New Triathlon in Loveland, July 31, Q & A With Race Director Peggy Shockley

Meet Peggy Shockley. She created the Lake to Lake Triathlon in 2001 and so we wanted to “chat” with her on why she loves what she does on the eve of her new triathlon, The Lonetree Sprint Triathlon (Info HERE) on July 31st just south of Loveland (not the city Lonetree, the lake is named Lonetree).

What inspired you start the Lake to Lake triathlon?

I signed up for my first triathlon in 1982, Loveland Park n Rec was organizing it, I went down and signed the one paragraph waiver. We swam across the lake, biked out to the landfill and back, and did a run around the high school.  I was just intrigued with the sport. During the 90’s, I talked about organizing an event for several years. Finally, a friend said, “why don’t you just do it then?”  I volunteered at multi sport events, Boulder Peak~ Paul Karlsson and some of his staff were very helpful, took the leap of faith and the inaugural event was in 2001.


How would you describe what it has become versus the original vision you had for it?
 

I just envisioned an event that athletes, regardless of their ability level could come out and compete. We wanted to treat the athletes as competitors and guests to our event. Then venue lends itself to that goal, we feed everyone pretty well, fair amount of grass, park nearby. I think it’s comfortable for athletes to bring their family to hopefully enjoy the day and support their friends and family. The event is big enough to be competitive, but not so large it’s overwhelming for novice athletes.


What are you most proud of during the last 20 years and why?

I love that we have athletes that have competed at this event for the majority of the 20 years, it’s actually comforting to see some of those same names on the reg list over and over. I love that people bring their friends and recommend the event. In this world of facebook, instagram, twitter..etc, etc., I still believe that word of mouth can be the best advertising. We’ve tried to treat athletes, volunteers and all involved with the event fairly.


L2L has amazing volunteers, have any been with you all 20 years or a significant amount of time and why do you think they keep coming back?

The majority of our volunteer force are non-profit groups, that come out and help run the event on race day. They share in the proceeds of the event, and we ask a lot of them. Volunteers aren’t always treated well on the race course and it’s a testament to their loyalty to their organizations; which are for the most part youth organizations. Some of our groups have been involved for many years. If you’ve competed at L2L for more than a few times, it’s possible you’ve seen the same faces on the same posts for years.Nicole Bird has organized water support every year, she does an amazing job. 20 lifeguards in kayaks this year supporting the swimmers + additional paddlers and boat support.

What do love most about race directing?

I actually enjoy the logistics of organizing the event, better traffic control, great support on the water, plenty of water at the aid stations. I have to admit, I’m more comfortable in the background than the foreground. As the City grows and roads become more crowded the logistics definitely become more challenging. The race directors I know want to produce quality events and keep entry fees reasonable, but everything we do, just costs more to produce. That balance is challenging.


What else would you like people to know about L2L, you, your family or your business?

As we go into our 3rd decade, I do contemplate how many more years we’ll gather with athletes and friends and family on the last Saturday of June. Our kids have been involved with this event each and every year. One day this event will be taken over by another race director. They will have a different vision of what Lake to Lake can be, I hope it will be someone that embraces the history of the event and adds their own vision and passion to this race. I have to admit, that transfer will be emotional; I love this event and I’m proud of what we’ve done the last 21 years.

That being said, our oldest daughter Sara and I are organizing the inaugural Lone tree Sprint Triathlon. July 31st~ a cap of 300, a rural venue on the south side of Loveland. We thought it would be fun to produce a smaller event, it will have more of a grassroots feel. Hopefully introduce a few more people to this sport, it’ll be fun to test out a new venue. 

Kyle Coon’s Race for Paralympics

By Kyle Coon, follow him Here: https://kylecoon.com

Americas Triathlon Para Championships

June 27, 2021

Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin

750m Swim, 20k Bike, 5k Run

I floated in the chop of the lake as a breeze swept across the surface of the water. My legs were behind me gently kicking and my hands out front skulling to keep me in place. My heart pounded as I talked myself up. “This is your race. Your conditions. Rough water, high wind, hot run…Let’s crush this!” Then the horn sounded…

After this article was published Kyle was chosen for the USAT Para-Olympic Team and we interviewed him on 303Endurance Podcast, you can listen here: https://303endurance.libsyn.com/kyle-coon-tokyo-paralympics

Wisconsin Arrival

Andy and I met at the airport in Colorado Springs early on Friday morning. We got our luggage sorted, I had rather more than I normally would have for just a weekend race since I’d be heading home to my parents’ house with my girlfriend for a much needed week plus of downtime. Once we were through security and settled at the gate Andy presented me with a brand new Mark Pro Electrical Stimulation Unit. This little device has two wires that connect to small adhesive pads that attach to your skin. When turned on the device sends a small electrical pulse through the wires, into the pads into your skin. This stimulates blood flow to promote both healing and recovery. As an athlete who has had issues with both injury and recovery in the past I was very excited to add Mark Pro into my repertoire.

I fixed the pads to my low back and my glutes and turned the device on to experience a tickling/stinging sensation. I’d play with the different intensities during the flight, but when I landed in Chicago it was the first time on a flight that my lower back hadn’t completely tightened up on me since 2019. Guess I’ll keep using this thing.

O’Hare International Airport was significantly busier than the last time I’d flown through it during the height of the COVID19 Pandemic. We threaded our way through the airport making our way down to pick up the rental cars. Then we were on the road to Pleasant Prairie.

Our hotel was just across the street from the venue and was also the host hotel for a Dare2Tri Race Camp. Many people who were competing at the continental championships were staying at the hotel and were all just arriving. The crash of noise buzzed with excitement of seeing old friends and the eager anticipation of race day just a day and a half away.

After getting checked in, Andy’s and my first priority was to find food and then get the Chinook built. We accomplished the first by grabbing delicious sandwiches from Corner Bakery and then set about the task of assembling our speed machine.

As we built up the Chinook we talked through race strategy and how we were to approach the race. If there was one thing we didn’t discuss though it was the possibility that I finished 2nd. In our minds we were the favorites to win and coming in 2nd or 3rd wasn’t even an option. I was confident, perhaps cocky.

