The Black Hills, a Triathlon, Bike Ride and Buffalo

By Bill Plock

Is there anything better for triathletes or cyclists than a road trip triathlon or the promise of new roads and trails?

Well in 2020, yes any triathlon or bike adventure is wonderful, but there is something special about loading up the car and busting a move to somewhere new to swim or explore different roads and soak in the air somewhere new. 

About six hours northeast of Denver, the Black Hills rise mysteriously from barren plains and grasslands immediately resembling the mountains here in Colorado–at the least the front range. In my opinion, the very underrated or under-recognized Black Hills remind me of Colorado back in the 70’s. A time when Glenwood Canyon was still a two lane highway, and when you had to go over Loveland pass to get to Summit county. Yes I’m dating myself, but I do miss the open roads and uncrowded trails.

In these times, people from around the country are flocking to the mountains in record numbers both in Colorado and South Dakota. The hills known for buffalo and Presidents are alive and well. I can just hear Julie Andrews walking through the grasslands now singing at the top of her lungs. I can see the buffalo turning their heads in a “what the hell is she doing look” as turkeys scatter for cover and antelope prance away.

 Real Estate is selling fast here as people move from the coasts to work on line and as their kids learn at their side in coffee shops and other places. There are very few masks in South Dakota and people congregate in shops and restaurants like they did before March. Agree or disagree, that’s just the way it is here.

I can remember my very first triathlon 12 years ago. Wow, time has flown. It was in Steamboat and not only was the adventure in doing a triathlon, but also in adding a bit of a road trip. There was a group of us and we even got fun henna tattoos to “psych” up for the trip. We rented a house and made a long weekend of it. 

I was heading to the Black Hills for a family reunion and it just so happened to be the same weekend as the Wildlife Loop triathlon in Custer State Park. I took the 303 Trailer and decided to check it out. The story this past weekend, for me at least, wasn’t the race but the feel of it. 

It started with texting race director Brandon Zelfer and asking him if I could park near transition, but that I was getting in late and wanted to make sure it was cool. He wrote back, “there should be plenty of room, no worries.” Thinking there might be a “village” and gates and cones I just didn’t know what to expect. Clearly he wasn’t too worried about it and for good reason as I would find out.

I rolled in about 10:30—finally. Stockade Lake, is DARK. I found the “beach” area and you would hardly know there was going to be a triathlon in the morning. The bike racks were up but that was about it. 

The water was lit by the stars and the tranquility of it struck me. I parked overlooking the lake back up the main road a few hundred yards. Settling in and wondering what the area will look like upon sunrise I heard a truck peel off towards the lake. Soon, giggles and splashing followed and I knew a group of teens from town were frolicking in the water. I remembered some glory days of my own with my friends and loved the nostalgic feeling. The event was starting to feel a bit magical, or at least different. 

In the morning, with a little fog rising off the lake athletes began to trickle in. With the sunrise came a spectacular view. We were only at 5,300 feet of elevation but it felt more like the triathlon was set somewhere much higher, like maybe in Evergreen or Steamboat.

It turns out about 175 athletes competed in either the Olympic or Long Distance (half Iron) race. This course was tough with a very hilly one or two loop bike course and run. The bike course took riders on a scenic loop through Custer State Park—appropriately named the Wildlife Loop. 

Local triathlete, Kirsten McCay who won her age group and loves this triathlon said, “My favorite things about this race are the challenging but scenic bike course, the laid back atmosphere, no time limit for the course so everyone can finish, and the cash prizes for the top 3 overall men and women.” $800, $400 and $300 are given to the overall winners—not bad! 

During the race a couple of buffalo decided to graze along the road providing the most unique backdrop I had ever seen. Then a few miles down the road, a herd of wild sheep meandered around, antelope appeared and deer were all over. Turkeys roam the Black Hills as do the 1,400 Buffalo.

If you decide to try this triathlon, be sure to save time to explore the Black Hills. There are numerous towns to visit and you will meet some amazingly friendly and welcoming people. There is an awesome bike trail, the Mickelson trail that threads a 100 miles through the Black Hills from Edgemont to Deadwood. It’s an old railroad bed with gradual elevation changes on smooth dirt and crush gravel. It’s very smooth and almost doable on a road bike, but something with a bit wider tires will be more comfortable. It’s a big deal and draws cyclists of all sorts. There are numerous cabins and small “resorts” that cater to people who want make it a multiple day outing.

check out this website for trail info and lodging for riders:

You will ride by the Crazy Horse Sculpture and In Hill City there is an old steam train that winds to the base of Mt. Rushmore and the town of Keystone. You could depart the trail and race it on your bike on a parallel road—I think most people would beat the train. Or spend the night in Hill City, lock your bike and take a relaxing train ride.  

