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September 25, 2017

8/4/2017 2:31:00 PM
Cooley finally breaks through with victory at Toughman Minnesota

For the past half decade, Sean Cooley has been sniffing around the top spot at the Toughman Minnesota Half Triathlon, but he’s never been able to capture the top spot.
Since 2012, he’s finished 10th, 7th, 6th, 2nd and 4th, with times varying between 4:09 and 4:24.

2017 was the year that he finally took that last step, not only in time, but in his placement. Cooley finished the course on a humid Sunday in four hours, six minutes and 52 seconds. It was his best time ever at the Toughman Minnesota event, and it was good enough to earn him the championship by nearly four minutes.

Cooley, who is a resident of St. Paul, clocked the 13th fastest swim time on the day, but he torched through the biking event, finishing in 2:09:19, which was over five minutes better than the second biker to come in.

Cooley kept up his blistering pace in the 13 mile run, clocking the fourth fastest time of the day in the event.

Daniel Bretscher secured the second fastest time of the day, finishing the grueling race in 4:10:27 and Joe Adriaens, a Chisago Lakes Toughman newcomer, came in third place with a time of 4:13:25. The times the dropped off considerably, with no one finishing for another 10 minutes.

Molly Smith came from a long ways away to win the 2017 version of the Toughman Minnesota.

The Denver, Colorado native finished the race in 4:35:40, beating her main competition, Maple Grove’s Kortney Haag, by four minutes.

Smith had a pretty good swim time, but was 13th out of the water among females with a time of 34:35. Haag had a slight 20 second lead on Smith at that point.

In the biking, Smith clocked in at 2:28:15, the second fastest time among women on the day, but her chief competition, Haag, finished in 2:26:18 to stretch her lead to over two minutes heading into the last leg.

It’s there where Smith made her move. She caught up to, and eventually passed Haag on the running course and started to build a lead up. By the time she crossed the finish line, she had put four minutes between herself and Haag, finishing in 4:35:40. Haag finished in 4:39:50.

The win was impressive in and of itself, but even more so considering three former champions followed closely behind Smith and Haag. Kelly Trom finished in third with a time of 4:40:57, Diane Hankee came in fourth with a time of 4:47:29 and defending champion Erin Hyndman-Farrens finished in fifth in 4:48:13.

Local Runners
There was a heavy local flair this year, more so than in year’s past, at the Toughman Minnesota race.

In total, 10 local racers participated in the event.

• The top finisher was Aaron Wilson of Forest Lake. He came in ninth place this year with a time of 4:28:34.

• Sarah Zirkle, of Wyoming, finished in 5:11:27, which put her in 66th place. She was the top finisher in her age category, which was the women’s 50-54 range.

• Michael Palo of Forest Lake finished in 85th place with a time of 5:18:02.

• Lindstrom’s Jon Lauritzen came in 96th place with a time of 5:21:34.

• Quinlan Bonnet had an impressive day. The Forest Lake native finished in 5:43:22 which was good enough for 175th place. He was the first place finisher in the 14 and under age group.

• DJ Rodacker came in 197th place in a time of 5:48:43. He hails from Stacy.

• Jen Wilson of Forest Lake came in 237th place with a time of 6:03:51.

• Carissa Pullis, Stacy, came in 352nd place with a time of 7:02:49.

• Shannon Schlender of Lindstrom finished in 7:03:39 good enough for 353rd pace.

• Wanda Dwyer, Chisago City, came in 379th place with a time of 7:35:02

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