Race Build Up

It seemed as though there were two races that everyone had circled on their calendar to keep an eye on at this weekend’s continental championships. The PTS2 women’s race where Allysa Seely, Hailey Danz, and Melissa stockwell (gold, silver and bronze medalists respectively from the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio) would be battling it out for two spots to Tokyo… And the PTVI Men’s race where Aaron Scheidies, Brad Snyder and myself would also be duking it out for two spots to Tokyo.

Aaron is the most decorated male visually impaired triathlete of all time. One could argue that he is the best blind/visually impaired athlete of all time with his performances across all distances of triathlon. However, Aaron was seeming to slip in his last handful of races. Apart from wins at the previous two additions of the continental championships and the 2019 National Championships, Arron hadn’t won an international race since 2017. Not only that but he had finished off the podium for the first time in his illustrious career in back-to-back races.

Brad Snyder was a two time Paralympian in swimming where he won seven medals including 5 gold. Brad made the switch to Paratriathlon in 2018 and over the course of the next two seasons had a mixed bag of results where he’d finish as high as 3rd at some races and as low as 7th in others. It was only a matter of time though before Brad figured out how to translate his world class pool speed to the open water and we all knew once he did that he was going to be a real force to be reckoned with.

Then there was me, some good of a kid with no real elite sport background except for dabbling in high school and college club wrestling who crashed the triathlon party beginning in 2015. I was such a terrible triathlete that in 2016 when I initially looked into racing on the International circuit I was brushed aside by USA Triathlon and offered no assistance or guidance on the process. So I dedicated myself to long course racing at the 70.3 and Ironman distances and had some success until 2018 when some in the Paratriathlon community began chirping in my ear that I should be racing internationally. Amy Dixon pressured me into filling out paperwork that would allow me to race on the international circuit, then I took 4th in my first continental championships finishing a mere 14sec off the podium behind Brad Snyder. Then at the end of 2018 I was accepted to live and train at the Olympic and Paratlympic Training center in Colorado Springs with the goal of pursuing the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Then it was off to the races as I tried to turn into a short course triathlete since we raced over a 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run. In 2019, I had a handful of successes only missing the podium once at the Tokyo Paratriathlon World Cup which had been modified to a duathlon. Then I sustained a serious back injury and rehabbed for three months before smashing my hand in a strength training mishap. I went into the 2020 season shaky and not very confident. Then COVID19 struck and the 2020 season was cancelled giving me an opportunity to get healthy and continue getting stronger. Then 2021 came around and the race for Tokyo was on!

I captured my first win of the season at an invitational race put on by USA Triathlon where I out dueled Aaron scheidies. Then I traveled to Yokohama, Japan where I had an epic back and forth race with Jose Luis Garcia Serrano of Spain to capture my first ever International win—and only the 2nd WTPS win by a totally blind male athlete ever. In seven World Triathlon races I’d been on the podium five times, and had never finished lower than 4th place in any competition I’d entered. Needless to say my team was confident I’d do well, but would I do well enough? Could I live up to the pressure?

Race Day

I stood in line behind my girlfriend, top Canadian Female blind triathlete Jessica Tuomela. This was the first time Jess and I had gotten to see each other in more than a year. Andy had strategically managed to place me right behind Jess in line for check in so we could at least have a few minutes to chat prior to starting our pre-race routines.

After getting goggles, tethers, and uniforms checked it was off to set up transition and last minute strategy chats. Before too long I found myself zipping into my wetsuit and listening to the slosh of waves out on the lake as the wind whipped the surface into whitecaps. I was a much stronger swimmer now than I’d ever been and I tried to be confident but inwardly I worried if I’d be strong enough to fight this rough water. In a discussion with my coach, Derick, in the weeks prior to today we estimated that I could surrender upto 70sec in the swim to Brad and still be in a good position. Any more than that though and it was going to be one hell of a fight.

We lined up for the swim start, Brad and his guide Greg Billington (2016 Olympian), and a new athlete from Panama named Giovanni and his guide Javier who would be doing their first World Triathlon race. Aaron and his guide Ben Collins, and Owen Cravens with his guide Ryan would follow us 3min and 21sec after we began.

The Swim

The horn sounded and I put my head down and charged ahead. I felt someone on my right and tried to surge past them. The waves were already tossing me around making me feel like I was going nowhere. I gritted my teeth, kicked my legs and tried to fight my way through the waves.

I felt Andy tap my right shoulder and I turned. The waves seemed to ease off a bit as I churned my arms through the water. I tried to repeat to myself, “Stay calm, stay smooth, stay strong.” Every time I turned my head to breathe a wave seemed to slap me in the face. I kept pushing around the second turn imagining I was reeling Brad in, not letting him get that massive swim gap that he was capable of.

We came around the third turn buoy and my world became a chaotic frothing thrash for survival. Every single time I tried to breathe I found myself swallowing water. I felt myself getting tossed sideways crashing into Andy. I struggled to remain focused enough to continue moving forward. Where was the air? I needed air to breathe. If I can’t breathe my race is over. Suck it up… You’ve dealt with worse. Holy s*it these are the worst swim conditions I’ve ever been in. Air, I need air. Damn it, that’s more water swallowed. Come Kyle don’t give up, don’t give in, everyone else is hurting worse than you…

We came to the final left hand turn and a final 30 meter sprint or so to the shore. My hands hit the sandy bottom, I staggered up and out of the water unsteady. I heard Derick’s voice off to my left as he calmly said “1min 45sec down.”

The race was on.

Swim Time: 12min 45sec

Transition 1

We sprinted Andy chirping “Come on Kyle, come on, pick it up!” I yanked at the zipper to my wetsuit and the break away zipper fell open. We reached the bike and i quickly stripped the suit down to my ankles, then Andy helped me finish yanking the rest off. I grabbed my helmet and blacked out sunglasses while handing my cap and goggles to Andy. Then we grabbed the bike and began sprinting again. We reached the mount line threw our right legs over and pushed off.

