The "Pain Train" is Male "Athlete of the Decade"....


ATHLETES OF THE DECADE - Determining the female AOD was tough, with HEATHER LENDWAY ultimately nudging RUTH BRENNAN MORREY for the honor.

Figuring out which male athlete best deserves the AOD was even harder, but in the end it was "The Pain Train" (MATTHEW PAYNE) who came out on top....

Few would argue that DAVID THOMPSON is the most talented male multisporter that Minnesota produced since the millennial turn, but the 2011-2020 AOD was based on one's success during the past decade, not who was faster than who. And as we noted in the women's AOD post, success is relative. DKT's six-year resume between 2011-2020, and eight of PATRICK PARISH's nine active seasons during this period were as pros, whereas all of Payne's eight seasons were as an amateur.

We learned when comparing HL's and RBM's resumes that it was Heather's amateur results that put her over the top. She was almost invincible, her performances reminiscent of our country's true amateur greats, women like JOANNA ZEIGER and BROOKE DAVISON. It could be argued that RBM's pro resume was superior to Lendway's, but the fact that Heather had  a Hall of Fame amateur history sealed the deal.


The criteria for AOD for the period from 2001-2010 was slightly different. The Committee did not distinguish amateur and pro results. Wins, course records and speed were what counted. It was no surprise then that DKT was the AOD, an honor he shared with CATHY YNDESTAD, our state's all-time winningest (75+) female triathlete.

What needed to be determined this time around was whether DKT's and Parish's pro resumes were as successful as Payne's amateur scorecard. First we looked at some basic data:

PATRICK PARISH - Won approximately 28 of his 40 career multisport wins during the last decade.

DAVID THOMPSON - Won approximately 45 of his 109 career multisport wins between 2011 and 2016, which included one win (as an amateur) in 2020.

MATTHEW PAYNE - Won at least 46 tris and dus between 2011 and 2018.

Next, we noted that Parish and Payne faced each other on (at least) seven occasions during the last decade. Payne won six of those confrontations. Also, Matt owns more course records that are still standing than does Patrick. With this, the field was narrowed to Payne and Thompson.

Then we looked at Payne's resume, starting with 2013, a year in which he raced nine times, winning on four occasions, twice in course record time. He also placed 2nd three times. The other efforts produced a 16th at Nationals (silver medal) and an uncharacteristic sub-par result at 70.3 Worlds in Tennessee. One of his runner-up efforts was at Best of the US, where he finished behind COLIN RILEY, the guy who was named US Athlete of the Year that by USAT that season.mattgw.png

Matt raced 13 times in 2014, amassing  nine wins, including Best of the US and Duathlon Nationals, and three other podiums. He set five course records.

In 2015, he raced 12 times, winning eight times, including Du Nationals, Minneapolis and two half IMs (Liberty - 4:02:46!, Superior Man - 4:10:44), and set  four CRs.

Between 2016 and 2018, despite injuries, he entered 22 races, winning 12 times and climbing five other podiums. 

It was clear that Payne was the not only the most successful Minnesota amateur during the past decade, few amateurs in the US had comparable resumes. Remember, he won two national duathlon titles, became the only athlete to win more than once at Best of the US and Minneapolis, won at least four national triathlon medals, and a silver at Worlds (2015). His PRs across all distances are national class, i.e. 1:52 Olympic, 4:02 half IM.

Though he only raced in six of the last 10 seasons (Payne raced in eight), DKT won as many races as did Payne, though almost all of those victories were in regional events against predominantly amateur fields. We acknowledge that, for instance, a Top 5, or even a Top 10, against a deep pro field is just as impressive, maybe moreso, than a victory in a largely amateur field. In arguably his most successful season of the decade (2013), Thompson posted four Top 5 efforts against pro fields. 

In the end, most, but not all, of the Committee members, agreed that Payne's resume featured more highlights than did DKT's.