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.

Arizona State, Colorado Mesa Win at Women’s Collegiate Triathlon West Regional Qualifier

From USA Triathlon

Photo by Jessica Welk/USA Triathlon

The second of three Regional Qualifiers for the varsity women’s collegiate triathlon season was held Sunday in South Dakota, hosted by NCAA Division II triathlon program Black Hills State University. The race marked the second opportunity for teams and individuals to qualify for the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships, set for Nov. 16 in Tempe, Arizona.

Athletes completed a sprint-distance 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer draft-legal bike and 5-kilometer run. Awards were presented to the top-two individuals in each NCAA Division (DI, DII and DIII) and the top-two teams in DI and DII. There were not enough competing athletes from DIII programs to award a team score in that division.

Arizona State’s Kyla Roy, Audrey Ernst, Kira Stanley and Hannah Henry were the first four athletes across the line overall, as Roy took the DI individual victory with a time of 1 hour, 1 minute, 12 seconds. Colorado Mesa University’s Mazzy Jackson was the top DII finisher in 1:06:04, placing eighth in the overall field. Earning the DIII individual win was Northern Vermont University-Johnson’s Ellery Kiefer in 1:15:41, taking 22nd overall.

ASU was the top NCAA DI team on the day with six points, followed in the DI standings by the University of South Dakota with 19. USD’s Ella Kubas led the Coyotes with a fifth-place finish both overall and in her division, crossing the line in 1:05:30.

Colorado Mesa took top honors for DII teams with seven points, and Black Hills State was second with 16. Mathilde Bernard led the Black Hills State squad, finishing third in the DII standings and 13th overall with a time of 1:08:25.

Read the full article here

ITU Age Group Sprint & Standard World Championships this weekend in Lausanne, Switzerland

303 will be on the ground in Lausanne to bring you the latest and greatest from our Colorado and Team USA athletes! Make sure you also follow us on Facebook for more content and news from the ITU World Championships.

From USA Triathlon

ITU Media/Wagner Araujo

Top U.S. Amateur Triathletes Chase Sprint, Standard World Titles This Weekend

Seven Americans look to defend gold medals in their respective age groups

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — More than 700 top American amateur triathletes will race for world titles this weekend, with the ITU Age Group Sprint and Standard Triathlon World Championships set for Saturday, Aug. 31, and Sunday, Sept. 1, respectively, as part of the 2019 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final. 

The age-group races begin at 7:15 a.m. local time (1:15 a.m. ET) each day over the weekend, with the race start and transition situated at Bellerive along Lake Geneva. The ITU Age Group Sprint Triathlon World Championships will cover a 750-meter swim in the lake, followed by a 20-kilometer draft-legal bike along the lakeshore and a 5-kilometer run. Sunday’s ITU Age Group Standard Triathlon World Championships feature an Olympic-distance 1.5k swim, 40k bike and 10k run. 

Qualification was required for both events, with sprint-distance competitors earning their spot on Team USA by finishing in the top eight at the 2018 USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint National Championships in Cleveland, Ohio; a top-10 finish at the 2018 USA Triathlon Draft-Legal National Championships in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida; or by placing near the top of the USA Triathlon year-end rankings for their respective age groups. Standard-distance athletes qualified with a top-18 age-group finish at the 2018 USA Triathlon Olympic-Distance Age Group National Championships in Cleveland; or by placing near the top of the USA Triathlon year-end rankings for their respective age groups. 

USA Triathlon’s Team USA is comprised of athletes ranging in age from 15 to 89 years old and residing in 46 states and Washington, D.C. Seventy-two athletes represent the state of California — the most of any state in the nation — followed by Florida with 49 and Ohio with 43. More than 60 athletes are registered to compete in both the sprint- and standard-distance races over the course of two days. 

Todd Buckingham (M30-34, Big Rapids, Mich.) and Wayne Fong (M85-89, Chatsworth, Calif.) return to Sprint Worlds as gold medalists from the 2018 event, held in Gold Coast, Australia. Joining them are returning silver medalists Philip Friedman (M65-69, Erie, Pa.), Sibyl Jacobson (F75-79, New York, N.Y.), Sheila Isaacs (F80-84, Shoreham, N.Y.) and Jack Welber (M80-84, Boulder, Colo.); and returning bronze medalist Rick Kozlowski (M65-69, San Diego, Calif.). 

