Chris Leiferman Wins IM Florida, Coloradans Hanson and Long 2nd and 3rd

By Bill Plock

Leiferman in the lead, photo: Kenny Withrow

Colorado was well represented at IRONMAN Florida on Saturday. As the world was learning who our next President was going to be, quite a race in Panama City was unfolding. In the end, it was close, but Boulder’s Chris Leiferman out dueled Matt Hanson (who recently moved to Castle Rock) and Sam Long.

Leiferman, photo: Kenny Withrow

Long led about 2/3 of the way through but fell back and Leiferman came off the bike in the lead a minute ahead of Germany’s Andreas Dietz and six minutes ahead of Long and 10 minutes in front of Hanson.

Leiferman then led the rest of the race but both Hanson and Long significantly closed the gap on the run. Hanson cut nearly 8 minutes into the lead with Long just 29 seconds behind Hanson.

Said Leiferman, “yeah, they were catching up to me, but I’m glad it wasn’t a run race and I had the swim and bike to keep the lead. I have had the worse run build up this year, so knowing where I can go for future races.”

Leiferman finished in 7:52:44, Hanson in 7:55:02 and Long came in third with a 7:55:33. Long became the youngest American to ever finish under eight hours in an IRONMAN.

“It’s an amazing feeling to win any ironman, and it’s a bit more special to win this race after so many months of no racing. I know a few IM’s kicked off early in the year, but the gap in between had kept people hungry for race spectating and I feel that this one was a solid race for anyone to do well at,” said Leiferman.

When asked the key to his win, Leiferman said, “The key was coming out with the right group in the swim and a solid bike. I may have over biked a bit and that’s why my run was the way it was, but I can’t complain since I was able to hold on for the win. Also, the run aid stations were every 2 miles apart, so I had to really focus on taking care of myself on the run and if that meant walking through each aid station (which I did) then that’s what it took to not completely fall apart.”

Matt Hanson on his way to 2nd and a 2:41 marathon

Sam Long, on Facebook wrote; “Ouch. That hurt. But honestly the race I’m the most proud of ever. I had a massive “hiccup” the last 12 miles of the bike and hemorrhaged time to the leaders. Bonked as well as having some issues with tightness from the flats all day–even had to get off the bike and stretch. Literally limped into transition and thought there was no way I could run and told myself I had to start. Then went deep! And ended up running 2:45 and going 7:55! It was such a battle at the end and that’s what dreams are made out of. Good for 3rd.”

Sam Long, photo cred: Kenny Withrow

303’s Kenny Withrow was there taking pictures and had this to say, “it was an exciting race to watch as Sam made up a lot of time nearly catching Matt and Chris at the end. It was fun to see Colorado triathletes finish in the top three!” Even though the weather conditions were very favorable, Kenny added, “The aid stations were further apart than usual and not as well equipped with the proper “needs/hydration” (on the run) So it made fueling more difficult for the athletes.”

Matt Hanson, photo: Kenny Withrow

A few days before the race 303Endurance interviewed Chris and listen here to learn his thoughts before the race and his thoughts on the upcoming race in Daytona. Podcast link HERE

A Lot More Than Meets the Eye at Tri in Alamosa–Cool Tie to Amelia Earhart and Farm That Built Pool

By Bill Plock

All races have a history, but the Splashland Triathlon in Alamosa, Colorado wouldn’t even be around if not for a few interventions of fate. It also has a connection to aviation legend, Amelia Mary Earhart—not to be confused with 9news personality, also a pilot, Amelia Rose Earhart. 

Lloyd “Butch” Jones Jr.–his dad greeted Amelia

In 1932 Amelia landed in the meadow next to the bike course that eventually passes through the Jones farm. Lloyd Jones greeted Amelia when she landed unannounced and helped her with accommodations and “guarded” her plane while she re-supplied in Alamosa. Somewhere presumably at the bottom of the Pacific ocean, Amelia’s plane rests with Leroy’s name and “Alamosa Colorado” autographed on it. But the farm hardly acts as just a backdrop for the race. 

