Race Coverage

Apple Stuff: The Boys...

Do you remember Peter Skorseth? Handsome guy from pastoral Baldwin, Wisconsin. Looks a lot like a smilier version of actor MarkFor Apple Story Harmon. (We don't have a photo of Peter, so we inserted a shot of Harmon. Imagine Mark with teeth. That's what Peter looks like.)

If you've been racing in Minnesota for more than five years, chances are good that his name is familiar. If you are an elite tri or du-athlete, though, you should remember him well. Peter Skorseth was a GREAT multisport athlete. In 2005, he won two MMAs--Master of the Year and Most Improved--and his herculean effort that year at the Apple Duathlon earned him a Performance of the Year nomination.

The affable Mark Harmon-lookalike retired from multisport racing in 2006. Some of us still miss him.

Skorseth's amateur record at Apple '05 was 1:23:56. In the next four years the closest any amateur male could come to this mark was 54 seconds. That effort was turned in by 2009 US Duathlete of the Year Kevin O'Connor last year. (Matthew Payne's 1:24:34 in 2009 is listed among the "Pro" results, as he opted to race in the pro/elite wave. Had Matt accepted his Worlds invitation, it would come with the stipulation that he procure a pro license.) It also needs to be understood that until yesterday's race, the Apple had been a Worlds qualifier and as such had attracted top amateur talent from around the country.

Yesterday's not-qualifying-for-anything Apple Duathlon was understandably smaller than in recent years as well as lacking in imported talent. Ah, but the homegrown athletes rocked the roads of Stearns and Benton counties like they've never rocked them before. And it was so cool! Heck, it was cooler than a Fruitista Freeze! (Ever had one? You get them at Taco Bell and they are yummilious!

It started with the ever-amazing David Thompson, who was dominant from the get-go. Atmospheric conditions were ripe for fast times as temps hovered in the 70s under blue skies and the winds did not get huffy until most of the field was in the food tent scarfing pizza and wings and basking in the glow of their respective accomplishments.

David expected to get a good push from 2009 runner-up Justin Hurd, but that didn't unfold. Hurd, a 29-year-old pro from Boulder, Colorado, would take 2nd again but not as quickly or as competitively as last year. Justin was recently married, thus his legs were shot. (According to Micky, Rocky Balboa's manager, "Women ruin legs!") And even if they weren't, DKT was not to be denied yesterday.

Gosh, he was fast.

When David arrived in T2 a new course record was already a foregone conclusion. And the question was not simply whether he could better the 1:20:52 he set in 2007. It appeared possible that he could even dip under 1:20! Being unchallenged, a CR would not require a hump-busting effort. Heck, a laconic 17:50 over the final 5K run would do it.

But that's not the way Thompson rolls. When the dust cleared and DKT's toe touched the mat, the clock read 1:19:57. He'd have 2:17 to catch his breath before Hurd made his second consecutive silver medal effort official. The win was David's 60th of his career and his 6th in as many starts at The Apple.

As special as DKT's effort was, it should not overshadow the magnificent performances of the four amateur guys who finished in the 3rd through 6th positions, all of whom took significant bites out of the Skorseth's long-standing amateur record. Staring with Patrick Parish, who ran collegiately at Duke and not Notre Dame as Apple's geriatric announcer claimed yesterday, who put together a brilliant 1:23:05 and pulled Josh Riff (1:23:24), Kevin O'Connor (1:23:30) and Devon Palmer (1:23:45) in under the old course best. Also breaking 1:25 was Chad Millner. Former Apple runner-up and totally harried and overworked Dan Cohen had to be encouraged with his 1:25:03, good for 8th place.

What was revealed in Sartell on Sunday is that Minnesota's men are just plain fast. Parish now has two amateur wins in 2010, both in astounding times. Riff, a long distance devotee, has discovered (as he did last week at Gear West), to his own delight and befuddlement, that he is not just strong, he's FAST, too! O'Connor is O'Connor--one of America's best for the last two decades. Palmer, though a pro triathlete, is an amateur duathlete, relied as always on his gargantuan ability to turn the cranks. If his run splits improve, and there's no reason to think they won't, look out. It's hard to imagine that an influx of imported amateur talent would have altered the men's Top 10 results yesterday. Minnesota's best are hard to beat.

ALSO: Minnesota's 2008 Grand Master of the Year Hank Larsen gouged 34 minutes out of the men's 70-74 course record. Nick Vanduzee raced brilliantly, too, winning the 65-69M AG in 1:50:50, just 17 seconds off Bob Bailey's solid divisional best.

RACE OVERVIEW: The 28th Apple was as well-produced and executed as ever. Applause and congratulations go to all--Brandon Testa (Director), his committee, John Snitko (Timing), volunteers and the enthusiastic citizenry of Sartell (what a great little city!)--involved with this deservedly iconic event. Results

Photos and The Girl's Race coming soon...

Also: Check out the great story in the St. Cloud Times: LINK