Wade Disagrees Again...


ED. Last Friday we posted Wade Cruser's comments on male Performance of the Year. He disagreed with the MMA Committee's pick. He also disagrees with their women's POY selection. Here are his reasons.


By Wade Cruser


Who wants to take another trip with me? The women’s POY isn’t any easier. So, for this one don’t just buckle up. You’re gonna need a helmet, goggles, gloves, and one of those suits they wear when they're training dogs to take someone down. 

I’m going to break it down in the same order Trinews presented. 
Gaby‘s victory at Minneapolis
     This was my pick for EMMA bingo. Why? I’m not sure. Just sounded right that night.  So, what happened there? 
She finished 2:08:34, fastest female OLY time of 2017.  How does her time stack up against the best on the course?
1. 2:06:21 - Heather Lendway - 2014
2. 2:08:07 - Alissa Doehla - 2016
3. 2:08:34 Gaby Bunten - 2017
4. 2:09:31 Danielle Dingman- 2017
I’d say pretty good. Third best amateur time. Very impressive. ...
Also, at this race she beat Danielle Dingman.  If you don’t know who Danielle is, here is a bit to chew on.  She was an All American runner at Baylor, 2008 Olympic trials qualifier,  cycled professionally for a minute, and in 2017 started multisport and crushed every event she raced.  One of my favorite results of hers is from her last race of 2017, 70.3 Cozumel.  There she was the first amateur female, which placed sixth among the Pro female race.  The best part is that her bike split was faster than all of the Pro females by three minutes, faster than four of the Pro men, and faster than all but four of the AG men.  She has taken her Pro card for 2018.  
That is who Gaby held off to win Minneapolis and set the third fastest time in course history. 
That almost seems like a no brainer for POY, but let’s analyze it even further.  Gaby out swam Danielle by 8:37.   Which is exactly what I think should happen when you have a super strong swimmer like Gaby racing against a first year swimmer like Danielle.  Now, I think there are two other factors that helped Gaby hold Danielle off. First, Gaby has raced Minneapolis multiple times giving her an advantage in knowing the course. Second, I think that the bike course isn’t difficult enough for Danielle to use her weapon.  Mix in a couple one minute climbs and I think a different race unfolds. 
 Thst victory was super impressive and more than worthy of the POY nomination, but after digging into it I’m not quite sure that beating Danielle there was enough to earn the POY victory. Also, I think Gaby is going to own Minneapolis for as long as she’s racing and it’s only a matter of time until she has the course record. 
Gaby’s fifth overall at OLY Nationals 
   Fifth is very impressive, but who beat her? 
1.  Kirsten Sass,  if you don’t know who she is then you’ve been living on the moon.  I’m pretty sure that she has had to put an addition on her house  for all of the USAT awards she has claimed over her amateur career. 
2. Jacqueline Godbe, A month after nationals she went to the ITU World Championships and won her age group. At the 2016 OLY Nationals she took fourth overall and that same year my girlfriend and I stayed at the same Airbnb as her and her boyfriend.  Very nice folks. 
3. Danielle Dingman, see above. 
4. Adrienne Leblanc, she was third overall in 2016.
Those are some very fast ladies, and great company for Gaby to be in the conversation with. 
I am personally more impressed with this performance than with Minneapolis.  Everyone and their mother’s, father’s, third cousin’s uncle, knew that Gaby was going to smash the non wetsuit swim, and get a big juicy lead. What impressed me is that in order for her to crack the top five, she would need  a very solid bike/ run split on a course that the other top women would have an advantage on being stronger bike/ runners then Gaby.  
Let’s not forget the last little nugget. Gaby is only the third Minnesota female to crack the top 5 at nationals...... EVER! 
Christina Roberts victory at Superior Man
     She clocked a 4:37:04, fastest female 70.3 of 2017, and 3rd fastest In course history. 
4:25:06 - Nicole Walker- 2016 
4:36:24 - Kortney Haag - 2016
4:37:04 - Christina Roberts - 2017
With that time she also moved up to the number five spot on the list of ‘fastest Minnesota amateur female 70.3 times In the last three years’.  The only names ahead of her are Dani Fischer, Kortney Haag (x2), and Dani Vsetecka. 
Wow, impressive, and mix in the fact that she won by a silly margin of 27:33, I certainly understand how her performance got nominated.  
Dani Vsetecka victory at Madison 70.3
     The official POY winner. I find this one the most interesting.  What I know about this race, is that it was hot, windy, the bike course a had more turns than a maze and all the participates climbed enough hills to equal that of Mount Everest.  What’s my point, you ask? Well, with all of those factors I throw times out of the window.  If you want to finish the fastest in those conditions, you have to be willing to suffer the most.  That’s exactly what I think Dani did that day.  I think that’s why she beat the three former pros and only trailed the lead male by 16:26
So incredibly impressive. 
Now that I’ve gone through an analyzed those performance, here is what I think should have happened.  I think that Gaby’s performance at OLY Nationals should have won female POY.   This wasn’t an easy decision for me.  Dani’s performance at Madison was so impressive.  I just can’t get past Gaby being the third Minnesota women ever to place in the top 5 overall at Nationals.  It’s Cathy Yndestad, Heather Lendway, and Gaby Bunten.  I wish that my name could get mention in the same sentence as those two.  I just think that that accomplishment is too rare to over look.  
So that’s it, there it is, that’s all I’ve got.   
Seriously though, congratulations to all three of these ladies for outstanding seasons and such stellar performances.  Minnesota has so many talented ladies who kick so much ass. 
ED. Good stuff! MTN invites this kind of commentary. Let us know if you agree or disagree with the Committee's selections. We'll be happy to post your words. FYI - Wade has been invited to join the MMA Committee in 2018, where he would weigh in on the categories that don't include him as a potential nominee. We await his answer.


