Former Olympian Kara Goucher nearly collided with a mountain lion during a morning training run last Monday in Boulder, Colorado.
After an injury forced her to drop out of Houston Marathon in January, the 2:24:52 marathoner decided to try her hand at trail running.
Even Kara Goucher, 2:24:52 marathoner and mainstay of U.S. women’s distance running for over a decade, gets spooked sometimes. But when it’s a dangerous wild predator just inches away from you, that’s understandable.
Since the return of an old hamstring injury forced Goucher to drop out of January’s Houston Marathon after 16 miles—her first marathon attempt since her heartbreaking fourth-place finish at the 2016 Olympic Trials—Goucher has taken her running in a new direction: the trails.
After so much success on the road and track, the 2007 IAAF World Championships silver medalist in the 10,000 meters and three time top 10 Olympic finisher, now 40, is training to run the Leadville Trail Marathon on June 15.
Though she wants more time to acclimate to the new discipline, Goucher told Runner’s World, training in her home of Boulder, Colorado has been going well. That is, until she nearly collided with a mountain lion.
This race is a bit different: All athletes start 150 meters from the start line (LeMans start) and run to their bike; AND there are no age or gender groups, pretty cool!
Lory State Park, just west of Fort Collins, boasts some of the best trails, views and surroundings for outdoor enthusiasts and athletes. The “Dirty Duo” Off Road Ride & Run puts athletes right in the center of those surroundings for an all out multisport race!
Athletes start 150 meters from the transition area in what’s called a LeMans start. When the horn goes off they’ll sprint to their bikes and take off! Racers can go as easy or hard as they’d like in this first section to attack for position.
Once on the bikes this unique 11.25 mile two loop course will challenge their legs and keep them inspired as they climb to see epic views of Horsetooth Reservoir. There are two loops down Lodgepole Rd which is flat, open and fast. This gives faster riders a chance to pass other athletes before getting back onto the tight & technical single track trails.
As riders blaze into transition they’ll start to climb again almost immediately once they leave on the 4 mile run. The run course is technical, twisty and offers great scenery just like the bike course.
This race has NO age groups, NO gender groups and a small athlete capacity of just 100 racers. The course promises soaring skies and some awesome trail terrain that will leave smiling and dirty by the end.
We created an event like this to connect athletes with a “grassroots” type of race experience. There’s no formal sanctioning, no formal age/gender rankings and it’s essentially you vs you on the mountain trails.
Fort Collins is a short 10 minute drive east. The area boasts some of the best local breweries around, bike friendly paths at every turn and a ton of activities all within minutes of iconic downtown – also known as “Old Town”. Don’t take our word for it – make a weekend out of this event and plan to get a little extra sight seeing done after your cleaned up from the mountain 🙂
It’s official! IRONMAN Canada is coming back to where it all started in the Okanagan Valley upon the shores of Okanagan Lake. Athletes will be able to partake in frozen goodies from the iconic giant peach (The Peach Ice Cream) and authentic poutine from establishments like burger 55.
IRONMAN Canada (Penticton) holds a special place in many people’s hearts. It was the first IRONMAN race in North America. For me it was my first ever IRONMAN finish, that race was the last time IRONMAN Canada was in Penticton (2012), and the 30th Anniversary.
Aside from Kona, this was by far my favorite 140.6 race on the circuit, and the oldest and longest running IRONMAN race (outside of Kona). That last year our favorite IronNun Sister Madonna Buder’s raced. There were also three friends known as the Three Dick Eds (Ed Wong, Ed Russell, and Dick Enslie), who have finished all but one of 30 races since its inception. So much history here and we are glad to know that it’s not over.
City council voted unanimously Tuesday to have city staff move forward with negotiating a five-year agreement with Ironman Canada to bring the iconic race back to the city.
“Ironman coming back to Penticton is like a divorced couple getting back together again,” said Coun. Julius Bloomfield, explaining he’s “delighted” by the idea.
