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Lavin wins third straight Green Lake Triathlon

<b>Rand Middleton</b> The fourth of seven waves, Men 35-over Sprint Course, makes a beach start running into Green Lake in front of Melvin's on the Lake to begin a ¾-mile swim.

SPICER -- For a guy who grew up playing golf and tennis, Mark Lavin sure has learned his way around a triathlon course.

Lavin won the Olympic division of the sixth annual Green Lake Triathlon a third year in a row on Sunday.

Among the 80 entrants in the long race, he was third fastest in the ¾-quarter-mile swim, fourth quickest in the 24-mile bike leg, and second fastest over the six-mile road race.

"I played golf and tennis in high school," said the 31-year-old Vermillion, S.D., native, now a dentist in Sioux Falls. "In college, I thought golf was too expensive so I started looking for another lifetime sport. I grossly underestimated how expensive this sport is."

His winning time of 1:56:49 is about five minutes slower than a year ago. That could be due to alterations in both the bike and run due to an unpaved portion of Lake Avenue.

Bikers rode an out-and-back course along the north shore; the long course continued on county roads that circumnavigated Lake Calhoun,

"The roads were great," said Lavin. "It was an enjoyable ride through the country side."

In past years, the bike leg went around Green Lake.

Dave Baker, race director, announced at race time that he had changed the running course due to heavy rains on Friday night.

Runners headed east but cut south on County Highway 8 running in the north-bound lane out and back.

Bob Brown, 34, of Hopkins made it two straight in the Sprint. His time of 59:29 was 49 seconds over his winning time in 2008.

Pickle Events results showed 465 individual entrants, plus five disqualifications or DNFs.

Eighty conquered the Olympic distance, plus five relays; there were 278 more in the Sprint (¼-mile swim, 12.5-mile bike and 3-mile run), and 38 relays. It was a record turnout and the crowd at Saulsbury Beach the biggest yet seen.

Cindy Blackstock, 36, of Plymouth won the women's long course in 2:12.36, 11th overall.

Jill Ellenbecker, 36, of Coon Rapids was first in Sprint and 15th overall.

Conditions were near ideal. Swimmers left from the beach in front of Melvin's on the Lake in seven waves beginning soon after 8 a.m. with the temperature at 70 degrees and the lake calm.

Lavin, a taunt 5-foot-9, 148-pounds, sets his training goals for the Ironman series. In June he finished 97th of about 2,300 competitors in 10:06 at the Coeur d' Alene.

He's been coming to the Spicer area for years -- to a family cabin on the lake's east side.

"I first did the Sprint here four years ago," he said.

He's won all three times since the Olympic distance was added.

"I love this race," he said. "It's better organized than most. You notice the difference out on the course in the number of volunteers. There's always someone where you need them telling you which way to go."

Individual results will be posted on Tuesday.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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