0 #16 1 2017-12-16 21:16
Thanks Jerry. So Gaby's race at AG Nats accomplished a feat which two women had previously done. And Dani's race at Wisconsin 70.3 accomplished a feat (Ironman 70.3 overall champ) which zero age group women, or men, had ever accomplished. Both historic achievements worthy of recognition no doubt and this was a great debate. One point of clarification, DKT never won an Ironman 70.3. He won the 5430 Sports LC Tri (a couple times I believe), which was eventually bought and became the Boulder 70.3, but those 5430 fields were weak and thin compared to the Boulder 70.3 fields (similar to Spirit of Racine vs Racine 70.3 fields).

ED. You're right. Thanks for the clarification. I still like DKT's 3:49 at 5430, which lowered a previous CR set by Craig Alexander.
0 #15 1 2017-12-15 23:36
[quote name="Wade Cruser"]Lastly, if we could do a Mount Rushmore of MN female triathletes. Heather Lendway and Cathy Yndestad would be no brainers. That is why when Gaby accomplished somtheing that only those two athletes have done she moved to number one over Dani in my mind. Not because it was at a national event. Ironically, I feel this quote from Wade may actually further the case for why Dani deserved POY for her Madison 70.3 overall victory.Gaby accomplished something which two others have accomplished. But can someone tell me how many age group women (or men for that matter) have won an Ironman 70.3 overall? Jerry? I know HL, KY, RBM were all capable, but can't recall if any actually did it as age groupers. RBM won Kansas 70.3 as a pro of course, but I know we all like to pretend our MN pros don't exist with these awards (otherwise RBM Monterrey 70.3 result would be the unanimous POY).

