Kirsten Sass, Bill Jones Crowned Olympic-Distance Age Group National Champions

Nearly 2,000 amateur triathletes cross the finish line at Omaha’s Levi Carter Park

OMAHA, Neb. — Nearly 2,000 of the nation’s top amateur triathletes competed for national titles on Saturday at the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, with Kirsten Sass and Bill Jones taking home their first-ever overall Olympic-distance national titles.

The race, which is USA Triathlon’s largest and longest-running National Championships event, featured a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run course centered around Omaha’s Levi Carter Park.

Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.), the overall women’s champion, broke the tape in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 47 seconds. Sass owns several national and world titles in her age group and was last year’s overall champion in the sprint-distance race, but today earned her first-ever overall Olympic-distance national title.

“I’m really happy with my race,” Sass said. “The bike is always my strong suit — my problem is usually going too hard on the bike and killing myself on the run, but then to a certain extent, you just have to lay it all out there. I feel like I was able to balance the two pretty well today. I gave it all I had, so I’m happy with the result.”

Jacqueline Godbe (Chicago, Ill.) took second overall in 2:10:17, winning the women’s 25-29 age group in the process, and Danielle Dingman (Branson, Mo.) rounded out the overall podium in third in 2:11:47.

Jones (San Diego, Calif.) took home the overall men’s title, crossing the line with a time of 1:56:19. Racing at his first-ever Age Group Nationals, Jones also collected the men’s 30-34 crown.

Jones had to wait and see if he would hold onto his national title for about an hour and a half after he finished, as younger athletes starting in the later waves had yet to come through the finish. He would ultimately hold onto the top spot, with Ian Hoover-Grinde (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) taking second in 1:57:51 and 2016 overall champion Todd Buckingham (East Lansing, Mich.) taking third in 1:58:08.

“The bike went extremely well for me. All of my training came through, and I really felt great,” Jones said. “On the run, I had an idea of where I was overall. I had looked at previous years’ times, so I knew I was going to be in contention. But I also knew there was a lot of competition in the 29 and under age group.”

In addition to their overall podiums, Hoover-Grinde earned the men’s 17-19 age group national title and Buckingham earned the men’s 25-29 crown.

“You don’t always get to test yourself against the best in the nation,” Buckingham said. “You have to qualify for this race, so not everybody can show up like at your average local tri. Having all of these awesome athletes out here, it makes you push yourself. It brings out the best in me, and I hope that I bring out the best in them too.”

In total, 28 national champions were crowned in their respective age groups on Saturday, 10 of whom defended their titles from 2016. Defending champions included Hoover-Grinde (M17-19), Buckingham (M25-29), Sass (F35-39), Tim Hola (Highlands Ranch, Colo., M40-44), Adrienne Leblanc (Scottsdale, Ariz., F45-49), Lee Walther (Oklahoma City, Okla., M55-59), Kathryn Wiberg (West Boylston, Mass., F70-74), Elizabeth Brackett (Chicago, Ill., F75-79), William Marshall (Santa Rosa, Calif., M75-79) and Madonna Buder (Spokane, Wash., F85+).

The top 18 finishers in each age group and gender (rolling down to 25th place) earned the opportunity to represent Team USA at the 2018 ITU Age Group Triathlon World Championships in Gold Coast, Australia.

“You put in all that training, and you just want to be able to race to the potential that you have in you. I feel like I did that today,” said Ryan Bickerstaff, who took home the men’s 35-39 national title. “I’ve been doing triathlons since 1990 — my ninth birthday was my first triathlon — and I represented the U.S. at Junior Worlds a few times, so to be able to do that again at Age Group Worlds will be really awesome.”

For some athletes, like men’s 50-54 champion Robert Skaggs, just making it to the start line was the biggest accomplishment of the day.

“I’ve been trying to get here for 17 years,” Skaggs (Solana Beach, Calif.), said. “I signed up multiple times and never made it because of various injuries, so this is my first Age Group Nationals since 1998. I’ve had four Achilles tendon surgeries, so this was the first year I’ve gone through a training block with no injuries. I got no sleep last night thinking about the race, just thinking, ‘I can’t believe I made it here. I can’t believe I’m really going to start.’”

For Ellen Hart (Denver, Colo.), a longtime Age Group Nationals competitor, returning to this race is an annual celebration.

