Race Coverage

No Clear Favorites & Youthful Exuberance,,,

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By Tim Bontrager

The Fairmont Triathlon successfully returned to racing after a 1-year hiatus due to COVID. This course, known for it’s “Switch-Side” swim, flat bike, and friendly run is a jewel for racing. On this day, mother nature was kind and race conditions were very good on the plains of southern Minnesota. A breeze from the north made the return leg of the bike more challenging but it kept the run at a very comfortable temperature. As a result, we saw fast times for many athletes during the run.

With perennial winner DAVID HOLDEN taking the year off, there was not a clear favorite heading into the men’s Olympic race. A trio of Twin Cities residents ended up taking the podium. TIM BONTRAGER followed his early-season TriByKnight victory by leading the race from start to finish, winning with a time of 1:57:49 and notching his second win of 2021. Behind him, an exciting race developed for second between 2019 “Most Improved Triathlete” ANDREW KERSHAW and cold-weather specialist MICHAEL TATE. Despite literally bursting out of his wetsuit during the swim (Impressive calves or a poorly made wetsuit? We may never know…), Tate was able to catch Kershaw on the bike and led coming out of transition. Undaunted, Kershaw passed Tate part-way through the run and never looked back. Kershaw took second with a time of 2:01:13, while Tate finished third with a time of 2:04:34.

A similarly exciting race developed for first in the women’s Olympic triathlon. JULIE BUSCH, winner of the 2018 and 2019 Fairmont sprint, put in an impressive swim and was the first woman out of the water. 2nd out of the water, 2020 Green Lake winner SARAH WENSINK had a two-and-a-half-minute deficit as she was getting on the bike. She clearly had her work cut out for her! Wensink managed to overtake Julie late in the bike course and then put the race away with a sub 40-minute 10k, winning the women’s race with a time of 2:21:38. Busch held on to second with a time of 2:32:04, and Rochester native MARTHA STELTER took 3rd with a time of 2:40:05 on the strength of a consistent swim and bike.,,,

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Fairmont, Bertam Blast & Des Moines...

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FAIRMONT TRIATHLON - A pair of fast teens won this year's Sprint tri last Saturday, while the Olympic race featured a terrific performance by men's winner TIMOTHY BONTRAGER. We love to see sub-2-hour clockings and Tim rocked a 1:57:49, which reminds us of the fast times that DAVID HOLDEN used to turn in there.  

ANDREW KERSHAW's 2:01:13 second place effort was also pretty dang impressive.

Bontrager's Winners Circle mate was Iowa's SARA WENSINK, who dominated the women's competition.

Back to the Sprint, which was won by 15-year-old phenom NOAH BILLINGS, who had to run down South Dakota's KEVIN MITCHELL, a multiple winner here. The victory was Billings second of the year.

The women's Sprint was won by GRACE BUSCH, 18, who has been impressing us since she was a 13-years-old, yet hadn't raced often enough to be included in the JOY conversations. Busch outpaced tri-vetrean TERESA VAN HYFTE (SD) for her 58-second win.

This year's tris had 50 finishers.  RESULTS

 

BERTRAM BLAST - Pre-race faves JAKE KEEHAN and recently surgerized BETTINA KEPPERS lived up to their billing last Sunday in the 5th edition of BB Off Road Triathlon. Conditions were surprising accommodating. The forecasted rain kept some volunteers from showing but almost all of the 120+ sign-ups made the morning trek to wilderness-y Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park. ...

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Heather and Curt Are Back! Kyle is the Real Deal...

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LAKE MINNETONKA TRIATHLON COVERAGE - Heather and Curt are back! Kyle is the Real Deal! Henry is on the Rookie of the Year radar! These are some of the storylines defining last Saturday's Lake Minnetonka Triathlon, which as always was an excellent event.

Let's start with HEATHER LENDWAY's triumphant return to triathlon after a four-year hiatus. She performed like the  Heather of yesteryear; like the Athlete of the Decade Heather.

Where was the rust? Your guess is as good as ours.

Her swim was the third fastest of the day, just seconds behind the men's leaders. After crushing the bike, she entered T2 in fourth place overall behind the eventual men's podium. A great run split (18:44 / 3-mile) eventually landed her in 5th place overall. She was only passed by one male athlete, a former college track and cross country star at UMD named HENRY JESSEN, who is also a decorated swimmer, and, according to our research,  has done only one prior triathlon. If this is true, we have our current frontrunner for 2021 Rookie of the Year.

Back to Heather. Placing 5th overall, her time was a ridiculous 1:07:57, a clocking that is second only to the course record 1:04:53 she set in 2014, the year she won both Nationals and Worlds and was named US Athlete of the Year. ...

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Lycra, Dorky Helmets & Big Wins...

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By David Koppel

Buffalo Olympic Race Report - Yesterday (June 6) was my first triathlon finish since Kona 2019. It was so long awaited and I was more excited than ever to line up next to plenty of talented MN triathletes and see where I stood. I wanted my first sub 2 hour Olympic distance race, but the weather gods laughed at that idea! It was 78° at 17-19mph winds at the start of the race. The goal was to be off the bike in striking distance of perennial powerhouse and retired pro triathlete, David Thompson (DKT).

.9 mile swim (11th/226): My swim was slow and I got rocked in the last .3 miles by some pretty big rollers. Apparently over 50 of the 600 racers were pulled out of the swim due to the conditions. I had two friends and my father-in-law to yell out how far back I was from front swimmers. 4:00 back out of the water from DKT (eek!) ...

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2021 Swim-Off: Lap Swimmers - 3, Triathletes - 1...

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By Doobie Kurus

Here is a recap of the 2nd Annual SWIM-Off to Summer that took place Saturday June 5th. We had about 150 people signed up again, which included a 60/40 split field of "triathletes" to "swimmers". With temperatures moving into the upper 90s that afternoon, what better place to be than in the lake swimming? In our first year (2019), TEAM Lap Swimmers swept the podium in all 3 race distances, and we had to go all the way down to 7th place before a member of TEAM Triathletes emerged in Christina Roberts. Would the triathletes fare better this year, or would the lap swimmers prove once again that they rule the open water? 

The Sprint (.3 mile) race turned out to be an actual sprint, as swimmers Skylar Percy (13) of Victoria and Nat Roberts (14) of Decorah, IA raced out of the water and onto the beach finishing in 6 minutes and 14 seconds. Bob Oliker and Parker Larson came in 2nd and 3rd, respectively for the men, and Stefanie Larson and (last year's winner) Ingrid Jeske, did the same for the women's side....

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Eckhoff Breaks Out....

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16th BUFFALO SPRINT COVERAGE - As in the women's Olympic distance race, a darkhorse claimed the bronze medal podium spot in the Sprint, placing behind amazing 56-year-old CHERYL ZITUR, which is pronounced "Zitter," not "Zee-ter," who rocked her fourth win here, and 2013 Buffalo Sprint winner CATHERINE LEE, 47. Zitur was also the only athlete in the sprint field to lower an Age Group record, which is something she does every time she races. ...

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