Race Coverage

Bikers Prevail at Clearwater Olympic...


GRANITEMAN CLEARWATER OLYMPIC - The inclement weather that was anticipated didn't happen, thus instead of a sloppy and slow experience, yesterday's Graniteman Triathlon was contested in surprising accommodating conditions, which resulted in some inspiring performances, fast times and even a few records.

Our race coverage will come in two parts. Today we will talk about the Olympic race, which celebrated it's 7th anniversary. Later in the week, we'll post coverage of the Sprint competition, which turned nineteen last Saturday.

Because a race is predictable doesn't mean it will be unexciting. On paper, three men appeared to be shoo-ins for the overall podium. The same was true for the women's race. PRESTON YOUNGDAHL, who was victorious the week before at Lake Minnetonka, AJ MANNING, the amateur winner at Buffalo Olympic, where he outraced Youngdahl by a scant six seconds, and NICHOLAS LADAS, last year's Clearwater runner-up, seemed destined, barring mechanical catastrophe, to outpace the men's field. VANESSA NAGEL, who held her own against national talent Kortney Haag here in 2021, where she (Vanessa) finished 2nd, EMILY GAGE, who has three career triathlon wins and eight total podium finishes, and KRISTIN HAWKINS, whose breakout season last year featured three wins, were expected to break away from their gender's field....

Clearwater's bike course is almost four miles longer than the standard 40K, thus the strongest cyclists had a significant advantage. Youngdahl and Nagel had the edge  here. Youngdahl especially had the upper hand because he was first out of the water. Nagel, on the other hand, made landfall 22 seconds behind the Gage. 


Averaging 2-mph faster than the next fastest rider, Youngdahl built an insurmountable lead. Even Manning, who has unmatched running speed, would need more than 10-kilometers to close that gap. Ladas was alone in 3rd, where he'd stay until the end, securing a 10+ minute margin over his closest rival.

Nagel had built an almost five minute cushion when she arrived in T2. With general run speed that was similar to Gage's, Nagel's first career victory was assured.

Like Ladas, Hawkins spent much of the race working to secure the bronze medal position. This necessitated that she overtake MELEAH MURPHY on the run, which she was able to do. In the end her margin over Murphy was 1:21.

It wasn't just that he won the men's race that made Youndahl's performance so special. His finish time--2:05:27--blew away Bennett Isabella's 2015 race record (2:09:12). Manning, too, left it all on the course, delivering himself to the finish line ahead of the prior CR. AJ's time was 2:08:16.

Nagel threw down a strong run split, allowing her to win by a 6:46 margin over Gage.

Predictable, but exciting stuff nonetheless.

In addition to Preston's course record, two Age Group marks, both in the 55-59 category and both by corpulent margins. RANDY PETERSON, 56, lowered his AG's best from 2:37:22 to 2:28:56. AMY WOOLSEY, also 56, popped a 2:48:28, which landed her in 5th place overall in the women's competion and bettered her old divisional mark by 5:46. Amy now holds two age group records at Clearwater Olympic, and she not only took home an award for her efforts, she also won a cool door prize, a kayak (photo).


 Top Photo (L-R) - AJ Manning and Preston Youngdahl.