All in all, check out the Black Hills for an adventure, triathlon or not, but keep it secret! 

Lookout Mountain Triathlon, a Record Broken and Good Day to Race

The Lookout Mountain triathlon last weekend had many side stories, like most any race of any kind. With COVID and safety protocols and procedures, athletes were really racing themselves more than ever with the swim start of splitting a lane with another athlete and only 12 people on deck at a time really spreading the race out. There were minimal athletes on the road and trail passing each other. Transition was roomy and very little overlap took place. 

Sophie Linn

Four athletes over the age of 80 completed this hilly race at an altitude of 7,000 feet. Also finishing was world ranked Australian ITU triathlete and former standout in track and field at the University of Michigan, 25 year old Sophie Linn. She shattered the women’s course record and finished second overall. She crushed the swim completing the 550 yards in 6:34. Coming in second to Sophie was Lakewood born and familiar finisher around here, Kirsten McCay, 48 years old and mother of a 2 year old. Jake Bamforth was the overall winner. 

Kirsten McCay (on right)

About 25 cadets from Air Force joined in the fun and overall the atmosphere was electric and vibrant despite athletes leaving the scene pretty much right when they finished. 

Dave Scott, His Career, His Coaching, Training, Covid and Amazing Insight

Boulder’s Dave Scott ran his first Ironman in 1980 and finished in 9:24:33, nearly 2 hours faster than the previous win, with ABC Wide World of Sports broadcasting the event from Kona for the first time. Scott’s time and approach is widely considered to have changed the Ironman from a test of endurance to a race. Scott returned in 1982 and finished second. In 1983, Scott won in what was Mark Allen’s first Ironman. In what would become a renowned rivalry, Scott would win three of the next four Ironmans over Allen.

He was the Roger Bannister of triathlon… the first person to go under 10 hours, 9 hours and 8:30 in Kona. Dave Scott’s personal triathlon journey paralleled the early history of the Ironman Triathlon.

Bob Babbitt, Triathlon historian & Ironman Hall of Fame inductee

Listen to the podcast Here: 303 and Dave Scott

Scott has stated that he is most proud of his performance in 1994. Another second-place finish, Scott was 40 years old at the time so his race was considered to be a revolutionary feat. Two years later, Scott finished fifth overall. 2001 was his last foray into the Ironman. The 47-year-old Scott had back problems due to some last minute bike changes, which forced him out of the race.


In 1989, the rivalry between Scott and Allen reached a peak in what has alternately been called the “Ironwar” and “The Greatest Race Ever Run.”[5] Scott has stated “I never focused my goals on Mark Allen or what I had to do in the swim or the bike compared to Mark Allen. Ultimately, the competition level sometimes dictated that. After many years of racing, in 1989, we had a very very close race. It seemed like we were bouncing off of one another. It was influenced by our competitive natures.” Allen ultimately won with Scott placing second and both broke Scott’s course record.

Dave talks about taking care of your heart and the damage that can be done with regular long hard workouts. 

Lookout Mountain Triathlon and the Historic Ties to Race Director, Paul Karlsson

By Bill Plock

Paul Karlsson has had a huge impact on multisport in Colorado for years. Not only was he a founder of what became a very prestigious, national race, The Boulder Peak, he also has produced other races such as the Xterra Indian Peaks and the Lookout Triathlon. He has put on events all over the state including Evergreen and Aspen. Did you know that The Peak awarded Kona spots once upon a time?

But Paul has impacted many lives through teaching Colorado history and now business classes at Arvada West High School. He coached the swim team at Columbine when the tragedy happened and had been signed up to do IRONMAN Lake Placid that year and because of the shooting, IRONMAN switched is entry to Kona to show support. He has coached swimming at various clubs in the Western metro area, including at Mt. Vernon Country Club, the host of the upcoming Lookout Triathlon.

Here is a video interview with Paul after our course preview sitting on the deck of Mount Vernon Country Club. I think the fun of this race is it’s simply different, and it’s cool to feel Paul’s connection and passion to its location.

We rode the bike and run course the other day. The bike course traverses the top part of Lookout Mountain. It leaves the country club to the north with fast decent down Highway 40 and a steep climb up Paradise Road followed by a loop around the Boetcher Mansion and back to Mount Vernon.

