Usually, when Travis Kauffman is trail running and hears something rustling in the brush, he doesn’t get alarmed. It’s likely just deer foraging or a squirrel.
Last week, while on a 15-mile run the afternoon of Feb. 4 in a remote area of Horsetooth Mountain Open Space just west of Fort Collins, something told Kauffman to look back when he heard a crunch. When he did, he saw a mountain lion about 10 feet away getting ready to pounce.
The gangly, 5-foot-10 Fort Collins resident had moved to Colorado from a town in the southern Ozark Mountains of Arkansas five years ago for the outdoors. He picked up mountain biking, trail running and downhill and cross country skiing. At 31, being active made him “feel younger,” he said.
He had biked the West Ridge Trail, which is steep, technical and remote.
Just minutes before spotting the big cat, he had completed the tough first ascent. Then, “one of his worst fears was confirmed.”
“My heart sank into my stomach,” he said Thursday during a news conference in Fort Collins, the first time he had spoken publicly about surviving the attack.
Kauffman had read about what to do if he encountered a mountain lion, so he halted, threw his hands up in the air and yelled to intimidate the animal.
It showed no signs of backing down. The juvenile mountain lion, also known as a puma or cougar, which Kauffman estimated to be about 3 to 4 feet wide and 2½ feet tall, leapt at him and locked its teeth around his right wrist.
Michael Strzelecki has been running trail races since 1985. He considers himself an outdoors lover at his core, and the fact that he can join other like-minded souls at trail races is icing on the cake. The 55-year old Maryland-based energy industry analyst hits up several low-key, traditional style trail races every year.
Jenny Medvene Collins, a 33-year old teacher from Massachusetts, is at the other end of the spectrum. Running for the past decade, she traveled across the country to try her first trail race, a North Face-sponsored event full of costumes, bling, and “excitement.”
It’s a tale of two cultures—and they are clashing. With the addition of corporations like North Face, Spartan, Xterra and others to the trail-racing scene, events on dirt now come in a wide variety of packages. But what does that mean for the sport?
A new kind of trail racing Strzelecki remembers fondly the days when trail racing meant no more than a few dozen people showing up to take on a challenging course and share a beer afterward.
“We didn’t even talk about our times or care if we got on the podium,” he says. “We simply wanted to have fun. The races were natural experiences, with no bells and whistles, and the race directors understood the runners.”
Now, trail racing is growing—thanks, in part, to corporate backing helping to draw in more runners.
Greetings 303 friends, fans and family! My name is Kyle Coon and I’m a totally blind Professional Triathlete. (Wow, no matter how many times I say or write that I still have a hard time believing that I somehow managed to make my hobby and passion into something resembling a career.)
While not a Colorado native, Colorado has been my permanent home since 2016 and it’s been where my heart calls home since I first visited to learn to ski in the early to mid 2000s. From 2016-2018 I lived in Carbondale, just down valley from Aspen, but at the beginning of 2019 I made the move to Colorado Springs for the opportunity to better pursue my Pro Triathlete lifestyle/career. But before we get into that let’s back up a moment, because some of you are probably wondering “Who is this guy?”
When I was ten months old I was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood eye cancer called Bilateral Sporadic Retinoblastoma. Essentially I had cancer in both eyes with no family history. I underwent an intense treatment plan—consisting of chemo and radiation therapies, and other various clinical and experimental trials—which would go on to last several years as the cancer would regress and then come roaring back with a vengeance. Eventually the cancer, and the effects of the treatment, damaged my eyes beyond repair. So my family made the decision to remove my eyes which was really the only sure-fire way to beat the cancer once and for all. My left eye was removed when I was five and my right when I was six leaving me totally blind.
I went through a rough time as a newly blind kid. I didn’t understand “why” this had happened to me. Fortunately though my parents did their best to treat me no differently than they would have if I could see. Yes, I still had chores and was expected to bring home good grades from school. I was also very fortunate to meet a world-class blind athlete just a few months after I lost my sight. His name? Erik Weihenmayer—most well known for becoming the first blind man to climb Mt Everest and the rest of the Seven Summits. (At the time I met Erik he hadn’t yet climbed Everest and had only climbed three of the Seven Summits.)
Erik and I met and Erik encouraged me that just because I was blind didn’t mean I had to stop doing things I loved. It didn’t mean I had to give up being a kid. I just needed to become a bit more creative in how I went about my life. He suggested something to help me focus and be active at the same time—rock climbing. I’d go on to become a competitive rock climber, along with two of my sisters, and along the way get into numerous other activities.
In 2004, I learned to downhill ski. In 2006, I hiked the Ancascocha Trail into Machu Picchu. In 2007, I climbed and summited Mt Kilimanjaro. I also went on to climb a few Colorado 14ers and some Cascade volcanoes. I graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2013 with a degree in Interpersonal/Organizational Communication and was ready to take on the world.
