Dear Santa...



By Brad Mitchell



Dear Santa,


I am on the MMA selection committee and I really want my job to be easier, next season when selecting the top 10 female and male athletes. Please bring me these things this Christmas (as well as that damn wetsuit you keep promising will make me swim faster)


I give credit to athletes who sign up for tough, competitive races.  I DGAS about a 10 win season, where it's all local races and the team Minnesota athlete signs up late after the MNTRINEWS update about how, "we are still waiting to see if any of our state's top athletes will sign up" 


Here is when I know you are serious about trying to nab the top spots ...


  • When, in off-season, an elite athlete posts on their FB that they have signed up for a historically competitive race, or they are named in the race preview. They are saying, here I am - come try to beat me.
  • When top athletes consistently show up to massive races, where they are not favorite to win. Eg. Wade knew that badass's like Patrick, Kris, Daniel and Sean were going to be at Apple. On paper, before the race, I would have had Wade in 3rd pace. He didn't give a crap, he backed himself and he wasn't afraid to lose. Gaby at Nationals - up against Kirsten Sass and other top national athletes.  This was searching out the best, to get the best measure.  
  • Here's the thing. We all know what races have more potential for quality fields. Sign up for these races now and avoid the obvious outcome races. I, personally, want to try to beat people who on paper, are faster than me and I'd like to see our elite athletes do the same (some already do, consistently). I want to be on the course with and have my ass brutally kicked by our state's elite athletes. Regardless of  time or placing, it encourages improvement and growth. So don't try to tell me that you thought that there would be a 5-deep elite field at most of our local races. It's just not happening. Many of these races are great for many people,  but if you are one of our Team MN athletes and your goal is to make #1or move up the rankings, stay at home and do a hard brick session and sign up for tougher races. 
Santa's list.

Better decision making this offseason, for our top women, when it comes to race scheduling. 

Please convince Christina Roberts to seek out bigger, more competitive races.  She is, absolutely, legit #1 material, but I could not place her ahead of Gaby this year, due to her Race-cation schedule. Damn, it was close. Superior man was a massive effort, but, please send her a lot of IMOO junk mail, so she signs up for that race (I'm guessing that if you can live forever and make reindeer fly, hacking email won't be a problem) . I respectfully disagree with a fellow panel member, who believes that Christina "consistently faced top competition".  I believe that she mostly faced competition that we all knew that she would beat.  She is better than them, right now. A couple of veterans mentioned were either struggling with injury or pursuing cycling seasons. The rest of the competition were next tier down or up and coming rookies. She raced well, a lot, but the outcomes were predictableand I want to see head-to-heads with Dani V, Gaby, Kortney and Hanna. Apple was the most competitive race, in my mind. Please also flood her inbox with Minneapolis, Trinona (I'd love to see her crush that course - I think she could beat Gaby there and put up a great time) USAT Nationals and IM races. 
2.  Please convince Hanna to race. Period. We did not see enough of her this year and that would have made a huge difference in the rankings. We need at least 3 great triathlon performances. Maybe plan 5 competitive races. If 2 go to crap/get flats/go off course, you still have 3 potentially great races. 
3.  Please keep Dani healthy (decline her credit card when she attempts to sign up for Grandma's or any other pre-season marathon) Dani was my sure-fire pick for the #1 spot after Wisconsin 70.3 and it was heartbreaking when she was beset by running injuries, again. She wasn't right for most of the rest of the season, including world's, where I think she could have had a huge result.  One thing I love about Dani is how she seeks out the best competition. She also declares her races early.  Oh, and like Hanna, race more. As amazing as Dani has been, I truly believe the best is yet to come.
4. Please convince Lisa that cycling is just a cool part of triathlon and that we need to see her racing tris, more. 
5. Please bring back ...2014, 2015, 2016 Suzie . She can push everyone, in 2018.
6,7,8. A proper championship series. 1 sprint race, 1 olympic race, 1 70.3 race. Our elite athletes (the rest of us would like to give it a crack, too) go head-to-head to prove who is the fastest and most versatile triathlete in the state. Same points for all three. A fast sprint is better than a slow 70.3, any day. Obviously not compulsory, but showing up to these races would be weighted heavily (by me, at least) and give real clarity to the section process.
  9. Someone to step up and provide  prize money to try to encourage our top athletes to race each other, in this series. Pro and amateur prize pool. 
10. Kevin O'Connor and Matt Payne. I'd like to see Matt roll out and destroy all the 20's and 30's guys (because, we know he can still do that for the next few years).  I'd like Kevin to take it easy on the training and not take his season too seriously. Just settle for finishing races this year, Kevin. I aged up for the 2018 season. I avoided Matt in my AG  but now race with Kevin, again,  for the next 4 years. Like getting picked up off the floor, then repeatedly kicked in the nuts.
Cheers Santa, thats all.







