ATHLETE OF THE DECADE - 2011-2020 - Today we reveal the female AOD and explain some of the reasons for our choice. It's important to remember that what is being determined is which athlete had the most successful decade of racing, not which person is perceived to be the best tri / du-athlete.

Next, success is relative. Amateur athletes are measured against elite standards for amateur athletes, and pro athletes are measured against credentialed pro athletes. Two of the female athletes that are vying for AOD had brief amateur careers, wherein their performances were measured against the highest amateur standards, before turning pro, when their efforts were compared to fellow professionals.

Let's now attempt to explain why the MMH Committee selected HEATHER LENDWAY as AOD ahead of fellow nominees RUTH BRENNAN MORREY, GABY BUNTEN and HANNA GRINAKER.

Heather, RBM and Hanna enjoyed meteoric starts to their careers, that is, they started winning in their first season of racing. Gaby, on the other hand, raced for at least four years before she started winning. Her first W was posted in 2014 and her first recognized national-level victory (Minneapolis) happened in 2017. She then went on to win at Nationals (2018) and St. Anthony's (2019), and place 2nd overall female amateur at Worlds in 2018.

She had paid her dues, and has been recognized by her peers as one of the premier amateur triathletes in the US....

In just four years of racing, Grinaker won 12 of the 22 races she entered and was the recipient of eight MMAs. Several of her course records still stand, and she had proven herself at every distance, as evidenced by her 1:39:42 at Heart of the Lakes (Sprint category), 2:06:55 at Buffalo Olympic, 4:28:24 at Chisago (70.3) and 9:55:58 at Kona.

Still, Gaby's and Hanna's resumes were perceived by the Committee to be outshined by Heather's and Ruth's.   HLtransition.jpg

Though Lendway was ultimately named AOD, the support for Brennan Morrey was very strong. RBM raced for seven seasons, two as an amateur, where she racked up five MMAs. She won 17 of the 42 multisport races she entered, excelling in duathlon (3x US Duathlete f the Year) and long distance triathlon. She won the amateur World Long Distane Championships (by 8 minutes!) in 2011, and has broken 9:10 in two Ironman-branded races. She is clearly the best female duathlete and IM racer that Minnesota has ever produced.

Heather Lendway, by comparison, raced for six seasons, three as an amateur, wherein she won six MMAs. Her career record is 29 wins in 62 starts. She won back-to-back National titles in times that had not been matched before or since, and was victorious at the 2014 World Championship in Edmonton, Alberta. In 2015, she was named US Pro Rookie of the Year.

So, her volume of victories and awards give her, in the opinion of the majority of the Committee members, an edge over the other finalists, as does the fact that most of her course records in Minnesota races appear to be unapproachable. Here are a few of those CRs:

- Lake Minnetonka - 1:04:53 (2014) - 2nd fastest women's time - 1:10:11 (2012)

- Chisago Sprint - 1:17:15 (2014) - 2nd fastest women's time - 1:19:00 by pro Lauren Goss in 2012. Second fastest amateur time    1:21:24 (2016)

- Trinona - 2:09:50 - 2nd fastest women's time - 2:13:36 (2017)

- Square Lake Sprint - 1:25:11 (2014) - 2nd fastest women's time - 1:30:37 (2015)

- YWCA Women's Triathlon - 1:03:06 (2014) - 2nd fastest women's time - 1:07:34 (2015)