The run puts you on dirt roads winding around the Country Club property and is mostly in the shade of the trees as you run past dozens of homes–including Paul’s parents home and his childhood home. Its a fun tour!

Check this triathlon out for a very friendly and low stress pool swim followed by a short but challenging bike and run. A triathlon bike would not be my first choice for this course by the way. It’s pretty much either up, or down.

Register here:

Mark Allen Shares Thoughts on Training, Keeping Motivated and His Love of Surfing

He was named Triathlete of the Year six times by Triathlete magazine, and in 1997 Outside magazine dubbed him The World’s Fittest Man. Inducted into the Ironman Triathlon Hall of Fame in 1997. He has also been inducted into the USAT Hall of Fame and the ITU Hall of Fame. He was named by ESPN as “The Greatest Endurance Athlete of All Time.” He’s quoted as saying “The only bad race is one you don’t learn something from.”  Our guest today is of course Mark “the Grip” Allen.

Listen to the podcast Here:

Interview with Grip:

Mark “The Grip” Allen (born January 12, 1958) was voted in an ESPN poll as the “Greatest Endurance Athlete Of All Time.” Mark is a six-time winner of the IRONMAN® World Championship, the winner of the inaugural ITU Triathlon World Championship, a ten time undefeated winner of the Nice International Triathlon, and the the holder of one of the longest records in endurance sports with his 2:40:04 marathon split set in 1989. That record stood for 27 years.

Mark is also the holder of a record 21 straight wins at every multi-sport distance and discipline that lasted over two seasons starting at the end of 1988 and continuing through the end of 1990. He resides in Santa Cruz, California and is the founder of Mark Allen Coaching. Mark’s passion is coaching athletes at all levels of the sport.

Ironman World Championships Cancelled, Hope to Hold in Fall 2021

TAMPA, Fla. (July 21, 2020) – IRONMAN today announced that, due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the 2020 editions of the IRONMAN® World Championship and IRONMAN®70.3® World Championship have been cancelled. The IRONMAN World Championship will return to Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i on October 9, 2021 and the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship will return on September 17 and 18, 2021 and take place in St. George, Utah, United States. IRONMAN is working to secure Taupō, New Zealand as the host destination for the 2022 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.
As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact events around the world, both world championship events have seen a majority of their respective qualifying events postponed or unable to take place in 2020, impeding the ability to qualify athletes for the respective 2020 world championship events. Based on the schedule, the continuation of existing travel restrictions worldwide, and other circumstances beyond our control, IRONMAN’s world championship events cannot proceed as rescheduled.
“It is with a heavy heart that we have made the decision to cancel the 2020 editions of the IRONMAN World Championship and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. While we were hopeful that we could welcome our athletes, their families, and supporters to these events in early 2021, the continued impact of the pandemic makes this impossible. It is tough to make this decision in July, but it will provide the necessary clarity for our athletes, host cities and partners,” said Andrew Messick, President & Chief Executive Officer for The IRONMAN Group. “It is disappointing not to be able to provide our racing community with the opportunity to compete in the IRONMAN World Championship for the first time in our 43 year history and our IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship for the first time since inception in 2006. We will endure, however, and look forward to the day when we will again assemble the greatest professional and age-group triathletes in the world and crown world champions.”
Athletes who qualified for the 2020 editions of the IRONMAN World Championship and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship event will be contacted directly. They will have the opportunity to race in the 2021 or 2022 editions of the respective World Championships.
In June, IRONMAN announced a new IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship qualifying method for athletes. The HOKA ONE ONE IRONMAN® Virtual Racing™ Championship Series is a four-weekend long regulated age-group competition designed to reward top-performing athletes with IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship qualifying slots. Athletes who earned qualifying slots, via that Championship Series, will now receive slots to the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship taking place in St. George, Utah, United States on Sept. 17 and 18, 2021.
Looking Forward
St. George enters an elite group of destinations around the world bestowed with the honor of hosting the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. The event originated in Clearwater, Florida in 2006 and moved to Henderson, Nevada (2011-13) prior to embarking on a global annual rotation that began with Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada (2014). Each year since, it has reached new locations all over the world, including Zell am See-Kaprun, SalzburgerLand, Austria (2015); Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia (2016); Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States (2017); and Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa (2018). In 2019, the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship took place in beautiful Nice, France. In 2021 the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship rotates back to North America for the first time since 2017.
The striking Southwestern community of St. George has been a host venue for IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 triathlons since 2010. St. George’s breathtaking scenery and views of the surrounding red rock canyons have made the community an ideal destination for athletes for years. The city’s walkable downtown area features great local fare and boutique shopping. It is also only a two-hour drive from the nightlife of Las Vegas, with its never-ending entertainment options. The course has historically begun in the beautiful Sand Hollow Reservoir before embarking on a bike course through picturesque Snow Canyon State Park prior to a run through the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. The IRONMAN 70.3 North American Pro Championship St. George also earned accolades in the 2018 IRONMAN Athlete Choice awards, ranking in the Top 10 for two categories – fifth in Best Overall Bike and ninth in Overall Host City Experience. In 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 St. George ranked in top-10 globally in two categories of the IRONMAN Athlete Choice award – ninth for Overall Bike and eighth for Overall Venue Experience.
“Since the inception of rotating the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship to premier destinations around the globe each year, IRONMAN has created an inspirational event unlike any other. We are excited to  be part of the prestigious and elite community of world championship host cities, and to represent the world as we welcome the world championship athletes back,” said Kevin Lewis, Director of the Greater Zion Convention & Tourism Office. “Our course showcases some of the most dramatic landscapes of any IRONMAN 70.3 circuit globally. The powerful combination of scenery and terrain is backed up by an energetic community that is exhilarated to host such an iconic event. Athletes who have raced here rave about the experience. Those who haven’t will soon find out why.”