The pool hosting the swim is filled by natural hot springs from a well on the farm.  This farm has been in the same family for over a 100 years. It’s now divided among the grandchildren of the original owners. Decades ago, they were drilling for oil and at about 2,500 feet down, instead of oil, they hit hot water. Long story sort of short, they made a pool.

Fast forward a few decades and a few refurbishments later to about 10 years ago when the race director Mike Bush couldn’t walk. He was confined to a wheelchair by a mysterious virus that crippled him. Mike grew up in Grand Junction and coincidently was offered a running scholarship at Adams State University (located in Alamosa) but decided to go to college in Greeley at the University of Northern Colorado. His wife is from Alamosa however, and they ended up moving there. Mike frequented the pool he now manages when he was unable to walk and found the warm water quite soothing from his ailment. 

Mike Bush in Yellow

Over time he regained his mobility and through a series of coincidences became manager of the hot springs pool. He wanted to improve access for people with disabilities. When he lived in Greeley he became fond of triathlons. So he decided to start one in Alamosa to raise money for equipment to make the pool more accessible. 

50 yard Hot Springs Pool

The Splashland Triathlon is part of the Southwestern Colorado Triathlon Series with races in Gunnison, Montrose and Los Alamos (NM). Because of COVID only the one in Alamosa happened this year. 

The Jones Farm and bike course

This race is unique in many ways with its high elevation of 7,500 feet, adjacency to the Sand Dunes, having the bike and run cut through a historic farm and its finish with a 400 yard swim in a warm pool.  With the race always in mid-october it’s often pretty chilly at the 9am start, so Mike decided to end the race with a swim in the 86 degree water. 

The finish line

Alamosa, in the heart of the San Luis Valley, is a great place to start many adventures with the Sangre Di Cristo Mountains to the East, the San Juan Mountains to the West, the Collegiate range to the North or as a getaway to the “Land of Enchantment,” a.k.a New Mexico, just to the South. 

Normally 303Triathlon is in Kona during mid-October, so we had to visit the Sand Dunes to get some barefoot in the sand feeling! 

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: https://www.racedirectorsolutions.com/LandingPage@2886/DigDeepSportsLLC/Home

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: http://racingunderground.racetecresults.com/results.aspx?CId=16436&RId=338

Ft. Collins to Host First Triathlon in Front Range, July 18th

It appears the first two triathlons happening in Colorado will be in Eagle at the LG Tri on July 11th (more on this event in another article) and the Epic Warrior Triathlon on July 18th. Both will feature a pool swim. 

With each county controlling the size of group gatherings or asking for variances from statewide mandates, Eagle and Larimer counties have approved these two events. 

In the past 10 days or so there’s been a big flurry of good news and approvals with both Larimer County and the City of Fort Collins according to race director JB Tobin of Breakaway Athletic Events.  

Not familiar with Epic Warrior Triathlon? JB says, “We combined The Epic Mini Triathlon (original race date was 5-31-20) and the Warrior Women Triathlon and are calling it the “Epic Warrior Triathlon”.

With the approvals came additional distancing precautions, extra athlete guidelines, volunteer & staff guidelines, packet pickup, and awards changes. There’s a host of tweaks and updates to the entire morning that should make everyone feel safe and comfortable taking part in the event.

Tobin adds, “One thing we think athletes will really like is the ultra roomy transition area, maybe the “roomiest transition ever?” 

An equally fun part of this story is by being the first triathlon on the front range, the community support will be unprecedented. Lance Panigutti from Without Limits will be working the event and says, “I’m just excited to see everyone!”

Peggy Shockley, director of Loveland’s Lake to Lake Triathlon will be racing in the event (and likely volunteering when she’s done) and Lisa Sinclair from Green Events will be helping out as a volunteer on race morning.

Currently the race is about 75% sold out, so if you want to race, now would be the time to sign up! They are limited to 200 people.There will be no race day registrations allowed. 

To learn more and register go here. 

https://breakawayathleticevents.com/register/

Get ready: National Triathlon Week is coming!

Are you ready for National Triathlon Week? Starting June 22, join the multisport community in celebrating the sport of triathlon by sharing your experiences, inspiring stories, advice and support on social media using the hashtag #TriWeek.