“The experience was amazing, just getting to see all my friends who I maybe only see once a year,” Hart, who placed fourth for women 55-59, said. “This is one of those days I look forward to every year. When somebody asks me, ‘Why do you do this when it’s so hard and takes so much time?” It’s like, ‘This is when we get to dance on our stage. This is when we get to play a symphony together. This is when we get to show what it is that’s inside of us and put it all out there.’”

 

Original article from USAT here

Complete results here

Tri Boulder Race Recap

By Kirsten Smith

Photo by Ashley Wilkinson

The BBSC Tri Boulder race at the Boulder Rez this year was a huge success! Not only was the weather perfect, the water smooth as glass, the temps only moderately hot, and barely any wind, but PRs and a great time was had by almost every athlete I talked to after the race!!

The only complaints I heard were no shade on the run, couldn’t see buoys because we swam straight into the sun, the aid station on the bike was on a downhill so it was hard to gab bottles at high speed, no actual awards for podium finishers, and packet pick up should have been Friday in Denver and then Saturday in Boulder since most people coming into town only came one day in advance.

People loved the finisher’s medal, post-race food, support, volunteers, beginner wave, and low key feel for the race. The thing most people talked about was how fast and fun the bike course was. The roads in Boulder are all pretty fast and smooth. Parking on race morning was easy and there were lots of activities for spectators and families to do during the race.

Photo by Bill Plock

The courses for both the sprint and the Olympic races are very familiar to most local Colorado triathletes so it’s nice to be able to come in and race hard and compare times and progress to other races on the same or very similar courses.

I had several clients who did the race this year and all either PRd or made the podium. All walked away happy with their result.
This was my 2nd year doing this race and I had a lot of fun racing with so many local triathletes. I was only one minute slower than my goal and I blame it on the sun. It was so bright at the start I swam to the wrong buoy near the turnaround so I added 1-2 minutes on my swim. Other than that I had a great race! I love racing at the Boulder Reservoir and can’t wait to do their next race in Boulder on August 26th, register here and I will see you there!!!

BBSC has triathlons, duathlons, and running races in Boulder, CO, St. George, UT, and Las Vegas, NV. Check out their race schedule here

Tri Boulder Race Preview

By Kirsten McCay

The 5th Annual Tri Boulder Sprint and Olympic Distance Triathlon is coming up and you don’t want to miss this race! This is a perfect tune-up race for the Boulder 70.3 which takes place in the same area 2 weeks later.

Compete in one of the fastest growing triathlons in Boulder. Swim in the beautiful Boulder Rez which is in the mid-70s right now, I swam in it with no wetsuit last weekend and it was perfect! Bike some of the smoothest (yay) and fastest (double yay) roads in Boulder. And run on the scenic dam trail which is a mostly flat and all packed dirt road. BBSC is a tri-friendly, professional race company that offers gender specific t-shirts, finisher medals, age group awards, Clydesdale and Athena categories, relays, race day child care, free entry into the reservoir, post-race food, and more.

This year I am doing the Olympic distance race and have already spent time on both courses and wanted to share with you what you are in for when you decide to do either of the races this year on July 23rd. I’m using the Olympic as a training race for USAT Age Group Nationals on August 12th. Either distance would be great for that or as mentioned above a tune-up race for Boulder 70.3 on August 6th.

SWIM: Currently the water in the reservoir is about 74 degrees. This is a great temperature that is warm enough for you to swim without a wetsuit if you don’t have one, but isn’t too warm to legally allow wetsuits if you are relying on that to help your swim time. The sprint course is a 750 meter clock-wise rectangle and the Olympic just doubles the distance out and back from the shore. There will be large buoys at each turn and small buoys for sighting. The swim is a wave start for safety and ease for beginner swimmers. Typically there are less than 100 people per wave.

BIKE: The bike course for the sprint is typically called the “Neva loop” and is basically a large loop around the NW part of Boulder. The sprint course is 17 miles, a little longer than the usual sprint distance, so if you are a cyclist, this race is for you! After leaving Reservoir Road, there is a very gradual climb for about 3 miles and then a fast rolling downhill for the next 10 miles. Once you are back on the Diagonal, it is another very slight incline for about 2 miles and then basically downhill (other than 2 short hills on the road back to the res) to the finish. The Olympic starts and ends the same way with a couple extra miles of slight incline rewarding us with several additional miles of declines! YAHOO!

RUN: The run for the sprint is primarily on dirt road and is a simple out and back around the res along the dam. There is a hill immediately when you leave transition, just remember it will be downhill on the way back when you need it the most. The Olympic is also an out and back, it just passes the sprint turn-around and goes an additional 1.55 miles slightly inclining to the 10K turn-around which will be fast for the return home to the finish line.

