Race Previews

Square Lake XIX Preview...


sqlakesprint.pngSQUARE LAKE PREVIEW - Next Saturday and Sunday the Square Lake 70.3 (Saturday) and Sprint (Sunday) will happen. We glanced at an entrant list last week and saw that world class amateur endurance athlete JAN GUENTHER, now 59, was on the 70.3 start list. This got us excited. We recall the 2001 Square Lake races when Jan won the Half IM on Saturday, returned on Sunday and placed 2nd in the Sprint. Two years later--she missed 2002 because she was busy WINNING Ironman Wisconsin, which shared the same weekend--she won the half again. Exhausted, she lay in the grass afterward and asked how hot it was. She was told that temps were in the mid-90s, with dew points in the mid-70s. She replied, "Good. That explains why I feel so lousy."

Despite the broiling temps and juicy air, Jan set a course and masters record in 2003. Her time was a circumstantially remarkable 4:49:21...

Hopkins Preview...


HOPKINS ROYAL PREVIEW - Doobie's event, a perennial "Race of the Year" nominee--it won the award in 2015, is all about celebrating healthy living and building community. It has never been about creating a highliy competitive race, though it has always managed to draw a few credentialed athletes.

This year is slightly different, though. Like it or not, Doob, you have got yourself a very talented field, but that won't diminish the event's deeply imprinted celebratory / community building legacy.

(FYI - One of the ways Doobie promotes "community" is by inviting the directors of other races promote their events at the Hopkins Royal Triathlon. His message is one of "unity" with other races, not competition among them. Pretty cool, huh.)

So, while the majority of the 400 entrants are playing and recreating this Saturday, a couple of dozen regional and national elites will almost certainly rewrite some records.

The current women's course record is SARAH MERCER's 1:09:39, set it 2014. That is also the women's masters record. While it is a very solid MR, SUZIE FOX proved in 2015, that it may be a tad soft as an overall CR. The bike course was longer that year, and Suzie's 1:11:02 was the equivalent of a high-1:06 / low-1:07 result.

We mention this because there are at least two women in this year's field that, weather permitting, and it looks like it will, should pop 1:06s or faster. We're talking about BECKY YOUNGBERG and NICOLE HEININGER. Youngberg will come in as the favorite, as she has won her last three races, all in record time. The 43-year-old Eden Prairie resident appears destined to receive a Triathlete of the Year nomination. We'd be very surprised if she didn't cover the 750 yard - 13 - 5K course in 1:05, or faster.

Then there's Heininger, who collected her 14th career win at Chisago Sprint. Since her Rookie of the Year season in 2013, she has established herself as a threat to win every race she enters....

Maple Grove Name-Dropping...


MAPLE GROVE TRIATHLON PREVIEW - It's hard to believe that the Maple Grove Triathlon will celebrate its 9th anniversary tomorrow. But its true.

Those who have done this race know that it is awesome. It is well-attended and staged beautifully at a truly world class venue....

A Superior Race....


SUPERIOR MAN TRIATHLON - The 7th edition of this decorated (three-time "Race of the Year") event is next Sunday, and we can't wait to get there. It is truly an exciting event, and the competition, especially in the half IM, is awesome. Did you know that an amateur men's state record was set there last year--MATT CYMANSKI's 4:01:40--and a women's amateur state standard--NICOLE WALKER's 4:25:05--was set there in 2016? 

It's true, and how cool is that!

Do we expect those records to tumble on Sunday? We are reluctant to predict that, but it could happen. HANNA GRINAKER (photo) popped a 4:28 at Chisago, and was on pace to go that fast, or faster, at Liberty when weather surgerized the run course.

With her IM debut just weeks away, we suspect that Hanna will target the men, not the women, on Sunday. Her goal will be to catch and pass as many credentialed guys as possible. We're predicting a sub-4:30 for her, and a spot in the overall Top 5-7.

Grinaker's boyfriend is 2017 MInnesota Triathlete of the Year SEAN COOLEY, who has already won Superior Man FOUR times. His personal best here is 4:04:21. Can he take the CR down next weekend? Sure. In our opinion, he's the one Minnesota guy who, at this point in time, has a legit shot at cracking the 4-hour mark. 

We're hoping that the weather will cooperate on Sunday--current forecast is for temps between 60 and 72, with light winds out of the NNE--so that more Superior Man magic will happen.

Here's some of many things we hope to see: ...

Lakes Country Turns 19...


LAKES COUNTRY TRIATHLON - The 19th edition of this sprint triathlon will happen next Sunday, and if you haven't done it yet, we suggest that you give it a try. Simply put, it's a very cool event.

Approximately 150 athetes had enrolled when the race director allowed us to look at the registration list. That was last week. So, as with race management, our hope is that the LCT gets a nice late push, and that 200-or-more athletes line the beach at Whipple Lake next weekend. Last weekend's races had encouraging attendances, and we hope that Lakes Country will continue that positive trend.

Now, who do we think will win in Baxter next Sunday? Based on the list we saw, our picks are Sauk Rapids'  WADE CRUSER and local standout JACQUELYN BACIGALUPI (photo). We're picking Cruser even though he would have raced the day before at Maple Grove. And though the Maple Grove/Lakes Country weekend marks his fifth consecutive week of racing, a period he kicked off with a PR at Chisago Lakes Half, and followed with three (maybe four?) straight victories, we are betting that his speed and fitness will triumph over the fatigue that a more mortal athlete would experience  under similar circumstances.

Cruser is definitely cruising for a Triathlete of the Year nomination, thus guys like SEAN COOLEY and PATRICK PARISH better up their games if they want to prevent Wade from taking the prize....

Party Invitation & Previews....


- SWIM + BARBECUE! Hosted by Gear West Bike & Triathlon and the Lake Minnetonka Triathlon!


For a swim + barbecue at Long Lake (one minute west of Gear West)

Lake Minnetonka Triathlon race participants (who sadly, did not race this year due to
adverse weather conditions) and Gear West triathletes + swimmers + skiers who swim +
runners who swim! 


Swim starts at 10:30 (meet at GW at 10:15 and we will head down to the park)

Swim length can be ½ mile (or less, because you can just turn around) to 1 mile from beach
to the Orono beach (the GW Ram van will take us back to the starting beach)...

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