Race Coverage

The Thought Must Have Crossed Her Mind...UPDATED...

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Like Nationals, St. Anthony's Triathlon is one of "those" races.

As a super high-profile event, St. A attracts our country's most ambitious amateurs. Success there is often a springbard to a pro career....

 

If you look at the history of amateur racing at St. Anthony's, which celebrated it's 36th anniversary last Sunday and drew 3200 athletes, up more than 200 participants over the previous year, you'll note that a significant percentage of elite amateur winners, and fellow podiumers as well, made the leap to the next level. Since 2010, for instance, 21 of St. A's 48 Elite Amateur podium finishers procured pro licenses. 

So, having won the women's amateur race at St. A last Sunday, Forest Lake's GABY BUNTEN has a decision to make. 

Is she interested is a pro career? We don't know, but we suspect that after her 2018 victory at Cleveland Nationals and her 2nd place / 1st American performance at Gold Coast (AUS) Worlds, plus her triumph last weekend in Florida, we have to assume that the thought has crossed her mind.

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And speaking of Florida, it is a state that has been good to Bunten. In fact, it was in Naples in 2013, that her competitive life changed in a big way. It was at HITS Olympic and she placed 2nd overall woman. More significantly, she broke the 2:20 mark for the first time. That is a big deal. It's a milestone that separates one from the rest of the pack, just as eclipsing 2:15, which Gaby did in 2014, separated her from an even smaller pack. Then breaking the magic 2:10 mark places one among the very best amateur women in the world. Gaby did that for the first time in 2017.

A sub-2:10 at St. Anthony's was not in the cards last Sunday. Conditions were good, though not quite ideal. Swimmers faced a stiff headwind that added at least a minute to the splits of the pros. The bike course is flat, but features lots of pace-dropping turns, and by the time the run is started, heat (80s) and humidity become factors, though not so much in Gaby's case. 

She had a terrific run, one that crushed all of the female amateur competition. 

And she needed it. She was not the first woman into or out of T2. She was preceeded by former pro Sarah McLarty, and followed closely by transplanted Parisian Olympia Von Berg, whose brother is a decorated pro and two-time US Collegiate National Champion. Von Berg came into transition a few seconds behind Gaby, but hit the run course a few seconds in front of her.

After Gaby and Olympia passed McLarty, the battle for the Top Step began in earnest. It was Bunten who managed to create a small gap. Her eventual margin of victory was a slim eight seconds.

Gaby posted a 2:12:34, a wonderful time given the conditions, and she beat a stellar group of women, and would have placed 8th in the pro race, which would have earned her a small slice of the $50,000 prize purse. Most impressive, however, was the fact that the time differential between the top elite amateur male and Gaby was only 9:41. The typical gender gap here is in the 11-12 minute area. The last time an amateur woman was less than 10 minutes behind the fastest amateur man was in 2008, when Brooke Davison (who got her pro license in 2009) finished 9:20 behind Addam Webber, who also turned pro that year. Davison, who ranks amaong the finest amateur female triathletes we have ever seen, a list that includes Donna Kay-Ness and Heather Lendway, dominated at Nationals in '08. FYI, her closest rival there was Minnesota's Cathy Yndestad.

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Bunten was one of two Minnesota-based elite amateurs in the field. The other was Eden Prairie's SAM HAUCK. His race is hard to explain. We saw him finish 3rd among the EA men. He thought he placed 4th, and his totalled splits bore that out. In the results, though, he is listed in 11th place in a time that is two minutes slower than his posted splits and transition times.

Hmmm. What's up with that?

St. Anthony's RESULTS

ED.  We received an email recently about how Gaby's race unfolded. We crafted our story based on a  breakdown of her splits and the splits of McLarty and Von Berg, but there was some extra drama on the bike that we'd like to tell you about. We are seeking permission to repost portions of the email. Stay tuned.

 

At 8:42 am, Kim Bunten gave us permission to post her comments:

...I just wanted to mention since not many people are aware that they (USAT referees) erroneously gave Gaby a 1 minute penalty on the bike course and pulled her off the bike where she had to watch her fellow competitors sail past her. The head ref apologized afterwards but I see they never corrected her time. Anyway I think it showed her mental toughness because it would have been pretty easy to throw in the towel at that point.  Also she is coming back from a couple months setback with A T tendinitis from a running injury so was just really pleased to try a go at racing as she was originally thinking she would have to wait until June at least.

Kim B

ED. Kim later added:

.... I know several of her competitors like Olympia even asked her what the heck happened as well as a guy or two.  

At least it was very nice that the head ref apologized and was so nice. 

Kim

ED. Kim sent us the awards photo. From L-R - Megan Hebda (FL), Sara McLarty (FL), Olympia Von Berg (FRA/CO), Gaby Bunten (MN). 

 

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