Race Coverage

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



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...


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....



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.


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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"I LOVED the venue & the Course"...



By Jake Keehan


GEAR WEST HALF RACE REPORT - Hey MTN, you had mentioned that you wanted to get my GPS splits before I left: Swim, I'd trust the official results. GPS watches can be off with OWS pretty frequently but mine had me at 1:30/100 and 1,760 yds for a 26:29. The 1:22 from the results sounds more like what I was expecting, but I caught myself pulling to the left every time I was breathing right and came off line/went wide more than a few times, so who knows?

Bike course was long, 58.5 miles and I trust the GPS data on that. I believe the official results calculated the pace based on 56 miles, but I had 23.5 MPH for a 2:29:14. 23.5 MPH for 56 miles comes out to 2:22:48 (6:26 faster).

GPS had my run just a tad short, 12.93 miles and 6:20 pace for a 1:22:00 but I'd think the course was accurate and 6:16 pace sounds better. If my math is right the 6:26 from the bike off the total time of 4:20:58 would put me at 4:14:32 for 70.3 (spot on what was predicted in the event preview!). ...

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"A Triathlon Broke Out!"


BREWHOUSE XXXIV COVERAGE - It was a beautiful morning for a wedding. Held on the bluff overlooking majestic Island Lake north of Duluth last Sunday, the lovely SHELLY BEATY PEARSON and the comparatively discheveled (meant with total affectionate!) MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY EVANS, exchanged vows after a 35-year engagement. The ceremony was witnessed by approximately 300 guests, and officiated by a Holy Man / restauranteur named RODNEY SADHU RAYMOND, who had printed his online "Marriager Certificate"earlier in the day....

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So Good to be Back!



GEAR WEST HALF & OLYMPIC COVERAGE - For almost two decades Final Stretch produced numerous great multisport events. Unquestionably, the greatest of these was the Liberty Triathlon at Lake Rebecca Park Reserve. When MARK BONGERS, Final Stretch's owner and ebullient teddy bear of a guy, chose a new career path in 2018, Minnesota's tri community was truly saddened.

There was something about Liberty that was too good to die. Almost immediately it was understood that it would return someday. Several groups considered resurrecting the event. Then two years ago, JAN GUENTHER, owner of Gear West Bike and Triathlon who also happens to be our state's most decorated multisportswoman, and extroverted California exile JOHNNY SURPRISE (photo), committed themselves to making it happen. For them, it was time to stop talking, and start doing.

And they did, with all their heart and soul (and some awesome sponsors!). Last Sunday, triathlon returned to Lake Rebecca and the mood was joyous. The day was beautiful, sunny, no decernable smoke, and  temps were agreeable for most of the event's duration....

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