Race Previews

To the Land of Endurance...

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By Brian Storhaug

Top professional and age-group triathletes from around the world will test their mettle while traversing the red rock canyons in St. George, Utah, at the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. The challenging course with breathtaking views of American Southwest scenery is an athlete-favorite that attracts the best in the sport. This marks the first time the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship will be held in St. George.

On September 18th, two local Triathletes are making the trek to St George Utah- nicknamed The Land Of Endurance. Tom Emmerich (photo L) and Brian Warzecha (photo below) became qualifiers to compete in the Half Ironman Stage of the World Championships at their most recent race in Des Moines Iowa. The top five to ten percent in each age group are eligible to make the trip. For those who don’t know- a half ironman entails a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, followed by a half marathon- a 13.1 mile run. Only the best of the best qualify for a chance to represent their country. 

Brian Warzecha- had been a 3 sport athlete in high school- including football, basketball and was an avid golfer, as well. Growing up, and through his post-high school years, he enjoyed the sport of running to stay in shape. As a medical nurse, working in the city of Rochester, he met his soon-to-be wife, who unbeknownst to him, was (and still is) quite the endurance athlete herself. His second date was actually the longest run of his life (5 miles). Trying to impress her, he kept up with the training volume and eventually worked himself up to competing in his first marathon.

If you know Brian, it would not come as a surprise that his first road race was the Twin Cities Marathon. He kept training after his first race with more of a focus on the half marathon distance. He achieved his goal of one hour and thirty minutes (~6:50 min/mile pace) and then slowly made his transition back to marathon distance once his kids...

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Hopkins Prognostications...

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HOPKINS ROYAL TRIATHLON PREVIEW - Typically, when we preview a race our primary goal is to stimulate additional registrations. But there are a select events that fill early, thus don't need a boost from us. Northwoods, Lake Minnetonka and Hopkins Royal are three such races. We've previewed the first two already. Today we are previewing the 7th edition of Hopkins Royal, a two-time Race of the Year recipient, and perennial nominee for that honor.

MTN likes to make predictions, so here are some about Saturday's HRT.

The following six athletes (out of the 470+ enrollees!) are our picks to claim podium spots. Let's start with the women. In alpha  order, we believe that these talented ladies with make the Top 3:

CATHERINE LEE, 47, Minneapolis (photo) - She loves this race and has podiumed here on five occasions, including a course-record win in the Super Sprint. She is racing well this year, as her 2nd at Buffalo Sprint and 4th at Door County Sprint attests. Unfortunately, she was derailed by a bee sting in her mouth (OUCH!) at 4WOMEN, which allowed her co-leader at the time, Bette Rowley, to charge on to a convincing win. She'll try to correct that next Saturday....

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Don't Miss Your Chance to be a Part of It...

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LAKES COUNTRY PREVIEW - Next Sunday's Lakes Country Triathlon in Baxter, which will celebrate its 21st anniversary, has the distinction of being the only multisport race of the weekend. We encourage everyone who isn't already signed-up to register.

As of last week, the enrollment basically matched that of 2019. Race organizers are therfore optimistic, expecting 200-plus participants this year...

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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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2021 G-Man Big Lake Preview...

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11th GRANITEMAN-BIG LAKE SPRINT & 6th BIG LAKE OLYMPIC - DAVID THOMPSON, the legendary "DKT," is racing at Big Lake. What that means is that whitchever event he chooses--Olympic or Sprint--we should expect a new course record. We assume that he is leaning toward the Olympic, the CR for which is DAVID HOLDEN's 2:00:52, set in 2016. If true, Big Lake '21 should see it's first sub-2-hour performance. 

And just as we assume DKT will do the Olympic, we suspect that KEVIN O'CONNOR will do the Sprint. This is because he did the Sprint at the Clearwater Graniteman. So in the interest  of continuity, we are picking KO to pick up his second G-Man victory of the season, unless ANDY ZABEL decides to race the shorter event. If Andy goes long, we predict a silver medal performance.

Now, to make these predictions happen, we need to assume that elite athletes like 2020 winner JOSH MORK, and DAVID KOPPEL, who has established himself as the Minnesota man-to-beat in 2021, do not enroll. FYI, we received the list of entrants on July 29, thus there is plenty of time for credentialed athletes to sign-up between then and race morning.

We also predict a podium effort from PETER WIKMAN, who is enjoying a breakout season.

Who will win the women's Olympic and Sprint? Whoever it is, we believe her name was  not on the roster we saw. Last year's Sprint winner JENNA HORNER is at Nationals, as is EMILY GAGE, who has multiple podium finishes here. So, a LUNDQUIST sister-or-two could show up? Or maybe MACY IYER? Or CARYN HERRICK, who's boyfriend (Wikman - They are such a cute couple!) could decide to race. If she does, she would move immediately into the favorite's spot....

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Minnesotans Head For Milwaukee...

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2021 AGE GROUP NATIONALS - Next wekend will mark the fourth time that Milwaukee will host the AG National Championships, and there's a very good reason for the return to The Cream City (Yes, that is Milwaukee's nickname!). Not all host cities have produced awesome Nationals, like say, Columbia, Maryland did in the mid and late 90s. And no host has been awesomer than Milwaukee. Local organizers have truly set a high bar.

We also recall the earlier Milwaukee races because our own tri-superstar HEATHER LENDWAY, won the women's title there TWICE! Great memories, indeed....

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