A great way to practice the swim and run is the Boulder Stroke & Stride which is a swim/run series held at the res every Thursday night. This will get you used to open water swimming, running up the beach, and that first hill on the run.

If you get to the Stroke & Stride, stop by and say “HI” to me at the “chip handout” table!!

And I hope to see you all out there on the 23rd.

303Radio Interviews Boulder Peak Pros Cam Dye, Justin Metzler, Kaisa Sali

303Radio’s Rich Soares chatted with a few of the Pros toeing the line tomorrow morning – take a listen!
Cam Dye reflects on his long history with the Boulder Peak.  Having raced the Boulder Peak at age 15 and later winning as a professional in 2013, Cam knows the course and how to race it.
70.3 specialist, Justin Metzler talks about his first time racing the Boulder Peak, the quality pro field, and how it fits into his 2017 race schedule.
Pro Triathlete Kaisa Sali talks about her preparation for the Boulder Peak, working with Coach Siri Lindley, racing at altitude and “sisu” – (Finnish for “digging deep”)

The Pros racing the Boulder Peak

At present, there are 35 professional triathletes racing Sunday’s Peak – including some big names and out of state folks.

303 reached out to them and asked a few questions, including:

  1. Why are you racing the Peak?
  2.  If you have raced the Peak before, what is your favorite memory?
  3. How does the Olde Stage climb/descent fit into your race strategy?
  4. Any messages for other pros in the field?

Here are some of their responses:

Justin Metzler

  1. The Peak is the perfect opportunity to put some really hard training to good use. This is my fourth season as a PRO and I have almost exclusively raced the 70.3 distance. I have some international 70.3 races coming up on the calendar and with the Peak in my backyard, the chance to race full gas against some of the strongest guys in the world was too good of an offer to pass up on. As I have gotten older the pressure to perform and get results has gotten more significant every season. I was reflecting on when I was having the most fun racing. That was in 2014 when I did a few Olympic non-drafting races. I’m looking forward to 2hr of very intense suffering on Sunday. It is racing in it’s purest form and is a whole lot of fun.
  2.  This is my first time racing the peak!
  3.  I think it will be full gas from the minute we hop on the bikes to the apex of the Olde Stage climb. If you are not prepared to ride at or above your threshold for the entire segment, you will likely get spit off the back and never be able to regain contact with the front of the race. My #1 goal is to not over think this race. If I swim with the front and make it up Olde Stage with the front of the race, I will be in a very good position to have a solid result.
  4.  Bring it! The start list is looking quite strong but a lot of athletes are in unique situations. Charbot, Shoemaker, Long just raced IM Boulder. Von Berg and Deckard just got back from Europe. West and Dye have both done a lot of races lately. I have not raced since early June. I have been here in Boulder training hard as ever. I am fitter than I have been in a long time and I am looking forward to seeing what that means come Sunday.

Matt Chrabot

  1. It’s been a while since I’ve raced an Olympic Distance event and I’m glad it’s in my home area.
  2. Yes in 2014 and I won.
  3. Hopefully I can make up any lost ground from the swim by quickly popping up the climb. It’s a power climb so the bigger guys won’t be at a disadvantage and the smaller guys won’t gain as much.
  4. Best of luck and I’ll see you out there.

Kelly Williamson

  1.  Sounded like fun, seeing that I do mostly IM and 703 distances – and convenient to Colo Springs where I live.
  2. Last time I raced this (2006ish?) I did Mt Evans the day prior – so what I remember was that it was a pretty crappy race for me but it was a fun and clearly challenging weekend.
  3. I only know of this Olde Stage road by name, so I guess I’m going in  with eyes wide open; and I can’t say I have much of a race strategy except to go as hard as I can for as long as I can.
  4. Let’s play nice in the swim. We’re all going in the same direction. 🙂

Kaisa Lehtonen

  1. I am currently coached by Siri Lindley so I am training here in Boulder for the most of the summer with Siri and some other Team Sirius athletes.  Our main goal for this season is obviously IM World Champs, but Boulder Peak triathlon gives a great opportunity to put some speed in this “Ironman machine” :)! I have never done a non drafting olympic distance race before and I am super excited to see how it feels. Boulder is an amazing place to train in and the route of Boulder Peak Triathlon is just stunningly beautiful and hard at the same time and it will be super cool to test how I can manage the altitude, the heat and the old stage climb!
  2. I have not raced in here before. But it seems that the race has big traditions behind it so it is a huge honor to do the race that so many of the worlds best athletes have done during the last decades.
  3. I usually do love the climbs on the bike. However as I have never raced or trained at altitude before, here in Boulder the climbing seems to feel… let’s say not so enjoyable with a little less oxygen than normal. I will do my very best on the climb, but I will decide according to how I feel on race day if I will put my all into the climb or if I will save a little more energy for the later parts of the race.
  4. It is super exciting to toe on to the start line with you and it is great to see that so many of the very highest level olympic distance athletes will be doing this race.