From USA Triathlon

National Triathlon Week is a nationwide initiative to celebrate the sport of triathlon and all of the members of the multisport community. It is taking place from June 22-28, 2020. This week is geared toward education, celebration and participation in the multisport lifestyle. The schedule for the week features a new theme each day, with a spotlight on all of the components that make this sport so great. National Triathlon Week, or #TriWeek, is a celebration of not only triathletes, but all members of the multisport community — including officials, coaches, race directors, families and friends of triathletes and more.

There are many ways to get involved in National Triathlon Week! Whether you have 5 minutes or a full day, you’ll find a way to join the celebration. Check out the Get Involved page for ideas on how to share your excitement for the sport of triathlon, and be sure to use the hashtag #TriWeek on social media. This is your chance to share your story and compete against friends and triathletes across the country for daily prizes.

New to triathlon? Visit mytimetotri.com to get started today! Triathlon is an amazing sport, and we want to share it with you.

National Triathlon Week is for everyone, and we want to celebrate with everyone! We look forward to hearing your best stories and advice, seeing your favorite photos and sharing the multisport lifestyle all week long!

Follow and like us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for special feature content throughout the week and details on you can be eligible to win some amazing prizes from our partners. 

National Triathlon Week Prize Giveaways and Discounts

Winners selected June 22-28, 2020, unless otherwise noted. Check out our social pages and engage with our giveaway posts to be entered to win one of the day’s special prizes, listed below. You can also find discounts on your favorite triathlon gear all week long at the USAT Store

Monday, June 22: Time to Tri Day

USA Triathlon-branded Newton Running Shoes, Training Peaks 6-month subscription (4)

Tuesday, June 23: Olympic & Paralympic Day

Hyperice Hypervolt, Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor

Wednesday, June 24: Swim Day

ROKA goggles, KT Tape Pro Extreme Black

Thursday, June 25: Bike Day

Rudy Project Defender Sunglasses, Rudy Project Strym helmet

Friday, June 26: Run Day

Science in Sport $50 Gift Card (3), CURREX RunPro Insoles, CURREX BikePro Insoles

Saturday, June 27: Race Day

Hand & Stone Massage and Facial $110 Gift Card (3), Amp Human PR Lotion Starter Kit, Pilates for Sports Free 3-month Trial

Sunday, June 28: Community Appreciation Day

2XU Triathlon Prize Package, featuring a pair of 2XU MCS Run compression Tights, a pair 2XU Power Recovery Compression Tights, a pair of 2XU Recovery Socks, a pair of Full-Length 2XU VECTR Socks, a pair of 2XU Vectr Socks and a 2XU Run Belt


New this year, National Triathlon Week will also include a #TriWeek Virtual Challenge presented by TOWER 26, as well as a #TriWeek Triathlon Tournament to determine the best all-time moment in U.S. triathlon history. The complete schedule, along with ideas for how to participate are at  usatriathlon.org/triweek. Get pumped!

Boulder’s Dede Griesbauer and Kennett Peterson dominate the IRONMAN VR10 Pro Challenge Weekend

DEDE GRIESBAUER (USA) AND KENNETT PETERSON (USA) TAKE TITLES DURING THE IRONMAN VR10 PRO CHALLENGE WEEKEND

– Over 16,000 athletes from 130 nations registered to compete in IRONMAN VR10 an IRONMAN 5150 Olympics distance simulation
 
– More than 3,000 age group athletes register to compete in the inaugural IRONMAN Virtual Racing Championship Series
 
– More than 105,000 people from around the globe have now joined IRONMAN Virtual Club platform

The 10th edition of the IRONMAN® VR™ Pro Challenge saw a United States sweep with Dede Griesbauer winning the women’s race and Kennett Peterson taking the top honors in the men’s race as eight top triathletes battled it out over the course of two days. Mixing up the format, athletes took on a 3 km run through the Eagle Trail in Boulder, Colorado before hopping on their trainers. From there, athletes began their 40 km bike ride in Gerry Boyle Park on a portion of the newly offered IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman bike course, utilizing Official Virtual Cycling partner ROUVY’s augmented reality.

