Twin Cities triathletes set the pace

The official results show that Dan Hedgecock and Kevin O'Connor tied for first in the sixth-annual Rochesterfest Triathlon at Foster Arend Park on Sunday.

After a lightning-delayed start the first wave of Elite athletes charge into the water at Foster Arend to start the Rochester Triathlon Sunday morning.

The official results show that Dan Hedgecock and Kevin O'Connor tied for first in the sixth-annual Rochesterfest Triathlon at Foster Arend Park on Sunday.

In fact, the two racing buddies did cross the finish line side-by-side in the Olympic event — 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run — but that's deceiving.

"Dan is much better, much faster,'' said O'Connor, who lives in Medina. "If he wanted to, he would have smoked the entire field. No question.''

That wasn't the case. Hedgecock, of Minneapolis, put on the brakes during the run.

"Running is his strength,'' said O'Connor, "and he's one of the best around in that event. I felt fortunate that he basically wanted to run the 10K with me.''


Or with his boss. O'Connor, 42, owns Gear West Bike and Triathlon in Long Lake; Hedgecock works in the store as a salesman. Hedgecock grew up in St. Louis and was an all-conference runner in both cross country and track at the University of Missouri.

Hedgecock got a job with Target Corp. and moved to the Twin Cities. But two years ago, he dropped the shirt and tie and took a job with Gear West.

He and O'Connor are very good friends.

"After my bike ride today, I didn't need or want to push it in the run,'' Hedgecock said. "That was quite an adventure.''

O'Connor and Hedgecock were both timed in 2:01.01.

Delayed start

The triathlon was delayed 40 minutes Sunday because of lightning. There was a slight drizzle during the race — which was of no hindrance — but the southerly wind from the south was nasty.

"I'm not a very big guy; it almost knocked me down a couple of times on the bike,'' Hedgecock said. "The swim was not too bad, the water was not choppy and the lake is a small one, and the rain actually helped out on the run.


"But the bike was something else. It was very unsteady.''

O'Connor had the lead after the bike portion, but Hedgecock caught him about a half mile into the 10K run.

"Dan asked if I would like to run it in with him,'' O'Connor said. "He was just cruising along while I'm out there working hard. He's a very talented runner. In March, he ran a 5K race in Florida in 14:39. If he wanted, he could beat all the runners out here by 30 seconds every mile.

"That's incredibly fast, and he is getting better as a swimmer and on his bike as well.''

Turning pro

Earlier this year, the 26-year-old Hedgecock turned professional, which doesn't affect any races with purses of less than $5,000.

But it does show you that he's good enough to compete among the best.

"I don't want to leave anything on the table for the next couple of years,'' he said, "and compete to the best of my ability while I'm still young enough, or before I get on with my life.''


Hedgecock won the Rochester Triathlon two years ago (1:56.04) but did not enter last year.

O'Connor, meanwhile, finished fourth in 2012. This is his 25th year of triathlon competition.

He competes in 8 to 10 triathlons a year and even has six Ironman Triathlons under his belt, including the prestigious one in Hawaii in 2007.

"It doesn't get old,'' he said. "I wouldn't be out here if it did.''

O'Connor moved from a suburb of Illinois to Minnesota 18 years ago and has owned Gear West for the last 10.

Hedgecock has no plans to expand past the Olympic distance. In other words, a half-Ironman or even an Ironman is out of the picture at this point.

"I just want to keep getting better at what I'm doing,'' he said. "Right now, that's enough.''


Running together to the finish of the Rochester Triathlon was Kevin O'Connor of Medina and Dan Hedgecock of Minneapolis.

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