June 24, 2012
Total triumph and lessons learned..from Lake Waconia, MNA pro triathlete from "back in the day" as she says--meaning the late 1980s for you young'uns--Heidi Keller-Miler is now 47 years old and just had her "best race since Turtleman 10 years ago." Turtleman at that time was a premier competitive race, and Heidi won it that day a decade ago. She won today, too, at the ultra-competitive Lake Waconia Triathlon, thereby securing the top Best of the U.S. qualifying slot for Minnesota. That's her in the photo at left, receiving her award from Race Director Marvin Denzer. To Heidi's left is young Stephanie Solfelt, a former U of M swimmer and current Gopher runner, who turned in a breakout performance today, in just her second season of triathlon racing. How do we know it's a breakout for Steph? Because to her left is the woman she beat, Kortney Haag, overall winner of at least two 70.3 races and recognized far and wide as a half-distance powerhouse. Kort was MN Rookie of the Year in 2008; Most Improved Athlete in 2009. Next to her is Andrea Myers who returned to Minnesota last year after a 9 year stint with husband Scott dominating multisport in Ohio. Andi is a multi-time BOUS Championship competitor and broke into the Top Ten in 2007. Her fourth place today puts her in the first pass-down position, should any of the top three be unable to compete at the Championship. In fifth was LIv Williamsen (not pictured).
See the guy in the photo banner hanging from the trailer behind the women in the pic? That's Minnesota's Matt Payne winning the Best of the U.S. Championship last year. Not normally given to touchdown-
dance displays, Matt was so happy to have pulled it all together ("no epic fails") to win that his elation just had to show. In a tempered and humble expression, Matt simply lifted the finish tape overhead, not in self-aggrandizement, but in pure joy. That was his first major tri victory over teammate Patrick Parish--a major accomplishment in and of itself. So when he did it again today, earning the top slot and opportunity to defend his National Championship, Matt's triumph was complete.
Until moments before the awards ceremony.
"There are two minutes added to my time," Matt reported. Ever the class act, Matt simply nodded when shown the photo of his wetsuit on the grass, too far outside his transition space, that resulted in the two-
minute "equipment placement" penalty assessed by the officials. In the interest of continuing education, we will post the photo when we receive it from the official who graciously agreed to forward it –– a reminder to all and a lesson shared. Thankfully, Matt's "win" was big enough that the penalty pushed him only down to third, still a qualifying position for BOUS. Parish, meanwhile, was unaware of the adjustment until he was called to the awards and announced the winner. A gentle sportsman, Patrick simply stated that's not how he would want to win, that he felt bad about the penalty, but "at least Matt's still got the big banner going for him."
Sandwiched between the two TCMC teammates in the official finish order was Alex Hooke (7th at long-distance Worlds last year), followed by up-and-comer Marcus Stromberg and the ageless Kevin O'Connor, professor emeritus of the Gear West Tri Club and procurer of the GW tri-suit that Heidi attributes as one factor in her amazing race.
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