In a new installment of the 303Endurance Podcast we chat with Matt Miller about his long history with triathlons and in particular IRONMAN. And did you know he was a model for IRONMAN cologne?? Fun fact. He has guided visual impaired athletes in numerous races and talks about that and how it all started. He talks about starting BASE and partnering with IRONMAN. There are few people that have been to more races than Matt. We also chatted about the impact of COVID on his business and the sport. Fun stories abound!
Matt Miller is a disrupter. He has built BASE Performance into a triathlon juggernaught and now I have seen and felt how and why. If you think BASE is about nutrition products, salt, and a growing line of custom cycling and triathlon clothing, you are right, but you are crazy wrong as well.
BASE is about people. People who try hard, have fun and care about each other. BASE is a growing triathlon family of over a thousand people from around the world officially on their team.
This past week, in surprisingly chilly, Orlando Florida, about a 120 teammates came to swim, bike, run, and have fun for four days. Athletes varied greatly in ability but it’s safe to say that the slowest, least skilled or in-experienced athlete felt every bit a part of this group as the fastest, most seasoned veterans. Here’s why. For this “family” it’s about the start line and how they get to the finish—not how fast they get there.
Besides training and having fun, the overriding goal was to re-connect with fellow BASE teammates and meet new ones. I felt a bit like I was at a high school reunion of a school I didn’t attend. But, that feeling dissipated quickly as this is the most welcoming group of athletes, maybe people, I have ever been around. If BASE was about building ego’s they would’ve been out of business years ago. BASE fuels love for the sport of triathlon by helping people build love for each other. Yes, that sounds lofty, probably corny and utopic, but it’s true.
Boulder based professional triathlete and coach at Baseline Multisport Coaching, Kristin Louderback, who made the trip to help athletes said, “there was no ego at this camp, it was a super fun group to coach and help.”
At the beach party after our last workout, Becky from Illinois summed it up best saying, “I did 15 hours of training at this camp and normally I do about seven per week. I was so excited, as I kept my face in the water for all my swims, I ran the longest run of my life at 10 miles, and I was so happy everyone waited for me at the end of the run. AND I made it up Sugar Loaf Mountain without stopping! I just don’t feel judged here and I can do more than ever with the help of my teammates!”
When Matt invited me to camp, he gave me no direction or assignment, and I guess he just wanted me to experience the camp and come to my own conclusions. I write this as unbiased as possible only being influenced by accepting a bed at the BASE house where I shared a room sleeping on a not-so-roomy twin bed appointed with not-so-luxurious Superman bedding. We were in Orlando after all, where housing developments chew up the land built mostly for tourists and Air B&Ber’s. It’s hard to not be a BASE fan. I wanted to resist and be neutral, but I can’t. This is a great group and I’m just telling you like it is!
BASE has come a long ways. A really long ways in a pretty short time. I first encountered BASE running on the Boulder creek path during the 2014 Boulder IRONMAN. Matt and a few of his early, enthusiastic adopters passed out BASE salt in small vials perfect for carrying. Of course I refused and thought each time I passed through the BASE “zone”, “what in the world are these guys doing passing out something not at an official aid station that I had never tried?” Who would take it I thought, that’s breaking the first rule of racing—don’t do something you have not practiced! I was somewhat shocked at their tenacity, but also impressed.
Then in 2015, at IRONMAN Boulder, there they were again, but this time as an official supplier of salt, and they had a booth, and it was a busy booth. Clearly they were growing. Now they are a significant partner with IRONMAN with booths and products on course at nearly all full and 70.3 races in North America. They sell a wide variety of high quality nutrition products and a line of cycling and triathlon clothing along with some fun lifestyle t-shirts.
The disruption comes in non conventional ways of offering quality products, either ones BASE makes or ones their partners offer to the team, normally at special prices. For example, Quintana Roo offers BASE members special buys on bikes and wetsuits. Last year BASE was one of QR’s biggest accounts. But more than that, members will often visit local bike shops and leave a BASE sample or a card hoping the store carries the product. Let’s face it if the people they love (BASE) are more successful, they can have more fun.