In the closely contested professional women’s race, Dede Griesbauer (USA) fought her way into the top spot with an impressive performance, finishing the 3 km run and 40 km bike in an overall time of 1:07:53, while Lindsey Jerdonek (USA) finished in second place with a combined time of 1:08:42. Danielle Mack (USA) took third position with a finishing time of 1:10:09 and Rachel Olson (USA) rounded out the group with a time of 1:11:19.

The full broadcast of the women’s IRONMAN VR10 Pro Challenge can be viewed, HERE.

Professional women’s results: 

  RUN TIMEBIKE TIMEOVERALL TIME
1. Dede GriesbauerUSA00:12:2100:55:321:07:53
2. Lindsey JerdonekUSA00:11:0800:57:341:08:42
3. Danielle MackUSA00:12:0000:59:571:10:09
4. Rachel OlsonUSA00:11:2600:59:531:11:19

On Sunday, it was the professional men’s turn to take to the road for a 3 km run and the trainers for a 40 km bike. Despite some technical difficulties (and nearly oversleeping the start of the race) Kennett Peterson (USA) emerged victorious, completing the IRONMAN VR10 Pro Challenge in an overall time of 1:02:05. Professional triathlete, Tyler Butterfield (BMU), came in second with a time of 1:03:58, while Joe Gambles (AUS) finished third in a time of 1:04:46. Andre Lopes (BRA) rounded out the men’s group clocking a time of 1:05:30.

The full broadcast of the men’s IRONMAN VR10 Pro Challenge can be viewed, HERE.

Professional men’s results: 

  RUN TIMEBIKE TIME OVERALL TIME 
1. Kennett PetersonUSA00:09:1300:52:521:02:05
2. Tyler ButterfieldBMU00:09:0800:54:501:03:58
3. Joe GamblesAUS00:09:3600:55:101:04:46
4. Andre LopesBRA00:09:2300:56:071:05:30

In total, over 16,000 athletes from more than 130 nations and all 50 states set out to participate in IRONMAN VR10. IRONMAN VR10 requires athletes to complete a 3 km Run, 40 km Ride, and 10 km Run between Friday, June 5 at 2 p.m. ET (6 p.m. GMT) and race close this evening, Sunday, June 7 at 7:59 p.m. ET (11:59 p.m. GMT). Competitors who race in the Classic Division can do so anywhere, indoors or outdoors, can complete the three segments in any order and are not required to do the segments consecutively.
 
The 3,000 athletes who registered for the new IRONMAN Virtual Racing Championship Series are bound by a different set of rules over a four-week long regulated age-group competition designed to reward top-performing athletes in a structured and competitive virtual environment. Athlete’s overall standing are based upon their top three performances in aggregate over a four-week period. Athletes competing will have the opportunity to earn race slots to the 2020 edition of the IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship with a total of 75 qualifying slots allocated across age groups for top performers.
 
IRONMAN VR10 leaderboard updates can be found by visiting the IRONMANVR Facebook Page.
 
Bringing the IRONMAN community together virtually, the IRONMAN® Virtual Club™ continues to grow and now has more than 105,000 members on the platform with thousands completing IRONMAN Virtual Club Challenges since its recent launch.
 
Full details and specifics regarding the IRONMAN Virtual Club are available on www.ironmanvirtualclub.com. For questions about the IRONMAN Virtual Racing Series, athletes can email ironmanvr@ironman.com. For more information on the IRONMAN brand and global event series, visit www.ironman.com. Media related inquiries may be directed to press@ironman.com.


Related Articles and Interviews:

IRONMAN World Championship and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship Postponed

The triathlon world now has their answer. The World Championship race and 70.3 World Championship are both postponed.

There will be two editions of the IRONMAN World Championship with the postponed race taking place February 6, 2020 and the second October 10, 2020. The date of the 70.3 race has yet to be determined.