I went into the post college workforce with the excellent millennial mentality of “I’m going to apply for every job CEO and above.” When that didn’t work I lowered my expectation to “Upper level Management and above.” When that still didn’t work I made my way down the corporate ladder until I applied for a batboy job at a grocery store and didn’t get the job.
I was frustrated, unemployed, several thousand dollars in debt and felt awful since I’d packed on 25ish lbs post college. I was a year removed from graduating and I’d just about lost hope. I knew I needed to do something to distract myself so I decided I’d start running, an activity I normally associated with punishment and agony. But running was exactly what I needed. It was a problem to solve and a way to reach out to the community to make new friends.
My first running guide was an ER doctor whom I connected with through a website that partnered sighted guides with blind runners. Funnily enough though he’d never actually guided a blind guy before so we both went into it as an experiment. Mike and I started running together once or twice a week experimenting with various guiding methods. We entered some short 5ks, 10ks and half marathons and then took on the Disney World Goofy Challenge—Disney Half Marathon on Saturday and Marathon on Sunday. After that Mike mentioned that he thought I could do a triathlon, maybe even an Ironman some day. Mike had just completed Kona a couple of months after we’d started running together so I saw how cool the sport was.
This was the beginning of 2015 when I decided that I’d become a triathlete. Mike taught me to swim, we did thousands of miles on my tandem bike and we continued running together. In 2016, Mike and I took on my first Ironman in Boulder because I love Colorado and my family had recently moved to the Roaring Fork Valley so Boulder was an easy race for them to travel to to spectate. Mike and I somehow stumble bumbled our way to a 15:47:11 finish on Pearl Street and despite being more tired and sore than I’d ever been in my life I was hooked.
My personal life was a mess at the time and I wasn’t particularly happy with my desk job (yes I did eventually find my way into the world of the employed) so I picked up my life and moved to Carbondale and rented a room in my parents house. I got plugged into the local running community and worked on my run. I even found some people willing/crazy enough to pilot my tandem. And so I set my sights on doing another Ironman, this time Ironman Arizona 2017.
I completed Ironman Arizona 2017 in 11:46:43 becoming only the ninth person who is blind or visually impaired to break the 12 hour mark at the 140.6 distance. But that wasn’t good enough I set my sights higher and began pushing myself to do better. Along the way I hired a coach and started attending training and skills camps. I was recruited to be a member of the first all blind/visually impaired stoker tandem relay team to take part in the infamous “Race Across America” racing from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, MD in less than nine days. I even dipped my toe into the waters of the International Triathlon Union circuit competing in a couple races including taking a Silver Medal at a World Cup.
Then in November 2018, my guide—Alan Greening—and I set out to do something that hadn’t been done before. We raced to a finish of 10:59:17 at Ironman Arizona becoming only the third person with a visual impairment to break the 11 hour mark in an Ironman, but becoming the first person who is totally blind to do so.
I’ve certainly come a long way from that scared seven year old newly blind kid and some might say that I’ve reached almost as high as you can as a totally blind triathlete. But in August 2018 the International Paralympic Committee announced that male Visually Impaired Triathlon would become part of the slate of events at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. And in October I was accepted to become an official member of the USA Paratriathlon Resident Team. So on January 7, 2019 I made the move to Colorado Springs and took up residence at the U.S. Olympic Training Center with the goal of qualifying for the 2020 Paralympics in the sport of Paratriathlon and I can think of no better audience to want to share my journey with than you, the 303 Triathlon/endurance community.
So will you join me in following my progress on the #roadtotokyo as I #trifortokyo?
I get asked the question “how do you stay motivated in the winter?” quite often really. I am human, like everyone else, and the cold, dark mornings make it that much more difficult to get out of my warm bed in the morning. I have a number of tricks/ideas that I use in the winter months especially to stay motivated and maintain consistency in my daily training.
Find yourself some training partners. Having training partners is a great way not only to hold yourself accountable, but also to keep the sport fun and fresh. A training camp can also be a great way to change your perspective and environment, while motivating you to work hard on the daily. Surround yourself with like-minded people and it’s amazing what you can do together.
Plan out your season goals. Before the next season begins, I like to write out specific outcome-based goals, and then process-related goals of how I will get there. I also like to plan my early season races, which gives me incentive to build fitness in the off-season. A goal on the horizon, can make a significant difference when it comes to finding motivation to train.
Music. Music has been a great friend of mine in the winter, especially to keep me motivated and entertained while on the trainer with my Blue AC1 Limited Road Bike or running on the dreadmill (yes I spelled that correctly). I also like to have different genres of music based on the purpose of each workout. Even when the body doesn’t feel great, music has a way of inspiring.
