Khem’s Take on ITU Draft Legal Race

A few weeks ago I raced my first draft-legal triathlon at the Sun Devil Draft-Legal Classic in Tempe, AZ, and since then I’ve had several friends ask about my experience. Besides the usual “I swam, I biked, I ran” and the “nothing” or “everything went as planned” play by play race report write up that you frequently see online, here is my take on racing a draft-legal tri…


If you like to race without all the stress of people freaking out about the water temperature, you should race draft-legal.

If the idea of lining up on the beach and then running into the water all at the same time sounds like fun, you should race draft-legal.

If you like to race alongside athletes who just want to go fast and have a good time, you should race draft-legal.

Photo by Joshua Hughes
L to R: Me, Christeen Hodge (CO), Kendra Weekley (OH), and Caitlin Harty (OH). 

If you enjoy chasing after a pack of athletes cycling faster than you, you should race draft-legal.

If you thrive on pushing in zone 5, 6, 7+ (full anaerobic) over and over and recovering in zone 4 heart rate/power, you should race draft-legal.

If you’re a minimalist and enjoy keeping your transition area nice and tidy without a towel and backpack, you should race draft-legal.

If you love racing on your road bike (sans aerobars), you should race draft-legal.

If you don’t care about qualifying for Kona but qualifying for the ITU World Championships (2019-Lausanne, Switzerland; 2020-Edmonton, Canada; 2021-Bermuda) sounds like fun, you should race draft-legal. 

If you’re looking for something different and challenging (because we all know you can finish an IRONMAN, you’ve done plenty), you should race draft-legal.

Photo by Joshua Hughes

If you still love training and racing hard but want a life outside of triathlon, you should race draft-legal.

In a nutshell, it was just as fun as it was fast and furious. Even though it was a sport I was very familiar with, it was a different scene that reignited the excitement and enjoyment I have struggled to find after racing 140.6’s for a handful of years. It kicked my ass more than ever and my calves were screaming for two days after the race. Definitely unexpected after racing a sprint distance triathlon, but a great reminder that my body still has a little bit of pep left inside and plenty of ass kicking to do. Until the next one…

Tyler Butterfield Wins IM Cozumel, Tim O’Donnell punches Ticket to Kona as well.

Boulder’s Tyler Butterfield had an incredible day yesterday in Cozumel, Mexico winning IRONMAN Cozumel with a 7:44:01 time. He had a blistering 2:38:29 run giving Butterfield a three minute gap on Austria’s (and last years winner) Michael Weiss. Boulder’s Tim O’Donnell finished 7th an earned another trip to Kona.

Said Butterfield from his Instagram account: “What a day yesterday at Ironman Cozumel, Latin American Championships. Not how I thought the race would pan out, but better than I could have ever dreamed or imagined. Cozumel you beauty, huge thanks to the race, volunteers, locals and the island itself–amazing here, and I owe you for fulfilling a childhood dream”

O’Donnell said from his Instagram account: “My Kona 2020 ticket is punched! It was a fast day out there, congrats to the podiums, especially Tyler Butterfield for winning in style with a blazing fast run! My race was a challenge from the start: some pre-race tummy issues turned into race day tummy problems!”

Eight Colorado Women Nominated at Outspoken Summit

By Bill Plock and Lisa Ingarfield

Colorado was well represented last week in Tempe, Arizona, at the second annual Outspoken Summit. Co-founded by Dr’s Lisa Ingarfield (of Denver) and Sara Gross, about 160 women from all corners of triathlon gathered for an enriching conference. They heard from industry leaders and developed leadership skills related to their role in triathlon. The summit provided a rich forum to help develop stronger voices to inspire and advocate for changes in the sport.

There were several Colorado women nominated across six categories for the first annual Outspoken: Women in Triathlon Awards. Nominees were chosen by the triathlon community. The Outspoken Summit team had an open call for nominations in September and October for six award categories. 

