Race Previews

Inaugural Gear West Half & Olympic Preview...

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1st GEAR WEST HALF & OLYMPIC - The Liberty Triathlon was a beloved race that was one  of our state's "highlight" events for 14 years, the first sevenof which were staged at Baker Park, the last seven at beautiful Lake Rebecca Park Reserve. Special circumstances forced the cancellation of the race, not lack of interest or support.

From the moment it left the calendar in 2018, various groups have given serious consideration to resurrecting Liberty. Earlier this year, Gear West Bike and Triathlon and some local athletes stepped in to bring this iconic race back, albeit with a new name: Gear West Half and Olympic.

The competitive records at the original races will be hard to match or beat. The Half records were set by MATT PAYNE, aka "The Pain Train," and KORTNEY HAAG. Matt threw down a 4:02:46 in 2014, in inclement weather no less, and Kort rocked  a 4:35:45. The average winning time for men was in the 4:12-15 range, and for women, 4:42-48.

Are there athletes on the current roster who can race at that level? Yes. Kortney, winner of nine half IMs in her career, the last of which was at Chisago in 2019, where she popped a 4:32:52, is registered. For the guys on the current list, JAKE KEEHAN, who is coming off a stellar effort (3rd) at Heart of the Lakes, is certainly capable of a 4:15-or-better. And there will certainly be several other fast men and women that will sign up between now (July 22) and race day. ...

The Olympic race will be super competitive, especially on the women's side. And while CHRISTINA ROBERTS' 2:12:21 course record set at Liberty 2013, is stout, there are several women who are capable of matching or exceeding that time, weather permitting, of course. They are:

GABY BUNTEN - The rookie pro is a former amateur National Champion, Worlds' overall silver medalist with sub-2:10 Olympic credentials. On paper, she is the clear favorite.

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BECKY YOUNGBERG - Becky has amassed at least 47 multisport victories in her career, and like Bunten, has broken 2:10 at  Olympic distance on several occasions.

DIANE HANKEE - Hankee has 40 multisport wins on her scorecard and has an Olympic PR of 2:12.

Also capable of fast times on the Liberty course are ANDREA MYERS and CHERYL ZITUR, who have won there before.

Once again, other fast athletes are expected to enroll before race day.

 

DAVID KOPPEL, who has won his last four races, including Buffalo Olympic and Heart of the Lakes, is the obvious men's favorite at this point.

Now, while it's fun to talk and write about the men and women who set such high performance standards in our state, please know that organizers welcome athletes of all abilites.  

Have you registered yet? If not, link HERE.

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