Karen Smyers Shares Her Amazing, Hall of Fame Triathlon Career and Her New Endeavors– 303Endurance Podcast

In the peak of her career she had a range of talent that allowed her to win the Ironman World Championship, the ITU World Championship, the Pan American Games and the US Pro Championship in a single year.  We were talking about how important these legends of our sport are, and how valuable their memories are and how fortunate we are to hear them tell the stories.  We are to get into a bunch of topics including some of here career highlights, the Collins Cub and her role as co-team captain with Mark Allen for Team America, her TED Talk and Wheels of Change and a 1500 miles STRAVA art message.

Listen to the podcast here: https://303endurance.libsyn.com/karen-smyers-triathlon-history-and-wheels-of-change

https://wheelsofchange.us/index.html

  1. Go to Strava and join the Wheels of Change (invite a friend while you are there)
  2. Pick your route that you will do
  3. Complete a waiver and boom!

The Wheels of Change routes are available in the indoor cycling app ROUVY:

  • go to the ROUVY catalog of  virtual routes
  • click on the SEARCH tab
  • enter “wheelsofchange” in the Author search field and click the green “search” button

WHAT A giant ride to spell BLACK LIVES MATTER from New York to Maine and support the abolition of racism and the awakening of an anti-racist America.

WHEN Weekend of July 18th and 19th gives us two days to get it done and clean up any open segments. (Ride/walk any portion you choose – 1 block or 200 miles)

Hey Triathletes! Special Opportunity for You to Do State Time Trial July 18th.

BRAC Invites Triathletes to  State Time Trial Championships

The Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado (BRAC) is inviting Triathletes, multisport athletes, and unlicensed cyclists to attend the State Time Trial Championships in Keenesburg, CO on Saturday, July 18th. Depending on age and ability level, there are races of 10, 20, or 40 Km. Riders start at 1-minute intervals and race the “race of truth.” All care is being taken to follow the Public Health Orders for social distancing at outdoor events. 

Per USA Cycling rules, riders are allowed to select their category for an individual time trial, so if you are an experienced triathlete, but have no USA Cycling license, you can choose to ride higher up than the novice category, even to the Pro-1-2 category. If you don’t already have a USA Cycling license, there are two options:

  •  We are lowering the cost barrier to racing this time trial event.
  • BRAC is covering the costs for you to ride on a one-day USA Cycling license.
  • BRAC is waiving the cost of a one-day BRAC membership.
  • USA Cycling is partnering with BRAC for this event to offer you the chance to purchase a discounted annual membership. You can purchase the membership online at https://membership.usacycling.org/ , and use the code BRACTT when asked, to take $10 off. That way, should you win, you will be eligible for the championship status and medal.

To register go here: www.bikereg.com/colorado-time-trial-championships

This event is held in memory of John Stenner. You can read more about him and all the details of the event here: EVENT DETAILS

University of Denver adds Women’s Triathlon to Varsity Sports

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon, along with Karlton Creech, University of Denver Vice Chancellor for Athletics, Recreation and Ritchie Center Operations, today announced that the University of Denver will add women’s triathlon to its varsity sport offerings. The school is the 37th in the nation, the second in Colorado and the ninth at the NCAA Division I level to add the sport. 

DU joins Colorado Mesa University (Grand Junction, Colo., DII) as the only schools in Colorado to offer varsity women’s triathlon. The inaugural team will begin competition in the fall 2020 season.

The addition of women’s triathlon as DU’s 18th intercollegiate varsity sport is made possible through a grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation. The USA Triathlon Foundation Women’s Emerging Sport Grant is distributed to select NCAA membership institutions to develop, implement and sustain women’s triathlon programs at the varsity level.

“On behalf of the University of Denver, we are excited to add the sport of women’s triathlon to our fall lineup,” Creech said. “The USA Triathlon Foundation grant, and grants like it, provide excellent opportunities for colleges and universities to sponsor emerging women’s sports across the country. This addition will help us attract new students from across the country as our coursework, our campus and the Rocky Mountain backdrop provide future Denver triathletes with the opportunity to pursue success at the highest level in the classroom and in competition.” 

“The addition of the University of Denver to the women’s collegiate triathlon family is groundbreaking for several reasons,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “Colorado is one of the nation’s thriving triathlon hubs. With DU’s prestigious academic reputation, and as the first Division I program in the state to add the sport, the school is sure to attract top student-athletes and become a force on the national stage.”

Barbara Perkins, assistant coach of the men’s and women’s swim teams at DU, has been named the program’s first head coach. Perkins is an accomplished triathlete, finishing the 2019 season ranked 30th in the world and ninth in the U.S. for her age group in IRONMAN’s All-World Rankings. The former Air Force assistant is a two-time IRONMAN World Championship finisher and six-time IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship qualifier.

“I am extremely excited for women’s triathlon to find a new home at the University of Denver,” Perkins said. “With my background in coaching swimming at the DI level as well as my racing experience as an elite triathlete myself, I am confident that I am the right person to get this program started and feel beyond fortunate to have been selected for the position. Triathlon is an emerging sport and is giving young women new opportunities to compete at the collegiate level. I am thrilled that Denver has the opportunity to be a part of the process to continue to grow this sport.”

DU will benefit from competitive opportunities with programs located throughout USA Triathlon’s North Central Region, including Black Hills State University (Spearfish, S.D., DII), Calvin University (Grand Rapids, Mich., DIII), Central College (Pella, Iowa, DIII), Coe College (Cedar Rapids, Iowa, DIII), Colorado Mesa, Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon, Wis., DIII), Drury University (Springfield, Mo., DII), Millikin University (Decatur, Ill., DIII), Montana State University Billings (Billings, Mont., DII), North Central College (Naperville, Ill., DIII), Trine University (Angola, Ind., DIII) and the University of South Dakota (Vermillion, S.D., DI).

