Race Previews

Falls Du Preview...Great Venue & Coffee Too...

The 2nd annual Falls Duathlon will be contested on Saturday (May 1) at Cannon Falls' beauteous Hannah's Bend Park. Sign-ups have significantly surpassed last year's and registration will remain open until shortly before race time. Weather should be accommodating with morning temps around 60 degrees. Yes, there's a small chance of rain (30%) statewide this weekend, but let's assume that we won't see any wet stuff until later in the day, if at all.

Jesse Nelson's course record on this scenic 2 mile-14 mile-3 mile route is a solid 1:04:57. Winner of five races in '09, Nelson is hoping to kick off his 2010 season with a successful defense at Falls. Expect him to better his CR, though it may not be enough to win the race. On paper, the man to beat is Chad Millner, who has long been one of Minnesota's premier run-bike-runners. Via e-mail, Chad outlined his strategy for Saturday and his plans for 2010:

".....Goals: I'm taking a year off from swimming to concentrate on getting my run back to where it was in my college days. Not there yet but getting better. So my goal at Falls Du is to have a solid first run, strong bike"

"I'm doing the Falls Du, Oakdale, GearWest, Apple, Mpls, and maybe the fall duathlons also. Also doing some off road mtn bike races such as Ragnarok 105 (a couple weeks ago in Red Wing) and the Dirty Benjamin (gravel road race / ride out of Chaska in June)." -CM

If Chad shows any sign of weakness on Saturday, Jesse will pounce on the opportunity. PREDICTION: Historically, both Chad and Jesse are fast starters, i.e. they race well in the early season. Both men will be fast in Cannon Falls, each breaking 1:04. Chad should win with a finish time in the 1:03:40 range.

For the women, Canadian transplant Diane Hankee, winner of three races in 2009, two of them dus, should rip Gracia Folkeringa's soft CR, which is 1:19:42. Diane should finish approximately 10 minutes after the male winner, which would take the old mark down by 6-7 minutes. Rochester's Johanna Hall will keep Hankee honest and break 1:15 in the process. Hall, a decorated nordic skier, won two multis in 2009.

Hankee just missed landing a spot on Team Minnesota last season, placing 12th in the polling. We expect her to make the Team this year.

There's lots a great things to say about this event. Great venue. Produced by Final Stretch, etc. Add to this the fact that the Burly Coffee Companyin downtown Cannon Falls (1108 5th Street) is one of the best coffee shops you'll find anywhere. And that includes Seattle! In the post-race mood for great food and a world class latte, cappuccino or dark roast (etc.), we wholeheartedly recommend Burly.

MAJOR UPDATE: We have a new favorite in the women's contest. We have just learned that national class multisporter Julie Hull, winner in '09 at Oakdale, Treadman and most significantly, Iron Girl, has registered. If Hull, who ranked #2 on Team Minnesota in 2008, is fit, she should win.

"I read the Falls Du post, but might have to disagree with one thing: the winning time could be a bit longer than last years, rather than faster, only because of the bike course. Last year we had some cross winds on the bike, but it wasn't too bad. The bike course is an out-n-back that goes north 7 miles, then back 7. Tomorrow, on the bike, we're going to be greeted by 20+ mph winds from the SW. We may be able to take advantage of that on the way out, but not sure how much time can be made-up before hand. We'll see.

I do agree that Burly Coffee is a great place! Take Care...MM

Good stuff! Thanks, Mario. - Ed.

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