Race Previews

Timberman XXXVI Preview...Updated!



36th TIMBERMAN TRIATHLON - The 36th edition of Minnesota's "Premier Destination Triathlon" will happen next Saturday at picturesque Sugar Lake Lodge. Once again, both the Sprint and Olympic competitions promise to be exciting and we can not wait until race morning. We're bummed, however, that due to closed borders, the event's loyal Canadian friends will not be in attendance.

Let's make some predictions. 

On paper, 1st place in the men's Olympic race should come down to a battle between past champions JOSH BLANKENHEIM and BROOKS GROSSINGER. These men have taken turns beating each other at Timberman, Brooks prevailing in 2014, Josh in 2016.  Though Brooks' 2021 resume features a win and a 2nd, enough to be named Masters Athlete of the Month in June, while in one appearance, Josh placed 3rd, albeit behind DAVID KOPPEL and former pro DAVID THOMPSON, we are unwilling to pick a winner. We do believe that less than a minute will separate 1st and 2nd place. That has not happened since the current course was established in 2013.

As for the women, three-time runner-up ANDREA MYERS appears to be the woman to beat on Saturday. If she can match her 2:12:52 personal best on this course, she should win by a comfortable margin. However, there is a slight possibility that 2020 Triathlete of the Year SHYANNE MCGREGOR, who has been nursing a foot injury, will be on the starting line. If that happens, she will take on the favorite's role.


We'll also have our eye on 2019 Most Improved nominee JESSIE MAHER, who picked up her 2nd career tri win at Average Jo two weekends ago. She placed 6th here in 2019, but might be ready for a podium finish this time around. The same can be said for lapsed triathlete TIFFANY KARI, who has cracked the Top 5 four times, including a bronze medal performance in 2014, at Timberman.

In the Age Groups, we expect former Grand Master of the Year (perennial nominee) NEIL KING, 72, to trash his division's course record. AG wins are predicted for CHRISTEL KIPPENHAN (55-59W), MIKE JOHNSON (50-54M) and BETH HASSLER (65-69W).


There are clear men's and women's favorites in the Sprint. Course record holder BETTINA KEPPERS is coming off a win at Bertram Blast and appears to be taking aim at the record she set  in 2019 (1:01:57). She'll be pushed along by the "usual suspects," SIMONE LUNDQUIST, 19 (4th in 2019), four time T-Man Sprint winner TARA MAKINEN, and 2015 winner and owner of five silver medals here, JENA OGSTON. We're anxious to see if Simone can match or better her sister's (TAYLOR) junior race record (1:02:57) set in 2018.



UPDATE:  This post was written last week. Since then, the event has filled, though not before some elite-level athetes registered, most notably Minnesota Athlete of the Decade HEATHER LENDWAY, who will be making her Timberman debut. Not only does the former pro move into the favorite's slot, we predict that BECKY YOUNGBERG's course record 2:07:35 will be rewritten. Also enrolled is male Rookie of the Year frontrunner HENRY JESSEN, who could claim the 3rd men's podium spot behind JOSH BLANKENHEIM and BROOKS GROSSINGER next Saturday.