NCAA Division I programs Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.) and Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, Texas) are also nearby for regional competition.

“Denver is the absolute perfect place for the sport of triathlon,” Perkins said. “Our facilities include a 50-meter Olympic-sized swimming pool, treadmills and space for a smart bike trainer studio, Washington Park is less than a mile away from campus and is the ideal set up for closed circuit bike rides, runs or brick work outs, and we are 15 minutes away from a multitude of rides in the mountains. We have so many resources at our fingertips including the home of USA Triathlon and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center just down the road in Colorado Springs. Colorado is the home to many of the world’s best professional triathletes and will serve as a great jumping off point to the future of our sport. The future is bright for triathlon at the University of Denver, and we can’t wait to get started this fall.”

The NCAA named triathlon an Emerging Sport for Women in 2014, a designation that gives USA Triathlon a 10-year window to demonstrate the sport’s sustainability at the NCAA level by recruiting at least 40 varsity programs. The governing body is quickly approaching that goal with momentum on its side, as 28 schools have added the sport since January of 2017, and 36 schools have done so since 2014.

Women’s triathlon is a fall sport, and the varsity season includes three regional qualifiers followed by the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships. Races are sprint-distance, featuring a 750-meter open-water swim, draft-legal 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run.

For more information about triathlon as an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women, visit usatriathlon.org/ncaa. Interested in helping to identify and recruit the next women’s varsity collegiate triathlon program? Inquiries may be directed to Tim Yount, USA Triathlon Chief Sport Development Officer, at Tim.yount@usatriathlon.org.

Women’s Varsity Collegiate Triathlon Programs (as of July 1, 2020): 

NCAA Division I 

Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.) 
Delaware State University (Dover, Del.)
East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tenn.) 
Hampton University (Hampton, Va.) 
Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, Texas)
University of Denver (Denver, Colo.)
University of San Francisco (San Francisco. Calif.) 
University of South Dakota (Vermillion, S.D.) 
Wagner College (Staten Island, N.Y.) 

NCAA Division II 

American International College (Springfield, Mass.)
Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, N.C.) 
Black Hills State University (Spearfish, S.D.) 
Colorado Mesa University (Grand Junction, Colo.) 
Daemen College (Amherst, N.Y.) 
Davis & Elkins College (Elkins, W.V.) 
Drury University (Springfield, Mo.) 
Lenoir-Rhyne University (Hickory, N.C.)
King University (Bristol, Tenn.) 
Montana State University Billings (Billings, Mont.) 
Queens University of Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.) 
St. Thomas Aquinas College (Sparkill, N.Y.) 
Southern Wesleyan University (Central, S.C.) 
Wingate University (Wingate, N.C.)

NCAA Division III 
Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Mich.) 
Central College (Pella, Iowa)
Coe College (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon, Wis.) 
Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Va.)
Guilford College (Greensboro, N.C.)
Mary Baldwin University (Staunton, Va.)
Millikin University (Decatur, Ill.) 
Milwaukee School of Engineering (Milwaukee, Wis.) 
North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) 
Northern Vermont University-Johnson (Johnson, Vt.) 
Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.)
Trine University (Angola, Ind.) 
Willamette University (Salem, Ore.)

About USA Triathlon

USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

“We Latched Onto the Draft of a Motorbike Going Somewhere in the Neighborhood of 55mph….” USAT Race across Colorado

By Kyle Coon

Kyle Coon lost his sight at the age of six  after a battle with Retinoblastoma—cancer of the eye. However, not having sight has not stopped him from pursuing vision. Since then he has become a competitive rock climber, downhill skier, runner and triathlete. He was planning to compete in Tokyo at the 2020 Para-Olympics

photo by Khem Suthiwan

I was in my tuck behind Alex doing my best to be as small as possible to slice through the air bombing down Highway 24 from Woodland Park towards Colorado Springs. We were alternating coasting and spinning in our biggest gear but we were going so fast that pedaling was doing little to nothing. We’d latched onto the draft of a motorbike going somewhere in the neighborhood of 55mph/88kmph and he began to pull away. We put down just a little power to try and stay in the draft and suddenly I felt the timing chain pop off. “F*ck!” I’m pretty sure I screamed. (The timing chain is what connects the pilot and stoker pedals and is how the pilot generates power back to the drive chain which turns the gears attached to the rear wheel.) Alex briefly unclipped thinking he could kick the chain back on with his shoe, but we did the smart and safe thing by pulling over to the side of the road and fixing the chain.

Barely three minutes after we got back up to around 50mph/80kmph though I felt the thing that I really hate feeling on a bike—the snapping of a chain. This time I’m positive I screamed “F*ck!” Along with some other four letter words and invoking the name of multiple deities. I really thought our race against the sun was over.

The Start
It was our coach, Derick Williamson, who dreamed up Operation Colorado Over COVID. We were roughly seven weeks into our new normal of self isolated COVID life. The Olympic/Paralympic Training Center was nonoperational except for feeding the handful of athletes who’d chosen to remain living on campus in hopes that we’d be able to resume something resembling training in the near future. There was no word from the USOPC or any International Governing Bodies on projections for getting things back up and running. I’d come off a pretty solid block where I’d again increased my 20 min power and I was now finally pushing better than 3.5 to 1 watts per kilo but had pushed myself so hard that I was now nursing a very tender IT band.

