By Rand Middleton
SPICER -- The 8th Green Lake Triathlon reached new heights on Sunday with 525 racers receiving a time.
A bump in relays was largely responsible with 47 Sprint and nine Olympic relays on the short or international course.
Weather conditions were also ideal adding to Saturday's walk-up registration. The temperature at race time was in the mid-60s.
With the new course only in its second season, many age-class and division records were recast.
Race Director Dave Baker said the new course seems to have added to the race's increased popularity. Also, Dick Beardsley's three-day participation as honorary race director seemed to add to the excitement around the area and especially at Melvin's on the Lake.
"People really enjoy the Green Lake Tri as a family weekend," said Baker. "We also have the free outdoor concert at Melvin's and Jerry MacNeil announcing the race."
MacNeil has been calling races since 1982 and operates the popular website Minnesotatrinews.com.
Beardsley, a two-time winner and course record holder at Grandma's Marathon, addressed the 500-plus competitors and hundreds more watching at the 8 a.m. start. He told of having to dig deep in the closing miles to keep pace with world champion Alberto Salazar in the famous "Dual in the Sun" at the 1982 Boston Marathon. He reminded the athletes that you can go farther and harder than you think.
The winners were Robert Brown, 36, of Hopkins and Suzie Olson, 41, of Blue Earth in the Sprint Triathlon. Brown is a three-time winner here and the 2010 runner-up. Olson placed fourth in the 2009 Olympic division. This is Olson's third trip here; she won at Fairmont and was runner-up at Albert Lea.
The Olympic distance had two first-time triathlon winners. Marcus Stromberg, 34, of Buffalo and Jessica Rossing, 36, of Duluth were victorious. Stromberg was runner-up at Graniteman-Clearwater earlier and eighth at the huge Buffalo Olympic race. Rossing was second at the Brewhouse Tri in Duluth. Vicki Ostendorf, 46, of St. Paul was the female runner-up a second straight year while dropping more than two minutes off her time of a year ago.
The bike leg was extended from 12 to 14 miles around Green in 2010. Wendy Nelsen of rural Willmar lowered her one-year-old record in the Sprint 55-59 age group by 4:30 to 1:26.28.
Tyler Hecht of Somerset, Wis., reset his Sprint 19U mark by 2:17 to 1:04.02. Hecht was sixth overall. C.J. Seifert of Willmar was second in the age group at 1:08.33. Hecht will attend St. Cloud State University this fall and will be trying out for the Jr. Elite Optimum Health Triathlon Team.
Josie Thole, 25, of Benson won the Sprint 25-29 female age class among 15 competitors.
Former Sprint champion Phil Cleary of Willmar won his 20-24 age class in 1:10.05. Kris Kolstad, 53, of Willmar and Forrest Peterson, 62, also of Willmar, were both Sprint age-class gold medalists.
Baker said the race will remain intact though he no longer will be directly involved after selling Melvin's on the Lake. It will still be called the Green Lake Triathlon and next year will take place Aug. 11 (kid's tri) and Aug. 12. On Saturday, about 150 children participated.
Sunday did see one bad injury. Jimmy Unger, 20, of Willmar struck a car at high speeds. Emergency personnel treated him at the scene and he was taken by ambulance to Rice Hospital in Willmar. His injuries were described has a bad cut on the leg and many scraps.
In a photo finish after a 50-yard shoulder-to-shoulder sprint, Nathan Ilse, a 33-year-old Rosemount middle school teacher, edged Hecht for sixth place by 1/100th of a second for fifth place in the Sprint.
Ilse is originally from Annandale and said he'd heard many good things about the Spicer tri he figured he had to enter.
"The bike course is awesome," he said.
"Just fantastic," added Hecht.