Transition 1 Time: 1min 6sec

The Bike

“F*ck!” Flew from my mouth as I tried pushing down with my right leg on top of my shoe which was already clipped into the pedal and rubber-banded in place. It felt like we were in too heavy a gear or maybe I just screwed up the launch. We wobbled and almost tipped. Andy’s calm voice reminded me to “stay steady.” We came to a brief pause and relaunched. My feet slid into my shoes and Andy gave me the command to strap in. And the chase was on.

We made a sharp right hand turn and the wind immediately began swirling around us. I couldn’t tell if it was a headwind, crosswind, or tail wind. All I focused on was putting my head down and pedalling. Smooth, controlled, full pedal strokes. I felt the Chinook come alive beneath me as she sliced through the swirling winds. Hard right turn, left turn, up a small hill, into a straight away. I lost track of where we were on the course. All I could think about was reeling in Brad and Greg little by little.

We were stretched out hammering away at the pedals. I couldn’t hear if anyone was around us. All there was was the howl of wind and Andy’s voice occasionally barking out commands. I kept reminding myself to drink from my bottle of Infinit but my stomach was still churning from the swim and swallowing so much water. Still I forced down sips of Infinit knowing I’d need it on the run. I knew I was about to hurt more than I ever had over the course of a 5k run.

Where were Brad and Greg? Surely they couldn’t be that far up ahead. Where were Aaron and Ben? Had I swum so poorly that they were about to pass us? Stop thinking about where everyone else is and just ride!

“Last 180,” Andy yelled. We pedalled hard toward transition. Where had the time gone? How much Infinit did I consume? Where’s Brad, Greg, Aaron, and Ben?

“Right shoe!” Reach down unstrap, slide foot out place on top. Tell Andy you’re good to go.

“Left shoe!” Reach down, unstrap, slide foot out, place on top, let Andy know you’re good to go.

“Pedal, pedal, pedal… Dismount coming in 3, 2, 1… We made up the gap!”

Bike Time: 28min 20sec

Transition 2

I popped my right leg over the top tube and hit the ground running. We whipped around a tight left hand 180 degree turn as we ran through transition. We reached our rack and I heard Greg and Brad talking, getting ready to take off. Wow, we had made up the gap. This race was on!

I fumbled with my helmet as I gave it to Andy to throw in the bin. I yanked on my racing flats, yanked the tether over my head and began running with Andy step for step with me on my right. It was time to get down to the business of racing.

Transition 2 Time: 54sec

The Run

We made a hard right hand turn out of T2 and I felt my left foot connect with something which appeared to be a garbage can. I payed it no mind as I began finding my run legs. I set a blistering pace as I focused on Brad and Greg’s voices about 15 meters or so up the road. “Reel’em in,” I thought. But no matter how fast my legs moved, or how hard I pumped my arms they seemed to be drawing no closer.

Andy kept reminding me, “chin down, relax… You’re reeling them in. 10 meters to go.”

The wind swirled around us, sometimes blasting me from the side, sometimes head on, even sometimes from behind. My legs felt heavy, but come on, this is triathlon they aren’t supposed to feel great. My breathing was becoming labored. I tried to calm it by taking deep breaths in and exhaling hard.

Where wer Brad and greg? Were those their voices right up ahead? “5:44 first mile. 5 meters, you’re going to make the pass. Come on Kyle! Stay on it!”

I heard Greg’s voice, calm as Andy’s as we passed on their left. I couldn’t make out the words but Greg was doing the exact same for Brad as Andy was for me. At this point in the race it was about staying controlled, calm and waiting to make your move. I ran hard trying to stretch my lead out. I heard Greg’s voice fading away behind me. The gap was widening. I was about to drop Brad. I was going to win this race…

My legs felt heavy, sweat poured off me. My breathing felt shallow. Heat… Hot… Can I get a breeze? “U-turn in 3, 2, 1.”

Headwind. WTF! Where did this headwind come from? I can’t hear. Where’s Brad? Where’s Andy? “To me Kyle… To me… Bring it up. Stay on it! Make your move, go now!”

Move? Go? Now?

Who’s that on my left? Greg? Brad? Aaron? S*it, that’s Brad. He’s passing. Make your move. Burn a match. “You’ve gotta go now Kyle!”

Go! What are you waiting for?! Go! Go! G…..

“Please… Please…” Is that Andy saying please? Why does he sound panicked, or desperate? Why do my legs hurt so bad? Why is it so hot? Why am I running? Where’s Brad? Am I leading, or 2nd? Where’s Aaron? Andy, are you still there?

Noise… Music… Shouting… Heat… Wind…

“We’re done!”

Run Time: 19min 32sec

Total Time: 1hr 2min 35sec

The Aftermath

“I’m sorry,” I remembered babbling as Andy held me upright, or tried to as I staggered over to the side of the race course.

“Stop that,” he said firmly. “You gave it everything and I couldn’t be prouder. You were strong and fought through on a day that wasn’t yours…”

My hearing was fuzzy, it was so hot. I knew I needed to drink water but I couldn’t stomach the thought of drinking anything. Then I remember clutching the rim of a garbage can and spewing into it.

Then Brad and Greg were there. “Kyle, I know we’re not supposed to but come here.” Brad and I embraced. We’d both pushed ourselves to the edge. “That was a hell of a race,” Brad said.

Brad had done it. He’d out run me in that final mile for his first career win and almost positively secured his spot to Tokyo. I was disappointed in myself. It hurt to lose again, especially coming off a couple of huge wins. But I had taken 2nd. And it had been a true race again. In Yokohama I’d out dueled Jose to pull away and win by 9 seconds. This time it was Brad out dueling me to pull away in the final mile to win by 52 seconds.

I hung onto the temporary fencing trying not to throw up again. A medical person kept telling me to drink water. Andy and my family were there congratulating me telling me how proud they were. I couldn’t respond, I was just too exhausted.