I lived in this limbo of wanting to stay on top of my training and wanting to just curl up in a ball and feel sorry for myself. The times I looked forward to the most came when I could talk to my girlfriend over FaceTime audio, and the three times a day I went to collect meals from the cafeteria when I had some form of human contact when I interacted with the cafeteria workers who made it their mission to keep our spirits up and bellies full to the best of their ability. They have no idea how much I looked forward to conversing with them and how sane they kept me.

I knew my fellow Paratriathlon Resident teammates had to also being feeling something similar so I was beyond stoked when Derick proposed a relay style bike ride across the State of Colorado. Not only would we have something to set our minds on to train for, but we could use this opportunity to raise money for those who weren’t as lucky as we were during COVID. The triathlon/endurance community has been hit pretty hard and the USA Triathlon Foundation had set up a relief fund to try and help race directors, coaches, and athletes who had lost their primary sources of income due to the cancellation of so many events across the world. We also recognized that with the massive loss of jobs across Colorado, food was critical to peoples survival. We were lucky that we had so much food prepared for us and we would never go hungry, but there are so many who rely on food banks for mere fractions of what we had available. So we wanted to do our best to help both causes. We set a goal of raising $20,210 and splitting the proceeds between the USA Triathlon Foundation’s COVID Relief Fund and the Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado.

And so we set our sights on preparing for and completing our own race.
Having taken part in the ultimate bike relay race just two years earlier (Race Across America) I did my best to help square away some of the logistics of actually getting us from Utah to Kansas. I recruited Paul Majors, who’d been our head mechanic for RAAM and was a general logistics guru having been on multiple RAAM crews, to help as well. The plan was to begin at sunset on June 19 and finish by sunset June 20. Our reason was that June 20 was the summer solstice and therefore gave us the most daylight in which to ride. I recruited my primary training guide in Colorado springs—former pro triathlete—Alex Libin to be my pilot and we were able to get permission for Alex to come on complex once a week to collect me so we could ride the tandem together. We dubbed our ride Operation Colorado Over (>) COVID and it gave me in particular something to focus on besides how incredibly bored and miserable I could become just sitting around my room all day. Finally, the day arrived.

Listen to 303’s exclusive podcast interview with CEO of USA Triathlon Rocky Harris about his experience being part of this team. https://303endurance.libsyn.com/rocky-harris-usat-and-path-to-racing

Race Day
“Race week!” My strength and conditioning coach, Sam, emailed me the morning of June 19 in response to my email announcing the beginning of the race against the sun that evening. Sam had been in Florida with us eager to watch us race when our Tokyo Selection event was canceled due to COVID. All week he’d been amped up and every time he saw any of us on campus he’d yell “Race week!” It was a reminder to me that we as athletes weren’t the only ones eager to get out and compete. Those people who’s jobs it was to train us, and keep us as strong and healthy as possible were eager to see us compete again, even if it was just against the sun.
Our team of cyclists were as follows:

  • Hailey Danz: Paratriathlete, 2016 Paralympic Silver Medalist and Tokyo hopeful
  • Melissa stockwell: Paratriathlete, 2016 Paralympic Bronze Medalist, and Tokyo hopeful
  • Kendall Gretsch: Paratriathlete, 2x 2018 Paralympic Nordic skiing Gold Medalist, and Tokyo hopeful
  • Kevin McDowell: ITU able-bodied pro, and 2020 Tokyo hopeful
  • Jack Oneal: Paratriathlete, future Paralympic hopeful and our youngest teammate (only 17, but strong as an ox)
  • Renee Tomlin: ITU able-bodied pro and 2020 Tokyo hopeful
  • Rocky Harris: USA Triathlon CEO
  • Allysa Seely: Paratriathlete, 2016 Paralympic Gold Medalist, 2020 Tokyo hopeful


We also had tons of help from volunteer crew as drivers and navigators and mechanics. Derick and Joseph (one of our mechanics) stuck behind or right around each rider when we were out on the road acting as our follow van/support wagon while the rest of the riders were shuttled up the road. Just like we’d done with Team Sea to See in 2018, riders were put on teams of two or three bikes to maximize speed with short pulls ranging from 20-40 minutes in duration. Hailey, Melissa and Kendall got us rolling beginning at 6:30 PM at the Utah/Colorado border and trading off pulls for 93 miles until they reached Montrose, where the rest of us had congregated to wait. Then it was up to Alex, Kevin and myself to get us through the middle of the night over some gnarly technical terrain.

Team 2, shift 1
Alex and I stood by my Chinook Time Trial Tandem as Hailey and Kendall seemed to bounce out of the shuttle van with excitement. Melissa was out on the road finishing up the last pull of the shift. Then it would be mine and Alex’s turn to ride. Melissa came cruising into the parking lot of the Toyota Dealership we’d posted up in and enthusiastically screamed “Go Kyle and Alex! Go! Go! Go!”

Photo by Khem Suthiwan

Alex and I clipped in and pushed off. I had that old bubbly excitement that comes with the first real steps of an adventure. Our first pull was longer than I would’ve liked for speed purposes, but logistically there weren’t any safe places to pull over to do an exchange with Kevin. So Alex and I started off pedaling easy but ramped it up the steeper the road got. We wound up climbing the majority of the first 12 miles (20km) or so. All the while Derick was in my ear giving encouragement and updates as what to expect coming up ahead. Our shuttle van manned by Joseph L, Sev, and Tracy were also in contact with our follow van and us via radio letting us know where they were located and staging Kevin. Alex and I finally ground our way up over the top of a particularly long steep ascent that topped out around 8000 ft in elevation and bombed downhill for the next 5 mi (8km) or so. It had taken us more than 50 minutes to go just a hair over 20K and a fraction of that time to cover the next 8k. We averaged better than 40mph downhill and briefly touched 50mph before having to lay on the breaks as we slid to a stop and sent Kevin on his way. Kevin attacked the next 25K section with gusto and then handed it off to us again.