Here is the official press release from IRONMAN

IRONMAN ANNOUNCES 2020 IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP AND IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP AND IRONMAN 70.3 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP HAVE BEEN POSTPONED DUE TO IMPACT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC

  • Decision made after careful consideration with local partners and based upon inability to host qualifying events as well as current international border and travel restrictions in Hawai`i and New Zealand
  • 2020 IRONMAN World Championship rescheduled for February 6, 2021
  • New 2021 date options for 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship to be determined with local and national officials

TAMPA, Fla. (May 14, 2020) – IRONMAN today announced in conjunction with host city partners and authorities in Hawai`i, United States and Taupō, New Zealand, that due to the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the 2020 editions of the IRONMAN® World Championship and IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship cannot take place on their originally scheduled dates. The IRONMAN World Championship will now take place on February 6, 2021 returning to its historic original race month and marking 40 years since it first took place in Kailua-Kona on the Island of Hawai`i. While a new date for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship has not yet been determined, teams are working diligently with local and national officials and authorities to secure a date for early 2021.
 
IRONMAN has been closely monitoring the situation and guidance by the Hawaiian and New Zealand governments regarding mass gatherings, border and travel restrictions and other COVID-19 related issues to assess the feasibility of hosting the 2020 IRONMAN World Championship and 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. Additionally, 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 produce and host truly competitive world championship events. Based on these factors and circumstances beyond our control, coupled with a mission to give athletes and communities as much preparation time as possible, it is clear the world championship events cannot proceed as planned in October and November, respectively.
 
Similar to 1982, there will be two editions of the IRONMAN World Championship in a single year (February and October) to accommodate athletes who qualify during the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
 
As a result of the continued impact of COVID-19, the qualifying window for the 2020 edition of the IRONMAN World Championship has been extended to provide further qualification opportunities. The most up-to-date information on overall qualification details for the IRONMAN World Championship can be found at www.ironman.com/im-world-championship.
 
The IRONMAN World Championship is the pinnacle of endurance sports with athletes from all over the world coming to Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i after qualifying at events on six continents. Each year more than 94,000 athletes vie for coveted slots to the IRONMAN World Championship with approximately 2,500 athletes making it to the starting line on race day. In 2019, the IRONMAN World Championship generated a total economic impact of $72 million USD per a study conducted by Markrich Research. In addition to tourism, IRONMAN and the IRONMAN Foundation have provided a total of $1.9 million USD in grant funding to the Kailua-Kona region since the inception of the IRONMAN World Championship.

“The IRONMAN World Championship has been a cornerstone in showcasing our island’s attributes to the world for decades. We fully support their decision to postpone these races, and we feel that it is the right thing to do to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our community,” said Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawai`i Visitors Bureau. “It also allows supporting industries to prepare the resources necessary to maintain the high standard the event has created over the years. We look forward to welcoming them back when the time is right and will do our best to assist with the transition.”
 
“The County of Hawai`i supports IRONMAN’s difficult decision to postpone the October 2020 IRONMAN World Championship event to early 2021. We look forward to welcoming the athletes, their families and supporters in early February of 2021,” said Harry Kim, Honorable Mayor for Kona. 
 
The IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship has grown in stature and popularity since its inception in 2006 and is now the culmination of over 100 events. Every year more than 200,000 athletes compete annually for a place among the world’s best with over 5,000 athletes ultimately making it to the two-day event. Based on past economic impact studies, the 2020 edition of the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship is expected to create a total impact reaching $20 million NZD for the host city and region.
 
Taupō District Mayor David Trewavas said the postponement was expected given the effect COVID-19 was having on New Zealand and indeed the world. “This was no doubt a difficult decision, but the most important thing is that we as a community are ready to welcome these athletes when the time is right. We are proud to be home to the iconic IRONMAN New Zealand triathlon and are ready to showcase exactly why that is to the rest of the world. Bring on 2021.”
 
For more information and event details for the IRONMAN World Championship, please visit www.ironman.com/im-world-championship. Further updates on the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship can be found at www.ironman.com/im703-world-championship.
 
For more information on the IRONMAN brand and global event series, visit www.ironman.com. Media related inquiries may be directed to press@ironman.com.

ITU World Championship, the “Kona” of short course racing

by Khem Suthiwan

Ask any triathlete out there about the World Championships and usually Kona comes to mind. As the 303 Team will be headed to Kona in the next week, we wanted to bring light to another race that packs a lot of punch as well. With over 4,000 athletes of all ages from all over the world funneling into action filled races over an entire weekend, it’s the ITU World Grand Final.

