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Part I - Limiting Exposure...

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By Jennifer Martone

Ironman World Championship Race Report – Kona, Hawaii 2022 - Finding “the spirit of Aloha within,” that’s what those of us competing on the world’s stage were asked to do as we navigated through the barren lava fields, along with the strong wind, heat and sun on October 6thand 8that this year’s World Championship Event. For so many athletes, this race was a few years in the making. The last time Kona hosted Ironman was in October 2019, meaning that three years of qualifiers were split into two separate race days, with women racing Thursday, and [most of the] men on Saturday. Moving forward, Ironman plans to continue this 2-day event format, with more women receiving qualifying slots in 2022-23 to even out the gender numbers, a somewhat polarizing topic. 

Our trip to the Big Island began at MSP airport where I met Caryn Herrick and Peter Wikman at the gate prior to boarding (I actually met Peter’s very sweet mom first, and then introduced myself to the speedy MN royalty triathlete couple as we traded Godspeed sock friends), and they coincidentally ended up in the seat across from me on the first leg of the flight to Honolulu. They are the cutest and friendliest couple. Peter’s AG was assigned to the Thursday race, along with some of the older male AGs to even out the numbers this year. David Swanson, another veteran triathlete, who I first met back at IMFL in 2012 was also on our flight. Always easy to pick out the Ironman athletes with their ripped calves, backpacks, and caps.

My husband Brent, son Sam, and I booked a condo in Waikoloa, about 35 minutes north of all the action. This was somewhat intentional, as I thought it might be too overwhelming to be right at game central. Looking around at athletes from all over the world with zero percent body fat, incredibly buff bodies, and $15,000 bikes can be intimidating. I took the advice from Matt Dixon’s Purple Patch Podcast to limit my exposure and think of this event as a “long training day at the end of a vacation”. A good way to remain calm, and not overdo it in the days leading up to race morning. His advice proved to be spot-on. Brent, Sam, and I took a little day trip to the lush Hilo side of the island on day 2, splashed around in the beautiful ocean on day 3, and took...

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Luke, Daniel, Craig, Thomas & Jeffrey...

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Today, Matt and Damon are looking at the 2022 resumes of our state's Grand Masters, i.e. men age 60-and-up, women age 55-and-up. They are looking for AG wins and records, understanding of course, that not all records are equal. A divisional record at older and typically more competitive races--Apple, Buffalo, Chisago, Maple Grove, for instance--are more "attention-grabbing" than at a small and/or younger race. Still, the smaller races sometime produce very fast AG times and Matt and Damon do not want to overlook or discount those efforts.

In needs to be mentioned that GM athletes are measured against some very high standards. World class age group athletes like TONY SCHILLER and JAN GUENTHER have garnered most of the GMOY titles recently, doing so on the heels of their talented predecessors --NEIL KING, GREG TAYLOR, BEN EWERS and PAM STEVENS

High standards, indeed.

Here, in alpha order, are some of the men that are currently in the GMOY nomination discussion: ...

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Jan, Beth, Christel, Pam, Amy & Cheryl...

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Who are the most nomination-worthy of Minnesota's female Grand Masters in 2022? Matt and Damon consider Jan, Beth, Christel, Pam, Amy and Cheryl to be the strongest candidates.

Here are their 2022 highlights:

JAN GUENTHER, 63, Long Lake - Winner of more MMHs than any other Minnesota triathlete, it came as no surprise that her 2022 regional resume was stellar. She set AG records at Timberman Olympic, where she placed 3rd overall in the women's race, and Buffalo, where she was the 7th woman to cross the finish line. She also placed 7th (AG win) at Lake Minnetonka, and she won her age group title at Ironman 70.3 Madison.

BETH HASSLER, 66, Andover / Eagle River, WI - Divisional wins at Timberman and Tri West, plus podiums at Olympic Nationals and Ironman 70.3 Madison are the kind of highlights that Matt and Damon are looking for.

CHRISTEL KIPPENHAN, 57, Bemidji - A prolific and successful racer, Christel posted AG records at Timberman Sprint, where she placed 3rd overall in the women's race, Buzz Ryan (4th woman overall) and Maple Grove Olympic (6th woman overall). Her 2nd at Northwoods and 6th at Buffalo Sprint were also fine performances....

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Josh, Brooks, Rod & Andy...

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Here are the Masters men (age 40-59) that Matt and Damon think are likely Master of the Year candidates, if offical nominations are actually announced this fall:

JOSH BLANKENHEIM, 42, Duluth - Blank won both of his Minnesota races --Timberman and Lakes Country--and finished in the bronze medal position in his AG at Olympic Nationals....

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Sara, Nicole, Kort, Catherine, Andrea & Elaine...

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In that there were only 34 adult outdoor tris and dus this season, Matt and Damon favor the "2 competitive performance" format instead of the usual three performance deal. This was especially helpful when trying to determine their nominees for female Master of the Year. Basing their recommendations on this adjusted format made this category much more competitive.

Here, in alpha order, are the women that, according to Matt and Damon, deserve to be considered for 2022 Female MOY nominations:

SARA CARLSON, 43, Brainerd

Sara raced twice (so far) in '22 and won both times. The races--Young LIfe Olympic and Lakes Country--did not feature deep fields, but Sara's times were strong and her margins of victory were wide.

NICOLE CUENO, 42,  Minneapolis (photo L)

Like Sara, Nicole raced twice (Turtleman Olympic and YWCA Women's Tri), winning convincingly in the first one, and placing 2nd behind Christina Roberts in the other. Not bad for someone who was returning to the sport of Triathlon after a six-year absence....

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