It was by now the coldest part of the night and I’d put on both arm and leg warmers to stave off the chill. We time trialed for about 25K holding about 42 mph on average as we only had a couple of little steep kickers. For the most part this section was flat or rolling allowing us to hold quite a bit of speed. Plus we didn’t want to get cold so we had to pedal hard to keep warm. We handed it back off to Kevin to pull into Gunnison and leap frogged ahead to Gunnison where we met up with the RV that Hailey had secured for the team. Kevin rolled in and turned duties over to the team comprising Jack, Renee, and Rocky. This team had a tough slog of a shift as they began riding around 3:00 AM and climbed up and over Monarch pass which at over 11000 ft would be the highest elevation point on the route. According to some projections Derick and Paul had drawn up prior to the start of the race we were ahead of schedule. Kevin, Alex and I started playing a little game looking at the projected time for our next shift and seeing if we could beat it. Our first shift was to have taken 3 hours 48 minutes. Kevin challenged Alex and I that we three could complete it in 3 hours 28 minutes. So we tried and I’m pretty sure we beat that goal. But now it was time to fuel up and rest. Knowing the importance of rest in 24 hour relays I quickly changed out of my sweaty kit, grabbed a quick bite and curled up in an RV bunk doing my best to nap.

We drove to our next Vehicle Meet Point to wait for Team 3 to finish their shift. I think I napped around an hour but as I expected it was just enough to get me through the rest of the race.

We’d parked in a gas station parking lot and when the gas station opened for business a few people went in to get coffee. I was in desperate need of caffein, so Mark (our volunteer RV driver) brought me a large steaming cup of jo. Mark, I owe you a massive thank you and look forward to returning the favor as soon as I can. That cup of coffee kept me well caffeinated for the next 12 hours or so.

Team 3 rolled in right on time and we sent Team 1 back out on the road to tackle the stretch that would take us up and over Wilkerson Pass. This shift in my opinion was the most challenging. There was a lot of elevation gain, it was at a tough time of day and there were some pretty tricky descents. Nevertheless Hailey, Melissa and Kendall handled it like the champs they are.

Team 2, Shift 2

Alex, Kevin and I waited with Team 3 at the RV while Team 1 ground their way through the terrain. We expected them to arrive around 10:00 AM, but that came and went and no one could get cell service to contact Derick or Joseph in the follow van. Radios weren’t picking anything up except the occasional direction or instruction from Derick so we kept having to guess at the girls location. They finally rolled in after Kendall did a screaming fast descent of Wilkerson Pass holding better than 40mph in her hand cycle. And people think I’m crazy for riding 50mph on a tandem. 40mph on a piece of equipment that low to the ground where car tires are taller than you?… That’s crazy!

Alex and I rolled out just before noon. We had now fallen just a bit behind our goal of 24 hours and had to push to close that gap. Alex and I rode hard but had a long climb with little descending. We still maintained a 30Kmph pace to our first exchange with Kevin who bombed downhill hitting better than 80Kmph weaving in and out of traffic as our shuttle van raced to stay ahead of him. Then Alex and I hammered away at a small climb and got into our arrow tucks for what we’d been anticipating since we’d finalized the route we’d take—the screaming descent down Highway 24 from Woodland Park to the outskirts of Colorado Springs. For a good while we were crushing the descent flying at more than 50mph (80kmph) and had even tucked into the draft of a motorbike. And that’s when near disaster struck as the timing chain came off. Alex kept the bike upright and we were able to descend a bit further while making our way to the shoulder of the road. We had to disconnect the quick link on the timing chain and with Joseph (our mechanic) helping us, we got the chain back on. Shortly after we got rolling again though the quick link failed and the chain broke apart and flew off the cranks landing somewhere on the Highway. Alex again got us to the shoulder and we stood there wondering if our ride was over. I seriously thought we either wouldn’t be able to retrieve the chain and if we did that it would be unsalvageable. Zack and I’d been having issues with the timing chain coming off numerous times in the early part of 2020 and I figured it was time to replace the chain in general. Joseph was able to retrieve the chain and had a spare quick link in his bag of tools. He tightened the bottom bracket much tighter than we generally would and we prayed another quick link wouldn’t fail. We made it down the rest of the descent and linked up with Allysa Seely who’d ride through Colorado Springs, circumstances not allowing her to be in constant rotation with us the entire time.

Alex and I were bummed that our chain had decided to fail us twice as we were really looking forward to chasing some of the best known times down 24. We knew we probably wouldn’t get the overall time, but it would’ve been fun to see how close we could safely get. I made a mental note to get new chains and maybe a bigger chain ring for downhill KOM (King of the Mountains) chasing attempts.

Allysa road from our exchange point to Colorado Springs City Hall where the entire team took a knee on the steps for 8min 46 seconds before continuing on. We shuttled up ahead to an exchange point where Kevin took back over from Allysa and then Alex and I time trialed the last pull of the shift. At around 25K and slightly uphill into a headwind this particular pull hurt quite a bit. Not to mention I was tense constantly expecting the chain to snap again. It held though and Alex and I were able to hold around 42kmph for that particular pull before handing it off to Team 3.
Now the exchanges and shift change overs were coming fast and furious.