Go outside Even when it is cold outside, sometimes it can be beneficial and give you a fresh perspective to bundle up and run outside. Think of the snow on the ground as a change of scenery and fresh perspective on your typical running routes. Every Wednesday, I run a 6 am sunrise run with my roommate, Caryn. We both bundle up and hit the roads with our headlamps. It’s a nice morning adventure that motivates me to wake up early 🙂
Yoga. Practicing mindfulness in the form of yoga or meditation can be very helpful in defining your purpose, letting go of your past, and channeling your energy to future goals. Given I have a body-type that struggles in the cold, the heated sessions especially are beneficial to my overall recovery and ability to relax.
Get in the gym and hit it hard! In the summer season, it’s typically race season so gym training is usually a supplement to training and not the core part of training/racing. In the winter time, change it up by hitting the gym hard three times per week. Gym has become one of my workouts in the winter. Building strength will translate to a stronger, healthier body when the season comes around.
Coyote That Attacks Runners Has Once Again Emerged in Frisco
Six people have been injured since October on the same two-mile path
In Frisco, Texas, police have issued yet another alert for an aggressive coyote following another attack on a runner.
On January 29, a man was running in the area of Eldorado Parkway and Tangerine Lane at approximately 6:40 a.m. when a coyote emerged from vegetation and bit him.
The victim was able to fend off the coyote, and was transported by a family member to an area hospital where he was treated for minor injuries, according to the alert.
Between October 26 and December 17, there were five other coyote attacks, all along the same two-mile stretch of Frisco’s Eldorado Parkway. Similar to the most recent attack, they all involved a single coyote aggressively approaching a single person or pair in the early morning hours.
This attack is thought to be connected to previous attacks. Though police don’t know if it’s the same coyote, the incident happened in the same area, around the same time, and with the same details, a Frisco Police spokesperson told Runner’s World.
Police have implemented a website where people can report coyote sightings and also see a map where other sightings have been reported. This site will hopefully help law enforcement track down the coyote or coyotes that have been attacking runners and other people using the parkway.
A private contractor was hired to track down the coyote believed to be responsible for the attacks, according to an earlier press release. Additionally, the department continues to collaborate with Texas Parks and Wildlife to determine which practices should be employed to best manage the situation.
The Epic Mini Triathlon was created to fill a need: a lack of road triathlons anywhere in Fort Collins! Being set in such a vibrant athletic & outdoor city this event feels right at home to athletes at any level.
The short distance (450 meter pool swim | 10 mile 2.5 loop bike | 2 mile run) is very beginner friendly but also short enough to allow seasoned triathlete’s a chance to test their speed-skills limits.
The 50 meter pool at Edora Pool & Ice Center (yes, EPIC) provides some of the best swimming in the city. Athletes will start in whatever time wave they are most comfortable, chosen during registration, and snake their way through 9 lengths before hopping out and heading to transition just 50 feet away. The best part – no wetsuit!
The bike course is a fun 2.5 laps that has less than 300 ft of total elevation gain. No mega hills to climb and no lengthy course routes to memorize. Wide lane shoulders, lots of cones and plenty of volunteers help create a great bike experience.
The power line trail is closed just for us during this race. The out and back loops keeps athletes off of any public roads and allows for TONS of high fives from your fellow athletes along the way.
Watch this video to check out a bike/run course preview:
Lots of smiles, high fives and pancake breakfast options at the finish line! Not to mention some fun sponsors & vendors.
A male runner killed a mountain lion on Monday afternoon after it attacked him in Horsetooth Mountain Open Space near Fort Collins, Colorado. The man was bitten multiple times, receiving wounds on his face, arms, legs, back, and wrist.
While the victim was defending himself, the attacking animal, described as a “juvenile mountain lion,” was killed.
According to the account of the attack, the runner heard a noise behind him and stopped to investigate. This is when the mountain lion lunged at the runner, grabbing ahold of him with his teeth. The runner fought back in self-defense, killing the animal in the process. The runner sustained serious injuries, though they weren’t life threatening.
Authorities returned to the scene and found the mountain lion where the runner had described it would be. The incident occurred on West Ridge Trail. A necropsy is being conducted to determine exactly what killed the lion.
According to the Larimer County website, Horsetooth Mountain Open Space is 2,711 acres in size with 29 miles of trails. Though close to Fort Collins, it is located in the foothills of Horsetooth Mountain.
Mountain lion attacks are rare, as mountain lions prefer to avoid human interactions.
An apex predator found around the state of Colorado, mountain lions are seldom seen, but often a topic of conversation. Here are a few things you should know about this amazing creature.
