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Ludington Triathlon sprint races head out into the fog and chilly waters of Lake Michigan Sunday morning. MIsportOnline photo.

Ludington Triathlon sprint racers head out into the fog and chilly waters of Lake Michigan Sunday morning. MIsportOnline photo.

LUDINGTON – Kathy Calabretta, women’s runner-up in the sprint race Sunday TriathlonICONat the inaugural Tri to Finish Ludington Triathlon, hopes to do well at USA Triathlon’s age group nationals later this summer in Milwaukee.

In just which age group, however, isn’t clear.

Lauren Biggs, women's sprint winner at the Ludington Triathlon on Sunday, heads out of the bike after the fourth best swim of the day.

Lauren Biggs, women’s sprint winner at the Ludington Triathlon on Sunday, heads out on the bike after the fourth best swim of the day.

The 65-year-old from Ludington held off hard-charging 25-year-old Katherine McCarthy of Grand Rapids, by 12 seconds, and lost only to middle school phenom Lauren Biggs of Ludington.

Calabretta used the fourth-fastest women’s bike split of the day and a lighting fast 26-second streak through T2 to finish in 1:22:20. Calabretta needed every second to hold off McCarthy, who tore through the rat-maze run course in 19:35 to finish hard on her heels in 1:22:32.

Truth be told there were no women and very few men in 65-deep sprint race who were going to come anywhere close to finishing near Biggs. The 14-year-old women’s sprint winner finished the .75-kilometer (.46-mile) swim, 21-kilometer bike (13 miles) and 5K run (3.1 miles) sixth overall in 1:11:48.

Biggs had the fastest women’s swim (12:14) and bike splits (37:58) and second-fastest run (20:22). Her day was even more impressive when measured against the entire field: She was fourth out of frigid, fog-shrouded Lake Michigan and had the eighth best bike (20.6 mph) overall.

Overall winner Eric Abbott, 24, of Grand Rapids, scorched the bike in 31:20 (a 25 mph average) to win the men’s sprint title in 1:02:17.

Swim leader Aaron Denner, 25, of Grand Rapids, was second in 1:04:56 and 24-year-old Todd Buckingham of Big Rapids was third in 1:05:41.

For complete Tri to Finish Ludington Triathlon results, visit:

Milwaukee’s  finest

A USA Triathlon honorable mention All-American last year,

Kathy Calabretta

Kathy Calabretta

Calabretta has high hopes for her first trip to age group nationals Aug. 10-11, in Milwaukee.

“Brisk,” said Calabretta, about the swim, her accent a dead giveaway of her New Jersey origins. “Once you’re in there you’re not worried about the cold, you’re worried about where you’re going. Once your feet get numb, it doesn’t much matter.”

A runner before taking up triathlon seven years ago, Calabretta praised the run course. “It’s flat,” she said. “It’s pretty, it’s scenic and we watched the Badger go out. I didn’t stop to wave, but maybe next time.”

Biggs things ahead

The only reason Biggs won’t clean up in Milwaukee in August is that it’d

Lauren Biggs

Lauren Biggs

interfere with her performance at USA Track & Field’s youth nationals. That at the fact she’ll be getting ready for her freshman year of high school.

Biggs took the lead in the swim and never came close to giving it up. “The swim was the hardest part. It was definitely really cold,” Biggs said. “It was a little scary.”

Barely into her second year of triathlon competition, Biggs was second woman and 11th overall in the nearly 400-strong field at the Grand Rapids Sprint Triathlon on June 9.

“My dad did them when he was young and since I’m a swimmer and a runner, it just came naturally,” Biggs said.

Blow you away

Overall winner Abbott knew heading out toward Ludington State Park on the

Eric Abbott

Eric Abbott

bike course there’d be trouble when he turned around.

“It was really, really windy,” said Abbot, still out or breath after going back out on the run course to pace home a friend. “I knew that going out. I can’t normally go that fast – 31-32 mph – and that was going up some hills. There’s no way I’m that fast. I knew I was going to get hammered when I turned around.”

He ground down the big gears to average about 22 mph into a close to 20 mph headwind coming back and left T2 with an 4-minute cushion.

“My coach and I are dialing it in for Milwaukee,” Abbott said. “I’m hoping for some good results there.”

Twice the fun

Olympic distance athletes got to spend twice as much time doing a 1.5-kilometer (.9-mile) swim in the 57-degree chop inside Ludington’s breakwaters. Olympic distance triathletes biked 36 kilometers (22.4 miles) and ran a 10K (6.2 miles).