The Final Push

Photo by Khem Suthiwan

We were more than 350 miles into our race against the sun with less than 150 miles to go. We all knew we had to push the pace in order to beat the sunset. We weren’t going to make it in 24 hours, but we could still finish before the sun sank below the horizon at 8:30 PM. Jack, Renee and Rocky hammered their shift as we got further and further east in Colorado. Then Hailey, Melissa and Kendall had one more very short shift totaling around 20 miles. And then it was back to Alex, Kevin and I for our last shift which was one pull each of about 25K.

Both Alex and I were feeling the effects of the last 24 hours. Alex had been up since 5 AM the day before as he had to get a full day of work in before heading to Montrose to start the ride. Then he only got a brief nap between shifts. Plus, he hadn’t time trialed like this in a couple of years since retiring from full time triathlon. I was also fatigued, my legs were feeling heavy and my confidence was shaky. I trusted Alex on the front of the bike but this 25K pull was on a super busy road with lots of truck traffic and the wind had rarely been in Alex’s and my favor. Additionally, we had the suspect timing chain. Nevertheless we clipped in and pedalled. We didn’t have the strength to time trial like we would in a sprint triathlon, so we settled into a strong tempo effort, something we’d hold for an Ironman and were able to roll into our final exchange with Kevin holding around 41kmph for that final hard 25K pull. Kevin went out and hammered his 25K stretch clawing back a bit of time averaging nearly 45kmph. Then it was back to Team 3 for one last fast shift.

The rest of us shuttled up to a point a little less than a mile from the Kansas State line and cheered as Jack road in on his final pull. Then we all got on our bikes and soft pedaled the final stretch to Kansas.

A little more than 25 hours after Team 1 took the first pedal strokes we reached the eastern edge of Colorado. 483 miles averaging around 20-21mph and climbing more than 22000 ft with a motley crew of triathletes with different strengths and weaknesses we accomplished something we could be proud of. What was great was that it wasn’t about us as individual athletes. It took each team doing their part to get us across the state. Even better, just hours before we started riding on June 19 we’d reached our primary fundraising goal of $20210 and had surpassed it by the end of the ride.

Some Parting Thoughts:
There is a concept that was popularized by British Cycling over the last 15 or so years. That concept is “Marginal Gains.” The thought is that small changes or actions yield big results and differences. Funnily enough athletes and people in general know this. When we were brainstorming hashtag and fundraising ideas I proposed 1 penny per mile or $4.83, what seems very small, but multiply that out by 10, 20, 30 people it becomes a big number very quickly. I took the idea from doubling a penny 64 times. Start with and double it 64 times you wind ups with $180 quadrillion. A small change can make a big difference. The same went for what we did in the race itself. Originally the plan was to just use 15 passenger vans and for each team to sleep in those vans at each VMP. However, an RV would allow us to socialize better as well as stretch out. A little thing that went a long way. Renting radios for each rider seems like a big expense but when riders are out there cycling up a hill, tired unsure if they have 1 mile, or 5 miles left an encouraging voice in their ear helps them through. Small changes over time yield big differences.

I think that’s one of things I love most about ultra distance racing as a team. Small pieces come together and each piece plays it’s roll. I am not the strongest cyclist or triathlete on our team but brought a certain skill set that aided in us getting across Colorado in time to beat the sun. Rocky constantly joked that he was our weakest cyclist and he hoped he wouldn’t hold us back. However, Rocky was sandbagging as the combination of him, Jack and Renee blasting up Monarch Pass and time trialing their legs off on the eastern plains kept us on and ahead of schedule.

Originally we had a sprinter van that was going to act as a floater and media vehicle but they quickly jumped in to help become a shuttle van because they were the only vehicle large enough to quickly load and unload my tandem to keep us on pace. Also, Joseph L (who’s owned said sprinter van) hopped out on his bike and rode with Kendall as she tore down Wilkerson Pass down amongst the tires of speeding traffic. Everyone plays their part and collectively work together to make the team a success. We didn’t focus on any one cyclist, group or issue. We saw problems and did the best we could to fix them quickly and efficiently. Everyone who lent a hand played an important role and we can’t thank every single one of you enough. From those who helped us as volunteer drivers, to those who donated, to those of you who just virtually cheered us on, you all were part of Operation Colorado > COVID. We thank you! And if you missed out on this round, I heard some rumblings among the team that they want to do it again someday. So keep an eye out 🙂

Until then always keep an “Eye On Your Vision!”

To read more from Kyle about his quest for Tokyo and seeing life through his vision, go to https://kylecoon.com

#eyeronvision

Sprint Tri in Eagle to Help Locals July 11. Make it Part of Weekend in the Mountains.

This is from the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, host of annual LG TRI sprint Triathlon slated to happen July 11. It may be the first triathlon in the state and can be part of a fun weekend in the mountains. They raise money to help families in the Eagle County community. Details of the event are below. They have worked hard to ensure a safe event and are very confident the event will happen. This is a great for the family and includes a fun mountain bike tour to kick off the week-end on July 10th.

There is no better place to be this summer than right here in beautiful Eagle County. The weather is perfect with cool, comfortable evenings and sunny Rocky Mountain days. Locals enjoy a relaxing pace of life and an abundance of open space. We’ve always got room for our residents, and having you here makes our community complete!

