Race Coverage

Going to the Lake on Saturday....



HOPKINS ROYAL TRIATHLON - Like most kids, Mikey and Riles (photo) love to go to the lake on Saturday. Their dad, elite triathlete MATT PAYNE, does too.

Last Saturday, the Payne family went to Shady Oak Lake, as did about 350 of the 406 triathletes who had signed up for the Hopkins Royal Triathlon, and a few hundred others who came to volunteer or spectate.  It was a beautiful day, made moreso by the pageantry of the five-year-old event.

Though the event's main purpose is to celebrate healthy, active living, and to entice the previously uninitiated to give the tri lifestyle a chance, as opposed to promoting competition, the event is just too dang good to not draw a strong field. Especially this year.

A glance at the transition area before Doobie's entertaining and nerve-calming pre-race meeting revealed that cracking the men's and women's overall Top 10 would be quite an accomplishment, and that records, lots of them, would be rewritten.

We were especially impressed with the volume of top notch masters women in attendance, six of whom were destined to make the aforementioned Top 10, and at least three of which would be part of the Master of the Year discussion at the end of the season...


So, while Mikey and Riles (short for "Riley") played at lakeside, their dad and the other lycra-clad grown-ups played on a more expansive playground. And though things like dew points and breezes out of the south, and eventual 80+ degree temps, threatened to slow thing down a bit, the field at the front of the race and at the top end of the age groups wouldn't let that happen.

In the end, overall and masters records, as well as seven AG marks, came crashing down. But this is the Hopkins Royal Triathlon, where elite athletic stardom does not outshine the triumph celebrated by the those who cross their first triathlon finish line, or those whose approach to the experience is purely recreational.


Still, MTN points a spotlight at those who set the highest standards, doing so to remind our readers that Triathlons is a real sport, not just a hobby, and that there are a plethora of talented multisport athletes in our state, and that our races, like the HRT, are first class.

In other words, we have much to be proud of.

So, here are some of the competitive highlights from last Saturday's Hopkins Royal Triathlon:

- The men's race was won by Mkey and Riles' dad, MATT PAYNE, 41, whose time--1:02:18--crushed the overall men's record by 1:46, and the men's masters mark by 2:39. The win was the 53rd of Payne's career.  An amateur Turtle-ologist, Payne is our state's winningest amateur tri/du-athlete of the last decade. 

It needs to be noted here that a star in Minnesota's past has returned and clearly demonstrated at Hopkins that he is ready to reclaim that status. We're talking about SAMUEL HAUCK, who also slipped way under the previous men's course best. Dr. Sam's time was 1:02:56.

The men's podium was filled out by ANDY ZABEL, who threw down a very satisfying 1:04:14.

- The women's overall and  and masters record went down hard courtesy of BECKY YOUNGBERG, 43, who has won her last four races, all in record time. She clocked a 1:07:25 on Saturday, gouging  the women's CR and MR by 2:13. According to our records, Youngberg now has 42 career multisport wins. Her margin of victory over runner-up NICOLE HEININGER, a fourteen time triathlon winner who was celebrating her 30th birthday, was 2:42.

As we mentioned earlier, six of of the women's Top 10 were 40-plussers. Here's a breakdown: 1. Youngberg (CR/MR), 3. CATHERINE LEE, 44 (her 4th podium at HRT), 1:13:46, 4. ANDREA MYERS, 42, (two-time Master of the Year nominee), 1:14:02, 5. SARA RONDORF, 40, 1:14:23, 6. SARAH HUNTER, 44, 1:16:32, 10. TERESA VAN HYFTE, 52, Hartford, South Dakota - 1:20:13 (50-54W course record, breaking her 2017 mark by 13 seconds).

Others who set AG records were ARIANNA WERTS, 17 (Junior CR - 1:19:44, prior mark: 1:23:37), JEFF GREBNER, 52 (1:09:13 - prior 50-54M mark: 1:09:42), TIM BROWN, 60 (1:13:26 - prior 60-64M mark: 1:18:11 - Tim also owns the 55-59M record--1:12:23--which he set in 2017), MARY DEEG, 56 (1:21:20 - prior 55-59W mark: 1:23:48), and SUSAN DRAGSTEN, 71 (Susan's 1:49:12 lowered her own 70-74W record by 1 second).

Once again, kudos to Doobie, Kevin and their crew for putting on a "Race of the Year" nomination-worthy event.  RESULTS

Photo - Mary Deeg selfie-ing with hubby Jeff Gilmer and Lang Hunt, who like Mare and Jeff, is a HOOT!

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