Outspoken Woman of the Year:

A woman who has advocated and broken down barriers for women in triathlon in 2019. Won by Coloradan, Triny Willerton

Triny Willerton is a wife, a mom of 5, and a cyclist. In May of 2018, she was struck from behind by a driver with a truck while on a bike ride in Boulder. She sustained over 12 fractures and a punctured lung. Now Willerton, and her platform #itcouldbeme, work to change the narrative between cyclists and motorists to promote road safety for everyone. Triny recovered from her injuries and raced in Kona at the IRONMAN World Championship in 2018 and then qualified and raced in the 70.3 IRONMAN World Championships in 2019. In between all of that, she started the #itcouldbeme initiative and captured the attention of the endurance community all over the world. More information can be found here: Also here is a link to an article published on USA Cycling about Triny:

Coach of the Year:

A triathlon coach who is changing lives, changing the game of coaching, contributing in outstanding ways to triathlon coaching, or women’s equity in the sport, or all of the above.

Tristen Rogers, Hat House; Tristen has been an athletic coach for most of her life, previously working with high schoolers and now with weekend warriors to elites through her coaching and altitude training company HAT House. She has an unstoppable positive attitude and will go out of her way to assist her athletes and folks in the tri community. Her coaching is extremely personalized, and she is an amazing cheerleader. Tristen will lift you up while also keeping it real and helping you be your best self and athlete. Hat House info found here:

Yoli Casas, Team YTT; Yoli’s passion, education and wealth of experience coaching endurance athletes or over 30 years make her a sought after coach. Yoli’s unwavering commitment to her athletes have helped thousands of people transform their lives and reach their fitness goals. Yoli’s coaching interests focus on helping people through life challenges by incorporating athletics into their lifestyle. She empowers athletes of all levels and ages achieve their goals while cultivating self-confidence and individual’s belief in themselves. Team YTT info found here:

Susan Yasuhara, Karma Multisport; Susan has a passion and talent for supporting beginners, particularly those who have never swam or are scared of the water. She runs a small multisport group for women with a focus on beginners, athenas, and anyone new to the sport in a non-intimidating environment. She is patient, kind, and will go above and beyond for her athletes. Info on Karma Multisport here:

Siri Lindley, Team Sirius; Siri is a world champion triathlete and accomplished coach. Her mission is to positively influence others, to help empower individuals by connecting them to their greatest strengths. She is the head coach of Team Sirius, a tri club designed to support beginners to seasoned triathletes. Info on Team Sirius:

Rachel Joyce; Rachel took up triathlon in 2005 and what started as a hobby turned into a passion. Since 2008, she’s climbed to the top of her sport. She has captured a world title, six iron distance titles and stood on the podium three times at the Ironman World Championships. Outside of training and racing, Rachel is a passionate advocate for equality and increasing participation in sport by women. She is a founding member of TriEqual and sits on the Women For Tri Committee of Advisors.

Triny Willerton, Rachel Joyce, Dana Platin, Barbara Perkins

Honorable mentions: Yoli Casas and Susan Yasuhara

Bethany Rutledge Memorial Award

Bethany Rutledge was an active member of the Atlanta, GA triathlon community. She spent her life helping others and supporting triathletes to achieve their best selves. She believed helping people in small ways created potential for much bigger change. For this memorial award, please nominate a woman you believe embodies Bethany’s spirit and philosophy, and has affected many people in small, and meaningful ways.

Nominees from Colorado: Tristen Rogers and Yoli Casas

Athlete of the Year

A pro or age group athlete who has used her platform to advocate for, and make positive change in triathlon.

Triny Willerton (see above)

Barbara Perkins; Barbara is a 2 time Kona competitor and member of Team Couer Sports. Barbara goes out of her way to encourage athletes every single day. She is always contributing and doing her best to help answer any question and calm fears for other triathletes. On top of that, she is fast as fast can be. She broke the tape at IM Santa Rosa this year! She is an extraordinary woman and a fierce athlete. 

Angela Naeth; Angela is a multiple 70.3 and Ironman Champion with 3 sub-9 hour Ironman performances. She is now currently ranked among the top triathletes in the world. Angela continues to pursue her career in these distances and build awareness around Lyme, and Women in Sport. Angela created a women’s triathlon/cycling community in 2017. Growing in numbers, iracelikeagirl is her ability to support others in the sport of triathlon.