Dave Furey, 55, of Ann Arbor, out-ran 39-year-old Jason Demeter of Elkhart, Ind., for the Olympic title by 27 seconds, finishing in 2:00:08. Women’s Olympic distance winner Angie O’Brien, 42, of Grandville had a cushy 6-minute plus margin coming out of T2, to win in 2:11:59.

Another home-towner, Tomas Lopez, of Ludington, won the duathlon (5K run, 21K bike, 5K run) in 1:20:52. Utica’s Megan Fecteau was the women’s duathlon winner in 1:25:03.


RunningICONMatt Urbanski, 32, of Seattle, Wash., battled wind chills hovering a sliver above 0 and almost 6 inches of new snow to win the inaugural Groundog Marathon Saturday in Grand Rapids.

Urbanski completed six laps of the loop course along the Grand River through Millennium Park in 2:58:33 to finish first in a field of 143.

Jake Gillette, 26, of Goshen, Ind., finished second, over 13 minutes back of Urbanski in 3:12:34.


Despite conditions, Urbanski loss less than 5 minutes off the Boston Marathon qualifying time he ran last June in 60-degree temperatures at the Vancouver USA Marathon where he finished fifth overall in a field 567.

Top finisher in the 42-runner women’s marathon field was Lisa Altman, 38, of St. Joseph, who was 17th overall just under an hour behind Urbanski in 3:58:08. Last May 20 in Bay City, Altman ran a personal best 3:09:54 at The Qualifier Marathon on day when temperatures soared above 90 degrees. Altman finished over 12 minutes ahead of women’s runner-up Laura Waldo, 49, of Ludington, who finished in 4:11:40.

Check out the Groundhog Marathon’s facebook page:

Evan Groendyk, 26, of Grand Rapids, topped a field of 235 brave souls in the half marathon, finishing in 1:29:44. Runner-up Bret Austin, 46, of Edgerton, Wisc., was hot on Groendyk’s heels, finishing just 28 seconds back in 1:30:12.

Grand Rapids’ Janet Becker, 39, finished 9th overall in 1:44:15, topping a half marathon field of 119 women by a cool 7:45 over runner-up Christen McCool, 32, of Portage.

Hudsonville’s Matt Mehalko, 30, won the 1/6 marathon (4 1/3 miles for the distance math challenged) in 33:12.23. Jackie Green, 27, of Grand Rapids was 6th overall in the 55-runner field in 38:08.14.

For complete results of the 2013 Groundhog’s Day Marathon visit:


Sgt. Preston-Yukon King 5K winner Alex Myer of Scottville nears the finish at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex on New Year's Day 2013.

Sgt. Preston-Yukon King 5K winner Alex Myer of Scottville nears the finish at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex on New Year’s Day 2013.

With three straight Sgt. Preston-Yukon King 5K wins under his belt, there was no question Whitehall’s Greg Madendorp was fast.

How the 20-year-old Grand Valley State sophomore would fare over the landmark Block House Hill on the race’s 6-mile long course was an unknown until Tuesday.

Greg Madendorp

Greg Madendorp

“That’s definitely a hill,” Madendorp said New Year’s Day after adding yet another signature local race to his resume with a winning time of 33:29.

“I’ve run that hill a few times in training, but never in a race.”

Madendorp’s 5:35 pace was the fastest over the long course since at least 2007. A near event record combined field of 395 entrants included 138 finishers in the 6-mile run. The largest ever field for the Sgt. Preston Run was 403 entrants in 2011.

Madendorp trailed early leader Zacary Benham, 15, of Twin Lake, up and over Block House  Hill and continued to hang back until about the 4-mile mark (the same cagey tactics he used to win the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival 10K in July).

Madendorp surged into the lead when the course flattened out after the turn off Memorial Drive onto Peterson Road.

The footing, which had been good until that point, began to deteriorate on Peterson and grew treacherous on the homestretch, Madendorp said. “Fenner Road was bad, really icy,” he said.

"Brownie" a miniature Australian shepherd considers running in the 2014 Sgt. Preston -Yukon King Run with owner Jon Klimowicz

“Brownie” a miniature Australian shepherd considers running in the 2014 Sgt. Preston -Yukon King Run with owner Jon Klimowicz

Madendorp’s grip on the race lead never slipped once he went to the front. Benham finished second in 34:15 with 18-year-old Tyler Green of Fremont hot on his heels in 34:18.