Jerry Lee gets deep with the 303Radio crew and shares how Newton Running started, how some challenges arose and where the company is headed today. From the beginnings almost 20 years ago when they pitched big manufacturers such as Nike and Adidas to implement the Newton technology into their shoes, to the decision to make their own. Along the way were test shoes, colorful personalities and the decision to use IRONMAN instead of traditional running races to launch the Newton Shoe.
You may think snow on the ground means you’re relegated to the treadmill or the track. But snowy conditions don’t prevent coach Terrence Mahon’s athletes–who live and train in Mammoth, Calif.–from hitting the trails. Besides getting them outside, snow running provides his runners with an added cardiovascular benefit and it works stabilization muscles, all the way from ankles to to hips, he says.
One of his athletes, marathoner and Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor, shares her tips for running in the snow:
For light snow conditions I have a pair of the Asics Gel-Arctic shoes, which have little studs on the bottom for better grip and are water resistant. If I need extra traction, I add Yak Trax (yaktrax.com). As the snow deepens I will use Kahtoola Microspikes (kahtoola.com) or crampons over my shoes. If there is a huge storm that is dumping multiple feet of fresh powder, I use snowshoes with a narrow back so I can run in them. Sometimes these are difficult workouts, but that is when we often feel the most gratification.
I wear form-fitting, water-resistant clothing. If the conditions are on the harsher side, I wear a thin layer of Vaseline on my face to protect from the wind and snow. (Do not use Vaseline if it is sunny—you will burn!)
Eight-year-old Connor was diagnosed with leukemia when he was just 1.5-years-old. He underwent chemo for 3 years and 3 months and celebrated his last dose with a family party. For the next couple of years Connor endured several finger pokes for routine blood tests. Sadly, his family learned in February 2017 that his leukemia came back.
Connor’s mom, Jen, shared, “He didn’t even feel sick but the doctors said he had to fight the bad guys in his blood and start taking chemo again. This second time the chemo was a lot harder- it made him really sick and he had to stay in the hospital a lot.”
Connor had a bone marrow transplant on August 1, 2017, from his sister Chloe. His health continued to improve but he couldn’t be around people or go to public places because of germs. He spent most of his time at home and was homeschooled to stay on track with his school work. Connor was able to FaceTime with his class.
One year after his bone marrow transplant, a biopsy revealed that his leukemia was back for a third time. He spent over a month at Children’s Hospital Colorado getting chemo in preparation for CAR T-cell immunotherapy.
CAR-T personalized cellular therapy is a revolutionary approach to treating cancer by using genetic engineering to reprogram the patient’s own immune T cells to find and kill cancer cells. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For the past two decades, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) has invested more than $40 million in CAR-T research and development. Connor was the sixth person at Children’s Hospital Colorado to receive CAR-T.
Connor had a check-up 34 days after his CAR-T infusion and again most recently during the holiday season at 61 days post-treatment. The results were positive, showing no signs of leukemia. Jen shared, “This was the BEST Christmas present ever for our family!!! His fight isn’t over but this is a huge victory and we are soooo very thankful!”
You can click here to learn more about CAR T-cell immunotherapy.
Connor has been an inspiration to Denver-area teammates training for the Wildflower Experience and other endurance events through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training, the world’s largest and most successful endurance sports fundraising and training program. Team In Training (TNT) offers a lineup of innovative high caliber domestic and international events, and prepares teammates for marathons, half marathons, and triathlons, as well as cycling, climbing and hiking experiences.
Since its inception in 1988, Team In Training has raised more than $1.5 billion, trained more than 650,000 people and helped LLS invest more than $1.2 billion in blood cancer research such as CAR T-cell immunotherapy.
“We all come to TNT with different our own personal stories and reasons for being involved with LLS,” shared Heather Collins, Team Captain for Team In Training Fundraising Team Connor McStrong. “Coming together to support our Honored Hero is what makes us a team. You realize that what you are a part of is bigger than just you, and your goals and your training. Watching Connor and his family go through the different stages of his treatment really brings the LLS mission to life and continually inspires me to keep doing this kind of work.”
Training for the Wildflower Experience begins on February 2, 2019. Team In Training will get you to the finish line with experienced coaches, training resources and a supportive community of athletes of all skill levels. Teammates also have access to world-class fundraising tools to help them reach their goal to fund blood cancer research.
“Before I joined Team in Training, all of my training was ‘solo’,” shared Heather. “I was hesitant about running with a team. Now I can’t imagine anything else! The encouragement and support from day one of training through event weekend helps me stay motivated. Instead of going into the event weekend nervous and uncertain, I now know I’ll have TNT Staff, coaches, supporters and teammates there to help me through. I find as much joy in cheering on my teammates as I do crossing that finish line myself!”
Join the team for the Wildflower Experience. To learn more, click here. Use code 303TRI for free Team In Training registration ($100 value, expires 1/31/19).