy setting personal bests, albeit unofficial ones.

A significant portion of the field cheered when Race Co-Director Clint Agar announced that “a current thing” necessitated a .3 shortening of the swim course, though eventual runner-up Marcus Stromberg, who is totally anal when it comes to measuring training and racing distances, would insist later that the choppy yet fast (swimmers swam with the current much of the way) route was, according to his GPS, actually .37 short. Thus the total...

distance to be covered was 69.93 miles. Put differently, for most participants, their eventual times would be approximately five minutes faster than they would have been if the courses measured 70.3.

The race included a companion event this year, one they referred to as a “41.5,” but which, due to the shortened swim, was more precisely in the “41.2-ish” range. The distance breakdown was wonderfully bike-heavy: .3 swim, 34.5 bike, 5.6 mile run.sm-transition.gif

Like the 69.93, the 41.2 was as exciting as heck and highlighted by great competition, especially on the women’s side. In fact, half of the overall Top 10, starting with YWCA Women’s Triathlon director Nicole Cueno, who finished 3rd overall and is undefeated in three starts this season, were women.

Back to the Strombergian 69.93.

Leading the way and exuding supreme confidence and prepararedness was 2012 and 2013 champ Sean Cooley. It was obvious early on that nothing was going to keep him out of the Winner’s Circle. What was not as obvious was that he would go the equivalent of 17-minutes faster than his course record 4:24. He arrived at the finish line in 4:02:06! Adding the five minute differential gave him a 4:07 effort, which would be two+ minutes faster than his official PR, which he set at Chisago last month.

Interestingly, had Sean’s run split been as fast as the one he turned in at Chisago, he would have broken 4-hours, and his adjusted 70.3 time would have been under 4:05.

Stromberg, who was making his long course debut, flatted at mile 30 of the bike. Despite losing a few minutes during the repair, he nevertheless charged on to a 2nd place overall finish in 4:12:27, an amazing rookie effort. We assume that the time lost while flat–changing basically nullified the 69.93-70.3 time differential.girl-run.gif

Third place was claimed by Sean Cooley’s younger brother Jake, whose final time was only 10-seconds slower than Stromberg’s. Jakey got a late start this season, but has podiumed in his last three races, including a win at Paul Bunyan. JC was also 3rd here in 2012, though his time then was 4:34. His PR coming into SM was 4:24:00 (Chisago ’14).

Another guy who rocked the equivalent of  a serious PR was Duluth Tri winner Paul Rockwood, who placed 4th in 4:14:28 (Official PR – 4:23:34). Paul, 26, is from Superior, Wisconsin, has a cool chin beard and an 11-month old daughter who is totally cute. He forthrightly admits that he willingly changes her poopy diapers.

Another guy who rocked socks was JMatt Kiel, who placed 7th in 4:22:49. (His offical PR is 4:29.) JMatt, a drummer in a rock band who has a new girlfriend who is a doctor and is very nice, did his signature “Gliding Airplane” impression as he approached the finish line. The histrionics were very appropriate, considering that Kestral Aircraft was the event’s presenting sponsor.

Arguably, the men’s 69.93 performance of the day belonged to tri-rookie Nick Nygaard, who placed 5th in 4:19:26. An accomplished distance runner, Nick finished with a 1:16:01 run, which is borderline insane.

Unsurpisingly, Suzie Fox won the women’s 69.93. It was her 2nd career half win—she was victorious at Pigman Half in 2012—and the 22nd W of her multisport career than began in 2009. Her time on Sunday was 4:44:48.

Finishing 2nd after Fox was Sarah Berger, whose 4:49:42 was a breakout performance. Her official PR is 5:05:16 (Chisago 2010). Berger has perfect teeth and a handsome husband who dresses well.

The final podium spot for the women was earned by Alison Forney-Gorman, who thanks to the Time Trial start system, was actually the first woman to cross the finish line, which made her smile. A Minneapolis resident, we think that she is originally from Montana, or maybe western Canada. We also believe that her official PR is 5:04:51, set at the Oliver Half in British Columbia in 2008. Her time on Sunday was 4:58:35, the equivalent of a one-minute personal best.

jenny-and-dog.gifJenny Thacker enjoyed a successful long course debut at Superior Man. She finished 5th in 5:14:07 and was totally happy. A true dog lover, her German Shepherd, Allie, joined her on the awards podium (Facebook photo L). It was a sweet moment. Allie is very pretty, has tall pointy ears and has had all of her shots.

When Rod Raymond bailed after the bike portion of the 41.2 due to a torn calf-–have you seen Rod’s calves? The backs of his legs look like he’s smuggling coconuts!--that hurt like heck, David Phillips, who finished 2nd at Maple Grove Sprint the day before, had a clear path to victory. He finished in 2:14:24. The win was the fifth of his multisport career. He's originally from New Zealand and has a cool accent.

The 2nd place award, an awesome Epicurian cutting board shaped like Lake Superior, was claimed by Emmanuel Darne, who's into Metal Rock. According to his Facebook page, he’s a fan of Slayer, Metallica and Guns N’ Roses. Nice.

As we mentioned earlier, Nicole Cueno , a two-time Olympic Trials marathoner, won the women’s 41.2 (2:23:58) and placed 3rd overall. Here are the other fast women who cracked the overall Top 10:lift-bridge.gif

-       Jessica Rossing – 5th in 2:26:18

-       Leah Prudhomme-Griswold – 6th in 2:29:12

-       Michelle Breiland - 7th in 2:36:19

-       Veronica Bond – 8th in 2:38:02

The Superior Man races possess a vibe that is unique and wonderful. TriJuice.com’s Nick Morales shot some AMAZING photos that, we think, capture the specialocity of this event. (All but the Jenny Thacker photo herein are his.) Check them out: LINK

For complete results, link HERE.

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