If you don’t see a woman on this list who you think should be there, then don’t forget to nominate in 2020!

IRONMAN Couer d’Alene Returning 2021 as part of Three City Rotation

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho / TAMPA, Fla. (November 21, 2019) – The IRONMAN Group, a Wanda Sports Group company (Nasdaq: WSG), announced today that the beautiful city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho will once again play host to a full-distance IRONMAN® triathlon on Sunday, June 27, 2021 as part of a renewed multi-year host venue agreement. IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene will serve as the second location of the rotating IRONMAN triathlon for 2021, with the event shifting back to an IRONMAN 70.3® triathlon in 2022 and 2023. The 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 Coeur d’Alene triathlon is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 28, 2020.
“We are excited to return a full distance IRONMAN triathlon to Coeur d’Alene in 2021,” said Dave Christen, Northwest Regional Director for The IRONMAN Group. “We have hosted races in Coeur d’Alene since 2003 and are thrilled to insert Coeur d’Alene as the second stop of the new rotating IRONMAN triathlon series. With the longstanding history the events have built over the years, we know our athletes will be excited to once again race 140.6 miles across this breathtaking and challenging course in beautiful North Idaho for the first time since 2017.”
The new rotating IRONMAN triathlon concept was announced earlier this year and will feature three different full-distance IRONMAN triathlon locations over three years. The 2020 IRONMAN North American Championship St. George, Utah triathlon will be the first stop on the rotating schedule with the 140.6-mile event set to take place on Saturday, May 2, 2020.
The 2021 IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene triathlon racecourse will mirror characteristics of the IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon with slight adjustments to the run course. Athletes will begin with a 2.4-mile double-loop swim in the breathtaking Lake Coeur d’Alene. The 112-mile double-loop bike course will take athletes alongside Lake Coeur d’Alene and through a scenic hilltop view of rural northern Idaho before a transition at City Park. Athletes will cap off the race day with a multi-loop run course through McEuen Park to a triumphant finish downtown on Sherman Ave.
“The IRONMAN races have been a symbol to our community that through hard work and determination you can accomplish great things,” said Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer. “We are excited to have the full-distance IRONMAN triathlon return to Coeur d’Alene and we are grateful for our partnership with IRONMAN.”
“We are overjoyed to welcome back IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene! We started this journey in June of 2017, and had the will and passion to keep pushing and brainstorming on how to make the event a win-win for everyone,” said Britt Bachtel-Browning, Vice President of North Idaho Sports Commission. “Along the way, we received an overwhelming outpouring of support and love from the local community and from athletes around the world. This just shows how truly iconic and special IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene is. We are proud to once again host a full-distance IRONMAN triathlon, and are enthused by the promising future this continued partnership with IRONMAN brings to Coeur d’Alene. This amazing effort and rewarding results really embodies the IRONMAN mantra that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!”
Coeur d’Alene and its neighboring areas are surrounded by dozens of lakes left behind by the glaciers from the ice age. There are more than 55 lakes within easy driving distance of Coeur d’Alene, but none more scenic and full of activities than Lake Coeur d’Alene itself. The perfect place to go on vacation and experience numerous outdoor activities, the area will continue to offer both participants and their families an amazing scenic race destination. With the spectacular North Idaho sunsets and moonrises, the plunge of an osprey after a fish, and the glowing lights of downtown Coeur d’Alene reflecting across Lake Coeur d’Alene waters at night, it is a magical location that will surely please.
General registration for the 2021 IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene triathlon will open on Wednesday, July 1, 2020

“Perhaps this is a sign,” Teri Ward on winning another 303 contest–with Rinny surprise

By Bill Plock

Of all times, during the week of the 2019 IRONMAN World Championships, Teri lost her beloved husband Chuck, after a battle with cancer.

2019 has been a tough year for Teri. She also attempted IRONMAN Boulder in June and was not able to finish. With hopes of qualifying for Kona, her summer turned upside down with the disappointing race, but much more importantly, with a turn for the worse as Chuck’s battle with melanoma cancer worsened. 