Then Jess came sprinting down the finishing shoot. I heard Andy say she was coming and I mustered up enough energy to turn, ready to greet my girlfriend as she came across the line. Unfortunately Jess caught her foot on the carpet covering the finish line and went down hard skinning both of her knees badly. Not knowing she’d crossed the line though she scrambled to her feet and tried to keep running as her guide pulled at her yelling at her to stop, that they were done. Andy supported me over to Jess and I grabbed her hand refusing to let go. We made our way to an open grassy area and I collapsed on the ground. I knew I needed to rest and laying down was the best way I knew how to do that. Andy knelt by my side and kept talking to me keeping my thoughts of disappointment and doubt from crowding out the positives. I’d given it everything I had. I’d dueled with Brad Snyder all the way to the end. I’d managed to hold off a hard charging Aaron Scheidies who finished only 17 seconds behind me. My coach Derick was there lending his calming presence. My parents, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins. Sitting just a few feet away, my girlfriend, Jessica Tuomela, sat getting her skinned knees bandaged. I still had teammates out on the course who were crushing their races…

Thoughts and emotions swirled in my head as I lay there on the grass with my feet propped up on a folding chair. Aaron and ben knelt down beside me to congratulate me and tell me how amazing it was that I’d gotten so strong. Why was everyone treating me like this? I’d just lost? Hadn’t I? It took a few hours and days for me to remember that winning does matter in sport, but it is still truly about pushing ourselves to the edge and even over the edge. Sport is about finding the best we have on that day and never quitting.

It took me a couple of hours to finally cool down and recover enough to sit up, eat and drink. By that time I learned that the rest of my teammates were finishing. I learned of the epic battle between Hailey Danz, Allysa Seely, and Melissa Stockwell in the PTS2 race which Hailey won. I learned about Eric Mcelvany out running Jamie brown to grab his first career win and secure a second spot for the USA in the PTS4 class. I learned about Kendall’s and Howie’s dominating wins. One by one, my teammates found their way to me to check how I was doing and we each congratulated each other in turn. There was a buzz in the air of victory and defeat, uncertainty and triumph. Racing was truly back and we were only eight weeks out from the Paralympic Games. And in one week’s time we would be finding out who would be representing the United States at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in the sport of Paratriathlon. Until then though I planned to head home to clear my mind in the clean mountain air of the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado and spend some well deserved time with Jess as she’d received approval from Triathlon Canada to stay in the US for a couple weeks as she waited for her second vaccine dose to take full effect thereby eliminating her need to quarantine upon her return to Canada. After a year and a half apart we were thrilled to spend two weeks together and switch our brains off from triathlon as we hiked through the Elk Mountains and ate good food and shared good company with friends and family as we waited for the call.

I sat in the bucket seat behind the driver. Skye was on the floor to my right and I held Jess’s hand as we drove up toward Snowmass to go for a hike with my parents. My phone rang displaying the name Amanda Duke (USA Paratriathlon Program Director). Heart in my throat I double tapped the screen. “Hey Kyle, it’s Amanda…”

Americas Triathlon PTVI Men’s Results

  1. Brad Snyder/Greg Billington, 1:01:43
  2. Kyle Coon/Andy Potts, 1:02:35
  3. Aaron Scheidies/Ben Collins, 1:02:52

Looking for New Triathlon Adventures? Southwest Triathlon Series–Gunnison, Montrose, Alamosa and Los Alamos

By Bill Plock

Deep in the heart of Colorado, in cities on or south of Highway 50, you can find a series of sprint triathlons that will keep you racing until the end of October. Each of these triathlons offer a pool swim and unparalleled scenery in a small town atmosphere. Each has their own twists and nuances. For example the Alamosa Triathlon finishes with comfortable swim in the hot springs pool. But its on October 17th, so at almost 8,000 feet the warmer than usual water might feel wonderful.

These triathlons feature some of the highest elevations of any triathlon in the United States and Los Alamos is the longest continually running triathlon in the country!

Each race will have about 250 participants, they are professionally timed and will have BASE nutrition on course. The fun thing is each race will have dry camping options so if you want to pull in with your RV or trailer the night before with the family, maybe the whole family would like to race–or at least watch. Each race has a kid race and is very family oriented.

Last year we covered the Alamosa triathlon and became familiar with the vibe that no doubt will be in place in each of these venues. Here is a link to the story from last fall. https://303triathlon.com/a-lot-more-than-meets-the-eye-at-tri-in-alamosa-cool-tie-to-amelia-earhart-and-farm-that-built-pool/

Unfortunately this year because of some regulations at the lab in Los Alamos that triathlon will be virtual and is going on from July 1-24. If you care to learn more or register go here: https://losalamostri.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=8755

The Gunnison Triathlon takes place August 28th and features a beautiful ride north of town towards Ohio Pass. For more information you can go here and register: https://gunnisonhightri.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=7343

Next in the Series is the Black Canyon Triathlon taking place in Montrose on October 2nd. Says race director Kevin Davis, “The Black Canyon Triathlon is the primary fundraiser for the Montrose Recreation Foundation. Funds are used to promote and expand recreational opportunities within the Montrose community. This includes activity scholarships for both youth and older adults that qualify based on financial need. These scholarships are used to participate in sports, recreation activities, swimming lessons, and for access to the Montrose Community Recreation Center and Field House”

For more information and to register go here: http://bctri.com

The last race in the series takes place in Alamosa on October 17th. Registration information for this race is pending but you can register for the entire series here: https://greatsouthwesttriathlonseries.itsyourrace.com/register/

So if you want to try something new, or see a part of Colorado you haven’t seen, at least in while, check out these races or do them all!

Confessions of a Ragnar Newbie–Rich Soares

By Rich Soares

What do hundreds tents, dinosaurs, running trails, and bonfires have in common?  They were part of the Ragnar Relay Run held in iconic Snowmass, Colorado this past weekend. This was my first time doing a Ragnar race and beyond the general concept (long run with a team of rotating runners), I really had no idea of the magnitude and vibe of the event.  It had been a while since ventured out and tried a new race format and I eagerly anticipated experiencing the rave of Ragnarian’s (what they call Ragnar finishers).

My first confession, I want to write it down just so I can relive the experience in my mind one more time. I hope my story helps inspire others wanting something new in their endurance journey.

