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20th GRANITEMAN SPRINT COVERAGE - Sometimes the difference between winning and losing comes down to how fast one gets in and out of transition. On Saturday, 2018 Most Improved (Female) winner EMILY GAGE (Photo), seemingly recovered from her 70.3 effort the week before, recorded what might have been the finest performance of her tri career, winning Graniteman Sprint  in 1:14:28, one of the event's Top 5 fastest times ever. Still, it almost didn't happen. Two-time champ CHERYL ZITUR, owner of two of the Clearwater times that are faster than Gage's, had launched in a later wave and was the only one who could rob Emily of the win.

Cheryl's run split would be faster than Gage's, and enough to close other gaps along the way. However, Emily spent less thime in T2 than Cheryl did, 24-seconds less. When Zitur crossed the finish line, the 1-2 outcome needed Uncle Randy's computer to uncover. Emily, as we know did win, but the margin was only 20-seconds.Could Cheryl have shaved 21-seconds off the 1:25 she spent in T2? It's fun to think about. 

In any case, both women raced hard and well and both deserve genuine congratulations.

Emily (5th) and Cheryl (6th)  cracked the gender-nonspecific overall Top 10, as did 2021 winner BETTE ROWLEY, who placed 8th in 1:15:18....

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Gage-ing Success...

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Photo - Emily Gage en route to winning at Graniteman Clearwater. We were unable to find photos from yesterday's Big Lake race.

GRANITEMAN BIG LAKE SPRINT COVERAGE - After three years of rainy conditions, mild weather greeted the nearly 300 paricipants who made their way to Big Lake yesterday. In 2022, teen triathletes swept the men's sprint podium, and four of the Top 5 spots in the women's competition.

Yesterday, junior boys went 1-2, both in times that were significantly faster than their 2022 performances. Collecting his first career tri win, SEAN PICKLE, 18, overtook fellow future star NOLAN SNYDER, 13, and lapsed pro JOSE ROSALEZ YEPEZ on the bike, creating a margin that couldn't be closed. Sean cruised to the finish line in 1:08:43, which was 2:21 faster than his 2022 runner-up effort.

It was the 13-year-old Snyder who held onto second place, one spot better than his 2022 effort. His time was 1:11:19, which was 1:51 better than last's year's...

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Leanness and Meanness...

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Jason Larson Photo - Graniteman women's runner-up Bridget Tetmeyer.

 

GRANITEMAN OLYMPIC COVERAGE - PETER WIKMAN is looking lean and mean these days, and he's racing that way, too. The clear frontrunner for 2023 Most Improved (Male), Peter came into Saturday's Olympic-plus race as a Top Two pick alongside reemerging JOE ADRIAENS. Wikman had two 2nd-place performances under his belt this year, finishing behind established elites ERIC ENGEL (at Buffalo) and SEAN COOLEY (at Trinona). That Peter finished ahead of Adriaens at Buffalo made him the male to beat at Clearwater.

The men's race unfolded as expected, with Joe leading after the swim and Peter making up a chunk of the deficit on the bike. It was the run that determined the Gold/Silver outcome. Advantage: Wikman.

Peter was victorious here in 2021, his 2:11 a sweet result over a course with four miles of extra cycling. Last weekend he shaved  almost two minutes off that effort, his 2:09:58 the fourth fastest men's time ever at the Clearwater Graniteman venue.

Adriaen's lock on 2nd place was not as secure as it may have original seemed. North Dakota transplant BRANDON LEE, 41, made up a ton of lost time after the swim by posting the fastest bike split, followed by a speedy run. In the end, only twelve seconds separated him from Adriaens. Lee's time--2:12:55--was a Clearwater Olympic Masters record...

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A Special Event...

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TIMBERMAN OLYMPIC COVERAGE - Approximately 320 triathletes signed up for this year's Timberman, 83 of which participated in its Olympic distance--1900 yds - 25 miles - 6 miles - race. Before PRESTON YOUNGDAHL enrolled on the eve of the event, what appeared to be a three-man battle for first between defending champ JOSH BLANKENHEIM, the Minnesotan who has Top 10ed in both the Sprint and Olympic races at Nationals for the last two years, HENRY JESSEN, and former college runner on the verge of breaking into the elite ranks MICAH WARNING became a three-man battle for 2nd. Since June of 2022, Youngdahl has been unbeatable on Minnesota soil, and that didn't change last Saturday. A quick swim and a brisk run bracketed the kind of bike split that left no doubt who would come out on top. Two-plus MPHs faster than his closest compeitors landed Preston in T2 with an insurmountable lead....

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Trinona Notables ...

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TRINONA OLYMPIC COVERAGE - The last time an amateur triathlete broke two hours on Trinona's legendary course was 2012, that is until last Sunday when SEAN COOLEY proved that he is returning to the form that earned him the Minnesota Triathlete of the Year honor in 2017 and consecutive nominations in 2018, and 2019, the year the pandemic urged him to step away. Well, Sean's back, and that is a great thing. His time last weekend was 1:58:30, which necessitated his signature monster bike split. He now has two wins in three starts this season, his career victory total is at least 23.

Sean was not the only athlete to kick Olympic ass in the Winona hinterlands. PETER WIKMAN, arguably, if not unquestionably, the current frontrunner for Minnesota Most Improved, placed 2nd, matching his placing at Buffalo the previous weekend. Moreover his time--2:00:15--was a personal best at the Olympic distance.

Perhaps the finest performance of the day however was turned in by women's winner CARYN HERRICK, who was too busy racing with the faster men to concern herself with the competition in her own gender. Her winning 2:12:37 was, like her husband's (Peter Wikman), her finest..

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