While a contract needs to be finalized, councillors heard the preliminary proposal will see Penticton host the full-length edition of the race for five years starting in 2020 at an annual cost to taxpayers of $299,000 in cash and $111,000 in-kind support.
Mayor John Vassilaki was on council with Judy Sentes in 2012 when Penticton dumped Ironman during a disagreement over finances.
“At that time it was the right thing to do in the circumstances,” he said. “But you know, times change and we have to change with the times.”
“We need to bring this event back to the community,” Vassilaki, calling the required outlay required of taxpayers “smart money.”
Since Ironman left, MB Events has organized a triathlon in Penticton first under the Challenge banner and now Super League. Both races did not attract numbers anywhere near what Ironman did, although the ITU World Championships in 2017 drew more than 3,500 athletes.
Earlier Tuesday council heard a presentation from Ironman representative Dave Christen, who highlighted $8.8M in visitor spending recorded during the 2017 Ironman in Whistler.
He shared figures that showed the average athlete comes from a household income of $247,000, is 40 years old and is 92 per cent university educated.
“This is where Ironman Canada was born,” Christen said.“The energy that we built here, is something that we try to emulate everywhere else.”
The required $663,000 host city contribution is being softened considerably by the business community, with local hotels, Tourism Penticton and others pitching in $200,000. It’s hoped additional sponsors can be found.
The proposal expects 2,600 athletes in the first year, which would translate to upwards of 10,000 visitors to Penticton during Ironman weekend.
A large crowd packed into council chambers broke into applause and cheers when the unanimous vote passed.
The sub two-hour marathon is the last great barrier of modern athletics.
Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s greatest marathon runner, will attempt to break the two-hour barrier in the INEOS 1.59 Challenge, a special marathon being run between late September and early October 2019.
The event will be supported and managed by INEOS. A London venue is being considered.
“Running the fastest ever marathon time of 2:00:25 was the proudest moment of my career,” says Eliud Kipchoge. “To get another chance to break the magical two-hour mark is incredibly exciting. I always say that no human is limited and I know that it is possible for me to break this barrier.”
USA CYCLING AND USA TRIATHLON ANNOUNCE NEW PARTNERSHIP
The Partnership will serve to collectively grow the sports of Cycling and Triathlon in the U.S.
Colorado Springs, Colo. – USA Cycling and USA Triathlon have announced a new partnership, offering joint programs and promotions to better serve existing members while attracting new participants to both sports. The U.S. Olympic National Governing Bodies are both headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado — allowing for frequent collaboration around the shared goal of growing the endurance sports community.
The first-of-its-kind partnership is highlighted by a joint annual membership option that provides access to all USA Triathlon- and USA Cycling-sanctioned events. The organizations will cross-promote their respective National Championships and select sanctioned races to each other’s members in an effort to expand racing opportunities for both groups.
The joint membership is now available for purchase for $99, a $31 savings versus purchasing the two memberships separately. More details and a registration link can be found at usacycling.org and usatriathlon.org.
In addition, USA Triathlon and USA Cycling will work together on promotional and educational programs benefitting athletes who compete in both sports. Landing pages will be created on usacycling.org and usatriathlon.org offering content specific to cyclists who want to become triathletes, and vice versa.
“As we see our members expand their interests and look for new challenges, the partnership with USA Triathlon is a great way to further service our members who are looking to build additional strength, endurance and spark their training,” said Rob DeMartini, USA Cycling CEO. “Triathletes will benefit from the partnership by having access to cycling coaches and bike-handling skills clinics to help them through the longest leg. As draft-legal triathlons become more popular among age-group athletes, learning to ride safely in a crowded field of athletes will become increasingly important.”
“Most triathletes in the U.S. come to us from a single-sport background such as swimming, cycling or running. Triathlon provides a unique challenge, a change of pace while cross-training and the opportunity to learn new skills — all of which can complement a single-sport focus,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “USA Cycling is an ideal partner in this initiative, as triathletes can also significantly improve their fitness and technical skills with cycling-specific training and racing. We are proud to align with a fellow U.S. National Governing Body to grow both sports while providing valuable perks to our members.”