Competitors at the ITU World Grand Final are a mix of elite professional athletes, age groupers, and juniors. The weekend of racing includes the age group draft-legal sprint race, non-draft standard (Olympic) race, Elite Professional, Paratriathlon, and Mixed Relay races. That is a lot of racing packed into three days.

A few differences at ITU Worlds vs. Kona include each age group competitor had to qualify through their country’s triathlon federation (USAT Nationals in our case), placing in the top of their respective age group (roll-down slots allocated accordingly). No celebrities or comped entries here. (see Team USA Qualification criteria here) In addition, each athlete represents their country and wears the team issued race kit.

This year Team USA sent about 700 athletes to Lausanne and the amount and access to support was exceptional! From all the USAT Staff, Coach, massage therapists, bike mechanics, and even a chiropractor! These folks literally set up shop at the “team hotel” and were busy all weekend to make sure our athletes had everything they needed for race day!

The Team USA experience at ITU World Grand Final as a spectator exceeded my expectations. Unlike with iron-distance races where athletes are gone for hours on end before gracing spectators with their presence, ITU racing events are action packed with lead changes around every corner. Spectators are so rowdy you’d think you were watching the Tour de France wrapped up into a Liverpool-Manchester United soccer game. Even the festivities leading up to the weekend of racing were rooted with the feel of the Olympics. Countries showcasing their pride during the Parade of Nations, team social events and group workouts, and so much more.

So while handful of athletes are turning their attention to Kona in a few weeks, there are even more athletes that are equally as accomplished and spirited (if not more) to the core in their training and racing with the hopes of qualifying for USAT Nationals and the ITU World Championship. Who will make it to Edmonton, Canada and represent Team USA for 2020?

Our Team USA Coloradans had amazing performances and we’d like to recognize those top 10 finishes.

  • Jonathan Mason (3rd – M40-44 Sprint Draft Legal)
  • Stephanie Meisner (9th – F45-49 Sprint Draft Legal)
  • Kirk Framke (5th – M45-49 Sprint Draft Legal)
  • Peter Valentyik (6th – M50-54 Sprint Draft Legal)
  • Sandy Vanderstoep (3rd – F75-79 Sprint Draft Legal)
  • Jack Welber (4th – M80-84 Sprint Draft Legal)
  • Lockett Wood (6th – M80-84 Sprint Draft Legal)
  • Laura McDonald (5th – F35-39 Olympic)
  • Steph Popelar (3rd – F50-54 Olympic)
  • Judith Laney (2nd – F65-69 Olympic)
  • Barbara Kostner (10th – F70-74 Olympic)

Opinion: What is happening to the IRONMAN World Championship?

By Khem Suthiwan

IRONMAN announced in early June the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship would feature a new swim start protocol utilizing waves that separates the field into 11 groups. Their reason: to reduce athlete density on the bike course.

As a four-time IRONMAN finisher, to include Kona, I’m not sure what I think about this. Three of my IM finishes were mass starts. The year I raced Kona it was the first time the men and women age groupers had separate mass starts. When I trained for my first one (IRONMAN Canada-Penticton), the allure of the mass start and its spectacle was one of the things that drew me to the race. Now one by one, primarily in North America, races have implemented rolling swim starts and the mass start is about close to extinct.

Khem at the
2015 IRONMAN World Championship Swim Start

While I understand the need to improve the safety for competitors, especially at races that typically draw novice athletes and take place in urban areas (nevermind when you sign up for an IRONMAN you should know what you’re getting yourself into), but at the IRONMAN World Championship? By the time most athletes get to the start line in Kona, they will have raced and trained thousands of hours and miles. Is there really a need? And the reason of reducing athlete density on the bike course, the Queen K Highway is completely closed off to vehicular traffic AND it’s up to the athletes to follow the rules of the bike course (no drafting, blocking, etc.).

So, my question to the universe and all the triathletes that care, is Kona slowly losing its luster? The midnight finish isn’t really midnight in most cases. What’s next? Splitting the women’s and men’s race to two separate days? Rolling swim starts? Who knows, but whatever new protocol that ends up getting implemented next, in my opinion will most likely chip away pieces of the original Kona IRONMAN spirit and excitement.