Race Previews

Excitement "Brewing" in Duluth...

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BREWHOUSE TRIATHLON - The 32nd edition of this annual classic will happen on Sunday at Island Lake, its home since 2013. All four of the 2017 winners--Olympic and Sprint--are returning. Will they all successfully defend their titles? Maybe, but it won't be easy. ...

 

Let's start with the Olympic race. JOSH BLANKENHEIM, who has taken over for BRIAN BICH, a 12-time Brewhouse champ, as Duluth's #1 male multisportsman, has won this race twice and owns the men's CR, a 1:58:09 set in 2016. He is coming off podium performances at Heart of the Lakes and Chisago Sprint. The question is: will muscle memory and current fitness be enough for him to post his 3rd consecutive win here on Sunday?

Maybe not. This is because WADE CRUSER is on the start list, and in his last two head-to-head confrontations--Waconia '18 and Buffalo '17-- with Blankenheim, he has come out on top. Still, we are not ready to call this race in Cruser's favor. We will say that the battle should be an epic one. We'd be surprised if the winner's margin of victory exceeded 30 seconds.

Who will round out the men's Olympic podium? Our pick is Thunder Bay's KRIS NISULA, who already has two fine efforts this year in MInnesota races: 3rd at Timberman and 4th at Liberty Olympic. 

ELAINE NELSON, winner here in 2017 and 2014 and owner of the women's course record (2:12:06 in 2014), comes into the race as the clear favorite. Nelson is coming off a record-setting effort at Buzz Ryan Sprint, which is also contested at Island Lake.

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2017 runner-up KAYLA KJELLMAN, of Thunder Bay, is returning, but we are reluctant to predict another 2nd for her. This is because BH newcomer ANDREA MYERS, who appears to be poised to claim yet another Minnesota Master of the Year nomination, is entered. Myers has three outright wins this year, as well as three other podiums. Moreover, she outperformed Kjellman at Timberman last month, finishing 2nd to Kayla's 3rd. 

We do think that Myers will take the silver medal spot, but Kjellman will giver her a good push, perhaps resulting in Andrea's setting a new Masters Record. 

We predict a PR for Kayla, weather permitting.

Last year's BH Sprint champs, MIKE WARD and LISA LENDWAY, are returning. Ward, and ultramarathoner, is a six-time winner here. We will not bet against him.

The CR is 59:41, co-held by Ward and NICK NYGAARD

Like Ward, Lendway hasn't raced in a multisport race yet this year. And Like Ward, it shouldn't matter. She is still the favorite. A win would be the 12th of her career.

Though favored, Lisa's W is far from being a done deal. She'll once again be facing BETTINA KEPPERS, who set the sprint CR (1:06:03) in 2016, and has two 2nd place efforts--Brewhouse Sprint and Buzz Ryan, both in PR times--on her 2018 scorecard. She's fit.

Lisa will also have to worry about 2017 Minnesota Junior of the Year TAYLOR LUNDQUIST, 18, who set a women's record at Timberman Sprint, wherein she overtook Keppers for the W. (Kepper's retaliated at Buzz Ryan, beating Lundquist, though Taylor did come away with a junior record.)

Any of these women can win on Sunday, and we're anxious to see how things shake out. And if any of them show weakness along the way, CHRISTEL KIPPENHAN and/or JENA OGSTON, a four-time BH Sprint winner, could pounce, claiming a spot in the Top 3.

The most competitive race on Sunday? We believe it will be among the ladies vying for top spots in the Sprint.  RACE WEBSITE

 

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