Stephen VanGampleare, an engineer from Colorado, ran negative splits on his way to an Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying time.
The night before the 2019 Boston Marathon, Stephen VanGampleare slept on a buddy’s couch, in a studio apartment across from Fenway Park. The 28-year-old’s feet might have hung off the end—he’s 5-foot-10—but he was too grateful for the hospitality to admit it if he was the slightest bit uncomfortable.
“I don’t have much of a problem sleeping on a couch,” he said.
On Monday morning, he got up, met a few other runner friends at 5:45 a.m., and took the T down to baggage check for the race. From there, they boarded a yellow school bus out to the athletes’ village near the marathon start in Hopkinton. He ate a bagel with peanut butter, a banana, a crunchy peanut butter flavor Clif bar. He got comfortable on a plastic trash bag in the soggy grass, waiting until it was time to walk the 0.7 miles to the start. On the way, he stopped in the CVS parking lot on Main Street and changed into dry shoes and socks.
And from that mundane marathon morning routine—one that resembled the ritual thousands of other runners went through on the same day—he took his place at the front of wave 1, corral 1, and ran 2:18:40. Wearing bib No. 143, he qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials.
Fort Collins has been in need of a good road triathlon for years now. The Epic Mini fills that void. It’s a short distance course just shy of a sprint distance triathlon, making it fun and unique.
The name says it all! The “EPIC MINI” Triathlon. Taking place at a central venue located in Fort Collins Colorado, this race packs a punch of fun into a short course.
Beginners will feel comfortable and not intimidated for a variety of reasons. There are no long and grueling distances for each of the swim, bike & run splits. The overall course has very little elevation gain so there’s no chance you’ll need to “walk” up a huge hill. It’s a pool based swim so no wetsuits or big bodies of open water to fear.
Seasoned athletes aren’t left out either. This short course is great as a season “warm up” race, “rust buster” or an all out time trial to really test your gear and physical limits by pushing yourself. Flat & fast will make you want to push hard for your season ahead.
The Swim: Edora Pool is an absolutely great venue featuring a 50 meter pool and bleacher seating for spectators. The snake swim will feature wide lanes that allow for athlete passing when needed. Easy line sighting and a low pressure environment start this race off right.
The Bike: 10 miles as 2.5 loops around some very scenic spots in Fort Collins. You’ll have front range mountain views while coming down Timberline Ave and enjoy scenic private lake flybys at the corner of Drake & Lemay. We’ve dedicated an entire lane to cyclists for this race to ensure athlete’s safety and room to pass.
The Run: 2 miles out and back on the Power Line Trail just for our athletes. No potholes, traffic or other potential course hazards on this pristine run route.
Race Day Expectations & The Local Experience: Coming down the finish line chute will have you smiling and high fiving as you cross the line. Our local vendors & sponsors are helping to create a great race exerience by having booths set up to meet & greet on race day as well as free swag for every athlete that registers to race. We’ll have a coffee/espresso truck available on site, provided by Buzzthru, and a fun vegan-friendly pancake breakfast spread for athletes, by our local charity Athlete’s In Tandem. We always strive to be as eco-friendly as possible, so we will be utilizing compostable cups, plates and forks and encouraging athletes to use their refillable water bottles for the bike leg vs additional plastic refill bottles. The course will be well marked with direction signs, volunteers, Fort Collins Police Services and Breakaway staff members. Athlete safety and an overall positive experience is our goal!
Fort Collins boasts some of the best local breweries around, bike friendly paths at every turn (the Spring Creek Trail is next to the run course) and a ton of activities all within minutes of iconic downtown – also known as “Old Town”. Don’t take our word for it – make a weekend out of this event and plan to get a little extra sight seeing done!
