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Saint Paul Downtown Criterium

The 2010 Nature Valley Grand Prix got underway on Wednesday, June 16 in Saint Paul.

The morning Time Trial event started with nearly 300 men and women riders competing in “the race of truth.” That evening, the first criterium races were held in downtown Saint Paul.

While a new venue, downtown Saint Paul drew several thousand spectators and provided the pro bike racers with a longer, more challenging, course. The end result proved to be exciting with a sprint finish in the women’s race, with HTC Columbia rider Chloe Hosking grabbing the win. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Colavita/Baci Pro Cycling) and Shelley Evans (Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12, finished second and third respectively.  The men’s race was dominated by Kelly Benefit Strategies for the first 37 laps. In a shake down during the last three laps, United Healthcare p/b MAXXIS grabbed the front. The international finish included Australian Hilton Clark and Kiwi rider Karl Menzies (riding for United Healthcare) finishing 1 and 2; and Italian Luca Damiani (Kenda Pro Cycling p/b GearGrinder) finishing in third.

Thursday night, the racers traveled to Cannon Falls where they met with unfavorable weather that included National Weather Service-issued tornado watches, hail and high winds reaching 60 miles per hour. The men’s race got started as planned at 5 p.m. Central time, but by 5:35, officials decided not to start the women riders on the 66-mile road course; and the men were called back in with the race being neutralized.

Friday night, the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis will once again get the Minneapolis Criterium along the popular sections of Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street. The one-mile-long course is pancake flat and includes plenty of turns where the anticipated crowd of 15,000 will be able to enjoy all the racing action.

Full race results are available here: http://www.naturevalleybicyclefestival.com/Grand-Prix/Results/2010-Results/St–Paul-Crit-Men.aspx

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One That Got Away

hamiltonTyler Hamilton won’t be riding in the Nature Valley Grand Prix or any other pro bike races. Seems his shortened career is the result of not one, but two positive doping tests. The most recent caused by DHEA (steroid) in a supplement he knowingly took.

The full story was reported on ESPN.com (click here).

The back story is depression. It runs in Hamilton’s family and has become his nemesis in life. I wish Hamilton well and hope he finds peace in his fight with depression.

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Through unknown circumstances and perhaps some odd twist of six degrees of separation, I’m on a hate-e-mail list of people opposed to the Iditarod sled dog race held annually in Alaska – and of sled dog racing in general.

Members of this hate group have sent me, and more than 100 other people on “the list,” approximately 300 e-mails in the past two weeks asking me to stop sponsoring and/or supporting the Iditarod.

For the record, I assure everyone publicly I’ve never made a financial contribution to the Iditarod or any of its participants. Although the event sounds like a fun one – and, if pushed, I may have to go to Alaska just to watch. Perhaps this hate-group could send me cash for airfare and hotel accommodations so I can travel 2,000 miles to witness first hand the sled dog racing atrocities and the bottomless pit of suffering the dogs are put through, which I allegedly support.

It’s also important to note that I’ve never even made a positive comment to a sled dog race team owner. Not so much as a pat on the back or a hearty, “Well done” have slipped from my lips to anyone who harnesses dogs to a sled and commences mushing. That’s not because I have anything against the Iditarod. Afterall all, I’ve never even watched the race on TV, let alone EVEN MET a musher or his/her mushees.

Notably, there’s a storied history of sled dogs and how the phenomena started as well as its popularity today. I’m not going to provide the link here, however, because in doing so someone in the hate group might view it as supporting the activity, which I don’t – although I’m leaning more toward that side of the fence after reading up on the hobby.

I will, however, post the form letter I’ve received via e-mail some 300-plus times (see below).  It’s ironic, isn’t it, that those professing my sponsorship and abuse of sled dogs are abusing my e-mail address to convey a point in which I’ve now sided with their very opposition (almost)…to a point (because I have not, nor plan to make a financial contribution or send a shout out to any sled dog owner).

I might pet a dog though, once they’re done with their work day.

What’s more ironic to me is that within the United States, 1 in 50 children are homeless every day. Let’s not even think about how many of these children didn’t eat a meal last night or didn’t get a goodnight kiss from their mom or dad, because mom and/or dad work two jobs and still must decide whether to pay rent or buy groceries. And let’s not factor in the clear and present danger that exists when these children go to school each day, unable to learn at their full capacity because they are running on empty, wearing clothes found in the garbage and getting short-shrifted by teachers who view them as lost causes.

Yeah, instead, let’s put our money and interests on the abused sled dogs of America because, as we all know, dogs should receive far better treatment than do our own children. Dogs deserve to be placed on the doggie pedestal and revered from afar. Kids are resilient. They’ll bounce back from adversity. Dogs, though, they deserve much, much more.

Note from hate-group e-mailer (N. Pennington in Seattle, WA). Pennington has no idea who I am or why she is e-mailing me. Moreover, she has no proof that I’ve supported sled dog racing or the Iditarod.