0 #15 Stephen Daugherty Bu 2017-12-19 19:33
One note to consider, trying to assess if a fast time was really a great effort or a fast day is much more difficult than assessing head to head efforts. If you have done triathlon as long as I have you know that temperature, humidity, wind, true swim distance, course changes, transition area changes all effect your time in any given year positively or negatively. Head to Head is where its at. Brad's point is well taken and I understand people have many other reasons for picking races (I do also) I think its good to know the rationale for awards and triathletes can make their own choices about where and when they race.
0 #14 1 2017-12-19 18:22
Great discussion here everyone. I think a "state championship" designated race would be a great addition to the MN tri calendar. A 3-race series, I don't feel is practical, because ultimately everyone is amateur and we have youth soccer games to get to. But I do think you could get most of the big dogs together for a single race. In fact, you already do. Apple Du and Buffalo, with their very modest prize purses, brought the best fields and races in state. I would say just go ahead and designate Buffalo the state championship, problem is it's the first race of the year. Therefore just find an already existing race in July, Aug, or Sept, add a modest purse, and voila, head to head battles just like you want. Rather than place the onus on the athletes to race one another, because we want them to, let's give them incentive to do so. If Jerry can organize an entire Best of the US series, a single MN championship ought to be easy.
+2 #13 Grinch 2017-12-19 13:08
Brad, a three race series would be great, until it doesn't work with the life schedules of some of the best racers. Are they then out of the running for accolades simply because their kids (remember, this is a hobby for everyone...) have a soccer tournament that weekend? Bottom line, we all do this for fun. The awards should be the cherry on top of the sundae that is a fun season. I don't think an athlete that knocks out a stupid fast time at Green Lake Tri should be overlooked because someone else beat the correct people at Lifetime Mpls in a decent time. I think we both want to see well run and well attended races. I think there is something fun about the unknown of when a great race will happen. Check the Superior Man Tri results for the women from 2016 and 2017. Both years there were about 50 ladies racing. 2016, 9 went sub 5 hours. Sign up for 2017 should be a great race for ladies right? Still 50 women, but only 1 went sub 5 this time. You never know who will show.
+4 #12 Lisa Lendway 2017-12-19 12:37
I echo similar sentiments as Kortney. I was honored to be on team MN the two years I made it. Those two years I worked my butt off. It worked for me and my family. But truthfully even those years I didn’t pick races by who else was going to be there. I picked them because they were ones I knew I liked or I wanted to give a new one a try (tri? Haha). Once I knew I didn’t like a race I wouldn't go back to it just because all the fast ladies were there. Similarly, I choose to go to races that others do not, like Brewhouse in Duluth. I don’t go to win the race. I go because it’s a fun place to take my family and the race is well run. As much as I like the idea of a championship race I think it would be difficult to get everyone to agree on a site. By the way ...I do plan to race more this year although still probably not the 12-14 races I did a couple years ago.
0 #11 Brad Mitchell 2017-12-19 00:13
Grinch, I really do understand your concerns. One of my favorite races is Waseca and I was really happy to see it survived getting axed last year. I'm not insinuating that people should not do races like Timberman, Waseca, Buffalo and all of our special local races - every race is important to the fabric of our sport in Minnesota. I would just love to see more elite racing, not just elite stand alone times. So I don't really care where it happens, I would just love to see it. Wouldn't a three race championship series be great? Maybe change the race venues every year, to make it fair to race directors/commu nities? I would definitely travel to race at different places to see our best race. Maybe an open vote every year to see who gets the races?
0 #10 Brad Mitchell 2017-12-19 00:11
Trinona. Much smaller town and just as far to get to from metro area. Last year Dave Schultz, crew and the people of Winona made the effort to make this race something special. The race feels like quality. Great all around organization, food, prizes etc. A race with something for everyone - first timers to pros. Prize money was arranged (not easy to do) and big ticket names like Ruth Brennan Morrey, Daniel Bretscher and Colorado pro's Sean Harrington and Timothy Winslow were invited, to come race. So, as a big-time fan of the sport I was excited to see the pros race, in out back yard. This was also an excellent opportunity for our elite amateurs to test themselves against some high-class athletes and I hope more do the same, this year.
0 #9 Brad Mitchell 2017-12-19 00:11
My view is that the races that make efforts to attract our top athletes, will continue to flourish and those that do not, may be in trouble. Examples are Rochesterfest and Trinona. In recent years, Rochesterfest attracted athletes like Dan Hedgecock, Bridget McCoy, David Thompson ( multiple times), Gaby Bunten, Chap Achen, Ruth Brennan Morrey, Patrick Parish, Kortney Haag, Kris Spoth etc . Two years ago the (meager, but effective) prize money disappeared, the pre and post race events became non-existent and the elite athletes stopped showing up. The race is now canceled. Now Rochester, a growing city of 110k people, has no triathlon or duathlon and Ruth Brennan Morrey and Dani Vstecka live here! Not right.
0 #8 Brad Mitchell 2017-12-19 00:06
Thanks Judi, looking forward to hearing about it! - Hi Grinch. I am not encouraging the best to avoid any race MN has to offer. I would just like to see more head-to-heads, featuring our state's best athletes. Remember that the athletes that I am talking about (the 30 or so that are considered each year for Team MN) make up a very small % of all MN triathletes. People love Timberman. I would guess that a drop-off in numbers may have been more to do with the general overall decline in triathlon participation and the fact that the race is 3 hours from the Twin Cities - I think that may have had more to do with people racing at Minneapolis on the same weekend.
0 #7 Stephen Daugherty Bu 2017-12-18 23:48
hey Jer Bear....dont judge : ) Daugherty is a family sir name...it beats what my 3 brothers got: Girdner, Darragh, and Corker....I kid you not.
+1 #6 Judi Fluger 2017-12-18 20:54
Hey Brad- we are currently putting together the web page for the series. Hope to have it up in January. If you contact me, I can give you the details of all three races prior to our finishing the site. Sorry for the inconvenience. We thought it would go faster than it has.

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