Ft. Collins Epic Warrior Triathlon, First Front Range Triathlon Went Well

By Bill Plock

Ft. Collins: About 150 athletes participated in the past weekends, Epic Warrior triathlon in Ft. Collins. Complete with small wave starts in the pool as athletes lined up in social distant cues and finishing with athletes waiting in spaced out lines for freshly made vegan hotcakes and hash, the Epic Warrior triathlon seemingly was a huge success. And a welcome chance to re-connect with the triathlon community in a safe and responsible way.

Says JB Tobin, head of Breakaway Athletic Events, “we just wanted everyone to be able to relax and have fun. We had planned for so many great events this year, so it was nice to have had at least one of them! Thanks everyone who came out to participate!”

Of note, the transition area looked a lot different than normal with half the bikes per bike rack, port-o-potties spread out differently and athletes wore masks setting up their transition spot and waiting in spaced out lines to enter the pool for their wave start. Each wave was fairly small and athletes entered the water about 10 seconds apart to minimize being near each other. As one group would get about halfway into their swim, the next wave would be brought in and cued up.

At the awards ceremony the podium wasn’t really used but all the top finishers were recognized as athletes and spectators stayed very spread out in the grass at the Edora Center in Ft. Collins.

To see the results for the entire race go here:

DU Triathlon Team Coach Barbara Perkins Shares Behind the Scenes to New Program

A couple of weeks ago the University of Denver announced its decision to roll out a varsity women’s triathlon team. And, coaching that team is Barbara Perkins. 303 interviewed Barbara to learn more about her, what it’s like to be at the helm of a first year program, what her priorities are and how she hopes to deal with it all during the current challenges of COVID.

Here is a link to the Podcast: Please be sure to subscribe to the podcast which really helps us to attract more sponsor

Here is some more information about Barbara. In 2019, Barbara was the first female to cross the finish line at Ironman Santa Rosa. She punched her ticket to Kona for the second time. In 2019, Barbara came in 5th at Galveston 70.3, 4th at Boulder 70.3, as well as competing in both the 70.3 World Championships and the Ironman World Championships. In 2018, Barbara finished 2nd at Eagleman 70.3, 10th at Coeur d’Alene 70.3, and 8th at Indian Wells 70.3. During the 2017 season, Barbara completed her first Ironman World Championship and finished 21st in her age group. In 2017, finished 4th overall amateur female at Steelhead 70.3 and 2nd Age in her group. At Ironman Louisville 2016, she won her age group and secured her first Kona Qualification. Barbara has qualified for the 70.3 World Championships for 6 consecutive years in a row. She has represented the USA at ITU Olympic Distance World Championships in 2015.  Barbara registered her first age group win at IM New Orleans 70.3 in 2015. She finished 4th at her first Ironman in Lake Tahoe, 9th at Ironman New Zealand and 8th at Ironman Texas. She has also been a USAT All-American and a Gold Ironman All-World Gold athlete multiple times.

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:

  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 , 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:

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