Dear Iditarod Supporter:
Please end your organization’s support of the Iditarod dog sled race. For the dogs, this event is a bottomless pit of suffering. What happens to the dogs during the Iditarod includes death, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons and sprains. At least 136 dogs have died in the race. No one knows how many dogs die after this tortuous ordeal or during training. For more facts about the Iditarod, visit the Sled Dog Action Coalition website, http://www.helpsleddogs.org.

Sincerely,
N. Pennington
Seattle, WA 98136

Thanks N. Pennington from Seattle, WA.  Your points are so heartfelt and human that I almost wish I cared. I’m sure that right in your own backyard of Seattle some homeless, starving child with no dad and a mother strung out on meth is wishing he or she could join your cause and make a difference in the life of just one sled dog. Why not start recruiting now? My guess is the line of petitioners would grow if you just offered a hot meal and a cot in a warm, dry garage.

Those of you interested can catch coverage of the Iditarod on Versus.

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I’m not a big fan of major league baseball. The local team known as the Minnesota Twins is an under-funded, mid-market, dome-playing bunch and usually the team doesn’t perform well. But this year, as a new outdoor ballpark is being built for the team across town, the players have decided to lead their division. It’s a fun way to run out the summer – watching 20-somethings rip off singles and come-from-behind victories in an effort to make the playoffs.

That’s what happened on Saturday, Aug. 16. It was a classic, bottom-of-the-ninth inning, bases loaded, single that scored the winning run for the Twins and kept them in the fight for first place.

Good baseball isn’t just about how the team performs on the field. It’s who you go with. I have a small group of friends, most of whom are new acquaintances to me, who just happen to know how to have fun no matter what the sitch. We’re a Seinfeld-esque bunch, I’d say – complete with loads of sarcasm and self-deprication to keep us all laughing.

At the game on Saturday, we managed to develop our own sign language, examine wart faces, sing badly during the seventh-inning-stretch, and make great imaginings about the foul balls bouncing off inattentive fans’ foreheads. It was all in fun and made the game’s three-plus-hours go by in a flash.

That’s how good baseball is meant to be played…with great friends.

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This blog isn’t about professional sports. But I live in Minneapolis and it just happens to be home to the hottest NFL football player on the planet. In facYo Adriant, this rookie running back is so hot, team owner Zygi Wilf must be rolling his hands together like a mad man. Eight games into the season the lowly NFC North Minnesota Vikings possess just three wins. Even so, the Vikings have NFL record-setting running back Adrian Peterson so the losses are a bit easier to swallow.
If pseudo-coach Brad Childress keeps his head out of his hind end and properly calls plays involving AP, the Vikings may salvage the season.

More importantly, Wilf sells tickets, avoids blacked out games (the Vikings came close to having two games blacked out so far this season), and renews enthusiasm for a partially state-funded stadium, which is desperately needed.

Run A.P., run!

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The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and TC-10 mile events on Sunday, Oct. 7 were hot and humid. Race officials nearly called the race early, but the dew point/heat index didn’t quite reach the point Global Heroof closing the course (like they had to do in Chicago at that city’s marathon). Still, most participants were well off their expected completion times, but finished nonetheless.

All but one of the Medtronic Global Heroes, mentioned in my previous post, completed their races.  One participant finished sixth overall among women in the TC 10-mile race. Another female Global Hero had a 3:36 marathon, good enough to be admitted to the Boston Marathon if she chooses.  The individual who took himself off the course did so because of the heat and humidity after running 11 miles of the marathon course. He, along with many other marathoners, made the best decision for himself.

Congratulations to all these great people who are truly motivational for doing what they do – living life fully in spite of a chronic condition that may have otherwise limited their active lifestyles.

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On Sunday, Oct. 7, more than 15,000 running lovers will converge in downtown Minneapolis to participate in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon or TC-10 Mile Run.

15,000 people. Running. Through the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

While running distance races like marathons is nothing new (in fact, I believe running is one of the oldest sports and past-times on the planet), there is something unique about this particular marathon that very few people are cognizant of. In this marathon, dozens of participants are running with implanted medical devices.

Medtronic, with its headquarters in Minneapolis, has been the title sponsor of the Twin Cities GreenMarathon for two years. As part of its sponsorship, the company developed a unique program to recognize runners who have implanted medical devices who are, in essence, living a full and complete life because of their condition and the therapy they’ve chosen to treat it.  Some of these amateur athletes run with a pacemaker or defibrillator in their chests. Others run with an insulin pump attached to their abdomen. Still others have rods and screws along their spine correcting scoliosis.  The list of conditions is amazing.

What’s most inspiring, however, is that these people continue to achieve their goals, live their lives and serve as incredible moms, dads, sisters, brothers, role models, and mentors to many others afflicted with similar conditions who have similar hopes of living a full and complete life.

They are part of Medtronic’s Global Heroes program, and it has become one of the many attributes of the Twin Cities Marathon that makes it “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America.”

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