Buckingham is also a returning gold medalist in the Standard World Championships event, where he was the fastest overall amateur man in 2018. Additional defending age-group champions include Jacobson, Matthew Murray (M20-24, Pearland, Texas), Steph Popelar (F50-54, Elizabeth, Colo.), Kelly Dippold (F55-59, Irvine, Calif.) and Missy LeStrange (F65-69, Visalia, Calif.). Gabrielle Bunten (F25-29, North Oaks, Minn.) is the sole returning silver medalist for the U.S. in the event. Returning bronze medalists are Jessica Holmes (F40-44, Natick, Mass.), Adrienne LeBlanc (F45-49, Scottsdale, Ariz.), Sharon Johnson (F60-64, Andover, Mass.) and Peggy McDowell-Cramer (F75-79, Santa Monica, Calif.). 

At the 2018 ITU Age Group Triathlon World Championships in Gold Coast, Team USA raced to 34 world championship medals between the sprint and standard events, including 13 golds, eight silvers and 12 bronzes. 

For more information about Team USA, comprised of the amateur athletes who represent the United States in ITU Age Group World Championship events, visit usatriathlon.org/teamusa

The ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, held from Aug. 29-Sept. 1, marks the culmination of the ITU World Triathlon Series by crowning the men’s and women’s elite world champions. The week of racing also features ITU Paratriathlon, Junior and U23 World Championships, in addition to the age-group races. Visit usatriathlon.org for coverage of U.S. performances in all events, and follow @TriathlonLive on Twitter for live updates during each race. 

For complete event schedules, course maps and more for the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, visit lausanne.triathlon.org. Complete start lists for all events can be found at triathlon.org.

Coloradans Wendy Wyskiel and Rebecca Ball take on Ultra520K Canada

By Khem Suthiwan

The heart of the Okanagan Valley of eastern British Columbia, the sport of triathlon has its roots in the history of the area. From the famous IRONMAN Canada that will be returning to Penticton in 2020 and original home of the Ultra520K Canada, triathletes from all over the world flock to this hidden gem located about 41 miles north of the US-Canadian border.

Tomorrow on August 3rd, two athletes from the Centennial State of Colorado will embark on a 3-day triathlon journey through the “OK” Valley, Wendy Wyskiel (57) of Longmont and Rebecca Ball (41) of Highlands Ranch. To get here they had to submit applications to the race organization, “qualify” with full-ironman distance race finish times under 14.5 hours, and be invited by the race director. Registrations are usually capped to around 35 athletes, and the application process begins approximately 2 years in advance.

Rebecca Ball & Wendy Wyskiel

Over the course of three days, Wyskiel and Ball, along with 22 other athletes representing 8 countries will cover a total of 520km of swimming, biking, and running broken down as shown in the picture above. Each day athletes will have exactly 12 hours to cross the finish line. Athletes also have to provide their own support crew, which will serve as their “mobile” aid station throughout their entire race.

Personally I’ve had the honor of coaching Wyskiel the last 10 months and will be serving as her support crew captain and kayaker during the swim portion of the race. Previous to that I was also the support crew captain and kayaker for local triathlon coach Mary Carey who finished the race in 2018. Carey has also returned to Penticton as a crew member for Ball.

2019 Ultra520K Canada Athletes

The vibe here is unlike any other. Amped up egos and talks of PRs or time goals, you won’t find it anywhere. To show up to start line healthy and finish the race in its entirety is enough for these tough souls. Three days of racing, anything can happen.

Stay tuned here at 303Triathlon.com to see how the rest of the weekend unfolds!

Nation’s Top Amateur Triathletes to Compete at Age Group Nationals in Cleveland Next Month

From USA Triathlon

2018 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships Sprint Distance August 12, 2018 ©2018 Rich Cruse /.crusephoto.com

USA Triathlon’s largest and longest-running national championship event returns to Cleveland’s Edgewater Park next month, with the most accomplished amateur triathletes in the nation set to compete for national titles and world championship berths on Aug. 10-11 as part of the 2019 Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships.

Thousands of age-group triathletes from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. are expected to compete in the event, which first debuted in 1983 and was previously held in Cleveland in 1992 and 2018. Age Group Nationals is consistently one of the top-five largest triathlons in the United States and last year’s event was the second-largest Age Group Nationals in the event’s history with more than 5,400 participants. The largest field to date was in 2014, when 5,789 athletes registered to race in Milwaukee.

“Triathletes of all ages from across the country make the trek to Age Group Nationals each year to test their skills against an immensely talented and competitive field,” said Brian D’Amico, USA Triathlon’s Director of Events. “It is a great source of pride to welcome these triathletes back to this two-day event year after year, and as we host this field in Cleveland for a second consecutive year, we’re grateful to all our partners in the local community, including the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Cleveland Metroparks, and the City of Cleveland, who are helping us ensure every competitor has a memorable race experience.”