Chuck and Teri met just a few years ago. The triathlon community was a big part of their lives and still is for Teri. Their love affair flourished and it’s clear in talking with Teri that despite having met Chuck later in life, he was the love of her life and vice versa. Teri finds so many parallels to life and triathlon and the sport and the community fuel her every day.

While in Kona this year, 303’s Khem Suthiwan collected some wonderful goodies from companies like IKOR, UCAN, SockGuy, Vega, Quantum and more. She even got a coveted swim cap from Clif Bar at the coffee boat. Contestants then answered a daily trivia question and those that answered were eligible to win the grand prize of products. And Teri won!

Teri, 303Triathlon and Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae have crossed paths before.

In 2015 we had a different contest sponsored by Audi Boulder (now Audi Flatirons) and Teri won a workout session with Rinny. To win two contests, with hundreds of people eligible, seems like destiny right? 

When told of winning Teri said, “A couple of friends pointed out that I had won a Kona bag. What a surprise! You see, I had DNF’d at IRONMAN Boulder this year, missing a Kona slot, then my husband’s fight against cancer took a turn for the worst in August and my motivation to train was very limited and my darling husband passed the week of Kona and I haven’t been sure if I would ever train again. Perhaps this is a sign that I am meant to use his determination and strength as motivation to keep up my Kona quest.”

Friends DO Let Friends Race Draft-Legal Tri–What a Blast!!

By Rich Soares

A couple of months ago some friends encouraged me to try our first draft-legal triathlon. I’ve been doing non-draft triathlons for nearly 15 years, and thought it was time to try something new. “First” experiences at my age are rare!

Tom, Todd and Rich

This wasn’t just any draft-legal race, this was the Sun Devil USA Triathlon Draft National Championship for age-groupers and collegiate athletes. As a veteran of IRONMAN Arizona in Tempe, I was familiar with the area, except this transition area was on the opposite shore.

On my pre-race shakeout ride, I knew this was going to be a different experience. Packs of riders pre-riding the course passed me on my aluminum Cannondale (the same bike I did my first triathlon with) like I was standing still.

Khem Suthiwan and Rich

Later, in the practice swim, other swimmers passed me at rates leaving no doubt about the high competition level. This was Nationals after all!

On race morning, USAT officials screened every athlete for draft legal rule adherence before allowing entry. For instance, those with sleeved tops or aero bars were stopped. Officials encouraged a clean transition area by asking athletes to locate tri bags to a corner of the transition area, otherwise the transition was just like any other race, aside from the fact that the transition area was under a highway overpass.

As a beach start, the only thing that I noticed being different was the presence of a blue carpet spread across the beach, freshly swept to display numbered start positions which would be used by the NCAA teams later that day.

When the horn blew I felt like I was in a new, unfamiliar type of race. The best swimmers sprinted to the water and dove in with these graceful, arching dives that propelled them forward fast. Stroking and sighting in the 65 degree water, the remainder of the swim played out like any other open water swim.

Once on the bike, the differences of draft-legal racing quickly became apparent. The first pack passed me at dizzying speeds as I was still tightening my bike shoes. Just two minutes out of transition and I was by myself watching the pack speed away.

Before I processed what happened, someone else came upon me pulling half dozen riders behind him. I tried to jump on the last wheel, but within 30 seconds I fell off and enjoyed most of the first of three laps by myself.

On the second lap, I heard a new rider on my wheel. After clearing a couple of corners, he passed me. I jumped on his wheel and noted his Team USA kit with the name “Hefflefinger” on the backside. I soon realized there was another rider on my wheel.

After 30 seconds or so, Hefflefinger called me up for a pull. I was stoked to work with someone on this race! Here I am on the same aluminum road bike I rode in triathlons 14 years ago, riding in a draft-legal pack! I eagerly take the lead and am careful to not let adrenaline get the bettor of me. I don’t want to drop my new alliances!

We took turns pulling and near the Mill Avenue bridge, I heard a train of guys approaching from behind. As they passed, I made a knee jerk decision to go with them and jumped on the last wheel. As we turn the corner on College and over the hill, I maxed my effort trying to hold on to this new train of guys. We crested the hill, made the turn back over the hill and the caboose (that’s me) came off the back of the train.

