Posted by: Dennis Green | August 15, 2011

Turtleman – Nice & Dry

The Turtleman is Minnesota’s oldest triathlon, celebrating 28 years in 2011. Only one problem: Turtle Lake has been experiencing historic low water levels, creating issues with the swim. Race director Mark Stange and his staff, with a little help from Gear West Bike’s new Minnesota State Champion Series (MSCS), turned this… well, turtle’s ear into a silk purse by making the race a duathlon. A 3K run began the morning, and the race continued to then feature a 36K bike and 8K run as in years past.

The change also filled a need for the MSCS, a new series that includes one each of Sprint, Olympic and Long race distances, but Gear West honcho Kevin O’Connor was looking for a duathlon to complete the series This year at least, the Turtleman was able to oblige.

Mark says conditions were near perfect. “The rain quit just before the start, it was nice and cloudy throughout, then turned sunny just in time for the awards.”

Ironically, a swim might have been possible on race day. “The water level has pretty much come back,” Mark says, “but we had no way of knowing back in February when the lake was all iced over, and we had to make a decision about the race.”

David Thompson of St. Paul easily won the men’s race, despite a dislocated shoulder earlier this year (Read the full injury story on David’s blog). His time of 1:24:21 was nearly three minutes faster than Patrick Parrish’s runner up finish. As of this writing, David is planning to be in Palo Aug. 21 to defend his championship in the Pigman Long. Tina Hjeltman of Cambridge, MN, won the women’s race.

Just about 140 participants completed the event, much lower than during the heyday of the Turtleman, with a full lake and good weather, but Mark is grateful for everyone who supported his race this year. His goal is mainly to keep the race alive until a dull tri can be held. And, it looks good for next year. So, plan to get wet at the Turtleman in 2012!

JMS Racing Services timed the race and you can look at the results here. The Shoreview Post has also posted a slideshow of pictures from the race.

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