My Ragnar experience started with arriving Thursday night, the race started on Friday.  We parked and walked to the camping fields adjacent the race village in the cool evening under a starlit sky at 8,000 feet in Snowmass.  We entered one of two large fields full of tents, and I felt like I had arrived at a Jimmy Buffett concert tailgate party.  The team tents buzzed with laughter and music.  We passed one team tent with decorative lights hanging from their cluster of pop-up canopies, while the team watched a movie projected onto a white screen hanging on one wall of the canopy. Clearly not newbies.  Over the next hour, the music, laughter and temperature dropped and we prepared for the big day ahead.

The next day I met race director Amber Hardesty and marketing director Dave Deboer.  I wanted to learn the official statistics of the race as well as learn about its history and culture.  Amber explained there were 1,100 runners on 128 teams including 8 ultra-teams.  Starting Friday morning at 9am and every hour until 5pm, a new wave of runners from a mix of teams started their 20+ hour adventure.  Each runner of an 8-person relay team ran approximately 15 total miles by running the 3.8-mile 596-ft elevation “green” course, the 4.6-mile 519-ft “yellow” course, and 6.7-mile 1121-ft gain “red” course. After each runner ran each course that made for a total run of 120miles and 18,000 feels of climbing.

Said Amber, “One fun feature that was introduced this year was a dinosaur scavenger hunt inspired by a dinosaur find in Snowmass” in 2014. Her team placed a handful of dinosaur figurines on each of the three courses for runners to find and win a Ragnar prize.

It was clear that tent camping and Ragnar running are nearly inseparable.  It was also clear that Ragnar has Ragnar devotees.  Ragnar tattoos are as common as M-dots at IRONMAN races.  It’s also clear that people travel to these races.  

Team’s setup camp adjacent to the Ragnar village in one of two fields.  There is a softball field a short walk down the bike path and another in the soccer field adjacent to Ragnar village.  Marketing Director, Dave Deboer explains how Ragnar provides a “glamping” experience for racers who don’t want to lug camping equipment in their travel to the race.  “It’s a concierge style service that’s not too fancy, but just fancy enough for Ragnar”.  Glamping tents are 4 two person tents and a central area all connected as one single unit.  In the center of the Glamping village is a large open tent with coffee, ice and other conveniences for the comfort seekers.  

Confession #2.  When I first signed up, there was a mention of tents in the email.  I just figured that was the option for those who don’t want to stay in hotels.  My version of “glamping” was a cheap motel or the floor of a hotel room.  

Confession #3 – I slept on the floor of a hotel room on Thursday night before arriving and setting up camp on Friday morning.

On Friday morning we walked over to the Ragnar village to survey the transition tent, the vendors and other village features. We pass a little time walking the village and visiting vendors like Athletic Brewing Co. (one of my personal favorites) and familiarizing ourselves with the layout. When it was time, we escorted our first runner, Aaron Monroe to the transition tent to start our twenty plus hour journey.  After he set out on the green course at 2pm we paced around the village eager to hear how hard the hills were.  

Thirty minutes later we watched on one of the many monitors that displayed runners crossing a timing mat a quarter mile from the transition tent where finishing runners hand off their team’s race bib to the next runner.  Our team, “Aspen Extreme”, popped up on the screen and I hustled to meet Aaron returning from the green course.  I’m our team’s number two runner in the sequence of eight team members and am assigned the yellow course as the first of my three loops.  

As I headed out on the yellow course, I imagined what it will be like for my teammates who will run this course later that evening in the dark. I wondered what it will look like early the next morning as the sun comes up.  It occurred to me that each us will have a different experience over the 20 hours. I’ll do the mid-distance lowest elevation course in the heat of the afternoon, while others will do it in the cool dark evening.  As I returned on the yellow course I saw my teammate Josh Snyder waiting for me with his red course bracelet to receive the race bib handoff.  Josh then handed off to Jake and so on through eight runners.  We will continue this rotation through the afternoon and into the evening. 

At around 9pm it was my turn again to run the green course this time.  I grabbed the green slap bracelet, my headlamp, and headed with my posse to the transition tent.  There are two bonfires and people roasted marshmallows on sticks provide by Ragnar, they know how to make it fun!  A movie projected onto a screen for those passing the time in the village throughout the evening.  The monitor alerted us to our arriving team member, and I scrambled to the tent.  This time I head out onto the green course lit by my headlamp.  The experience is much different at night, it’s dark, like really dark.  Even with the brightest of lights, your focus is much narrower and more acute on the trail in front of you, I even saw a field mouse run ahead of me for a moment in my head lamp. 

Every minute or so, another Ragnar course sign appeared in my headlamp reassuring me that I’m on the course.  Occasionally I encountered other runners but was alone a lot too. I finished the green course, handed off the bib and Josh began the yellow course.  I headed to wake Jake for his midnight run on the red course.  

My last run began at 4:30 am on the red course.  The course started up a steady uphill climb on a bike path and then followed a road for 2.5 miles before transitioning to a single-track trail.  The sun rose as the trail followed the ridge with breathtaking view of Snowmass and the Ragnar village far below.  Along the trail there were beautiful wildflowers and shrubbery to help you appreciate what a privilege it is to live in Colorado.  

Confession #4 – I stopped and took about a half dozen pictures along the way.   I kept plugging away uphill for another mile before tipping back downhill. 

It was 11am Saturday and our team “Aspen Extreme” waited at the finish line for our final runner to arrive. The seven of us including team captain Patrick Brannon have run a collective 114 miles in the twenty-hour journey to this point.  As our last runner arrived, we all ran behind him through the finish line to celebrate as a team.  We survived the 24 loops, 120 miles and 17,000 feet of climbing.  We escorted team members to the start, cheered for each other kept each other company for the past 36 hours.  After posing for our team picture, we do some damage in Ragnar store and head back to breakdown camp.

With the story of the weekend told again through the words on this page, I confess (confession #5) that I feel a bit sad that the weekend is over. I also feel content.  I feel like I accomplished something pretty hard and made some great friends along the way.  I also feel excitement for the chance to do it again next year.  If you’ll allow one more confession, (this will make #6) I specifically asked Race Director, Amber Hardesty if they Ragnar would be here next year because I can’t wait to do it again.