“1:33, keep it there,” Derick yelled on deck as I hit the wall on my 12th or 13th 100 meter repeat. I had just a couple more measured efforts before it was time to dig deep for the 16th 100 which we were to perform at the “edge of our ability.” I executed that 16th 100 meter sprint right around 1 min 30 sec, maybe just a touch faster. In short it was one of the greatest swim sets I’d had since moving to the training center at the beginning of January. But there was something not quite right either. While I was pleased I was also frustrated. I’d had my best performance at a sprint triathlon only a few days before setting personal bests in my 750 meter open water swim, 20 km bike time and a new overall 5 km run personal best. Despite these metrics I’d only taken second and had finished 37 seconds short of finishing within 2 percent of the winners time. This 2 percent metric is key because that is one of the metrics USA Triathlon uses to determine which athletes receive actual monetary support. I’d finished within 2 percent of the winner’s time at my previous race back in October and would need to do so in two more races to receive the lowest level of funding that USA Triathlon allocates to Paratriathletes. I’d missed out on that margin by a mere 37 seconds and it soured my outlook. I also tend to put a high demand of pressure on myself to perform and I felt I’d lost an opportunity to win while the guy who won, Aaron Scheidies, was nursing a long time hip injury and was preparing to go under the knife to repair it. If I couldn’t beat Aaron while he was at best 75 percent then how on earth was I going to be competitive against the dominant Europeans? The following two weeks post CAMTRI didn’t inspire much hope in me either.
After my race in Sarasota, Fla I went back to the training center ready to slay every workout Derick could conceivably think to throw my way. I was going to push so hard that my numbers in Sarasota would seem like a beginners. And in the first couple of swim practices it looked like that was going to be the case. Then Derick assigned us a 2 mile all out time trial on the treadmill which I demolished in 11 min 50 sec including my second mile being at 5 min 17 sec. Much of the second half of that last mile I somehow ran at a sub 5 min per mile pace. So I was feeling good about my fitness. But for some reason I was feeling more drained than usual.
I took several naps a day lasting at least an hour or two in addition to sleeping a solid six to eight hours at night. My appetite was also slowing vanishing. It was a struggle to eat breakfast, lunch and by dinner I couldn’t stand the thought of food. It culminated on the evening of March 18.
That morning our entire paratriathlon team had struggled to hit our slowest times in the pool during a 4400 meter day. I was able to choke down some breakfast and then head to the bike trainer to spin my legs easy. I struggled through my strength and conditioning session and then took a very hot bath to try and loosen up. My stomach felt funny and when I walked into the cafeteria determined to at least eat something I felt extremely nauseous. I took a few sips of orange juice hoping that would give me some hydration, a couple calories and maybe calm my stomach down. I then walked back to my room and promptly started praying to the porcelain goddess. I did that off and on through the night praying that it would all be out of my system in time to swim. It wasn’t.
I had to miss an entire day of training, most of which I slept. I was able to drag myself to the pool Wednesday morning and get through a modified swim set. That only served to piss me off more because I was already one of the weakest swimmers on the team and I felt I was sliding even further backwards.
I struggled physically and mentally trying to hit my sets in the pool, on the bike trainer and treadmill. The Friday after my being sick I cracked for the first time on a bike workout. I managed to push through until the fifth set, but half way through my legs gave out and no amount of coaxing or cursing brought them back to life. I was stressed and frustrated. If I couldn’t get through a bike workout how could I get through the following week’s workouts when my guide, Zack would be flying in to do some intense training with me? I could only hope that whatever sickness was in my system made it’s way out.
The Zack Attack
As it’s been told before, by myself and other blind/visually impaired athletes, one of the most difficult aspects of trying to be an elite blind endurance athlete is that you have to find guides to both train and race with. The guide needs to be borderline elite athlete themself, or at least a much better athlete than you yourself. My general rule of thumb is that my guide must be 10-15 percent faster than me when I am having my best day and they are having their worst. So if I run a 5k at a 6:30/mi pace on my best day, my guide must be able to easily run a 5k at a 5:51/mi pace on their worst day. If I run 2 miles in 11:50 (5:55/mi) my guide must be able to run that same distance in 10:39 (5:20ish/mi). Through in the complications of work, school, different training schedules and it makes it very difficult to find consistent training and racing guides. That doesn’t even include the fact that we have to jell as people and be on the same page in terms of communication. Most of the time, those people fast enough to meet these rule of thumb requirements are professional or elite athletes themselves, have their own training and racing to do and don’t have the time or desire to guide. Fortunately for me I was able to at least find a guide to race with who meets just about all of the requirements of speed, time availability (mostly) and temperament.
