Race Coverage

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GRANITEMAN OLYMPIC - The men's Olympic podium last Saturday was comprised of three guys who have truly paid their dues, and are now taking their places among our region's elite multisportsmen. ...


The man who won the G-Man Olympic-plus came in as the favorite, or at worst, co-favorite. He won this race in 2018 in conditions that were at least as hot and sticky-gooey a those the racers endured last weeend. 

We're talking about JOSH MORK (top photo courtesy of Kerry Yndestad), whose 2018 victory here came on the heels of his breakout runner-up effort against the strongest men's field of the year in 2018 at Lake Waconia. He'd been on the Minnesota tri scene since 2004-or-so, though his results didn't flirt with elite level until about 2016. His 2017 improvement might have garnered a Most Improved nomination had he selected more competitve races. In 2018, he did earn an MI nomination, and only missed a spot on Team Minnesota by one spot. His racing volume, not his performance level, was what got in the way.


Mork's winning time at G-Man in '18 was 2:11:34, the 3rd best clocking in the four-year history of the race. His 2019 time was 2:10:05, a sweet improvement.

Third out of the water, Mork wasted little time moving to the front, which he would hold the rest of the way. The rival he feared most, KEVIN O'CONNOR, the aforementioned co-favorite, flatted, and though he would make necessary repairs and push ahead, he was no longer a podium threat.

With O'Connor out of the way, a new foe emerged: DAVID KOPPEL, Koppel like Ted Koppel, not "Coe-pell," like the doctor character onThe Love Boat, Bernie Kopell.

Mork took notice, and kept the pedal on the floor.

David's race results have gotten solider and solider over the last few years. He was narrowing the performance gap, but he still had a ways to go.

Though the 4:25 lead that Mork enjoyed over Koppel after the swim remained the same when he (Josh) entered T2, that didn't mean that he was in the clear. In their last head-to-head (Buffalo Olympic), Koppel had beaten him soundly, thanks largely to a superior run split. (Mork struggled in that race while David was having a breakout performance.)

David would outrun Josh by a margin similar to the Buffalo differential. The clock read 2:11:33 when his chip burped for the final time. His numbers would have won three of the five editions of this event. 

Two starts, two outstanding performances. Koppel appears to be the current frontrunner for 2019 Most Improved Male.

The final podium spot was well earned by ANDY ZABEL, a guy who has won at least seven triathlons in his career, including the 2017 edition of this race. His winning time in 2017 was 2:17:55. His 3rd place time last Saturday was 2:12:54. That's a huge improvement.

Despite his wins and numerous podium finishes, Andy had yet to prove himself against the best athletes in the region. He had finished the 2018 strong. The gap between himself and the top guys appeared to be narrowing.

Then 2019 rolled around. His first race was at Apple, where he'd never placed better than 10th. This time he finished 4th behind national classers RYAN GIULIANO, PATRICK PARISH and KRIS SPOTH. He then matched that placing at Lake MInnetonka behind PARISH, MORK and Duluth's numero uno triathlete JOSH BLANKENHEIM.

Now a 3rd at G-Man Clearwater in a very fast time. Andy is barking with the big dogs now. An MI nomination may be in his future.

The above guys weren't the only men who rocked socks at sulty Warner Lake Park last weekend. Four AG records were rewritten:

40-44W - CATHY YNDESTAD - 2:19:18 (Prior Mark - 2:35:32)

45-49M - THADDEUS INGERSOLL - 2:19:54 (Prior Mark - 2:33:09)

50-54M - RANDY PETERSON - 2:26:59 (Prior Mark - 2:27:22)

55-59W - LISA HINES - 2:51:43 (Prior Mark - 2:54:14)


Photo - Two of our favorite people, MEGHAN and MARK HENRY, both of whom finished in their gender's overall Top 10.




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