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Another Great Morning is Spicer...

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GREEN LAKE TRIATHLON - Minnesota is blessed to have so many great small town triathlons. Rural beauty. Rural charm. Laid back vibe.

Two such events happened last weekend. Saturday's Northwoods Triathlon was terrific. And so was Sunday's Green Lake Triathlon. Interestingly, both races celebrated their 18th anniversaries, meaning that 2003 was a a great year for upstart races in our state.

Northwoods had 215 finishers this year, Green Lake had 213, most of whom did the Sprint race, which was predictably dominated by a  pair of foreign (ND and IL) athletes that love to race on Minnesota soil. Fargo's AJ MANNING, fresh off qualifying for Worlds at both Sprint and Olympic distance, had popped a 56:38 here in 2020, which would have been a course record had the swim been full advertised length. This year he again led from start to finish over the .25 - 14 - 2.85 course, crossing is a blistering 54:32, which actually lowered the record by 3:14.

He wasn't the the only man to crack the one-hour mark, something that had only been accomplished six times prior. The other guy, also a foreigner who crosses our western border somewhat regularly during tri season, was KEVIN MITCHELL of South Dakota. The 51-year-old banked impressive splits throughout en  route to a 59:06, which obliterated the previous best by a 50-plus male here by 4:25.

Maple Grove's JOSH DOEBBERT rounded out the Top 3 with his 1:03:42.

North Aurora, Illinois' KARAH OSTERBERG, who is a total HOOT!, has a family vacation cottage on Leech Lake, allowing her to pop down to Spricer and fit in a triathlon. In 2018, she won the Sprint in 1:09:07, the 3rd fastest women's time in race history. She bettered that when she returned in 2020, posting a 1:07:32 in a 2nd place effort (remember the swim was weather-shortened last year). This time she basically...

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Watch Out! Big Daddy's Comin'...

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18th Northwoods Triathlon - Only three times in the eighteen-year history of this race had more than one woman broken the magic 1:10 mark. It happened in 2003 and 2014. And it happened again last Saturday. Not only that, only one slim second separated the women who bettered that standard.

Certain Rookie of the Year nominee CAMI ECKHOFF (photo L) was coming off her first career victory at Big Lake Olympic the weekend before, thus she registered for Wave #1, the Elite Wave. Her goal was to break 1:10. Being first out of the water was reason for optimism.

Solid bike and run splites followed. When Cami was in sight of the finish line, it was clear that she would finish comfortably under the 70-minute mark. Her official time was 1:09:02.

It certainly appeared that she had collected her second consecutive win.

Three time Master of the Year CHERYL ZITUR, now 56, was the only woman who could threaten Eckhoff's W. But history was not on her side. No woman over-50 had ever broken 1:10 here. The closest any fifty-genarian  had come was ROBIN TEDLUND's 1:12:26, and that was back in 2008....

 

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July 2021 Athletes of the Month...

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JULY 2021 ATHLETES OF THE MONTH - July was a strange month. There were only five races and few athletes raced more than once. Because AOM considerees must have turned in at least two outstanding performances during the month in question, filling out the usual categories was impossible. So, the Committee decided to include the August 1 races--Brewhouse and Gear West Half & Olympic--on the July calendar. This solved their problem.

Here are the JULY 2021 ATHLETES OF THE MONTH:

Male Performanceof the Month - TED TREISE's win at Heart of the Lakes. His 1:29:12 was the fastest time since 2009, and his margin of victory over the deepest field of the season thus far was 2:25. (Photo L)

Female Performance of the Month - RACHEL ZILINSKAS' resounding victory at Ironman Lake Placid, where  she proved once again that she is our country's premier female amateur long distance racer. Her time of 9:52:33 was beaten by only six pros, and her margin of victory in the amateur race was a ridiculous 44:54!. ...

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A North Country Gem...

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18th NORTHWOODS TRIATHLON - A north country gem, this year's race will field almost 300 participants, most of whom are chronic recidivists. Our fingers are crossed that the air quality will have improved by August 14. (It should be!)

So, let's make some predictions. 

BROOKS GROSSINGER has this race dialed in. Fifteen starts, 15 wins. Moreover, he is the only male athlete who consistently breaks the 1-hour mark on this scenic .25 - 14 - 5K course. (He missed the mark by just six seconds last year, but splits suggested that the swim course was a bit long.)

Six-time Northwoods runner-up DAVID LEWIS, a Nevis resident who's wife, NANCY, is the event's terrific Race Director, should record his seventh silver next Saturday....

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We Needed the Rain...

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GRANITEMAN BIG LAKE - Minnesota needs rain. Lots of it. If only it had waited until after last Sunday's Big Lake Triathlons, right?

But most triathletes are hardy people. The 274 who went the distance last weekend certainly were.

Lots of cool things happened at this 11-year-old event. Rookie triathlete CAMI ECKHOFF posted her first win, doing so rather handily in the Olympic race. KATIE ODEN (photo)coming off wrist surgery (rollerblade accident) and admittedly undertrained, scored a win in the Sprint race. Cool, huh!

Then there was this new guy. His name is PRESTON YOUNGDAHL. Like Cami, he posted a convincing win, which allowed him to share the Top Step of the Olympic podium. Well, it turns out that he has raced in Minnesota before, albeit back in 2011, when he placed 10th at Lake Minnetonka. He's originally from Deephaven, went to HS at MInnetonka but left the state shortly thereafter. Until recently, he's been living in Boutte, Louisiana, which he is likely to pronounce "Booty Loo-zee-anna." ...

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