Race Previews

Hopkins Preview...


HOPKINS ROYAL PREVIEW - Doobie's event, a perennial "Race of the Year" nominee--it won the award in 2015, is all about celebrating healthy living and building community. It has never been about creating a highliy competitive race, though it has always managed to draw a few credentialed athletes.

This year is slightly different, though. Like it or not, Doob, you have got yourself a very talented field, but that won't diminish the event's deeply imprinted celebratory / community building legacy.

(FYI - One of the ways Doobie promotes "community" is by inviting the directors of other races promote their events at the Hopkins Royal Triathlon. His message is one of "unity" with other races, not competition among them. Pretty cool, huh.)

So, while the majority of the 400 entrants are playing and recreating this Saturday, a couple of dozen regional and national elites will almost certainly rewrite some records.

The current women's course record is SARAH MERCER's 1:09:39, set it 2014. That is also the women's masters record. While it is a very solid MR, SUZIE FOX proved in 2015, that it may be a tad soft as an overall CR. The bike course was longer that year, and Suzie's 1:11:02 was the equivalent of a high-1:06 / low-1:07 result.

We mention this because there are at least two women in this year's field that, weather permitting, and it looks like it will, should pop 1:06s or faster. We're talking about BECKY YOUNGBERG and NICOLE HEININGER. Youngberg will come in as the favorite, as she has won her last three races, all in record time. The 43-year-old Eden Prairie resident appears destined to receive a Triathlete of the Year nomination. We'd be very surprised if she didn't cover the 750 yard - 13 - 5K course in 1:05, or faster.

Then there's Heininger, who collected her 14th career win at Chisago Sprint. Since her Rookie of the Year season in 2013, she has established herself as a threat to win every race she enters....


Who will, in our opinion, claim the final podium step for the women? Our pick is Duluth's BETTINA KEPPERS, who will definitely be in the Team Minnesota discussion this year. In four starts this season, she has a win and three other podiums. To keep her string of Top 3s alive, though, she'll have to keep a heard of elite masters in her rearview mirror.

Who are these aforementioned elite masters?  Last year's Top Two female finishers, ANDREA MYERS (top photo), now 42, who may well earn her 3rd consecutive MOY nomination, and Hopkin's own SARAH 'The Huntress" HUNTER, now 44, are in the field. 

Then there's reigning New Bri champ SARA RONDORF, 40, who could put hereself into the MOY discussion if she gives Myers a good race this weekend.

And let's not forget three-time HRT podiumer CATHERINE LEE.

We're very excited about the race for the women's masters podium.


In the women's AGs, we predict that ARIANNA WERTZ, 17, will take down the junior mark, and South Dakota's TERESA VAN HYFTE will lower her own 50-54W record. 

The men's course record is ERIK HENDRICKSON's 1:04:04. It's a goodie, but there are a couple guys in this year's field that can take that down, perhaps by as much as two minutes.


- MATTHEW PAYNE, 41. Since the millennial turn, pro DAVID THOMPSON has amassed more than 100 multisport wins. Next is CATHY YNDESTAD, who had won 71 multis before relocating to Switzerland. Then's there's Payne, who since winning his first tri in 2008, has charged on to record 51 more tri/du victories. He has won national championships and earned national awards, in addition to his 14 MMAs, more than any other Minnesota male. Yes, he is the clear choice for the win on Saturday.

- SAMUEL HAUCK, 34. Dr. Sam was once a household name, circa 2006-2008, on the Minnnesota tri scene, and he could be again. Soon. College, med school, internship and residency had taken him to Nebraska and New Hampshire. But he's back now, and ready to demonstrate the compettive prowess that earned him a Most Improved award, as well as Triathlete and Performance of the Year nominations back in the day. He's coming off a 5th place effort against a stellar Olympic field at Maple Grove, suggesting that a sub-1:04 on Saturday is certainly possible.

Two other guys who deserve mention here are BRETT LOVAAS (photo R) and ANDY ZABEL. Zabel is racing better than ever, which is saying a lot. He's won two races this season, and landed on three other podiums. We think he could flirt with a 1:04 on Saturday.

Lovaas has won this race the last two years and has a PR of 1:04:57. He'll be surrounded by speedy guys on Saturday, and could be pushed and pulled to a PR.

The athletes highlighted in this post are not the only ones worth mentioning. Several AG divisional record holders are returning, and we are anaxious to see how they fare, guys like LANG "Mr. Road Rash" HUNT (45-49), who is a HOOT!, TIM BROWN (55-59), and IAN NEMEROV (50-54).

The race is full, but we encourage everyone to come out and either spectate or volunteer. If you do, you'll understand why this event is a perennial "Race of the Year" nominee.





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