Hope to see you at Ragnar Aspen in 2022!

An Open Letter to Editor of Triathlete Magazine After Bashing Boulder Tri Community

Dear Kelly O’Mara, Editor-in-Chief of Triathlete Magazine,

This letter, from me Bill Plock, owner of 303Endurance Network, a native of Colorado, a triathlete and an advocate is in response to your Editor’s Note in the May/June issue of Triathlete Magazine where you wrote:

When I first got ready to start this Editor’s Note, I was going to make fun of the Boulder Tri scene. I was going to tell you how I think it’s overrated and I don’t “get” it. I was going to poke to fun of the weirdly terrible bike paths and perpetual poor air quality. I was going to laugh at all the YouTube videos always being filmed everywhere you workout—as if the entire town is just a backdrop for social media… But then the day I started writing, a man with a gun walked ibnto a grocery store here in town and shot 10 people…In reality, I still think the Boulder tri scene is silly. I’ll probably make fun of it again soon…

Where do I begin? Let’s see, using a mass murder shooting as a reason to not further bash the Boulder triathlon community, the athletes, and the people who work their asses off to provide infrastructure for safe routes for cyclists seems like a start. But wait, you did then go on to do exactly that… bash the Boulder community and the Boulder triathlon community anyway? 

And then you go on to say you will probably make fun of Boulder again soon? Seriously? Why? Maybe you should spend some time in the community and apologize. 

I realize this is your opinion and you are certainly entitled to it. However, as an industry representative speaking on a public platform to a wide audience – especially considering Triathlete’s recent partnership with USA Triathlon – your middle-school-bullying approach is damaging, offensive, and unprofessional.

To call the Boulder triathlon scene “overrated,” or triathletes (mostly pro’s) “silly” for making YouTube videos or bike paths “weird” or the air too polluted is simply outrageous.  Did you sit in town council meetings planning those bike paths? You were a pro triathlete, you know how hard sponsorships are, why bash athletes trying to make a social media effort? Where else would you like them to go? And the air pollution—sure, during fire season there are bad days, but you paint a picture for those outside of Boulder or Colorado that is wrong. (If you do the research, you will learn much of our air pollution is also a result of our high frequency of full sun days, combined with wind patterns from other states and countries.) Who are you to judge?  

Last I checked, Triathlete Magazine is part of Outside (formerly Pocket Outdoor Media) and is based in Boulder. Am I right? So you have chosen to make fun of the very community in which you work. Why make fun of professional triathletes making YouTube videos while training during a pandemic to try to be relative to their sponsors? Those same athletes who spend time on your podcasts or provide content for your readers and, like you, are trying to make a living in this industry not known to be lucrative. Aren’t we here to help each other? 

Additionally, Triathlete Magazine’s reach to youth, first-time triathletes, Olympic hopefuls, and Team USA members are now among your front-row audience. You have wielded your PR wand in a terribly damaging and harmful way.

The Boulder bike path system is what makes Boulder one of the most bike friendly cities in the country. How many employees at Outside ride those trails? Did you know recently a sister publication of Outside graciously helped gather content for a cyclist killed a few miles south of Boulder to help the community heal? Do you know how hard it is to advocate for what you call, “those weirdly terrible bike paths” that undoubtedly save lives? What’s silly about that? Do you know the local advocacy team at Cyclists for Community? They are friends of mine because I ride with them. I take the time to know their mission. I would love to watch you tell them how silly those paths are at their next fund raiser. 

So coming out of a pandemic with people anxious to race, and on the heels of a tragic shooting event, you call triathletes in Boulder silly? You call the triathlon community overrated? Overrated compared to what? Did you go to the Colorado Triathlon last weekend and feel the joy of athletes seeing each other again? Do you know Lance Panigutti of Without Limits and how hard he worked to save his business this past year? And you call him and the community overrated? How dare you. 

Here is what Lance has to say, 

I’ve had the opportunity to call Boulder home for 18 years before my wife and I moved to Denver. Recently an article in Triathlete sought to poke fun at that home in the most passive aggressive manner possible. Maybe the editor thought 8th grade bullying was “cool again,” or needed content for her “Burn Book,” but I’ll always defend the community that has fueled my passion for 13 years. In Boulder we celebrate the “weird” and embrace the “silly”.  In 2008, at 25 years old , with $600 and a 96’ VW Jetta to my name, my brother and I had an event vision one might call “silly.” But the “Boulder Triathlon Scene” not only cheered us on, they’ve supported us every step of the way.  We now have the honor of producing a variety of triathlons, cycling, and cyclocross races across Colorado for amateurs and elites.  We live to race in the “poor air quality,” consistently stunned by the gorgeous backdrop of our playground. To those YouTube creators we say, “dare to dream, chase your Olympic or Kona goals, and keep posting so others may be attracted to take up the endurance lifestyle.” We call all of you friends, many of you family, and we can’t wait for you to join us on a start line, no matter how “silly” a few might think we are!  

The Colorado Triathlon June 5th 2021

Well. You lost me as a fan of the magazine, and probably many others, including a large number of community athletes, business owners, industry professionals, and endurance sports influencers who have reached out to me to support this response message.

I’m sure you were trying to be somewhat funny and in jest. I know you are a good athlete and triathlete and probably a nice person, but you messed this up. I’m sure you think you know your stuff. But you know what? You don’t know the community in which you work and that supports your publication. That’s a shame, and unforgivable.  

Sincerely,

Bill Plock

Here is a copy of the entire letter.

Open Water Swim Racing Options

We are only ONE MONTH away from our first open water race of the season, slots are filling up FAST, and registration is OPEN! Every participant gets a race shirt with their entry, so check out this year’s shirts below.

We have an exciting line-up of swims for this year and are including one additional race, a 500 YD swim at the Solstice Sunset Swim event. This distance will be a great opportunity for new open water swimmers, new triathletes, and KIDS! Any kid who participates in this race will be receiving a finisher prize!

