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Triathlon: Blankenheim, Bacigalupi capture triathlon titles

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Josh Blankenheim runs out of the water at Whipple Beach after completing the swim leg of the Lakes Country Triathalon. Blankenheim went on to win the event with a time of 57:49. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER -- Josh Blankenheim of Duluth improved on his second-place finish of last year to post the fastest time in the Lakes Country Triathlon and Baxter’s Jacquelyn Bacigalupi repeated as the top female finisher Sunday, Aug. 25, at Kiwanis Park in Baxter.

Blankenheim completed the quarter mile swim, 13.6 mile bike ride, and 3.2 mile run in 57:49, better than his time 58:27 last year when he finished second to Wade Cruser of Sauk Rapids who set a 56:55 course record. Cruser did not compete this year.

Bacigalupi, 41, finished eighth overall in 1:11:05, slightly slower than her winning time of 1:09:56 last year.

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Jacquelyn Bacigalupi crosses the finish line Sunday, Aug. 25, at Whipple Beach Kark winning the women;s division of the Lakes Country Triathalon with a time of 111:05. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

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Race conditions were near perfect. Temperatures hovered around 63 degrees under sunny skies with a slight breeze when it began at 8:30 a.m. for 138 registered participants with the swim in Whipple Lake.

Blankenheim, a 39-year-old fisheries biologist with the DNR, was the third swimmer out of water, 19 seconds behind the leader. A quick transition time had him in second for the start of the bike leg.

“Coming out of the water, there was just a couple of guys ahead of me - one was a relay so that didn’t matter,” he said. “The lake was nice and when I got on the bike course, I overtook the one young guy who was ahead of me there.”

By the end of the bike, Blankenheim built a 4:10 lead over the eventual second-place finisher, 45-year-old David Lewis from Nevis. He stretched that lead to 5:09 at the finish line.

“The run was really nice and the course was good,” said Blankenheim. “You could feel the breeze, but it wasn’t bad, and I just tried to focus on keeping the legs going. It’s a short race, so you had to be on it and not let your mind wander. Overall, it was a nice day for a race and things felt pretty good.

“Usually I get better as I go along. Swimming is my weak point. Then I usually cycle better and then I usually run better than I cycle. Generally I move up the field throughout a race.”

Blankenheim said this was his fourth or fifth time running the Baxter tri. The last was in 2011 before he came back to place second last year.

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“This was my sixth race this year which is pretty typical for me,” he said. “But this is it for me this year. I’m probably done now for this year.

“I was hoping that some other pretty talented (athletes) would show up, but there were some younger guys who looked like they could be pretty good in the future. I can’t control who else shows up. I just show up and do the best I can. Sometimes I win and a lot of times I don’t.”

One of those younger athletes was 15-year-old Baden Bastian of Baxter who was the top male finisher from the Lakes Area with a 1:11:22, placing ninth overall and eighth among the males. He was the fourth swimmer out of the water, but was sitting 32nd following the bike.

He found his stride in the run and turned in the fourth fastest run time (20:19). He sprinted the last several hundred yards to the finish, barely winded.

Justin Skoglund, 38, of Fort Ripley, finished 10th overall and ninth for the males.

Bacigalupi repeats as top female finisher.

Bacigalupi, who is also a fisheries biologist, was the third female swimmer to exit Whipple Lake, just 21 seconds behind the leader.

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“The swim was a little different for me,” she said, “because I was trying a new long sleeve wetsuit that I’m going to use in the Tempe Arizona Ironman that I’m training for in November. That will be really cold water so today was good training for that.

“I felt the swim started out cold, very cold, and I was worried about the bike leg. I’ve been having some hamstring issues and I did not need to be cold on the bike, but it was fine.”

By the end of the bike leg, Bacigalupi created a two-minute lead.

“I live around here and train around here so for the bike it’s a little bit of an advantage to know the roads and the hills and where the turns are,” she said. “I’ve been doing pretty good on the bike lately.”

It turns out she needed that advantage as second-place finisher Simone Lundquist closed the gap to 34 seconds by the end of the race.

“Right now, the run seems to be my weakest part,” Bacigalupi said. “It used to be my strongest, but as I get older, it’s definitely been more of a struggle as I age.”

Lundquist is a 16-year-old from Maple Grove who runs for Heritage Christian Academy. She vacations with her family at their cabin in the Deerwood area and enjoys mountain biking in the Cuyuna Recreation Area. She finished third in the female division last year.

Gabrielle Chalupsky, 14, East Gull Lake, finished 11th and Jessica Hinckley, 40, Baxter, was 13th.

Complete results can be found at: https://www.mtecresults.com/race/show/8784/2019_Lakes_Country_Triathlon-Summary_Results or www.pickleevents.com .

For more photos of the Lakes Country Triathalon go to https://bit.ly/2HnOcUK .

Lakes Country Triathlon

Men’s results (Top 10)

1-Josh Blankenheim, 39, Duluth, 57:49

2-David Lewis, 45, Nevis, 1:03:05

3-Carson Teichmann 16, Mankato, 1:05:00

4- Bill Kelley, 46, Wrenshall, 1:05:13

5-Rick Hoover, 51, Rochester, 1:09:19

6-Jack Hennen 19, Cambridge, 1:09:49

7-Philip Imholte, 39, Grand Rapids, 1:10:40

8-Baden Bastian, 16, Baxter, 1:11:22

9-Justin Skoglund, 38, Fort Ripley, 1:11:30

10-Josh Bertelson, 39, Plymouth, 1:11:49

Women’s results (Top 10)

1-Jacquilyn Bacigalupi, 41, Baxter, 1:11:05

2-Simone Lundquist, 16, Maple Grove, 1:11:39

3-Tara Makinen, 39, Grand Rapids, 1:13:40

4-Morgan Bell, 16, Maple Grove, 1:15:13

5-Lisa Hines, 56, Waite Park, 1:16:15

6-Mary Deeg, 57, Delano, 1:17:45

7-Michelle Nordland, 51, Pine Island, 1:18:43

8-Macy Bell, 14, Maple Grove, 1:20:36

9-Cathy Sell, 41, Oronoco, 1:20:46

10-Beth Roloff, 34, St. Paul, 1:22:08

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