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28th Brewhouse Triathlon: Duluth's Bich wins event for 12th time

Brian Bich of Duluth won his 12th Brewhouse Triathlon on Saturday. (Bob King /

Some things seem to get better with age.

Fine wine, your favorite pair of jeans, leather boots and antiques.

Apparently, you can add Brian Bich of Duluth to the list.

Bich, 48, won his 12th Brewhouse Triathlon on Saturday during the 28th annual running of the event, covering the

1.5-kilometer swim, 40K bike and 10K run in 1 hour, 59 minutes, 21 seconds. The 12 victories are believed to be a Minnesota triathlon record, and his time was 21 seconds better than the mark he posted in winning last year.

Elaine Nelson of Duluth won the women’s race for the second time in a personal-best 2:12:06, surging past frontrunners Lisa Lendway and Heidi Keller-Miler during the final running leg.

“It’s an interesting race. All three phases have to go well, but I’m definitely a runner,” said Nelson, who ran cross country and track at the University of Minnesota. “You never know what can happen out there. You could get a flat tire, or you could cramp up. It’s tough on the swimmers who get the lead and then have to try to hang on. I was fortunate it came down to the run.”

It was the second year the Brewhouse was held at Island Lake after getting moved from its traditional home at Pike Lake. The new course is longer, featuring the Olympic distance. There were about 650 participants, with race director Tim Hagley saying about 200 of those were children who competed in the Rootbeer Kids Triathlon.

“We’ve seen an increase in interest because of the new venue, in particular with parents who are interested in having their children participate,” Hagley said.

For the 35-year-old Nelson, however, Saturday was a first for her at Island Lake after she missed last year’s event because she was pregnant with her son, Micah, who turns one on Sept. 15. Instead, Elaine and her husband, Grant Nelson, went on a 15-mile hike along the Superior Hiking Trail.

“We had thought about racing it, but I had raced the Buzz Ryan (sprint triathlon) two weeks prior when I was about 30 weeks pregnant,” Elaine Nelson said. “I had gotten some Braxton Hicks contractions during the race and thought, ‘You know, maybe I shouldn’t race the Brewhouse.’ Turns out that hike was almost as tough.”

Nelson, a native of Roseville, Minn., has lived in Duluth since 2008 and works as a veterinarian. She won her first Brewhouse at Pike Lake in 2012.

Nelson made the NCAA Division I cross country championships all four years for the Gophers and had a top time 5K time of about 17:20. While she isn’t quite that fast anymore, she still has plenty of speed for reeling in the frontrunners in a triathlon.

“The Brewhouse is wonderful, especially with the new venue,” Nelson said. “The bike course at Pike Lake was rough, it was bumpy, there was a crazy intersection where there could have some serious crashes if people hadn’t been careful and had good traffic control. I also like the out-and-back courses. You can see the leaders, you can cheer for people, you can cheer for your friends, and you can see how far you’ve got to go to catch up.”

r Mike Ward of Duluth won the men’s short-course event, covering half the distance (.75K swim, 20K bike, 5K run) in 1:02:24. Nick Nygaard of Duluth was second in 1:04:35.

Bich’s 16-year-old son, Nathan, was seventh in 1:07:25.

Suzie Fox of Chaska was the women’s short-course winner in 1:06:12. Jessica Rossing of Duluth, who finished second in the long course the previous three years, was second in the short course on Saturday in 1:08:53.


Island Lake

Saturday’s Top Finishers

Long Course

1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run


1.  Brian Bich, 48, Duluth, 1 hour, 59 minutes, 21 seconds; 2. Josh Blankenheim, 34, Duluth, 2:00:43; 3. Anthony Orlando, 26, St. Paul, 2:04:13; 4. Brandon Ordway, 32, Maplewood, Minn., 2:06:12; 5. Paul Rockwood, 27, Superior, 2:08:42; 6. Andrew Broadmoore, 39, Duluth, 2:10:56; 7. Jeff Carver, 41, Duluth, 2:14:45; 8. Luke Beirl, 28, Ashland, 2:15:35; 9. Ladislaus Strzok, 30, St. Paul, 2:16:40; 10. Kirk Vesterstein, 53, Wayzata, Minn., 2:17:53; 11. Bill Kelley, 42, Wrenshall, 2:19:08; 12. Grant Nelson, 39, Duluth, 2:19:53; 13. John Garrison, 42, Cohasset, Minn., 2:20:08; 14. Kris Nisula, 38, Thunder Bay, Ont., 2:20:39; 15. Greg Johnson, 42, Hermantown, 2:20:52; 16. John Kelley, 51, Duluth, 2:21:46; 17. David Soukup, 42, Eden Prairie, Minn., 2:23:10; 18. Jim Reed, Duluth, 55, 2:24:25; 19. Paul Kline, 47, Brooklyn Park, Minn., 2:25:11; 20. Herman Lau, 36, Circle Pines, Minn., 2:27:50.


1. Elaine Nelson, 35, Duluth, 2:12:06; 2. Lisa Lendway, 33, St. Paul, 2:16:53; 3. Heidi Keller-Miler, 50, Chaska, Minn., 2:18:48; 4. Kayla Kjellman, 22, Thunder Bay, Ont., 2:22:35; 5. Michelle Breiland, 37, Duluth, 2:24:27; 6. Tiffany Kari, 34, Duluth, 2:28:17; 7. Christel Kippenhan, 49, Bemidji, Minn., 2:30:24; 8.  Jessica Deegan, 38, St. Paul, 2:32:52; 9. Karen Murphy, 41, Thunder Bay, Ont., 2:35:34; 10. Patricia Mueller, 35, Superior, 2:37:10; 11. Kris Kolonz, 49, Duluth, 2:39:39; 12. Annie Harvieux, 20, Duluth, 2:39:39; 13. Lindsay Nisula, 38, Thunder Bay, Ont., 2:41:46; 14. Chelsea Froemke, 24, Lino Lakes, Minn., 2:41:46; 15. Louise Bilek, 28, Minneapolis, 2:41:46; 16. Meghan O’Connell, 35, Cloquet, 2:43:28; 17. Michelle Nordland, 46, Pine Island, Minn., 2:43:50; 18. Sharon Lovis, 48, Thunder Bay, Ont., 2:43:28; 19. Kari Higdem, 28, Duluth, 2:44:17; 20. Renee Burton, Bloomington, Minn., 2:45:32.