Race Coverage

Tri West - A Boutique Experience...


Inaugural Tri West Olympic & Sprint - With only 141 registrants, Tri West could be called a "small" event, but that description can be negatively perceived, and there was nothing about Tri West that was negative. It was a great race. And it was fun: Wang Chung-level fun....

One could say it was "intimate," an improvement on "small," but still not an adequate description. The social philoshpher / wordsmith Tanya Miller succinctly descripted the event as "boutique," saying it offered it's participants a "Boutique Experience."

Google describes a "Boutique Experience" thusly: "...providing a Boutique Experience requires more than being small in size or offering a customized service. It requires dedication, focus and commitment to the customer."

Right on! Tri West was a Boutique Experience. Thanks, Tanya.


Time to talk about the racing, starting with the Sprint.  BRETT LOVAAS was the better part of a mile into the run portion when his closest challenger, CHUCK HENGEL, 58, who threw down a 25.6-mph bike split, sped out of T2. Chuck wasn't worried about catching 36-time tri winner Lovaas, he was more concerned with staying ahead of his daughter, ELENA, the former equestrian who is emerging as our state's newest elite female triathlete.

Though she started three minutes after her dad, when she blasted out of the bike-to-run in fourth place behind Lovaas,  dad and ERIC ROESNER, the question that loomed was not whether she would record a faster time than dear old dad, but whether she would actually overtake him on the run. Chuck and Eric, only four-seconds apart at the end, did cross before Elena, though neither had much recovery time before Elena arrived, her 1:16:16 bumping dad from 2nd to 3rd overall, and Eric from 3rd to 4th. Exciting stuff.

The men's Olympic race produced what were Performance of the Year-worthy efforts by pro TED TREISE, and 2021 Minnesota Triathlete of the Year DAVID KOPPEL (photo L). Though the weather was accommodating (70ish, sunny, light breezed), the Lake Rebecca course is not a piece of cake. Could one or both of these guys beak 2-hours? Ted was expected to, though by how much? One minute? Two? David posted a 2:02:03 on a similar course here in 2021. How much faster would he be today?

Leaving the rest of the field behind, Ted and David hammered their way to spectacular efforts. Treise finished well before anyone expected him to. His time was 1:51:39, a personal best for the moment. If he races at Maple Grove, the same effort would probably garner a 1:50 or faster.

Then came Koppel, who has his sights set on Nationals in two weeks. He crossed in 1:56:01, the fastest Olympic time by a Minnesota amateur on Minnesota soil since 2017 (Sean Cooley  - 1:55:29 at Minneapolis Olympic).

Arguably the star of the women's Olympic race was not the victorious CHRISTINA ROBERTS, who entered the event as the favorite. And sure, her time--2:13:38-- was almost two-minutes faster than the winning time on a similar  course in 2021. Still, it was eventual runner-up /  sophomore triathlete CAMI ECKHOFF who had the breakout performance. The 2021 Rookie of the Year nominee from Detroit Lakes has a great resume, but was she ready to race alongside an established elite like Roberts? Wasn't she a year-or-two away from that?

Apparently not! She was only 31 seconds behind Roberts after the swim, them she made up that exact deficit on the  bike. Their run splits were nearly identical. The difference was in the transitions. Cami's time was impressive nevertheless: a 2:14:22. 

Unsurprisingly, PAIGE SCHULZ, Minnesota's 2019 Rookie of the Year, filled out the women's podium. Her time was 2:18:14.

Next year's Tri West is destined to be larger than this year's. Still, entrants can look forward  to a Boutique Experience.  RESULTS