The races will start at 7 a.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 10, with the Olympic-Distance National Championships, where athletes will race across a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run course. Action will then resume at 7 a.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 11, with the Sprint National Championships, covering a 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run. Both events will be centered at Edgewater Park, a 147-acre lakefront with 9,000 feet of shoreline.

National titles are on the line both days, as are coveted spots on USA Triathlon’s Team USA, comprised of the nation’s top amateur athletes who represent the U.S. at ITU Age Group World Championship events. The top 18 finishers in each age group of Olympic-Distance Nationals, after applying the age-up rule (rolling down to 30th place), will earn the right to represent Team USA at the 2020 ITU Standard-Distance Age Group World Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, set for Aug. 20-23, 2020.

Read the full article here

Cat’s out of the bag! Save the date for the Boyd Lake Bash Multisport Festival!!!

By Khem Suthiwan

Well, Lance Panigutti had most of us on the edge of our saddles for a good while, and it was definitely worth the wait!!!

Escape the ordinary on September 7, 2019 with a brand new multisport event experience! Brought to you by Without Limits Productions & Break Away Athletic Events, the “Boyd Lake Bash” Multisport Festival is a hidden gem of a venue, tucked quietly along the front range.

Why add this newly announced event to your schedule? Beautiful mountain views, semi-closed bike course, ideal weather, on-site camping, and beginner friendly race options for the whole family! Sprint, Super-Sprint, Aquabike, Duathlon, Stand-up Paddle Board Tri, Aquathlon, and Running Races!

Onsite camping options will make it easy for athletes to make it a relaxing end of summer weekend, and for this first season the entire event is limited to just 400 athletes. Check the Facebook Event Page HERE for all the latest news on the newest addition to the Colorado triathlon scene!

Bear Temporarily Halts Leadville Trail Marathon to Cross the Road

Runners were excited to see Olympian Kara Goucher. The bear? Not so much.

From Runner’s World
By Andrew Dawson

Photo by Quentin Genke
  • Colorado Springs runner Pete Peterson and his friend Quentin Genke were between miles 12 and 13 at the Leadville Trail Marathon when a bear crossed in front of them, temporarily halting the race.
  • The runners stayed calm, and were able to resume their race within 20 seconds after the bear safely made its way to the other side.

Colorado Springs runner Pete Peterson has had some luck with animal encounters in the past year and a half, seeing both a mountain lion and a bear on the trails in two separate instances.

This weekend, his streak continued at the Leadville Trail Marathon when he once again crossed paths with a bear.

Peterson had started the day with his friend, Quentin Genke, also of Colorado Springs, with a Leadville prerace, carb-loaded breakfast tradition they started a year before: a Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) and a cinnamon roll.

“Typically we get a PBR after the race or training runs, but it’s Leadville,” Genke told Runner’s World. “It’s already a race on a mountain at high elevation, so it’s a crazy event to begin with. This just adds to the insanity of the day.”

Little did he know, the most incredible part of the day was still to come.

Both runners were using the race as a training run for other mountain and trail races later in the year, so the mood was relaxed as they set off. For the first half, they were cruising. They had a solid pack of runners with them between mile 12 and 13 when Genke glanced to his right where he saw a bear running along the course.

“I don’t think (the bear) was interested in running the race,” Genke said. “So I reached into my pocket and grabbed my phone quick and yelled, ‘Bear!’”

This section of the race took place on a service road where cars were active even during the race. So runners had been hearing people yelling about cars coming, and were used to moving to the side of the road to let them pass.

Read the full article here

Kara Goucher’s Leadville Trail Marathon Debut

Kara Goucher Calls Leadville Debut ‘Hardest Thing I Ever Accomplished’

From Runner’s World
By Taylor Dutch

Photo by Matt Trappe

Bouts of vomiting from altitude sickness made the Olympian consider dropping out, but she pushed through for a fifth-place finish.

  • Kara Goucher made her trail race debut on June 15 at the Leadville Trail Marathon in Leadville, Colorado.
  • The two-time Olympian finished fifth in the women’s division, crossing the finish line in 3:54. Tara Richardson won the women’s race in 3:22.
  • Goucher credits the crowd and her competitors for helping her fight through bouts of altitude sickness during the notoriously difficult course.

Even with decades of experience running at the highest levels in the sport, Kara Goucher is still pushing her limits. Goucher made her trail racing debut on Saturday at the Leadville Trail Marathon, where the two-time Olympian said she experienced the most difficult competition of her career.

With bouts of altitude sickness, Goucher, 40, ran through some extremely tough moments in Leadville, Colorado. But with encouragement from supporters along the course, the marathoner fought through the challenges to finish fifth and win her age group.