Grand Haven’s Emily Thomas, 21, won her second straight women’s 6-mile title on Tuesday, finishing in 39:01. Lindsay Neal, 19, of North Muskegon, was second in 40:34, and Chelsea Ringer, 21, of Kent City, took third in 40:56.


After  a couple injury-plagued seasons, men’s 5K winner Alex Myers, 17, of Scottville, got his 2013 race season off on the right foot.

“I’ve been broken for a couple years, but I’m trying to rise back up to the top of my game,” said Myers, a senior at Mason County Central, who hopes he has finally recovered from a series of stress fractures to a small bone in his foot.

Myers led the 5K field of 217 finishers across the line in 17:59. “I thought it would be faster,” Myer said. “A couple of patches were icy, but nothing to gripe about.”

Alex Myer

Alex Myer

Although injuries have hampered him since 2010 when he was 27th overall in 23:54, the Sgt. Preston remains one of his favorite races, Myers said. “This is a great race. It’s always well put on and they always have everything you need.”

Jonathan Studer, 20, of Sault St. Marie, Mich., was second overall in 18:13 and Jeffery Kuhl, 21, of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., was third in 18:54.

Since she’s been 6-years-old, there’s never been much mystery where Avery Lowe would be spending New Year’s Day. The daughter of race committee member Clayton Lowe  has won her age group more times than she can remember and finished second overall by a slim eight seconds last year. She added the women’s overall title to her trophy case on Tuesday.

Avery Lowe

Avery Lowe

“I tried to start farther up than I usually did, but I came a little bit from behind,” said Lowe, a sophomore all-stater in cross country.

12th overall in 20:56, Lowe had a winning margin of 16 seconds over runnerup Kayla Rosi, 18, of Bristol, Ind. (21:12). Svetla Walsh, 19, of Twin Lake, was third in 21:49.


For complete race results visit Runner’s Edge Race Timing.


Auld Lang Syne (Should old acquaintance be forgot…)


The second largest field in the history of the area’s oldest race was short three important people New Year’s Day – Jack Kroeze and Hank & Carole Austin.

In the 39 years since he helped establish the Sgt. Preston-Yukon King 6-mile & 5K Run, Kroeze’s face had become such a familiar fixture at the race that at least one runner was certain she saw him in the crowd loitering near the entrance to the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex before the start of Tuesday’s race.

An avid cyclist who’d logged well over 40,000 miles over a lifetime of riding, Kroeze’s fitness masked the symptoms of a serious illness until shortly before he died in November at age 75, said Clayton Lowe who, with Kroeze, helped establish what has become one of the longest-running New Year’s races in the country. Kroeze completed every River Bank Run since the first one 35 years ago, finishing his last in 3:08.43 in May.

Jack Kroeze

Jack Kroeze

The Austins, too, were regulars at the race as both volunteers and participants. “My uncle Hank got me started running,” said Jeff Fleckenstein, 42, of Sebastian, Fla., following Tuesday’s race. In town visiting friends and family, Fleckenstein ran wearing a t-shirt bearing a photograph of the Austins. “This was great way to pay tribute. It’s first time I’ve done anything like this. I thought a lot about them during the race.”

The Austins died in August in an aircraft accident.


Greg Madendorp surged into the lead for good with two miles left in the 39th Sgt. Preston Yukon King 6-mile run today at the Muskegon State Park.

The landmark New Year’s Day’s 5K and 6-mile races

67278_112885612108183_2694475_nattracted the largest ever combined field of 396 runners. However three familiar faces were missing who helped make the local race a more important tradition for local runners than the countdown on New Year’s Eve: Race co-founder Jack Kroeze and long-time supporters Hank and Carole Austin. All three died in 2012.

Madendorp’s win in 33:29 Tuesday gave the 20-year-old Grand Valley State sophomore from Whitehall

yet another iconic local title. Winner of the Grand Haven Coast Guard Run in July, Madendorp won the last three Sgt. Preston 5K titles before winning the 6-mile today.

Used to the 5K’s pancake flat course, Madendorp waited until after the long, challenging grind over the 6-mile run’


s landmark Block House Hill to make the winning move today. “It’s definitely a hill,” said Madendorp with a grin at the finish. “I’ve run it a few times but never in a race.” Footing on hill was good, Madendorp said, but deteriorated over the final mile of the long course. “Fenner Road was bad, really icy,” he said.