Great – I’m starting the third lap the way I started the first – alone!

I abandoned Hefflefinger and the train left me to fend for myself. On the final crossing of the Mill Avenue bridge, I heard another group approach from behind. It was my new buddy Hefflefinger and a couple of other guys. Heff shouted, “jump on”! Relieved to be back with a group, I followed them for the last time and headed to transition.

I hit my lap button running out of T2 in :52 seconds. I saw a few Team USA kits ahead of me, but no Heff. I assessed how I felt about this pace while thinking about a nagging calf injury that kept me from running for a month. My only run; one mile at rest stop driving to this race from Denver!

I had no idea how this was going to go. I tried to catch an older guy in a Team USA kit, but can’t seem to close any distance. We ran through Tempe Town Lake park and onto the Ironman run course again with an out and back on the opposite side of the river from the finish line. I continued at a measured 5K pace until I hit the pedestrian bridge at just past two miles into the race. I increased the pace to the edge of what I think I can hold for the remaining half mile to the finish.

I heard foot steps behind me. I don’t want to get passed! I up the effort to squeeze whatever I have left to propel me to the finish!

I’m wiped! I almost throw up! THAT meant I probably raced beyond my fitness. This race tapped the adrenaline and allowed me to find a new level of effort.

I regrouped with my friends Tom and Todd to share our stories of the race, when Hefflefinger came by. We had a good chuckle about the race and working together. It took experiencing it to fully appreciated the magnitude of working with a group on a draft-legal race. The competition at the Nationals level is high in non-draft, but in draft-legal, it’s another level.

This is fast racing that is so stinking fun! The whole experience of being with friends and seeing familiar faces. I actually gave USAT President, Rocky Harris, a hug while still in my sweaty tri suit – sorry Rocky!

I had a decent race, placing 16th in my male 50-54 AG. I didn’t even come close to the top 10 to qualify for Team USA, but that’s not the point. I had an absolute blast and feel proud of the accomplishment and experience. I’m proud of getting outside of my comfort zone and trying something new for sure. But there’s more. I tapped into a rush of adrenaline yesterday that almost made vomit at the finish line! That’s cool!! Not the vomit part, but the tapping into that much human drive. I want more of it and I’ll be back for it next year!

From Mexico to Florida, Coloradans Shine–Record set in Mexico, 633:41:39 to finish!

Off the beaten mainstream path of traditional triathlons, Boulder’s Laura Knoblach set a world record at the Todo Triatlon (sp), in Leon, Mexico. In this Double Deca Continuous race, competitors complete a 48-mile swim, 2,240-mile bike, and a 524-mile run. Basically they do 20 full-distance IRONMAN races in 28 days. It took Laura 633:41:39 to finish.

In a more familiar scene, Boulder’s Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae and Olympia von Berg placed first and fourth respectively at the Los Cabos IRONMAN 70.3 on Sunday.

At IRONMAN Florida, Colorado native Ben Hoffman took second with a blistering 7:48:29 only three weeks after taking fourth at the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona. Rounding out the pro field is Boulder’s Justin Metzler(6th), Tyler Butterfield (7th), Tripp Hipple (11th) and Colin Laughery (23rd)

Here is a video of Laura’s finish.

More of Laura’s story can be found here:

Swim fin workouts: Dave Scott explains how they help your training, and key sessions

by Dave Scott (via

Well, as any of you who swim in my groups know, I’m not a big fan of a bagful of swimming accessories! Too many athletes overuse pull buoys and floaty drag pants and other gizmos and they become crutches that prevent them from truly improving. However, the one piece of gear that I recommend for triathletes of all levels is fins!

Swimming with fins: what’s the difference between long and short fins?

A weak core often causes a weak kick.  When combined with very tight hips, weak gluteals, poor plantar flexion and a stiff back, a triathlete can definitely benefit from kicking drills. 

Also, when faced with the issues mentioned above, the freestyle kick provides neither propulsion nor stability. The legs end up with either too much knee flexion or a spaghetti-like wobble that create excess drag. Many triathletes exhibit a kick that resembles a pedalling action: they have a dramatic knee bend that creates huge drag by dropping the hips, quads, knees and feet too low.

