News & Stories
Despite Windy Start UCare Tri-Loppet Finishes Strong
Hundreds of paddlers, runners and mountain bikers descended on the Chain of Lakes and Theodore Wirth Park for the 9th annual UCare Tri-Loppet. Athletes of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels joined the fun in the paddle-run-mountain-bike event. Participants could either complete all three events themselves in the individual category or create a relay team. There were more than 300 individuals and 42 relay teams in this year’s UCare Tri-Loppet.
Earlier in the week it looked like it might thunderstorm in the morning, however the day started rain-free and relatively clear. At race time as the canoes lined up on Lake Calhoun the wind started to pick up, challenging the most seasoned of paddlers. Nearly all of the boats were able to complete the full course, which started at Lake Calhoun and made its way through the Chain of Lakes to Brownie Lake.
Quite a few boats tipped over, some even multiple times, but people paddled on. Several “paddle partner” boats – ones navigated by middle school students from the Loppet Foundation’s ski and bike teams and their adult partners – could not battle the waves and wind so they entered in at a different point with permission of Race Director Mike Erickson. (When asked how the event was Mike answered with a single word: “Windy!”) It was remarkably calmer on Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake and Brownie Lake than it was on Lake Calhoun.
The paddlers finished on the north side of Brownie Lake where Surly Brewing Co. volunteers were there to help the paddlers out of the lake and to take the boats off their hands. The run headed from Brownie Lake over the 394 bridge and then into Theodore Wirth Park and continued to wind its way through the 759-acre park. The final leg was the mountain bike which took participants on a great tour through the trails of Theodore Wirth Park and finished at the Loppet Adventure Camp location right next to Wirth Beach.
This year’s top individual male finishers were Jonathan Sanborn, 53, of St. Louis Park (1:43:21) who narrowly beat David Nelson, 42, of Medicine Lake by one second (1:43:22). Matt Liebsch, 30, from Orono came in just a minute and 10 seconds (1:44:32) after David to finish third. In the women’s individual category, last year’s winner Josie Nelson, 35, of Medicine Lake took first place with a time of 1:44:48. Olympian (’10) Caitlin Gregg, 33, of Minneapolis came in second (1:51:47) while Molly Moilanen, 38, of Bloomington took third place.
Relay Team Results
In the men’s relay category, Hoigaard’s Adventure Racing (Todd Brewer, Ben Menk, Jeremiah Menk and Matt Schadow) came in first place with a time of 1:55:01. A particularly strong run by Matt Schadow at a 6:20 pace (a good three minutes faster than the runners on any of the other relay teams) propelled the team to the podium. Ellen’s Team, made up of Jeff Paulsen and Jordan Narvey, came in second with a time of 2:01:41. They were the first team out of the water on the paddle portion of the course. Rounding out the top three men’s relay team was Team Vincent, made up of Fred Kuhnen and Matthew Barnes, who finished less than a minute behind the second-place team (2:02:15).
In the women’s relay category, the Speed Demons (Diana Munger and Kelly Skillicorn) led the way for all three legs with a time of 1:55:39, coming in just behind the top men’s relay team. Following them in second place was team Tiki Taka (Paige Olson, Melissa Shelendich and Anne Rogosheske) at 2:17:50, and in third place with a time of 2:23:41, team S.S. Minnow (Kim Adams and Jessica Barkley).
There were 13 mixed relay teams with creative names such as the Rummikub, Livick Loppeters, Happy Birthday Jess!!! and Penny Eats Sophie. TriBarnes (Kevin Shriver, Emma Shriver and Matt Appleman) came in first place with a time of 1:58:10, while Team Tank (Beth Tank, Kris Fuglestad, Jay Obenauer and Steven Fuglestad) came in second with a time of 2:07:55. Penny eats Sophie came in third with a time of 2:14:53.
In the family relay team category, Team C. Puff (Ethan Peterson, Susan Feyereisen, Erika Peterson and David Peterson) came in first place with a time of 2:03:54, propelled to victory by top finishes in both the paddle and bike portions of the race. The Bubblebutts (Tom and Tessa Rykken) came in second place with a time of 2:06:11. Rounding out third place, with one of the more creative and graphic monikers, was the Yore Gonna Hurl team (Steve Yore, Eyob Yore, Eli Yore and Janine Sieja), which came in at 2:07:57.
Truly a Race for All
What makes the UCare Tri-Loppet a particularly fun event from the race organizers’ perspective is that it draws from the entire spectrum of outdoor-activity enthusiasts from the hard-core paddlers, trail runners and mountain bikers who regularly compete in events to families who are participating for the fun of it and to just be outside and active together. There is a great sense of community at the UCare Tri-Loppet, which is wonderful to see and experience.
The oldest participant, Darby Nelson, 72, is a long-time participant in the UCare Tri-Loppet. He was bursting with excitement at the end of the race as he was sitting with his wife, Geri, under a tree.
This year more than 25 youth from the Loppet Foundation’s middle school ski and bike teams participated in the event. Most of them paddled with a “paddle partner,” while some of the Loppet Alumni paired up together. At the awards ceremony, race awards coordinator Jennifer O’Link invited all of participants under age 18 to come join the top male and female participants for a picture. It was exciting to see such a diverse group of young people up on the podium, exhausted from the event but excited about what they accomplished.