That is the magic sauce. Matt has built a company of believers who, I believe, want the company to succeed for reasons way beyond the product. They not only like Matt and the BASE Team, they want to keep seeing each other at BASE functions and at races. They want to know that when they are racing they will see others in BASE kits cheering them on.
It’s this selfish joy that bonds this group to do the utmost for each other so they can continue to be part of something bigger than themselves. The fun and a strong sense of belonging pulls them together to make them feel valued and included.
For me, this is a bright part of the future of triathlon where new people from all abilities are able to learn, to train, and become empowered to tackle things they never thought possible.
But it grew in a way I hadn’t anticipated or could’ve even predicted from those days when they were schlepping salt in Boulder, in nutrition terms, BASE’s growth is as Organic as possible.
If you fast forward a few years, I think the Endurance Exchange this past weekend In Tempe, Arizona will be looked at as a potential turning point in Endurance sports. I think it will bring more unity and opportunities to all things endurance whether it’s triathlon or ultra running or pure cycling. Some key take aways were for me were these (with some further explanation below.)
There were many people and organizations from Colorado present; what happens here really matters.
The PTO has a well funded game plan in place to possibly revolutionize professional triathlon.
Without Limits is on to something with their gravel triathlon in Steamboat, click Here for more on that.
Indoor training’s growth with hardware and software (think Zwift) is really just beginning to explode.
There are very inspiring people with great stories especially at the USAT Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
The Endurance Industry is healthy and finding new ways and new experiences.
Dan Empfield (Slowtwitch Publisher) is eloquent and amazingly knowledgeable.
Wait till more folks from cycling and ultra running show up, this conference will explode.
There is a commitment to being athlete focused and driven while growing participation.
This is a fun group of people to join for anyone choosing the Endurance space for a career.
This year’s conference, born by USA Triathlon partnering with Triathlon Business International, was clearly triathlon leaning, but with doses of topics relevant to all endurance sports. Coaches learned the latest trends and training tips and race directors talked about ways to make events more dynamic, fun and safer for all. Industry celebrities like Bob Babbitt and Mike Reilly, and executives like Rocky Harris, Dan Empfield and Barry Siff, while on duty, also mingled and rolled up their sleeves, were very approachable and cracked a happy hour beverage to learn and listen. The vibe was collaborative, inviting, inclusive and fun.
Inspiration abounded from high energy keynote speaker Eric Byrnes, a former Major League Baseball player (one time Colorado Rockie) and an accomplished triathlete. He swam the San Francisco Bay, rode a bike to Chicago and then ran to New York to bring awareness to the Let Them Play Foundation. Dick and Rick Hoyt, the father/son challenged athlete tandem were inducted into the Hall of Fame and there were gasps in the room when you really understood how fast they ran in addition to their IRONMAN feats. For example, they have completed a 10k in 35 minutes and a marathon in 2:44.
There weren’t many dry eyes as Bob Babbitt paid tribute to his long time friend Mike Plant who was inducted into the Hall of Fame thanks to his legendary journalism covering Ironman and introducing the young sport of triathlon to mainstream media. Mike passed away in 2019 and Bob expressed his gratitude and acknowledged Mike’s profound influence on Bob starting Competitor Magazine which led to the Rock and Roll marathon series and so much more.
Colorado was well represented in Tempe with many companies exhibiting product, and executives and experts attended and served on panels in break out sessions. Said Magui Martinez-Pena, sales manager for Boulder’s Headsweats, “it was a great experience for us. This is a very specific conference for our target audience. We saw a lot of excitement about our new products like the new Super Crush visor and event shirts. We had an opportunity to connect with our existing clients and make new contacts. Proud to be part of EE as a TBI partner. We will definitely be there again in 2021!
Matt Miller with BASE Performance, while not exhibiting was booked up meeting with race directors, Tri-club representatives and others collaborating for the upcoming season. “it was great atmosphere to see a lot of key people and a lot of fun,” said Matt.
The recent announcement by the Professional Triathlon Organization (PTO) and their $2,000,000 prize purse for athletes competing in the upcoming Collins Cup reverberated throughout much of the conference. They presented their plan on the first day of the conference and later I met with Chairman of the PTO, Charles Adamo to dig a little deeper.