ED. DKT won Boulder 70.3 in a CR 3:49 several years ago. Yes, he was a pro. Dani Fischer was eligible for MMA recognition in 2014 when she won the USAT Long Distance National Champs in Grand Rapids, MI. Her time was 4:23. Kortney and Dani are talented enough to win any 70.3 they enter. Also, looking at Gaby's 7th at the swim-cancelled Racine 70.3 race last year suggests that she might have won the amateur title without the cancellation. Also, not all official IM 70.3 races have competitive fields. Some Chisago fields have been more talented than say, Racine, Syracuse, Raleigh, Muncie etc.
0 #14 Brad Mitchell 2017-12-15 16:16
So i'm really not trying to make this a record setting MTN thread, but summing up.. Yes, do local races and support the local race directors who are keeping the sport alive in Minnesota. BUT, if you are one of the elite few, who want to contend for the top Team MN spots, please get out of your comfort zone and race big races. Seek out the best competition and become the hunter.
0 #13 Brad Mitchell 2017-12-15 16:10
..... Sure, we know the sprint has a short bike at Trinona, but at least it's the same every year - if someone breaks the course record, it will be relevant and I would consider it for awards and rankings. Some races are just dodgy, in that respect. Maybe I'm just a stuffy old purist, but I like my sprints to be sprints and olympics to be olympics and I like rules being enforced. So I cough-up the $50 annual USAT fee and always try to sign up for quality, USAT sanctioned races, even if it means a few more bucks.
0 #12 Brad Mitchell 2017-12-15 16:09
Hey Wade, re. comment#8 When looking at the local race CR's and history in relation to winning times, it's always with a grain of salt. Eg Rochesterfest (finished, very disappointing, but I saw it coming long ago) A lot of the times, race directors are forced to change courses due to road construction etc. but some races seem to change things often. The Rochester course had 3 significant changes in 6 years. So, if racer A beats the course record in 2014, what relevance does racer B's time in 2017 have and how do we use it for rankings? This is a major ingredient in how I now choose races. I want to compare times on the same course. Trinona, nationals, Apple, Minneapolis (usually!) and some other local races do a good job of keeping consistent distances/cours es every year......
0 #11 Brad Mitchell 2017-12-15 15:53
pt 2.But, there are some local races where distances fluctuate annually, course marking and timing is not the best etc - so avoiding them is just my personal preference. I train 51 weeks a year and don't race often so I'll pay a little more for a quality event, where there is more chance of competing against people much faster than me. Regardless of ability or ranking, I always encourage everyone to experience Nationals, at least once (anyone can do the sprint) - it's a different race experience and consistently high quality. Not just for top 10 people. One year you might get top 40 in your age group, next year you have a goal to make top 30. Before know it, your goal is top 18 AG and a Team USA spot. You can see how difficult it is to crack the top ten (overall or AG!), at that level and environment - you may never get there, but you will definitely get faster and have fun trying. It's always very cool to see the other MN athletes at Nationals.
0 #10 Brad Mitchell 2017-12-15 15:51
Hey Wade and anonymous poster. Just to clear-up the Rinkydink labeling, I don't, of course consider all local races in this category (I still consider Trinona a small local race - it is 100% top class, because they do it right, consistent distance, well marked course, USAT sanctioning, great volunteers, food, prizes and they are making a real effort to attract elite and pro athletes. I will sign up for these races so I can watch these people race.
0 #9 Wade Cruser 2017-12-15 11:29
Lastly, if we could do a Mount Rushmore of MN female triathletes. Heather Lendway and Cathy Yndestad would be no brainers. That is why when Gaby accomplished somtheing that only those two athletes have done she moved to number one over Dani in my mind. Not because it was at a national event.
0 #8 Wade Cruser 2017-12-15 11:28
The way I look at a result in a local race is where does it stack up against the top results in the history of the race. If an athlete wins by 10 minutes, but is still 5 minutes under the CR, I feel like that has to be considered. The gap between 1 and 2 matters to me when they are both on “Team Minnesota”. In that situation you also have to consider if number 2’s race was flawless, which would make 1’s 10 minute gap more impressive. There are too many things that can go wrong in a race that could assist in opening up a large gap. There is never gonna be a clear cut way to judge a performance. Everyone in Minnesota would have to race every race against each other to make it that easy. You have to consider every scenario, and look at every angle. Regardless, someone will still disagree.
+1 #7 Wade Cruser 2017-12-15 11:26
Can we not refer to local races as “rinky-dink”? I think that really down plays what a race director is doing to give a bunch of type A’s a course to race on. Now I do agree with Brad for the most part. I think a nationals level event should carry a bit more weight because it is more difficult to succeed there. I do think that results outside of the top 10 should not be looked at. Once an athlete finishes in the top 10 I think it’s worth taking a look at who beat them and who they beat. I think this should apply to any larger event outside of MN. That is why Gaby’s nationals and Dani V’s Madison were 1a and 1b in my mind.

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