The dates for the swim series are as follows:

Solstice Sunset Swim – June 26th, 2021Starting earlier, at 3pm this year! This event includes a 1.2 mi, 2.4 mi, and the NEW 500 YD swims!
Registration closes on Sunday June 20th, and if you sign up after June 10th, we cannot guarantee that we will have the correct shirt size for you.

Carter Lake – July 17th, 2021No day of registration. This is a 3mi out-and-back swim!
Registration closes on Sunday July 11th, and if you sign up after July 1st, we cannot guarantee that we will have the correct shirt size for you.

Chatfield Classic – August 15th, 2021Limited to 200 participants, so please sign up in advance! This event includes a 1 mi and 2 mi swim.

The Castle 2.5K/5K/10K – August 28th, 2021This is the highest altitude organized marathon swim event in the country! We will have the camping option again on Friday night – which you’ll find through the swim registration site. Camping is $40 for a 4 person site and will decrease your morning day of drive! 

Registration information for the year can be found at https://mountainswimseries.com/.

We always need volunteers! If a significant other, friend, child (16 and over) is coming with you, we would love them to volunteer with us! If you are trying to decide to do one of the swims or new to open water swimming, volunteering is also a great opportunity! We couldn’t do this without our volunteers! In 2021, we will be continuing the tradition of giving our volunteers a free race entry after a volunteer shift!

To volunteer, sign up here:
https://mountainswimseries.com/volunteer-signup

Taylor Knibb Secures Spot in Tokyo for Team USA Triathlon

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Taylor Knibb, a 23-year-old Cornell University graduate from Washington, D.C., today qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team with a gold-medal performance at the World Triathlon Championship Series in Yokohama, Japan. Knibb becomes the youngest woman in history to make the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team.

Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.), the only other U.S. triathlete already qualified for Tokyo based on her finish at the Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event in 2019, joined Knibb on the podium with silver.

The race in Yokohama marked the second and final auto-qualification opportunity for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team. With Knibb and Rappaport having now punched their tickets to Tokyo, the third and final spot on the women’s team will be named via discretion by USA Triathlon’s Games Athlete Selection Committee. For a complete explanation of U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team qualifying, click here

Knibb has been the USA Triathlon National Team’s youngest member since she first made the team in 2017. A triathlete since childhood, she grew up competing in USA Triathlon’s youth and junior elite circuit. She went on to win the 2016 and 2017 Junior World Championships and the 2018 Under-23 World Championships — one of just three women ever to capture world titles at both the Junior and U23 levels. Knibb is a 2020 graduate of Cornell, where she ran NCAA track and cross-country for four years while balancing her elite triathlon career. She also joined the Cornell swim team her senior year. Today, Knibb trains in Boulder, Colorado, with Origin Performance Squad, an elite international triathlon training group.

In 2017, Knibb became the youngest athlete in history to medal in a World Triathlon Championship Series event when she earned silver in Edmonton, Canada. Today’s gold in Yokohama marks her first-ever World Triathlon Championship Series victory. 

Saturday’s race featured a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run. Knibb executed her race in signature style — starting with a top-five swim, then breaking away on the bike alongside the Netherlands’ Maya Kingma about 25k into the 40k course.

By the time they hit the second transition, Knibb and Kingma had a 90-second gap on the rest of the field. Knibb quickly moved into the lead on the run, leaving Kingma behind and clocking a 35-minute, 9-second 10k. She broke the tape in a total time of 1 hour, 54 minutes, 27 seconds — 30 seconds clear of Rappaport, who ran her way through the field to take the silver medal. Kingma rounded out the podium in 1:55:05. 

“It was an awesome race — and thank you to Maya and all the other racers,” Knibb said. “I wasn’t really thinking about (the Olympics). I was just trying to get to the finish line, so one thing at a time! But I’m extremely grateful. Maya was so good through the technical sections, so I learned a lot and I have a lot of work to do on that part, but I was just trying to stay focused.”

For Rappaport, the silver marked her second straight podium in Yokohama. The last year the race was held, in 2019, Rappaport was part of a U.S. podium sweep, taking silver alongside Katie Zaferes (gold) and Taylor Spivey (bronze). 

“Japan is one of my favorite places to race, and I love coming back to Yokohama to race year after year,” Rappaport said. “I was so happy we were able to hold the races here under safe conditions, and I’m so happy I was able to come back here and be part of a 1-2 American finish. I feel like today I really found my competitive fire again.”

Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.) finished just off the podium in fourth place, 18 seconds behind Kingma. 

Also racing for the U.S. were Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), who placed 14th in 1:56:25; 2019 world champion and 2016 U.S. Olympian Katie Zaferes (Cary, N.C.), who was 22nd in 1:57:12; and Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.), who was 45th in 2:03:20.

The elite season heads next to Lisbon, Portugal, from May 21-23. The Lisbon races include individual World Triathlon Cup events and a Mixed Relay competition. The Mixed Relay will debut as an Olympic medal event at the Tokyo Games. 

2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Yokohama
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run

Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.), 1:54:27
2. Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.), 1:54:57
3. Maya Kingma (NED), 1:55:05

U.S. Finishers
1. Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.), 1:54:27
2. Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.), 1:54:57
4. Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif., 1:55:23)
14. Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), 1:56:25
22. Katie Zaferes (Cary, N.C.), 1:57:12
45. Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.), 2:03:20

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 4,000 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 World Triathlon Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of World Triathlon and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

BASE Now Cycling Apparel for 2020 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Teams and USA Triathlon

Boulder, Colorado (May 12, 2021) – BASE Performance, LLC, industry-leading provider of endurance sports products announced today that it will serve as the exclusive custom cycling kit provider for athletes on the 2020 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Triathlon Teams, and the Official Custom Cycling Apparel of USA Triathlon through March 2024.

“USA Triathlon is proud to partner with BASE Performance to outfit our U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes for their pre-race training and prep work in Tokyo, and to provide access to world-class custom cycling apparel for multisport athletes of all levels,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “BASE Performance has a history of designing apparel for some of the country’s top-ranked endurance sports teams, and we look forward to collaborating on custom kits in the years ahead.”