Goucher completed the marathon in 3:54 for an average pace of 8:56 per mile. Race winner Tara Richardson, 27, covered the course in 3:22:39. In the men’s race, Joshua Lund, 30 of Boulder, won the event in 3:03.

“I’ve never been so low and continued on, so I guess I found out that I’m tougher than I thought,” Goucher told Runner’s World. “I think of myself as a pretty tough person, but I’ve never been in such a pain cave as I was yesterday. I mean, I was in such a dark place that I’ve never experienced before.”

Read the full article here

VEGA JOINS IRONMAN `OHANA AS TITLE SPONSOR OF THE 2019 IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

TAMPA, Fla. (June 13, 2019) – IRONMAN, a Wanda Sports Group company, is excited to announce a new partnership with plant-based nutrition brand, Vega, as the title sponsor of the 2019 IRONMAN® World Championship, the most iconic one-day endurance event in the world. As the leader in premium plant-based sport nutrition, Vega joins the IRONMAN `Ohana as the Official Recovery Nutrition partner of the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship in addition to title sponsor.

The IRONMAN World Championship is the pinnacle of endurance racing with over 95,000 athletes competing to qualify at more than 40 global IRONMAN® events each year. Athletes who qualify for the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship will be entitled to a special offer on Vega® products. Additionally, Vega products will be available in the IRONMAN Village, on-course and in the athlete recovery zone at the Vega IRONMAN World Championship on Saturday, October 12, 2019 in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i.

“We are coming off a historic year in Kona that celebrated 40 years of racing in Hawai`i with our largest international field, record-smashing times and unparalleled live coverage. The level of competition rises every year and our IRONMAN athletes are always looking for the best performance nutrition to help them reach top performance. The collaboration with Vega for the IRONMAN World Championship is a perfect fit, bringing a partner dedicated to high performance nutrition that won’t compromise quality,” said Matthieu Van Veen, Chief Revenue Officer for The IRONMAN Group. “Co-founded by a professional triathlete, Vega offers a vast range of products that focus on meeting the high standards that top triathletes from around the world expect with everything they do to prepare and compete. We are glad to welcome Vega to our `Ohana.”

Vega has been a pioneer in the plant-based nutrition industry since 2001. Vega co-founder Brendan Brazier knew that dialing in his nutrition was the competitive advantage he needed as a professional triathlete. Through trial, error, and experimentation, Brazier developed new products that helped him recover between training sessions better than any supplement he’d tried. Today, Vega has grown to include specialized sport nutrition, providing fueling options for before, during and after workouts or competition.

“We know that nutrition is the key to unlocking athletic excellence and what better way to demonstrate the power of plant-based sport nutrition than at Kona – the pinnacle of endurance sport,” says Samantha Taylor, VP of Marketing, Vega. “While this is a new partnership for us, the synergies between IRONMAN and Vega date back many years when co-founder Brendan Brazier launched Vega at the height of his pro triathlete career. Brendan’s vision for creating a product that enables athletes to feel and perform their best continues to be our driving inspiration today, as more than ever, athletes are looking for a competitive edge in their sport through plant-based nutrition.  Recently having achieved NSF Certified for Sport® for our Vega Sport® line we continue to innovate and enhance our formulation to support athlete needs. We’re honored to be a part of IRONMAN’s `Ohana and we’re looking forward to bringing our premium plant-based sport nutrition to those attending this iconic race.”

Two core products in the Vega Sport® line include Premium Protein and Recovery, both of which have no artificial flavors or sweeteners and are NSF Certified for Sport®, Gluten-Free, Vegan Certified and Non-GMO Project Verified.

  • Vega Sport® Premium Protein is formulated to help rebuild muscle after a tough workout and is packed with 30 grams of plant-based protein, BCAAs, 2 billion CFU of probiotics (bacillus coagulans), and tart cherry to support recovery.
  • Vega Sport® Recovery is formulated to help replenish glycogen stores so that athletes can stay ready for whatever comes next and includes 16 grams of carbohydrates, electrolytes and B vitamins.

The 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship will enjoy 20 hours of comprehensive live race day coverage globally via IRONMAN NOW™ on Facebook Watch – www.facebookwatch.com/IRONMANnow and through regional television coverage, including NBC Sports in the United States. Last year’s IRONMAN World Championship live coverage included everything from the early morning body marking to the final hour finish-line celebration and saw nearly 20 million total views on Facebook Watch.

Event information for the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship can be found at www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman/world-championship.aspx. For more information on the IRONMAN brand and global event series, visit www.ironman.com. For more details aboutVega and their full product offering, visit www.myvega.com. Media-related inquiries should be directed to press@ironman.com and media@myvega.com.  

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