Instead they should kick from the hips with a much straighter leg, with no more than 20° knee flexion. Maintaining this straighter-leg position requires increased mobility in hip extension and generally good plantar flexion. This is where training with fins can help.

When used properly, fins teach the conservation of energy and provide stability without lateral wiggling. The wide silhouette of fins can initially amplify the problems, which ultimately leads to effective corrections. Then, when the fins are removed, the neuromuscular pathways will feel enlightened and stimulated! 

When choosing a swimming fin, you want ones with adequate pliability, without being flimsy. Most triathletes don’t have very good plantar flexion, or good mobility in the hips and back, so a moderately flexible fin helps you establish good form and improves your flexibility over time. The ones I prefer are the Finis Edge fins.

Read the rest HERE:

Boulder’s Flora Duffy Wins XTERRA World Championships

 October 28, 2019 John Levison from


Record-breaking fifth XTERRA World Championship for Flora Duffy

Repeat of 2017 as Bradley Weiss adds second title

A year spent mostly recovering from injury for two-time ITU Triathlon World Champion, Flora Duffy, ended on a high on Sunday with a fifth title at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui. A dominating performance, a gun-to-tape win saw her set the fastest splits across all three discipline to relegate Great Britain’s Lesley Paterson, the defending champion, into second place.

Paterson added to her impressive history of success at the XTERRA World Champs. A three-time winner herself, that was her eighth finish in the top two positions at the race since 2009:

  • Gold (2011, 2012, 2018)
  • Silver (2009, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019)

The Men’s Elite Champion two years ago, Bradley Weiss dropped to the Silver medal last year, but returned to claim another victory and the winners $20,000 first prize cheque.

Here is the full race report and imagery courtesy of Trey Garman at XTERRA Media.

Weiss, Duffy win XTERRA World Championship

Bradley Weiss from South Africa and Flora Duffy from Bermuda captured the 24th XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon elite titles on a beautiful day at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua on Maui’s northwest coast on Sunday morning.

It’s the second title in three years for Weiss, who won it in 2017 and was second last year, and the unprecedented fifth XTERRA World Championship crown for Duffy, who won four straight from 2014-2017 before sitting out last year due to injury. Both earned $20,000 for their respective victories, their share of the $100,000 elite purse.

More than 600 endurance athletes from 42 countries and 42 U.S. states competed in the event, which started with a one-mile rough water swim at D.T. Fleming Beach, continued with a grueling two-lap 20-mile mountain bike ride that traversed the West Maui Mountains, and finished with a 6.5-mile trail run through forest trails and beach sand.  There was nearly 4,000 feet of combined climbing on the technical bike and run courses, which were dry all week before a heavy downpour on race morning made the early riding slick and challenging.

Read the rest HERE:

Kona…Race Thoughts and Behind the Scenes–Watch Here

By Bill Plock

It’s been a little over a week since Jan Frodeno set a world record time at the IRONMAN World Championships and Boulder’s Tim O’Donnell had the race of his life coming in second and breaking the eight hour mark–and no doubt, the lives of 52 other Colorado athletes will never be the same either.

If you watch this video what you will see and hopefully feel is what it’s like to be there and watch and what it’s like to see how the race unfolds, who makes it happen and what the finish line is like.

We start with a stroll down a dark Ali’i drive at 5am and a busy hotel filled with athletes and supporters. We take you out on the pier before the swim which most people can’t access. There we have a quick chat with Erin Trail, a Colorado athlete who is volunteering. We gather a few quick thoughts from World Champion Craig Alexander and take you out on the bike exit.

We offer you some commentary, talk with volunteers, the medical director (there are a 120 physicians at the race) and what it takes to make the race safe. We meet the head referee of the kayak crew, a group of Team in Training supporters and fast forward to some partying German spectators and watch locals Pete Young and Brett Kessler finish. Well, actually Pete moved to Florida earlier this year–but a Coloradan at heart!

Enjoy the clips a little raw but real!