BASE Performance provides custom cycling apparel for high-performance sports teams all over the world. As a cycling kit provider to over 150 clubs, BASE prides itself on developing high quality, high performance, cost-effective apparel for both training and competing. Headquartered in Boulder, CO, BASE has spent over six years working with some of the top athletes in the world to design its line of high-performance apparel.

“BASE is incredibly proud to partner with USA Triathlon and its athletes,” says Matt Miller, President of BASE Performance. “Going into an Olympic and Paralympic year where the U.S. team is poised for multiple stand-out performances only makes such a partnership opportunity all the more exciting.”

Coach Bobby McGee and Coaching

By Bill Plock

In this podcast 303’s Rich Soares talks with legendary coach Bobby McGee and athlete Sue Reynolds. Sue is preparing for the world triathlon championship in Bermuda later this year. It’s fun to listen to the three of them discuss coaching philosophy and how their relationship has worked for Sue. She shares her evolvement as an athlete and how Bobby has made a huge difference for her, especially mentally.

It’s evident in listening that Bobby’s style is malleable to an athletes drive and will to succeed, especially if succeeding is on a trajectory of self-actualization. He comments how that if self actualization is the ultimate goal, it’s even more powerful than winning a gold medal. And Bobby knows a thing or two about gold, having coached Gwen Jorgensen’s to the top of podium in Rio. He is now coaching her on her quest to winning gold in Tokyo as a runner, not a triathlete.

Here is the link to the podcast Rich recorded in person on May 7th 2021: https://303endurance.libsyn.com/bobby-mcgee-and-sue-reynolds

Sue is a multi-time participant at world’s having discovered triathlon later in life. She was 62 and weighed 335 pounds and now, five years later and after losing 200 pounds, she has competed in four world championships and preparing for a fifth. Bobby attributes her curiosity for excellence as one of the keys to helping him help her. He contends coaches don’t give athletes anything, they simply help athletes find out what’s possible within themselves.

This is 303’s original discussion with Sue Reynolds: https://303endurance.libsyn.com/the-athlete-inside-sue-reynolds

He approaches coaching in a very cerebral manner. He was born and raised in South Africa and competed in sports (loved field hockey) but was not an elite athlete, something he attributes as part of his success in coaching. He can’t use his success as a barometer for someone else, rather he focuses on each athletes’ own potential, strengths and weaknesses.

You will learn a lot from this podcast!

JB Tobin’s Breakaway Athletic Events Company Thriving in Ft. Collins

Bill Plock

JB Tobin started Breakaway Athletic Events in 2018 and has built a nice group of multisport and running events in Northern Colorado. Last year with very few triathlons, Larimer county granted JB permission to hold his events that culminated with Last Call Triathlon at Boyd Lake in late September. There, the infamous Iron Nun, a.k.a. Sister Madonna Buder traveled from Oregon to do this race along with some hopeful para olympians from Colorado Springs. (303 story here: https://303triathlon.com/sister-madonna-para-triathletes-hola-and-chilton-bring-the-house-down-at-last-call-triathlon-in-loveland/)

The Last Call Triathlon was Epic, which just happens to be the name of Breakaway’s first triathlon of the season, Epic Mini in Ft. Collins on May 30th. This is a great opening season event and particularly attractive with its pool swim for new triathletes. More info go here: https://breakawayathleticevents.com/epic-mini-triathlon/

Sister Madonna and JB Tobin

We decided to catch up with JB and learn more about his company and what’s happening in 2021

  1. Talk about the original vision and where’s it at today and what is new in 2021? 

We’ve always been focused on unique events that are beginner friendly, supportive and inviting. Our original vision was to bring more races to the northern Colorado area (especially for the sport of triathlon) and to date we’ve achieved that with two new triathlon events that the community has really embraced – The Epic Mini Tri & The Last Call Tri.

For 2021 we added a brand new spring time running event that just took place on April 18th. The NoCo Half Marathon & 10K. Traditional distances done on a non traditional course. Boyd Lake State Park played host to this race and we had athletes able to run on the vehicle roads, pedestrian pathways and two unique off road sections with one hitting the beach a little bit! It was a great morning that was well received by everyone that came out. We look forward to growing it next year.

303’s Rich Soares with vegetarian breakfast at the Epic Mini

2. What have you learned, loved and maybe not loved over the past three years?

I’ve learned that as a Race Director I have to trust myself a bit more when it comes to planning & prep for a race. At times I tend to over think and over stress on details which end up being minuet on race day. I’ve loved stepping up my graphic design game and coming up with some really fun medals. 

3. 2020 was a challenging year, obviously, tell us how you navigated it and what your learned.

I put in a lot of hard work alongside a great community with Larimer County, the Colorado State Parks (and their rangers) and the City of Fort Collins to make magic happen. Race days came down to approval based on logical information and strong communication between myself and the permitting agencies and venues. It was a win without a doubt. 

The Last Call Tri in September of 2020 at Boyd Lake was great. It was one of (if not the only) open water triathlon in the entire Front Range for the season. We had lots of athletes race with us including the Iron Nun, local Air Force Cadets and the USA Para-Olympic athletes. It was electric all around as 303 Triathlon had described it at the time.

4. Talk about the community of Ft. Collins and Northern Colorado and how they work with you to succeed

The athlete community in Ft Collins and Northern Colorado are very supportive. They always embrace a good event with positive attitudes and great feedback. It’s been awesome to connect with them more and more over the past two years as events grow in the area.

5. What long term fun events are you considering in the next few years if anything? 

For 2022 there’s another multisport event in the works. Without sharing too much, think small course route with lots of speed and very high energy. If all goes to plan it will be right here in NOCO ☺

6. What do you feel makes Breakaway Athletic Events special and unique? 

This is a tough one to answer. There are a bunch of things I think that make Breakaway unique. I’ll bullet point them below.

  • 100% plant based aid stations & post race meals
  • Unique race distances
  • A great team of staff members
  • Our attention to detail (even if we don’t bring them all to light on race days)
  • The smiles and high fives