I met Zack in January of 2018 when I attended Camp No Sight No Limits hosted by Elite Visually Impaired Triathlete Amy Dixon. Zack was guiding another blind athlete but we hit it off as friends. Later that year I was in a bit of a pickle as I was in need of a guide for my second ITU race of 2018. My first ITU race guide didn’t have the running speed to guide me at the pace I wanted to hold, plus he was tied up with work obligations. My buddy Alan who would be guiding me for Ironman Arizona didn’t have the top end speed for a sprint triathlon, although he could seemingly run forever at a slower pace. And all of the other guides I could think of were busy with work or racing. So I shot Amy a text asking if she knew of anyone and she immediately recommended Zack. I jumped on the phone with Zack. I admit I’d thought of asking him before but I’d known that he was attempting to qualify for Kona at Ironman Maryland which was only a week or two before my race in Sarasota and I wondered if he’d be ready. Amy assured me he would be so I gave him a shot. Zack scored major points with me when he said “I’m happy to do it if I’m feeling good, but if you can find someone faster kick me to the side.”
Zack went on to take sixth overall at Ironman Maryland including having one of the top swim and bike splits of the day and earning his slot to Kona for 2019. Two weeks later he guided me to a 2nd place finish at the Sarasota World Cup which had been modified to a duathlon. We threw down the fastest bike split of the day and one of the faster runs and Zack didn’t appear to be tired at all whereas I was wiped out.
When I moved to the Olympic Training Center in January, Derick immediately mentioned the possibility of having Zack come out to do some training with me from time to time. Since Zack lives in San Diego we don’t get many opportunities to train together. So we arranged it so that Zack would come out during his spring break. I didn’t like it that I was coming off of a week of sickness and struggling but maybe Zack being here would give me a motivational boost. Fortunately it did.
Our week kicked off with a nearly 4000 meter swim followed by a two hour spin on the tandem during which we did a bit of climbing. Then we cranked out a lifting session. After Tuesday’s 4400 meter swim set we headed to Memorial Park to do 1.5 mi repeats at 5k race effort. It was during runs like this where having Zack was invaluable. Instead of cranking out the session on the treadmill I was able to join the rest of the team outside. The running path we followed was winding and being a beautiful spring day in Colorado it was crowded with people. So Zack and I got some good practice weaving in and around people while moving at a sub 6:40/mi pace.
Wednesday was another tough swim followed by a gnarly strength session. Then that evening the entire paratriathlon team headed up to Denver to take part in the Karen Hornbostel Memorial Time Trial Series. This 9 mile bike time trial was a good time for Zack and I to really go all out on the tandem. We, along with the rest of the Paratriathlon team, crushed the race riding strong despite some windy conditions. Zack and I rode the 9 miles in 20 min 34 sec averaging just over 26 mph and taking top 20 in the overall standings. I slowly felt like my legs were starting to come back, but my lungs were still hurting and I felt like I was still operating at an overall calorie deficit. I just couldn’t seem to get ahead.
The following day was great as Zack and I joined the rest of the team for an easy coffee ride and then Zack and I enjoyed an easy hour run. So many of my workouts have been so carefully constructed that it was nice to just get out and run on some dirt roads.
Friday, Zack, Allysa and I headed to Gold Camp road for some grueling race effort hill repeats. The day was cold and windy and by the time we got back to the training center our extremities were rather chilled.