We write to you today with an invitation to participate in or volunteer for the LG TRI on July 11th at the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink. We are excited to welcome neighbors and newcomers to our mountain town to this family-friendly event. New this year, we’ll have a family-friendly mountain bike ride to kick off the weekend on Friday night, July 10th. Participants may “choose their own” adventure on the Boneyard or Haymaker trails, and there will be trail leaders to provide a great way to experience something new. Afterwards, we’ll relax together with music, food, and beer.

We run the LG TRI in memory of Laura Genelin, a beloved mother, wife, friend, and triathlete. The Vail Valley Charitable Fund (VVCF) once helped Laura and her family with a direct aid grant and fundraiser when she was seeking treatment for cancer. The VVCF has been helping community members experiencing a medical crisis for 24 years to the tune of $8.2 million and over 1,700 families. We help over 50 people per year because of our fundraising efforts and extremely low overhead. 

For more details about the event, visit lgtri.com or click on the following links to participate: 

Eagle County has become the country’s guiding light for COVID-19 containment and recovery efforts. Your beloved community led Colorado in flattening the curve, has conducted the most COVID-19 tests per capita and is the first county in the state to welcome our second-home owners back. Come join us at altitude for a summer of fresh air and outdoor fun. We’d be honored if you joined us for the LG TRI, whether by participating or volunteering.  This community comes together so well in times like this.  All proceeds earned at the LG TRI will go right back to our community members facing financial burden because of a medical crisis. 

Ft. Collins to Host First Triathlon in Front Range, July 18th

It appears the first two triathlons happening in Colorado will be in Eagle at the LG Tri on July 11th (more on this event in another article) and the Epic Warrior Triathlon on July 18th. Both will feature a pool swim. 

With each county controlling the size of group gatherings or asking for variances from statewide mandates, Eagle and Larimer counties have approved these two events. 

In the past 10 days or so there’s been a big flurry of good news and approvals with both Larimer County and the City of Fort Collins according to race director JB Tobin of Breakaway Athletic Events.  

Not familiar with Epic Warrior Triathlon? JB says, “We combined The Epic Mini Triathlon (original race date was 5-31-20) and the Warrior Women Triathlon and are calling it the “Epic Warrior Triathlon”.

With the approvals came additional distancing precautions, extra athlete guidelines, volunteer & staff guidelines, packet pickup, and awards changes. There’s a host of tweaks and updates to the entire morning that should make everyone feel safe and comfortable taking part in the event.

Tobin adds, “One thing we think athletes will really like is the ultra roomy transition area, maybe the “roomiest transition ever?” 

An equally fun part of this story is by being the first triathlon on the front range, the community support will be unprecedented. Lance Panigutti from Without Limits will be working the event and says, “I’m just excited to see everyone!”

Peggy Shockley, director of Loveland’s Lake to Lake Triathlon will be racing in the event (and likely volunteering when she’s done) and Lisa Sinclair from Green Events will be helping out as a volunteer on race morning.

Currently the race is about 75% sold out, so if you want to race, now would be the time to sign up! They are limited to 200 people.There will be no race day registrations allowed. 

To learn more and register go here. 

https://breakawayathleticevents.com/register/

Discovering La Sportiva, Centennial Cone and RE-Discovering Running

By Bill Plock

Last Friday I discovered and re-discovered a few things. First of all, for whatever reason I had lost my desire to run. It’s probably in part due to the fact that once COVID hit, I gave myself a challenge to ride everyday for the month of April. Well that turned into May and as of today, I have only missed two days of riding since the virus invaded and changed our lives.

But, something was telling me to run Friday, so I decided to go. I think another deterrent to running was my running shoes were very worn and while I love my Colorado based Newtons, the pair I have, have a couple of IRONMAN’s on them and really aren’t great for trails–much more of a road shoe.

A couple of years ago when I pretty much stopped racing, I also pretty much stopped running on the road–for a couple of reasons. First of all the road just hurts a bit more, especially as I edge towards getting asked by merchants if I would like the senior discount. But, secondly, and admittedly the bigger reason I run on trails, is that it is much more peaceful, more beautiful generally, and I love the varying terrain. I also don’t care about my pace and I don’t find myself frustrated by constantly comparing my pace with my younger, faster self. Trail variability is the great ego neutralizer!

So here I am, wanting to run, needing shoes and still not sure where to run. My first stop was in Wheat Ridge at the Sierra Trading Post. They have some good bargains there, and lets face it, frugality is part of my DNA, more-so than ever these days. I realize the importance of good gear for sure, but was hoping to find a diamond in a sea of mostly older models of shoes on the bargain shelves. And I did. Sort of tucked in the back, I found a pair of Lycan’s made by Boulder’s La Sportiva. I am not a climber but certainly know of the high quality gear made by La Sportiva and course, if I can support a Colorado company (ironically located across the parking lot from Newton), that’s even better. I have never worn their shoes but these looked pretty awesome and they were marked down to $59. Whats to lose right? Neutral fit, wide toe box–perfect for me? So there was discovery number one.

Now where to run. I looked towards Golden and it hit me to go try Centennial Cone Park. It’s part of the Jeffco Mountain Park system and is located about 10 miles west of Golden on Highway 6 heading towards Central City. I have passed it thousands of times in my life. I have been to all the Jeffco parks, Apex being my favorite to run, but had never been to Centennial Cone. OMG, discovery, major discovery number two. What a spectacular park with super smooth, flowy trails and great views and nice and quiet. On weekends they alter days where one day is for bikes only and the other is for hiking/running–so check before you go if it’s on a weekend. But for a gorgeous Friday afternoon, there weren’t many people on the trails. I definitely am coming back with my mountain or gravel bike. Yes, gravel bike, as there are hardly any technical spots that I saw. I didn’t run the entire 17 mile loop but from what I read, the whole park has mostly smooth trails. This is a great park for those who don’t love technical riding like many of the Jeffco parks offer.