Emily Thomas, 21, of Grand Haven was the women’s 6-mile winner in 39:01.

After two injury-plagued seasons, Alex Meyers, 17, of Scottville, got 2013 off on the right foot by winning the 5K in 17:59. North Muskegon’s Avery Lowe, daughter of race co-founder Clayton Lowe and a regular in the event since age 6, was the women’s overall 5K winner in 20:59.

For complete race results visit Runner’s Edge Race Timing.

[The latest on J. Lindsey Dood’s top masters’ finish at Sunday’s Chicago Marathon – posted at 7:30  p.m., Monday, Oct. 8).

Top Michigan masters finisher in Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Grand Rapids businessman J. Lindsey Dood, 47, cruised across the finish less than 25 minutes after the top American, Rockford native Dathan Ritzenhein, finished ninth overall.

J. Lindsey Dood

Dood was the fourth over-40 runner to finish and second Michigan finisher among over 1,600 runners from the state in the race.

Despite running with a not quite completely healed toe he broke on Labor Day, Dood, who earlier this summer won the USATF Masters Men 45-49 10K title, finished 84th overall Sunday in 2:32:10.

“I ran with it wrapped up,” Dood said from his office Monday. “They said it would take six weeks to heal and it’s been five weeks since I broke it. It feels fine today.”

The 29-year-old Ritzenhein’s 2:07:47 was less than 3 minutes off 25-year-old Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede’s winning time of 2:04:38.

The only Michigan runner to finish ahead of Dood was elite runner Drew Polley, 26, of Rochester Hills. Polley, who ran a sub-2:15 at the Olympic trials, finished 20th overall in 2:15:12.

A former Hope College standout, Dood’s time was almost 14 minutes faster than his previous best in Chicago (2:46:39 in 2001) and lowered his personal best (2:36:04 in Grand Rapids in 2004) by almost 4 minutes.

Dood credits running coach Brendan Martin with his improvement.

“I had gotten stuck in a rut last year. I was just running alone. I tried to get on track and just couldn’t go anywhere. That’s when I knew I needed some assistance. “Instead of just following Hal Higdon’s program like I had been, I hired Brendan and have been training in a more disciplined way. I get more feedback in terms of the workouts and what’s coming next. Brendan has challenged me with more mileage than Higdon suggests.”

Despite missing nearly two weeks of training, Dood nearly reached his goal of finishing in 2:30:45. A late-summer respiratory ailment left him feeling like, “I’d never run a day in my life,” Dood said. The broken toe also meant lost training time. “It all contributes to getting to the starting line,” Dood said. “God uses all these things to come together in some way, shape or form.”

Dood was 76th overall among the 20,688 men who finished the race in under 8 hours. Of more the 45,000 entrants, 37,455 finished in under 8 hours.

Dood finished second among men 45-49 behind masters champ Mohammed El Yamani, 48, of Issy Les Moulineau, France. El Yamani won the men’s 45-49 title in 2:24:43.

As closely as Dood followed Martin’s advice leading up to the race, he ignored it the day after. “I got up this morning and jogged two miles,” Dood said. “Brendan wouldn’t be happy if he knew. He favors complete rest for a long period after a race. I like to run each morning. It helps me focus on the rest of my life.”

Another Grand Rapidian, 26-year-old Mike Roth, was among the top Michiganders to finish on Sunday, crossing the line 100th overall in 2:34:35 to finish 17th among men 20-24.

Karen Meraw, 27, of Ann Arbor, was Michigan’s fastest age group woman in the race, crossing in 3:09:31, good for 153rd overall among the 16,767 women to complete the race in less than 8 hours.

For complete results visit the Chicago Marathon website: 2012 Chicago Marathon.

Top 20 age group finishes by Michigan runners are:


16-19 – 14, Adam Powlus, 16, Canton, 3:27:59. 45-49 – 4, Rich Power, 48, Rochester, 2:39:53. 50-54 – 13, John Arsen, Rochester, 53, 2:52:51. 55-59 – 13, James Madden, 55, Orchard Lake, 3:07:17. 80 & older – 2, Robert Ferguson 81, St. Joseph, 6:44:27.


16-19  – 14, Mende Gleiss, Clarkston, 3:46:46. 50-54 – 15, Susan Rosemurgy, 52, Hancock, 3:28:53. 65-69 – 8, Diane Boehlke, 65, Grand Rapids, 4:41:51.

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