What I learned was that they believe whole heartedly that an economically healthier, and more sustainable professional triathlon field, will help grow the sport overall and provide a better experience to all participants. They see this happening centered on the Collins Cup, a made for TV triathlon experience similar to golf’s Ryder Cup. They hope this will bring coverage to the pro’s and inspire more people to try triathlon. “Triathlon is an aspirational sport, and the influence of the pro’s on the growth of triathlon and age group participation is very important,” said Adamo.
Eventually there will probably be other triathlons (think golf’s majors) leading up to the Collins Cup where pro’s get points to qualify for the 36 spots to be on a team. They model things much like the PGA in golf and the USTA in tennis where the professionals own the events that make them the most money and captivate world audiences. It will be interesting to see what events might be run by the PTO in the future.
In the last session of the day, despite three days of meetings, a lot of enthusiasm and questions were thrown at the panel talking about “gravel”. Gravel bike races and gravel triathlon and the future of them were hot topics. It was suggested that 2020 will see a bit of retraction in gravel bike racing which seems surprising here in Colorado. Without Limits was represented by Olympia Von Berg on the panel of experts. Many questions came up about gravel triathlon. Without Limits will be hosting the first ever gravel only triathlon this year which will it be sanctioned by USA Triathlon.
Needless to say, like it’s biking counterpart, the gravel scene is a bit organic and unrefined at this point so what will the future hold? Said Olympia after the conference, “people are very receptive to it and excited. Our race will follow all the same rules as a road triathlon. On our course in Steamboat, athletes will ride and run on gravel/dirt only. We think athletes who might be seeking something different, and don’t want a bunch of crazy new gear can take part and have a lot of fun.”
Dan Empfield, Publisher of Slowtwitch and founder of Quintana Roo hosted a session on the hardware of indoor smart cycles and where they are going. The trend is to provide more and more real life feelings while riding indoors. Like Garmins Neo making the bike “feel” the gravel or the cobbles as it simuglates the road you are watching on the big screen. Watch out for more innovations to make the indoor experience more real.
To wrap up, Khem Suthiwan of 303 Endurance said, “the Endurance Exchange was a great melting pot of triathlon industry professionals. Coaches, industry experts, race directors, brands, and governing body professionals all under one roof. It was great to see all the knowledge and ideas coming together in one place. As our sport and its participants evolve, EE was a great forum to discuss and share new ideas on how to take triathlon to the next level.”
By Bill Plock, President of 303Endurance/Triathlon/Cycling
People often wonder why 303 goes to Kona to cover the IRONMAN World Championships. Or ask why 303 even exists? Who we are and so forth. When Sandi Weibe crossed the finish line last year wearing a shirt we had given athletes from Colorado, it just seemed so clear and that picture pretty much answers our why. We go to Kona and to the local school yard bike rallies, local triathlons and crits and everything in between as much as possible to help make our endurance community that much better. That much more connected and simply that much more celebrated.
At arguably the worlds most prestigious endurance event, stories unfold, missions come to life and the triathlon world converges in a showcase unique to the sport. It’s the place to be.
We are there to celebrate the journey of the 52 Colorado athletes racing on October 12th. We want to tell their stories. We have asked each one of them to share their journey and hopefully in the next 10 days you will read and hear many of them.
If there is one gesture that defines the reason, it is our offer to each athlete of a handmade Christmas Ornament designed and made by Glassmith2. They are a second generation engraving company based in Boulder and they make the age group awards for IRONMAN.
But more, they are a couple, Alison and Braden Todd, with kids and a dog and an entrepreneurial spirit trying to make a small business succeed. They are great people and Braden is a sixth generation Boulderite. Braden’s great grandfather was the first person ever graduate from the University of Colorado. It’s this kind of connection that we strive to bring to the endurance community.
When Sandi crossed the finish line wearing a shirt, not really designed to race in, I was so touched she wanted to represent Colorado, just like we do. In such an international atmosphere, to see our logo cross the line meant a lot.