Drew Scott

  1. I love racing in a hometown event and this race in particular has a lot of good memories for me. It’s been nearly 3 years since I’ve raced in Boulder so this one was a no brainer for me!
  2. My best memory is definitely winning the amateur race in 2011. It was just as I was getting into triathlon and completely unexpected for me so that made it even more special.
  3. Olde Stage is such an iconic climb in this race and I think really defines the whole event. This will be my 8th time racing the peak so I would like to think I’ve learned a few things about the ideal way to attack this course :). The race is usually sorted out by the top of Olde Stage so it helps to be very aggressive in those early miles on the bike.
  4. Haha…I won’t stir the pot. Lets see what happens on Sunday!

Rodolphe Von Berg

  1. I am racing the Peak because it is an iconic Boulder race, and now that the steep Old Stage climb is back on the bike course, it is a big attraction for me, it makes the race more exciting for everybody.
  2. I have never raced the Peak!

 

Alicia Kaye

  1. I am racing Boulder Peak because I love the opportunity to race at home. Though I’m not a full time Boulder resident, I spend nearly half the year here and the opportunity to sleep in my own bed and then get to race a competitive, well run event with prize money cannot be beat!
  2. This is my first time racing Boulder Peak!
  3. Since Olde Stage is fairly early into the 25mile bike, I’m not sure how much it’ll split up the field. I’ve never raced a non-draft Olympic distance event with this difficult a climb. I’m hopeful it’ll split things up enough that we get an honest bike race before hitting the the run!
  4. Let’s put on a show ladies!!

 

Jason West

  1. It’s a great opportunity to race some of the best athletes in the world right here where so many of us train. The course is also very difficult, something you don’t really see that often, so it makes it very exciting.
  2. Nope
  3. Difficult climbs are definitely spots where you can take a lot of time out of people, but you also need to play it really smart because it is just one section of the whole ride. The decent can also be pretty quick, so being a little gutsy there could pay off.
  4. Bring your A game!

Dan Feeney

  1. I am racing the Peak because I moved here two years ago and love the opportunity to have a pro olympic distance race in my (new) hometown!
  2. I am most looking forward the Olde stage since I love climbing and fast descents. As a lighter athlete, I prefer these to the flat and fast roads around the res.

Kennett Peterson

  1. I really enjoy all of Without Limit’s races and the effort they put into making such awesome events. I think it’s great that they’re brining back a pro field and prize money to Peak, and I want to support that by showing up. Also, it’s just two miles from my house, which means I can ride there. That’s a huge bonus.
  2. I’ve never raced it.
  3. When I was a bike racer I did a lot of my intervals on Olde Stage. I’ve probably ridden it close to 200 times at this point, so I know how to pace it: start out as hard as you can and gradually go harder. The descent takes like 39 seconds so it won’t really factor into any position gain or loss.
  4. After the Olde stage descent make sure to go left on Left Hand.

Brittany Warly

  1. I am racing Boulder Peak because my coach and I thought it would be a fun way to mix up my ITU draft-legal racing with a local non-draft race and to get back on the TT bike. Also because I went to school at CU Boulder and I was a proud member of the Colorado Triathlon Team, I thought that racing in Boulder in front of family and friends would be a great way to reconnect with those I haven’t seen in a year since graduating, plus it is always a blast racing in front of the Boulder crowd and having my family watch me race! I have nothing to lose, and I am excited to be racing against some of the best girls in the sport and to give it my all on race day.
  2. This is my first year racing as a professional, but I have raced Boulder Peak a few times in the age group and collegiate category. My favorite memory has been racing in front of my teammates and friends, and getting cheered on the whole way. In addition, I have so many memories training on the Boulder roads, throwing down with my teammates, so I always have visions of those experiences while I race, which motivates me to push harder.
  3. I am excited to be racing Old Stage for the first time! I am a strong climber and fearless on the descents, so I know that I can take advantage of this, while saving my legs for the run.
  4. I hope my racing speaks for itself 🙂