Saturday was Zack’s last day in the Springs so Derick assigned us a 3 mile run at 5k effort. So being who we are, Zack and I just tacked on an extra 0.1 mi onto the effort to make it a 5k. The day was chilly but thankfully there were fewer people out so Zack and I only had the winding sidewalk to contend with. Zack pushed me hard as we attempted to hold the pace we’d held at sea level a couple of weeks before. Ultimately we fell just short of that pace, but it was still a very solid and consistent 5k effort. And even though my lungs were burning and I was spitting up flem, I was relatively pleased.
I still didn’t feel full strength, but I was beginning to calm down and trust that my body wanted to heal and it would come around back to full strength. I’d had a maddening couple of weeks, but despite the frustrations of failing to meet my lofty expectations I still saw some marginal improvements in my swimming, biking and running. And the first couple days of April have been showing even more promise.
The Three Month Look Back
I’ve essentially been living and training full time at the Olympic Training Center for three months now. Early on I was fueled by adrenaline and excitement. Then I struggled through physical fatigue and broke through to make some massive fitness gains. The third month has been a mental battle for sure. Learning to manage my expectations and trust the process of training rather than obsessing on outcome goals has been a learning process.
Early on in my professional career—immediately upon graduating from college—I wanted a job so desperately and I wanted to be making and earning money. When I eventually did find a job I worked my tail off attempting to get promoted or catch the eye of another company that would pay me more. That eventually did happen but it turned out not to be the right fit for me.
My triathlon career has eerily mirrored my professional career. Early on I thought busting out sub 12 hour Ironmans would be a walk in the park. World records would fall before the outstanding athlete that was Kyle Coon. Fortunately for me though that didn’t happen. It turned out I wasn’t so good at triathlon early on and had to learn to struggle and scrap and fight my way to near the top. I somehow managed to learn to be patient with my Ironman racing and I’m learning the same lesson in my transition to sprint triathlon.
My last two coaches Lesley Paterson and now Derick Williamson, aren’t all that dissimilar. They both have stressed the importance of trusting the process to me. And while I generally have considered myself to be a patient person, I have not been patient when it comes to my athletic career. Little by little though, if there’s anything that this past month of madness has emphasized to me it’s the value of patience and trusting my fitness and my mental game. Sometimes it’s ok to let go of the big picture and to let go of the tiny details and find the middle where we just enjoy being triathletes.
So my personal goal for the month of April is focus less on the result that I’m going to post in my next race—April 27 at the Milan World Paratriathlon Series—and more on steady improvement day by day and workout by workout. Yes, I must keep an “eye on my vision” but I can’t obsess on outcomes.
The eyes of the world fell on the sport of triathlon this morning, as it emerged that President Donald Trump is to compete at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii this October.
The President’s campaign to ‘Make Kona Great Again’ has been met with derision from the political sphere, with insiders puzzled as to how the POTUS will cope with the demands of training for a 2.4 mile sea swim, 112 mile cycle and 26.2 mile marathon run with no previous experience of racing endurance events, while simultaneously governing the United States.
Morgan Biers, supposedly a close personal friend of Mr. Trump, commented: “They say that transition is triathlon’s fourth discipline… but for my pal Donald being in charge of the world’s largest economic superpower surely has to count as a fifth. If anyone can do it though, *blushes*… the President can!”
As entry to the World Championships is by qualification only, it is currently unclear how the President managed to secure his entry. Rumours that Mr. Trump actually travelled to one of Ironman’s new 70.3 races in China to qualify were dismissed as “fake news” by the President himself, via a caps-locked Twitter post.
There are a lot of really tough endurance races out there, but perhaps none are harder—both mentally and physically—than the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race in Queens, New York. The whole thing takes place on a single city block, and in order to finish before the cutoff, runners have to run the equivalent of about two marathons a day for 52 days in a row. In the race’s 22-year history, only 43 people have finished. Last summer, producer Stephanie Joyce headed to Queens to talk with the competitors, including Israeli ultrarunner Kobi Oren, who was determined to win the race on his first attempt.