by Dennis Dalman
The new co-directors of the Sartell Apple Duathlon hope to make the prestigious event even more local-friendly than it’s ever been, with more participation than it’s ever had, in its 32-year history.
Lisa Bollinger and Adam Konczewski agreed to share directorship duties this year when the previous director, Brandon Testa, decided to resign. Testa became director several years ago after Daryl and Pam Stevens decided to call it quits. The Stevenses had been co-directors of the event since its inception.
The new directors have hosted a seminar by a professional bike fixer and a recent bike clinic featuring former Apple Duahlon champions David Thompson and Dan Hedgecock, both of St. Paul. Those two duathletes talking about training, common injuries of duathletes, tips to fixing bikes and other helpful bits of advice. Both events took place at Williams Integracare Clinic, a major sponsor of the Sartell Apple Duathlon. Those seminars were open to anyone in the area.
Konczewski and Bollinger have also scheduled two more events to which everyone is welcome.
The first is a workshop to learn functional movements while biking and ways to correct muscular imbalances of the body. That is slated for 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, March 29, also at Williams Integracare Clinic.
The second event, a Bike Rodeo for children, will take place from 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, May 3 at Sartell Middle School. The rodeo will be a joint venture among the Sartell Police Department, the BLEND Foundation and the Apple Duathlon Committee.
The events are free and open to anyone.
Bollinger and Konczewski have both competed in the Apple in the past five years. Bollinger won the race twice, the first time in the age category of Females 25-29, the second time in Females 30-34. Last year, she placed second in that same age category.
The first time she competed in the Apple Duathlon had a very special meaning for Bollinger because she did the middle biking portion, and her father, Dan Wildtraut, visiting from Florida, did the two running routes.
Last year, the Apple was a world-qualifier, and Bollinger quailfied, getting a chance to run in the international duathlon in Ottawa, Canada.
“When I was in the Ottawa race, there were so many people wearing ‘Sartell Apple Duathlon’ T-shirts,” she said. “It just shows how the Apple race put Sartell on the map. And the Apple is right in our backyard. We’ve been so lucky to have it for 32 years. It’s a very well-run race, it’s non-profit and it’s all about giving back to the community.”
Bollinger took up the offer to be an Apple co-director because she believes in the race as a firmly entrenched tradition, which can draw in people from all ages. Her own son, Carter, 8, ran the Kids’ Apple last year, which always takes place on a Friday, the night before the adult duathlon. Bollinger and her husband, Jeff, also have another son, Drew, 6. One of the competitors who comes back to the Apple year after year is a man in his 80s, Bollinger noted.
Besides competing in the Apple five times, Bollinger has participated in many other races: the Earth Day, the Granite Man, the Ironman in Wisconsin and the Half Ironman in Chicago and in Liberty, Minn.
Running is very much a part of her everyday life. She often gets together with neighbors and together they have runs for fun in their neighborhood.
“It’s fun,” she said. “We’re so lucky here to bike in this beautiful scenery. We like to get the children involved, too.”
Bollinger is a stay-at-home mom, mainly, but she is also a trainer-coach at Granite City Crossfit in Waite Park.
Like Bollinger, Konczewski is also impressed by how well known the Apple is internationally.
“Last year’s race was a world-qualifer,” he said. “There were 400 people in the race and only about 110 of them were from Minnesota. A lot of people know about the race and about Sartell. It’s international.”
Konczewski, 31, has lived in Sartell for five years. He was born and raised in southeast Poland and earned a degree in photography and graphic design from Minot (N.D.) State University, where he met his wife-to-be, Rachel, who is originally from Melrose.
Konczewski works for the Media Services Department at the College of St. Benedict.
Always athletically inclined, Konczewski liked to run in elementary school and high school in Poland. In the United States, he developed a love of bicycling and enjoyed swimming “just for fun” in college. Those skills led him to participate in many triathlons and duathlons, including the Apple. He also did the Ironman Triathlon in Austria last year and the Ironman in Louisville, Ken. His wife, Rachel, used to compete with him in triathlons, but she was hit by a car while biking in Avon at the end of April and has not yet recovered enough for the rigorous physical condition needed for such races. Rachel is a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at the St. Cloud Hospital.
Like Bollinger, Konczewski is dedicated to expanding the Apple race to attract more competitors and a wider age range of participants who can enjoy the race without necessarily trying to be among the top finishers.
This year the 32nd annual Sartell Apple Duathlon will take place at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 24, starting on the grounds of Sartell Middle School. The children’s Apple race will begin the night before, at 8:30 p.m. Friday, May 23, also at Sartell Middle School.