Will Jurkowski

  1. I’m racing Boulder Peak because I can ride my bike to the start – I live in Boulder only a few miles from the Res.
  2. I raced Peak once before, in 2014, as an amateur. I remember hearing about the Olde Stage climb but it wasn’t in the race that year from the flooding in Lefthand and the roads being torn up.
  3. The Olde Stage climb has meant specific preparation with lots of reps up the climb and understanding how hard I can push at various points to maximize my effort.
  4. Not really…

 

Jarrod Shoemaker

  1. I am so happy that Boulder Peak is back! I spent the first 11 years of my career chasing the ITU circuit around the world and only raced a handful on non-drafts in the US. I switched over to non-draft racing last May and have generally been training for long distance now, but I cannot pass up an opportunity to race on such an iconic course and race. I am so excited that Lance and the Without Limits team are working hard to bring this race back for the Pros.
  2. Have not raced before.
  3. I am excited to race a race with a nice climb, I am not as much of a climber as I used to be, and would love to be riding a road bike instead of a TT bike up and down it, but that being said I am just going to be smart about it. This race is basically a long climb from the Res to the top of Olde Stage about 25km long.
  4. I think it is so much fun to race against people that you know and train with. Cam Dye and Jason West are two of my training partners and are nailing the non-draft Olympic distance right now. I am just going to go out there and see how I can do!

Sam Long

  1. I’m racing the Peak because it’s the best Olympic distance event around. I love the climb on Olde Stage Road–it makes the race honest and fair. BP also got me into triathlon so I am stoked to revisit as a pro. I haven’t done an Olympic in years so it is gonna be fun to try the distance again.
  2. Crushing people’s souls on Olde Stage
  3. The climb fits in because it gives me space to catch the faster swimmers. It also allows me to push the descent and use my bike handling skills to my advantage.
  4. yeehaw!

Annika Pfitzinger

  1. I’d heard a lot about Boulder Peak over the years, even before I started racing triathlons, and decided this year would be a good time to test myself on Old Stage!
  2. This is my first time racing Boulder Peak but it hopefully won’t be my last.
  3. I’m going to work the uphill so that I lose as little as little time as possible on the descent! I’m not a very big person and my descending still needs a little work.
  4. This is my first official race as a pro and it sounds like I picked a great race to start with!

Cam Dye

  1. I am really excited to be back racing the Peak. It was the first race that I did when I was 15, and growing up in Boulder it has always been a special race to me. This year it will be even more special as it will be the first time that my kids have seen me race.
  2. Winning the race in 2012

 

Lindsey Jerdonek

  1. I can’t find a single reason NOT to race here at home.
  2. The crowd support on Olde Stage is awesome so that will help me up the punishing climb!
  3. Go hard. Be aggressive.
  4. I’m looking forward to a hard race, especially with my training partners, Paula and Alicia, in the field. They are incredible, hard-working athletes and I hold a lot of respect for them in approaching the Peak.

Weekend Preview: Time to Get Rollin’

Triathlon Events

Thursday June 1st

 

BAM OWS

Boulder Reservoir


Stroke & Stride Series

Boulder Reservoir


Saturday June 3rd

 

Colorado Sprint & Olympic Tri

Boulder Reservoir


Longmont Try-a-Tri

Centennial Pool, Longmont


Boyd Lake Spring Splash OWS

Loveland


13th Annual Longmont Kids Triathlon

Longmont


Sunday June 4th

 

37th Annual Longmont Triathlon

Centennial Pool, Longmont


Beti Bike Bash

Bear Creek Lake Park, Lakewood


USAT Off Road National Championships

Arkadelphia, Arkansas



Cycling Events

Thursday June 1st

 

BVV Track Night

Erie


USAC Masters Road National Championships

Columbia County, Georgia


Friday June 2nd

 

USAC Masters Road National Championships

Columbia County, Georgia


Saturday June 3rd

 

Burning Can Fest

Lyons Outdoor Festival, Lyons


46th Annual City Park Criterium

Denver


ERock Sunrise Sunset

Castle Rock


Palisade Gran Fondo

Palisade


Buena Vista Bike Fest

Buena Vista


Firebird XC

Eagle


Level 2 MTB Skills Clinic – Lee Likes Bikes

Valmont Bike Park, Boulder

 


USAC Masters Road National Championships

Columbia County, Georgia


Sunday June 4th

 