I tore off the LaSportiva tags, laced up my brand new shoes and ran for 6 miles. These shoes felt AMAZING. I know they have some fancy features like an Impact Brake System, Rock/Ground Frixion sole, and anti-abrasion micro fibers and TPU toe cap, which frankly didn’t mean anything to me at the store– I just liked how they looked and felt and the price was right.

I have enough miles on my feet to appreciate quality and performance and for these to feel so great “out of the box” and perform so well surprised me. Maybe all those “fancy features” make the difference. They feel very light but rugged at the same time. That is a rare combination I feel. I have a little bit of a wide foot and these have a generous toe box. I had a pair of Altra Torin’s I really liked for that reason, but wore those out and frankly I don’t like the way they look quite as well. Not that looks really matter to me. Those who know me would laugh at the thought of me even mentioning I care about how something looks that I wear. But hey if all else is equal it might as well look good right?

One might say in the beautiful woods overlooking Clear Creek Canyon, I re-discovered my love of trail running, and discovered a new (to me) brand of shoes and an amazing park so close to home!

Heather Gollnick on the 303Endurance Podcast

Check out our most recent podcast with 5x Ironman champ and Spartan Pro team member Heather Gollnick.  She’s the head coach at Liberty University and she and her husband have their own coaching business IronEdge Coaching.  

Listen to the podcast here: https://303endurance.libsyn.com/heather-gollnick-pro-and-coach or you can find it on your favorite podcast sharing platform.

Here are the show notes:

Thanks to last week’s guest, Erin Carson of Rally Sport and ECFIT. Here is a link to that great interview: https://303endurance.libsyn.com/erin-carson-rally-sports

In Today’s Show:

  • Interview with Heather Gollnick
  • Endurance News – Ironman Return To Racing Steps
  • What’s New in the 303 – What’s the status with local races, Colorado Classic and more.

Sponsor UCAN:

Bill, did you get your UCAN Starter Pack yet?  I’ve been going through it myself.  Really loving drinking a bottle prior to a long run and then just carrying the hydration formula with extra salts.

UCAN gives you steady energy so you can finish stronger. UCAN Performance Energy and Bars are powered by SuperStarch®.  Use in your training to fuel the healthy way and recover quickly! Use code MHE2020 for 15% off at generationucan.com, or try the UCAN Tri Starter Pack – 50% off, limit 1 – https://www.generationucan.com/product/ucan-tri-starter-pack-50-off/   

Interview with Heather Gollnick:

Heather Gollnick was at the top of her triathlon career about the time I was discovering triathlon.  She raced a ton as a pro triathlete and races a ton more as a OCR Spartan pro.  As you’ll hear she loves to train as well.  As we mentioned in the intro that she is head triathlon coach at Liberty University and co-owner of IronEdge Coaching.  Let’s chat with Heather Gollnick.

Post interview discussion.

  • I do remember seeing video of Heather doing a cartwheel
  • We didn’t get into it but I read an interview with Heather where she talks about her daughter [Jordon], born with cerebral palsy, and was told by doctors that she would would never walk. She walks with a cane now.  I also read that in her first Ironman in Madison WI she didn’t think she could even start the run.  She saw Jordon and it hit her that Jordon would want that opportunity to run, so Heather ran for her daughter.  She said “I think of Jordan every time I’m in a race and I want to stop or slow down.”

Sponsor VENGA:

Thanks to Jay O’Hare at VENGA for the introduction to Heather.  We didn’t discuss VENGA as much as I was hoping to.  We’ve both been trying the Ultra Gels and the Recovery Balm.  There big thing is the Nano Emulsion Technology which makes it water soluble, getting up to 5x CBD in your Blood Stream.  It’s 100% THC-Free, Works Fast and the Ultra Gels make sure you get a Precise dose.  Great reducing inflammation and helping you get great sleep.

“Venga!” is a Spanish for “Come on! go!

Endurance News:

Ironman Lubbock 70.3 is on.  Check out the Athlete Guide as a template for future races.

IRONMAN Return To Racing https://www.facebook.com/IRONMANtri/

  • Health screening which includes questionnaire and touchless temperature check
  • physical distancing markers
  • Designated check-in times
  • Athlete briefings virtual
  • Reduced touchpoints (bikes per rack, recommended self support,
  • Swim start (pulsed, smaller waves, wider entrance points)
  • More space
  • Shade tents instead of change tents
  • Athletes rack their own bikes
  • Number and location of aid stations.  More emphasis on special needs bags.
  • Volunteers to restock instead of serve
  • More physical space at the finish line
  • Individual race choices

What’s New in the 303:

About Without Limits and Boulder Peak? https://www.withoutlimits.co/boulder-peak-triathlon-race-info

Eight U.S. Olympic and Paralympic triathlon hopefuls, along with USA Triathlon CEO Rocky Harris and one guide for a visually impaired athlete, who will be riding across the state of Colorado in a 24-hour relay on June 19-20 to raise funds for COVID-19 relief. The ride will cover 483 miles in total distance, gaining nearly 23,000 feet of elevation as it extends from the Utah-Colorado state line in Montrose, Colorado, to the Colorado-Kansas state line at U.S. 40 and CR 57 (near the town of Arapahoe, Colorado). The route travels from the Western Slope up into the Rocky Mountains, cresting Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet of elevation before descending into the Front Range via Colorado Springs and into the Eastern Plains.

