Race Previews

Chisago XVI Preview...

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2022 CHISAGO LAKES TRIATHLON PREVIEW - Approximately 900 triathletes are expected for this Sunday's 16th-edition Chisago Lakes 70.3, Sprint and inaugural Olympic triathlons. The CLT is a fantastic event at a fantastic venue: Paradise Park in Chisago City....

The fields are, as always expected to very competitive. Let's talk about that, starting with the men's races. About half the time, "usual suspects" prevail in the 70.3, like Josh Mork in 2019, Sean Cooley in  2017 and Matt Payne in 2016. Breakout performances account for the winners in the other years. Rookie KARL NYGREN on last year. He was not on the favorites radar. Nor was Aussie star-in-the-making MATT HUTCHINSON in 2018, or ERIC ENGEL in 2015. (Eric has since gone on to establish himself as one of our country's premier long-distance triathletes.)

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Nygren was not on the 2022 list that we saw last week. We hope he decides to defend. If that happens, he will be a podium favorite. Without him, the only name that jumped off the page we looked at was JOE ADRIAENS, a sub-9-hour 140.6 guy with two Chisago Top 3s to his credit, and a 4:13:26 personal best at the half IM distance. Joe, however, hasn't raced in a triathlon in two years. Will he be rusty? Or ready?

So, we suspect that a later registrant, or a heretofore under-the-radar guy, will shake things up at the front of the men's race. To us, that's exciting stuff.

Our men's favorite in the Sprint race is 2019 Minnesota Triathlete of the Year JOSH MORK. Mork won Chisago 70.3 in '19 (4:09:57), one of his eight career victories. He hasn't raced yet this year, so like Joe, there is the rust versus readiness question.

As for the men's Olympic, we believe the winner will be a late registrant, unless Iowa transplant EAMONN MCCULLOUGH can return to the form he displayed circa 2017 - 2019.

Let's talk about the women.

The 70.3 promises to be one of the most thrilling in recent history. If Karl Nygren's wife, KELLY TROM, makes an appearance--she's raced here for each of the last six seasons, winning twice--she will be the woman with the target on her back. As in 2021, her chief rival on paper will be Indiana's LIZ LEIBERMAN. Last year's runner-up has a 70.3 personal best of 4:33:57 (Chattanooga 2019). I she is fit enough to match that effort, she should finish first on Sunday.

Next, and this is exciting stuff, a plethora of women are poised to have breakout performances, some cracking the magical 5-hour barrier for the first time, others actually pushing for a podium spot. Podium pushers include Thunder Bay's KAYLA KJELLMAN (4:50:57 - PR), KATIE DEREGNIER, for whom bad luck has kept her on the wrong side of 5-hours, but has what it takes to break into the 4:40s, CARYN HERRICK (PR-4:51:01 but fit and ready to  go much faster) and ELAINE NELSON, who broke-5 at her first 70.3, and now hopes to leave the 4:50s behind.

And who are the list of potential sub-5ers? EMMA ADRIAENS (PR - 5:07), KRISTEN HAWKINS (70.3 debut on Sunday), tri rookie CHERYL JEZERITZ (PR - 5:00:18), STEPHANIE PETERSON and ELIZABETH "Betsy Nine Toes" SWARTOUT. We'll also have our eyes on elite runner MELISSA GACEK, who according to our research, will be doing her first non-virtual triathlon.

We are especially drawn to the women's 50-54 category in the 70.3. So much talent, and all with sub-5 potential. Is there a favorite? Yes. Bismarck's remarakable MARNIE WALTH, 53, who owns Chisago's 45-49W record (4:47:58 - 2014). Pushing her along will be MICHELLE BROST, 52 (Eleva, WI) and JEN MARTONE, 50 (Minneapolis).

Women's favorites in the Sprint and Olympic?  Based on the week-old list we saw, we are not ready to make predictions, other than to say that we expect late registrants to podium.

If you are not registered, register. If you can't race, come out to volunteer or watch what promises to be very exiting event. 

Top Photo - 2021 Chisago 70.3 winners KELLY TROM and KARL NYGREN.

 

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