Circle Boulder by Bicycle

Boulder


Boulder Bicycle Swap

Boulder


Beti Bike Bash

Bear Creek Lake Park, Lakewood


Elephant Rock Cycling Festival

Castle Rock


CX Town Hall Meeting

Thornton


USAC Masters Road National Championships

Columbia County, Georgia

Boulder Sunrise Triathlon-Duathlon-Run

Join us at the Boulder Reservoir for the 10th annual Boulder Sunrise Triathlon, the first race in our Boulder, Colorado triathlon series! If you enjoy smaller and less stressful wave starts, a well-marked course, and great SWAG, this is YOUR race! With a Sprint, Olympic, Duathlon, 10K and 5K Run, we guarantee a fun day for the entire family, at the base of the spectacular foothills!

Sprint Distance Triathlon  | 750m Swim, 17.3mi Bike, 5K Run
Olympic Triathlon | 1500m Swim, 26.4mi Bike, 10K Run
Duathlon | 5K Run, 17.3mi Bike, 5K Run
Run | 10K & 5K

Colorado Sprint & Olympic Tri’s

Boulder Reservoir

 

Where Colorado comes to race on June 3rd, 2017!  The Colorado Triathlon, sprint.  To make this the can’t miss event of the season we’ll also have: amazing food provided by Flippin Flapjacks, Ska Brewing Beer Garden, athlete full zip sweat shirts, and the best swag bag of the season.

For us this race is about one person, the Colorado local who knows Colorado has the best triathlon scene in the nation.  It’s a local scene we’re darn proud of!

 WHERE COLORADO COMES TO RACE!

Event details and registration here

Interested in the whole 5430 Series?  Details here

 

 

We are excited to partner this year with Without Limits Productions! While you participate in the Colorado Triathlon at Boulder Reservoir, your kiddos ages 5-12 can join us in the PRKids mini-camp for activities, games, snacks and fun!

Drop your munchkins off before the event and rest assured that they will be in a safe, fun environment while you test your mettle in the race. We will be located in a tent close to the start/finish lines, with plenty of active games to keep busy.

Spaces are limited, so reserve yours early!

 

 

Gwen Jorgensen Meets With Colorado Springs Triathletes

Gwen Jorgensen made a last minute appearance at 24Hr Fitness in Colorado Springs last weekend. Kris Kuckenbacker, a triathlete from Colorado Springs, describes his experience for us:

Gwen Jorgensen posing for a photo with triathletes while visiting Colorado SpringsI first found out that Gwen was going to be at the COS 24Hr Fitness Thursday morning (November 10th) from the local tri club social media page, just two days before the meet and greet was to occur. It was a very basic post and just said “Gwen Jorgensen will be at 24 Hour Fitness in Colorado Springs this Saturday,” that was it. I searched the comments and was further able to find out that it would be from 11:30-1:00. Oh Great!

That was the exact same 90 minute window I had a scheduled a massage for earlier in the week. Skeptical, I searched online to see if I could verify the information and came up empty. Regardless, I rescheduled the massage and decided to go to the gym the following day and see what the deal was myself. Sure enough, a large poster was on the entrance window with Gwen’s photo and pertinent details for the meet and greet. I was excited!

My girlfriend, and fellow triathlete, was down from Denver for the weekend and was just as excited as I was for such an amazing opportunity to meet the ITU legend and Olympic Gold Medalist. We took magazines, the recent USA Triathlon quarterly publication and the The magazine Gwen Jorgensen signed for Kris during her visit to Colorado SpringsAugust issue of Triathlete, both with Gwen’s picture gracing the covers for her to sign.

I’ve never met anyone and had them autograph their picture before, that added a little awkwardness while standing in line. We were surprised how few people were there, which was a good thing as neither of us are fans of large crowds.

The moment came and we walked up to Gwen. I got increasingly nervous as we approached and realized I wasn’t in any way prepared for a verbal encounter. I stayed a few steps behind my girlfriend, trying to hide behind her tiny frame, as she engaged in conversation with a very humble and genuine Gwen Jorgensen. They started with a little race and triathlon small talk which transitioned seamlessly and quickly into real life events and girl stuff as though they were long time friends.

When her attention turned to me, I shook her hand and introduced myself in which she replied “Hi, I’m Gwen.” All I could muster as a response was “Yes, yes you are”. I was literally speechless and embarrassed. We got our magazines signed pictures taken with Gwen, then headed to brunch. All we could talk about was how amazing it was to meet such an icon of the sport, and how authentic and real Gwen was to everyone she met.