Race Previews

Epic Head-to-Heads on Tap at Liberty Half...

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LIBERTY HALF IM XIV - We are very excited about this year's Liberty Half, in large part because 2016 Ms. Everything, HANNA GRINAKER, is returning to serious racing after an abbreviated 2017 season. Her aptitude at all tri distances is stratospheric. She's capable of rocking sub-2:10s--she has two actual 2:10s on her scorecard already!--in Olympic races, and 4:30s, perhaps high 4-:20s, at 70.3.

Of her eleven previous multisport races, three have been halves. Her first such effort was here at Liberty, where she finished 2nd in 4:47 despite having ridden long. Her second half produced a 4th place finish against a stellar cast of veteran long course elites. Her time was 4:41. Her other 70.3 was at Madison last year, where in ghastly weather, she placed 3rd in 4:46 behind former pro / Ironman Wisconsin record-setter DANI FISCHER, and Rochester's brilliant DANI VSETECKA, whose victory earned her the Performance of the Year award.

Can Hanna win Liberty's women's title on Saturday? Sure, but she'll have to outperform our state's all-time winningest female 70.3 racer: KORTNEY HAAG. Kort has won this race twice, and owns the women's CR, a brisk 4:35:45....

Liberty Olympic Turns 15...Updated...

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LIBERTY OLYMPIC TRIATHLON XV - Next Saturday, the Liberty Tris will celebrate their 7th anniversary at the Lake Rebecca venue. For those who don't recall, or who have come to the multisport lifestyle in the last decade, the orginal Liberty races were staged at Baker Park.

The LIberty experience features a long course (half IM) and an Olympic event. Let's discuss the Olympic race today.

The men's competition this year will feature three past champions, including race record holder KEVIN O'CONNOR, who has won this event three times. 

Then there's DAVID HOLDEN (photo L), who has also won this race thricely. Who will prevail in the O'Connor / Holden match-up next Saturday? KO had beaten David on this course in their last confrontation, which was back in 2013. He also finished ahead of him in their last head-to-head, which was at Lake Waconia in 2016. Based on this, we give O'Connor the advantage next weekend.

But then there's 2017 Master of the Year, a guy who has won more MMAs than any of his male peers, MATTHEW PAYNE. A two-time LIbery winner, albeit in the half, where he owns the two fastest times in race history, Matt has amassed 50 career wins in his first decade of racing. One doesn't bet against a guy like that....

Bridget's Return...

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27th PIGMAN SPRINT TRIATHLON - Since 1992, the Pigman has been Iowa's premier sprint triathlon, and Minnesotans have always rocked at this annual classic.

We expect more of the same on Sunday, however there will be some notable absentees, like HEATHER LENDWAY and DAVID THOMPSON (retired).

KEVIN O'CONNOR, now 47, has won the amateur title her more than anyone in the event's history. We cannot predict that he will repeat that feat this weekend. This is because the men's amateur field is insanely deep. We do think that KO will bring home the masters award, and may even finish as high as 7th overall.

So who are the front pack guys? Check out this list, which we have alphabetized:

KEVIN DENNY (Lees Summitt, MO) - Kevin's been the top amateur here the last two years. Will he do it again? Maybe, but we don't think so. In fact, he may not even make the podium. This is because the young upstarts, those whippersnappers who he had beaten in the past, are older, wiser, and faster. 

IAN HOOVER-GRINDE (Cedar Rapids) - A former USAT Junior of the Year, Ian is a special talent, one who is being groomed for a pro career.

KIPP KINSLEY (Yankton, SD) - Kinnsley broke out of the pack a few years back when he WON the Minneapolis Triathlon.

REECE LINDER (Cedar Rapids) - This young man impressed our socks off with his big win at Maple Grove Olympic last year. He has what it takes to win here, too....

New Bri Preview II - Predictions...

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NEW BRI TRI PREVIEW II - Who will be the stars of next Sunday's New Bri Tri? 

Before we speculate, we'll tell you that historically the winners at this race have been late sign-ups. We don't really expect that trend to change, especially this weekend. With Buffalo on hold for this year, we suspect that late registration will be brisk and interesting.

New Bri XIII Preview...

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NEW BRI TRI XIII - Though it is not our state's first tri of the season, it is, and  has been for a dozen years, Minnesota's lake swim tri opener. The earlier races--Tinman, COLT, TriWadena--feature pool swims.

With the postponement of this year's Buffalo Tri, we encourage those who were planning to race at Sturges Park to sign up for New Bri. We'd love to see a huge turnout for this June 3 event....

Apple Preview Part III...

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APPLE PREVIEW III - When this was written, only two women were registered in the Elite division. But they are two of our region's very best, national class talents certainly.

We're talking about SUZIE FOX and ELAINE NELSON, both of whom are past Apple champions. This head-to-head promises to be epic.

Here's some comparative stats: 

 

SUZIE FOX, 32, Chaska

 

Career wins (since 2009) - 41

Career Du Wins - 9

Apple Podiums -  2 x 1st (2013, 2011), 2 x 2nd (2015, 2012), 2 x 3rd (2016, 2014)

Best Apple Time -  1:33:40 (2012) - #7 all-time amateur (since 2004)

 

ELAINE NELSON, 38, Duluth

 

Career wins (sine 2011): 16 (28 starts)

Career Du wins: - 2 (Apple 2015, Gear West 2014)

Duathlon Podiums - 2 x 1st, 1st 2nd (Gear West 2017), 1 x 3rd (Gear West 2015)

Best Apple Time - 1:34:06 (2015) - #9 all-time amateur (since 2014) ...

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