Race Coverage

Cami & AJ Throw Down at Younglife....

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YOUNGLIFE TRIATHLON COVERAGE - It's a great year for rookies in Minnesota. KARL NYGREN has huge potential, especially in long races. HENRY JESSEN,too, albeit in the shorter stuff. His performances at both Olympic and Sprint Nationals were that of a veteran Elite, not a newcomer.

And then  there's CAMI ECKHOFF (photo)She came into the season with two tri efforts under her belt, both at her hometown Younglife Sprint, which was not enough to constitute a season of racing, thus her eligibility for 2021 Rookie of the Year consideration.

In 2019, Cami posted a respectable 6th place at YL Sprint. Her time was 1:20:03. In 2020, she finished 5th in 1:13:29. Nice trajectory.

On Saturday, she won the race, posting her 2nd win of the season. Her time was 1:05:47. Not since TARA MAKINEN's performances here in 2009 and 2010, has a woman gone that fast in this race. Moreover, her margin of victory was 8:42, and her overall place was 3rd....

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"....They're Missing Out."

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By Doobie Kurus

Moose Lake Triathlon Race Report - As a race director, I have made a conscious effort to signup for other multisport events in MN, so that I can both learn from them and also to support them. Last year, I tried GraniteMan Big Lake and Clearwater, and YoungLife (Detroit Lakes) for the first time, as well as returning to Green Lake. This year, I tried the Apple Du (Sartell) as well as returning to Buffalo, TimberMan, HOLT, and Brewhouse. This past weekend, I decided to try the Moose Lake Tri for the first time ever. Like several of the triathlons in MN, many people have never heard of the Moose Lake Triathlon, but I think they're missing out. My wife, Joyce, and I stayed in Finlayson with some friends, although there is a campsite right next to the transition area.  

On Saturday morning, we drove to Moose Lake and made my way to the transition area. This tri is on the smaller side, with a field of less than 100, but drew people from all over the state. I even met a woman (Jane Hutzol) from Bismarck, ND who finished 2nd in the women's division, and had done about a 1/2 dozen triathlons...

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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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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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Nationals Name Dropping....

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USA TRIATHLON AGE GROUP NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS - Though marked by post-pandemic (mid-pandemic?) underrepresention, Minnesotans rocked at Nationals. Lots of Team USA berths were well-earned, and some of our state's athletes were truly competitive, either overall or in their respective age groups.

Minnesota's top performers are listed below. You'll note that three men cracked the 2-hour mark in the  Olympic competition, led by Minnesota's male Rookie of the Year frontrunner HENRY JESSON, who was also our fastest athlete in the Sprint. Two of our state's athletes--JENNA HORNER (20-24 Olympic Women) and TONY SCHILLER (60-64M Olympic and Sprint) were crowned Age Group National Champions.

OLYMPIC NATIONALS - Top 40 Men

20. HENRY JESSON - 1:58:25

21. DAVID KOPPEL - 1:58:29

32. TIM BONTRAGER - 1:59:23

40. KYLE SWENSON - 2:00:59 ...

- Age Group Medalist (Top 3)

2nd 15-19 - KYLE SWENSON - 2:00:59

2nd 35-39 - DAVID KOPPEL - 1:58:29

1st 60-64 - TONY SCHILLER - 2:08:15...

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