Race Coverage

Off to a Great Start...



By Brad Mitchell


The 10th Falls Duathlon was raced on Saturday. All of us at MTN hoped that this first outdoor multi of 2018 would set the tone for what we believe, starts the cyclical recovery for Minnesota mutltisport we are all hoping for and expecting....


The controllable factors were as expected. Top notch course set-up and enthusiasm from Mark Bongers and his Final Stretch crew and volunteers from the Cannon Falls running team were key and they did a fantastic job. The non-controllable factors were gladly welcomed, too. The weather was pretty much perfect for this time of the year. Sunny skies and sure, it was colder than a frog's nipple at race start, but the wind behaved itself and the temperature was easily countered with the right clothing. It was great to see around one third of the racers  (well over 200, including relay teams) were new to duathlon or multisport and there was the perfect mix of TT bikes, road bikes, fat bikes, mountain bikes and bikes that belong to their own gender category.  The comradeship that we have come to know and expect was evident.  Newbies were being helped by veterans in transition and it was just one big group of keen participants celebrating life and no more snow. 


The race started with a sickening  pace. Jesson Baumgartner and Brian Sames  covered the first 2 mile run at 5:05 pace.  Top shelf Minnesota duathlete veteran Andrea Myers (42, Plymouth) led the women with a fine 6:49 paced first effort, just in front of Elena Cattaneo (20, Rochester) at 6:58. The bike was fast with riders reporting a tailwind boost for a section of the way back.  The first rider back was Jesson Baumgartner in a blistering 33:15. At that stage breaking the one hour mark was being discussed and a few spectators like the amazing Mitch Brekke and this roving reporter, began visibly salivating. Super strong cyclist Rob Madgwick (52, Sauk Rapids) was next off the bike in 35:04, followed by up-and-comer Jacob Olson, in 35:23.

The women's bike got really interesting. First time duathlete Michelle Nordland (50, Pine Island) dominated the field, passing the 20 female riders (and lots of males) in front of her to be first off the bike in 39:41, which gave her the best split by 2 minutes.  The next fastest cyclist was Katherine Lenglet (30, Shoreview) in 41:45  followed by Jenna Christensen (27, Janesville).  All athletes were then reminded why duathlon feels so hard and why it is so very good to prepare us for a triathlon season. Run 2 = Pain City. This is where Andrea Myers showed her experience and consistency over the two disciplines that is needed to win races. Andrea, a Master of the Year nominee the last two seasons, was able to run by all of her competition to come in for a well-deserved win, in 1:18:42. Second woman was Shelley Ostrander in 1:20:45 (32, Shoreview), 3rd Jenna Christensen in 1:22:38 and only 6 seconds back, rookie, Michelle Norland. 


No one was catching Jesson Baumgartner.  The guy looked like a wounded antelope coming out of T2. There was a noticeable absence of Nathan Ansbaugh at the front of T2. The only guess is that he ran into a mechanical and is hopefully not injured. Baumgartner (36, Rochester) wins the race in a staggering 1:00:19, which lowered Devon Palmer's 2012 CR by 25 seconds, with exciting and fairly new prospect Jacob Olson second in 1:03:27. Rounding off the podium was Brian Sames (31), who looks like a force, heading into the 2018 season. Peter Somers (38, Rochester) came in 4th, three and a half minutes back from third place Olson. That is a big indicator of the high quality of the men's field, as Somers (who in his words, was "knocking the rust off") is a perennial front-runner and will be a factor at the front again this year.

It was a great day for all of the rookie duathletes at Cannon Falls. We really encourage all of these new athletes to sign up for upcoming local triathlons.  As we see the resurgence of Minnesota multisport, new teams are starting to appear and this is a great way to keep in contact with training buddies and provide extra support on race day. If nothing else, it's a great excuse to wear matching shirts.  On Saturday, 3 members of the newly formed Kiwi-Ink team, based in Rochester, did their first du.  Michelle Nordland (photo L) showed why zwifting all winter (with the likes of Meredith Kessler and Lionel Sanders) can really pay off with her 4th overall and 1st 50-54 AG. With a steadily improving run, she will be one to watch in the 50-54 bunch. Cathy Sell (a strong swimmer and good all-rounder over all 3 disciplines) had a great race to grab 2nd in the tough 40-44 AG. Mitch Felton showed how hard work and dedication pays off by winning his 40-44 AG with an impressive 1:10:40 and 10th overall. 

So, who the #@*! is Jesson Baumgartner? We don't know much, but rest assured, the MTN crew will find out and let you know.

ED. Jesson WON the 2013 ITU World Du Champs in Ottawa, as well as last year's Falls Du. His time then was 1:02.

FYI - The team relay race was over when teenager, Jace Minnelli, spanked the 2 mile first run at 5:14 pace. Then Dad, Super Mario Minelli covered the bike course for Team Monkey Bars (in honor of Sofia Minnelli) in 36:43 , with the team clocking a very impressive 1:04:36. 


ED. Thanks for a great story, Brad! Also, the group photo is of Team Kiwi (L-R): Cathy Sell, Mitch Felton, Michelle Nordland, Chris Budahn.

Add comment

Security code

Please update your Flash Player to view content.
Please update your Flash Player to view content.
Please update your Flash Player to view content.

Sign up! Get updates from MTN