Jeanne Fleck Update

Age-group star triathlete Jeanne Fleck of Proctor was featured in Sunday’s News Tribune. Here’s an update on Saturday’s Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis, followed by the story.

Jeanne Fleck of Proctor won the women’s 40-44 age-group and Rhett Bonner of Duluth won the men’s 45-49 age group in Saturday’s Lifetime Fitness Triathlon elite division in Minneapolis.

Cathy Yndestad, 31, of Minneapolis led the women’s division in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 36.6 seconds of a 1.5-kilometer swim, 40K bike and 10K run at Lake Nokomis. Fleck, 44, was first in the age group in 2:19:13.7 just three weeks after a serious fall on her bike.

Bonner, 45, topped his division in 2:02:58.9. In the international distance division, Andrew Minck, 25, of Duluth was third overall in 2:10:13.7.

In the pro division, for the top racers, Matt Read, 34, of Boulder, Colo., was first overall in 1:49:15.3 and Sarah Haskins, 28, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was the first woman in 2:00:51.2. Each won $20,000. Two-time defending Brewhouse Triathlon winner David Thompson, 31, of St. Paul was the top Minnesota, ninth in 1:53:28.3.There were more than 3,000 participants.

Sunday’s News Tribune Story

After two cycling accidents in 10 months, one involving an automobile, Jeanne and Greg Fleck of Proctor are hoping for a smoother road ahead.

One month after being struck by a car last August, Greg was back on his bike, enjoying his favorite exercise.

Three weeks after a fall on the Willard Munger State Trail bike path, Jeanne competed in Saturday’s Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis.

“I’m so glad that I found triathlons and duathlons, even late in life, and especially cycling, because that’s one thing Greg and I love to do together,” said Jeanne, who, like her husband of 16 years, is age 44. “After our accident with the car I said, ‘I never want to ride my bike again,’ but Greg forced me out on a ride the next week. We aren’t ones to give up on something.”

The Flecks gained notice in the area in the 1990s as black-belt karate instructors and fighters. Jeanne has since excelled in Nordic skiing and running, including mara­thons, and turned to multisport races two years ago. In 2007, she was named rookie of the year at the Minnesota Multisport Awards ceremony and in 2008, at the same event, she was named most improved and woman masters athlete of the year, for those 40 and older.

Yet, 2008 finished on a bitter note. On Aug. 28, as four cyclists headed single file on the shoulder of Highway 61 into Esko in the late afternoon, a car struck the three trailing riders, including Greg at the back. Jeanne, in the lead, went into a ditch and then helped at the scene.

Greg needed plastic surgery for serious cuts to his face and the top of his head, and two other riders required hospital care. The driver was cited for failure to use due care when driving, and was driving with a suspended license and without insurance.

“After I was cleared to start riding again, I went out by myself. I knew I had to ride by the scene of the accident, even though I really don’t remember anything of what happened,” said Greg, who repairs institutional equipment for Summit Food Service. “It was my acclamation to being alive.”

It was Greg, a one-time bike racer, who saw cycling potential in his wife and pointed her toward triathlons and duathlons, which have swimming, biking and running. She began 2009 in good form, entering five events, and placing fourth or higher in the 40-44 age-group in each, including the USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships on April 26 in Richmond, Va.

Early on June 20, the Flecks went biking on the Munger Trail, with plans to get to Canal Park to watch the finish of Grandma’s Mara­thon. Instead, they had a hospital emergency room stop about 9:30 a.m. Jeanne hit a rough spot on the blacktopped surface on her triathlon bike and her husband, peddling alongside, tried to right her fall, and they both went down. Jeanne had a deep cut on her elbow that needed surgery, a thigh bruise and neck and shoulder whiplash. Greg cracked two ribs.

The bike’s carbon frame and handlebars also were crushed in the process, but have since been repaired. Jeanne, 5-foot-8 and 135 pounds, had to miss the Lake Waconia (Minn.) Triathlon on June 27, but wanted to participate in Minnesota’s most prestigious triathlon Saturday.

“I was having a surprisingly good start to the year, and my ultimate goal is to do well at the Duathlon World Championship in September. So if there was a good time to be off, it was the last few weeks,” said Jeanne, a mother of two, who is an orthopedic implant sales representative.

Triathlete Jared Berg of Colorado Springs, Colo., is Jeanne’s coach, but input also comes from her husband.

“One day I’d like to see her in national cycling events. She has raw horsepower and can dig deep when training and racing,” Greg said of his wife. “She can go into a pain zone like no one else and keep going. She’s absolutely fluid and flexible.”

Jeanne, who was a 31-year-old varsity cross country runner at St. Scholastica as a senior in 1996, expects to be in the 23rd Brewhouse Triathlon on Aug. 2 at Pike Lake, the U.S. Triathlon Age-Group Championships on Aug. 22 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and the Duathlon World Champion­ships on Sept. 24 in Concord, N.C.

At the 2008 Duathlon World Championships in Rimini, Italy, Jeanne was one of eight American entrants who became ill with food poisoning or a virus. While advised by a doctor against competing, she started the event and made it five kilometers into a 10K run before heading to the medical tent for intravenous fluids.

Just another day for the endurance athlete.