July 30, 2009 at 8:18 a.m.

Turner burning the competition

Two weeks after winning his age group at another tri, Andrew Turner finished second among 20-24-year-olds in the CL Tri
Turner burning the competition
Turner burning the competition

"Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did." - Newt Gingrich

Andrew Turner is filled to the brim with perseverence.

Turner, along with 496 other competitors last week, swam, biked and ran their way through fatigue, weariness, struggle and challenge during the fourth annual Chisago Lakes Triathlon.

Turner, however, didn't always have that perseverence quality to him. The 21-year-old Scandia resident admitted that when he started running sprint triathlons three years ago that he just showed up and competed. There was no training or no preparation, just natural ability.

Three years ago, Turner was a part of a relay team that competed in the Chisago Lakes Triathlon. Last year, he ran the shorter-distanced Sprint Triathlon, and he finally made the jump to the vaunted Half Triathlon this year. All of the work is in preparation for the Wisconsin Ironman, a full triathlon that will require an inordinate amount of stamina and perseverance.

A full triathlon includes a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.3 mile run. It's three tough tasks all bundled into one grueling day.

If his latest results are indicative of whether Turner is ready or not, then the full triathlon shouldn't be a problem. On Saturday, July 11, Turner won the 20-24 age group in the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon. The event took place at Lake Nokomis, Lake Harriet and the Mississippi River,

Turner had some stiff competition in the Lifetime Fitness Tri. Entering the final stage of the event, Turner trailed Stillwater's John Heinlein III by just over a minute, but that's where his perseverence kicked in. He mustered up enough to pass Heinlen and win his age group by 14 seconds.

In the Chisago Lakes Tri, Turner was well behind division winner Mike Lavery, who finished in 4:08:39. Lavery, however, is 24 and will be out of Turner's age division next year.

Turner finished the race in 4:30:21, nine minutes clear of the third place winner, and he is only improving. This year, Turner, a 2006 graduate of Chisago Lakes High School, has racheted up his training to begin racing on these bigger stages. "I have a pretty set schedule now where I trained six days a week usually," he said. "Sometimes it's biking followed by a hard run, somtimes it's just a long swim."

The Chisago Lakes Half Triathlon was only his second half ever, and he shaved nearly a half hour from his first time. "I'm pretty amazed at the time," Turner stated. "I didn't think I'd be doing so well this early."

His previous best was at a half triathlon in Kansas earlier this year where he ran a 4:58.

When asked why he enjoys the pain and anguish associated with running such a demanding race, Turner had two reasons. "The acheivment and how hard you can push yourself is interesting to me," he stated as one of his reasons. "Also, because I get to run them with my brother." Turner's brother, Matt, is a rarity in the triathlon world. Although he ran the sprint distance, Matt weighs nearly 290 pounds, but is still athletic enough to make it through the tough race. "When he finishes, he's always there to cheer me on during the run," Andrew said. Both the Turners and Dylan Gillespie are the three amigos when it comes to training together. Gillespie finished first in the 16-19 category this year in the sprint distance.

From here on out, Turner is just focused on his training for the full traithlon in September. "It's starting to get pretty exciting as it gets closer," Turner said.

Not many people would be excited for a day of hell that includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26 mile run, but not many people have as much perseverence in them as Andrew Turner does.

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