A local news station in Colorado Springs put together this quick segment yesterday: https://www.kktv.com/content/sports/With-dream-deferred-Olympic-hopefuls-to-bike-across-Colorado-for-charity-571111931.html.

Boulder’s Dede Griesbauer and Kennett Peterson dominate the IRONMAN VR10 Pro Challenge Weekend

The 10th edition of the IRONMAN® VR™ Pro Challenge saw a United States sweep with Dede Griesbauer winning the women’s race and Kennett Peterson taking the top honors in the men’s race as eight top triathletes battled it out over the course of two days. Mixing up the format, athletes took on a 3 km run through the Eagle Trail in Boulder, Colorado before hopping on their trainers. From there, athletes began their 40 km bike ride in Gerry Boyle Park on a portion of the newly offered IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman bike course, utilizing Official Virtual Cycling partner ROUVY’s augmented reality.

In the closely contested professional women’s race, Dede Griesbauer (USA) fought her way into the top spot with an impressive performance, finishing the 3 km run and 40 km bike in an overall time of 1:07:53, while Lindsey Jerdonek (USA) finished in second place with a combined time of 1:08:42. Danielle Mack (USA) took third position with a finishing time of 1:10:09 and Rachel Olson (USA) rounded out the group with a time of 1:11:19.

Colorado Classic Planning to Roll With “Made for TV” Model

Denver, CO (June 9, 2020) — In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Colorado Classic® presented by VF Corporation today released an initial statement sharing their intention to continue their August race with a revised format, a ‘Made for TV Streaming’ model.

With a new race model that limits the gathering of crowds and prioritizes the safety of riders, host communities and staff, the race organizers feel optimistic that America’s premier all-women’s professional road cycling race could successfully continue August 27-30, 2020 — pending the appropriate approvals from the State, county and city health departments.

Video of the Week:

Venga CBD Review 2020 – THC-Free CBD For Ultrarunners/Endurance Athletes

Closing:

Thanks again for listening in this week.  Please be sure to follow us on social media including @303endurance and @triathlon and of course go to iTunes and give us a rating and a comment.  We’d really appreciate it!

Stay tuned, train informed, and enjoy the endurance journey!

Erin Carson, Strength Coach, Owner of Rally Sport and Lover of Basketball, Golf and Learning

By Bill Plock

Erin Carson is known for accomplishing and being good at many things. In the triathlon world, she may be most famous for being Tim O’Donnell and Miranda Carfrae’s strength coach, or for owning Rally Sport where some of the biggest names in multisport train. But that is just a small part of her story.

In this podcast you will hear how she built the culture to attract the best of the best while keeping Rally Sport a very approachable and welcoming fitness center. She talks about how legendary runner Frank Shorter, 1972 gold medalists and the last American to win the gold in the marathon, really helped Rally Sport create that atmosphere.

You will also learn of her love of golf, basketball and learning. In addition to training endurance athletes, she is also a certified Titliest swing coach. If you have ever heard her coach, it’s easy to imagine her ability to instruct one of the hardest skills in sports–to hit a golf ball.

This love of functional movement really began on the basketball court growing up in Vancouver, Canada where she eventually played for the Canadian National Team. She was also Hall of Fame coach Ceal Barry’s first recruit at the University of Colorado and remains friends with her today–and plays golf with her.

Have a listen and hear the stories and motivation that makes Erin one of the most revered coaches and business owners anywhere.

Podcast Link https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/303endurance/Erin_Carson_Rally_Sports.mp3

There is Hope for More Swim Spots at Chatfield

By Bill Plock

Open water swimming is happening, but if you missed out on the “swim lottery” and are hoping to swim, things may change soon.

Holly Solomon

303 made a stop last week at the gravel “pond” at Chatfield State park. The park zoomed with paddle boarders, cyclists, fishermen, boaters, campers and swimmers of course. At first glance, other than people wearing face masks, it seemed like a typical summer day.

Tristen Rogers and Todd Lytle

At the swim beach several groups including the Rocky Mountain, CWW, and YTT triathlon clubs carved out space on the beach for a monitor to check in and out swimmers. As it stands right now, those groups, plus COMSA (Colorado Masters Swim Association) and a few other groups are the only ones allowed to host open water swimmers. This isn’t different than past years, but what has changed is the number of people allowed access and how the groups work together. This year each group offered a limited number of swim spots to their members. Members are then required to sign up for a time via an ap and each group provides a monitor to ensure people arrive at their time and enter and exit the water. The idea is to allow only 10 people at a time to enter the water and then stagger groups of 10 over the allotted open water time. Thus the limit of total swimmers per group. The groups with permits have been working together to minimize the total number of people congregating and people are being asked to not gather on the shore before or after swimming and to wear masks to and from their car.

Jeanette Sorensen Hickok

In the past, people who didn’t belong to any other groups holding permits could swim by joining COMSA and basically show up during open swim times and check in with the monitor on duty. COMSA held a sign up for swimming and currently is not offering swim spots. But that could change.

According to COMSA chair, Chris Nolte, “we are hopeful that when and if Governor Polis increases the group gathering size from 10 to 25 we will be able to offer more swim spots, so keep checking our website. https://www.comsa.org

Chatfield is the only public option for open water swimming. The rangers and park staff are no doubt keeping a close watch on swimmers following the rules. A couple of other lakes opened briefly and then closed, so be sure if you do go swim, follow the rules.