Race Coverage

Doritos & Sprinklers....

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By Mario Minelli

The Wingman Triathlon. This will be more of a race course/venue review rather than a personal recap.  Or maybe a mash-up of the two...  

I believe the Wingman Triathlon started in 2009, the year after I did my first tri. It's only about an hour long drive from where I live and I've always wanted give it a shot. The problem was that it usually fell on the same weekend as the Festival in the Park Run, a race in Kasson, MN, where I reside.  I like to support local events and I'm not one for doing two races in one weekend so I always passed on the Wingman--until this year.  So I raced in the 5k on Saturday (August 10), then the Wingman Tri the following day.  I did, however, pass on the Festival's Twinkie eating contest that would have made for a triple event weekend.

 I entertained the idea of taking it easy in Saturdays race, but we all know it's hard to hold back.  And for triathletes who race a variety of distances, a 5k is about as short as it gets in a swim-bike-run event.  So...I ran pretty hard in the 5k.  Surprisingly, I felt ok Sunday morning for the Wingman.  My friend Tom and I got to the race venue, Red Wing's Colvill Park, about an hour before the 8am start time. We were setting up our transition areas when Tom realized he forgot one minor piece of equipment:  goggles. This would be his second tri. His other being Rochesterfest a couple years ago so he was a little rusty.

Then the sprinkler system at the park started blasting water into the transition area getting many people wet before the swim, or for the swim depending on how you look at it.  A friendly athlete next to Tom had a spare pair of goggles and the sprinkler issue was soon resolved.  ...

 

Other than those potential anxiety inducing issues, the setting for the race was pretty laid back. With all the races going on over the weekend, the Wingman didn't get a big draw of participants.  However, that helped add to the small-town feel and the relaxed atmosphere.  After everything was set we gathered for the pre-race meeting.  The race director said a few words about the race, explained the routes, we lined up next to the pool, and the first 12 people hopped in.  

Yes, the 500 meter swim takes place in a 6 lane outdoor pool. Some may think it's less of a 'tri' using a pool, but it helps to level things out to just your swimming ability.  No chance of big waves, no weeds, low risk of shark attacks, and you can't go off course unless you try really hard; you could do extra laps if you lose count though.  I almost lost count, but my watch kept me in check.  There was an abundance of volunteers who were counting laps too. As I was finishing lap number 10, I saw a marker dip down in the water ahead of me to tell me I was done.  The timing mat to end the swim was closer to the bikes than the pool so that factored in to our swim times, but made for efficient transition times.

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On to the bike.  The route was a 12.7 mile clockwise, pretty easy-to-follow loop throughout the greater Red Wing area. I was a little concerned about it at first as the route uses a small stretch of highway, but it was Sunday morning which is not a busy traffic day in most small towns.  I think I saw under a dozen cars throughout the whole route.  There was also a very wide shoulder.  For the most part the course was safe as well as fast.  There were a couple of hills, including a fairly long one that really insulted my average speed.  My legs were feeling pretty heavy on the last one, but I'll blame the previous days 5k on that :)  As the director said when explaining the route, you get paid back with a long descent after the long climb. The course was marked pretty well and since it was clockwise there were only right turns. It was clearly marked with signage, volunteers, or both at each turn.

 Now the run. The run was not typical, so that was a nice change.  It was a two loop route contained within the park and used a mix of paved bike trails and grass.  Aside from the paved sections it looked like a high school cross-country course including a zig-zaggy back-and-forth section around trees marked very well by ground flags.  The run was a tad short and lacked hills so that would surely turn off anyone who loves running extra, uphill, in order to cap off their triathlon (sarcasm).  It was a cloudy morning, but the rich tree cover in the park would have kept you mostly shaded in the brightest of conditions.

Overall, the Wingman is a pretty decent, easy going, and well-run race.  Easy going enough that aspiring kids wanting to experience triathlon weren't penalized for having a personal lead (parent) out on the bike course and you wouldn't be disqualified for running down the finishing stretch with your dog--or pair of dogs as one person did.  The top 3 in each five year age group were recognized and there were coffee mugs from Red Wing Stoneware for the top men and women overall finishers.  The top team got bags of chips.  Not timimg chips. Dorito's.  As was explained, it's become a tradition at the Wingman to give a way chips. Apparently, last year the chips went to the participant who spent the longest time in the pool.  

As for the results, on the men's side, 23 year old Colin Catlin (Wabasha, MN) who has a solid road and CX history, crossed the line with the overall fastest time and 54 year old avid triathlete, Molly Breslin (Jackson, WY) was the top female of the day.  After the race we spent a couple hours and a few dollars at Kelly's Tap House, a place that boasts 70+ beers on tap, and also stopped by the Red Wing Brewery.  

Please don't be concerned.  

Money raised from the Wingman Triathlon benefits the Red Wing boys and girls cross country teams. Please consider this multi for your 2020 racing season. RESULTS

ED. FYI - Mario placed 2nd overall, only 18-seconds behind the winner!

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