We try to make it fun, we work hard. We interview all kinds of people, give you podcasts to listen to all week and find stories and cover the race. We try to share the experience of the island and bring you more than just recap of who won. We strive to share the culture, the atmosphere and the friends we see and make along the way. And Khem Suthiwan’s food scavenger hunt was a big hit last year—lets see what she comes up with this year.
We have Rich Soares’ awesome finish line interviews and podcasting excellence and Kenny Withrow’s artistic views through the camera–he also on assignment for a major publication so we won’t have him full-time–dang it!!
We have great sponsors that make this possible with some outstanding exclusive discounts to offer you from Clever Training and BASE Performance, and a chance to win a frame from Blue Competition Cycles and much more to be announced soon. Check out that deal on an indoor trainer from CycleOps. We have a landing page that shares not only the names of who is racing, but a place to find articles and podcasts, sponsors specials and some fun stuff–and of course the sponsors offers and more https://303triathlon.com/kona2019/
We just finished a podcast with professional Kennett Peterson of Boulder as he prepares for his first trip to Kona, keep an eye out for that. He gives some really great insight on what he is thinking and feeling heading into his race and some other thoughts on being a pro triathlete.
Locally we have some the best resources around to offer you tips if you are racing. One such person (“lad” is a better word in his Scottish accent) is Simon Butterworth has offered three major tips for racing in Kona. That article will be published soon. Very interesting tip about waiting to drink at least 30 minutes after the swim to let the sea water invariably “drank” settle in.
But settle in, follow us here, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, grab a cup of coffee, a beer, a friend and enjoy our coverage.
Come meet new IRONMAN Boulder race director Danial James and ride one or two loops of the ironman course (basically) link here for route (ROUTE Map). Each loop is about 41 miles. We are not doing the out and back on the diagonal, thus big part of reason the math doesn’t work! Danial will give a short once over on the race and race happenings at 7:30 and there will be time for Questions. Wheels down and ready to ride at 8. The new official nutrition bar of North American IRONMAN’s BASE, will be in the house.
When: Sunday May 19th
Where: Tom Watson Park, on 63rd, just north of the diagonal and West of Boulder Reservoir
Time: Meet at 7:30, wheels down at 8am
Ride type: ride your own pace, there is not a leader per say, but look for folks regrouping and try to meet new people and find a group to ride with! In the past, we have a group that sort of sticks together with 18mph-21mph average and one a bit slower 16mph to 18mph and then a few other groups at other paces. Some people want to ride one loop, or two or modify a second one. Main thing is come meet new folks and have fun on the course and watch out for each other!
The 303 team kept busy all last week in Kona bringing you news and stories, here are few highlights.
People wonder why we send such a group to this race and the answer is not simple, but yet it is. Kona showcases the greatest triumphs. It celebrates athletes from around the world with 2,400 stories from over 50 countries. Colorado is everywhere. From third most represented state of athletes to having many companies and industry and media professionals present. At the USAT partner party, half of the people there were from Colorado. Colorado has a big impact on Kona.
1. Colorado rocks with 38 amateur athletes competing and five of them ending up on the podium:
– Nicholas Noon 2nd
– Kelly Phuah 3rd
– Diana Hassel 3rd
– Matthew Malone 4th, this was also a 45th place finish Overall
– Simon Butterworth 4th
2. Four Colorado based pro’s ended up in the top 10:
– Tim O’Donnell 4th
– Mirinda Carfrae 5th
– Kaisa Sali 7th
– Andy Potts 8th
3. Records were broken
– Fastest Male race: 7:52, Patrick Lange, first time finish was under 8 hours.
– Fastest Female race: 8:26, Daniela Ryf, broke her own record by 20 minutes!
– Fastest Male swim ever: 46:30 (amateur set the record)
– Fastest Female swim ever: 48:14 (Pro Lucy Charles, 4 min faster than the next pro)
– Fastest Female Bike Split, (Pro Daniela Ryf, 4:26, 18 min faster than previous)
– Oldest finisher, 86 year old Inada Hiromu of Japan
4. Presumably, the most weight loss finisher with Marcus Cook losing about 250 pounds and carrying a life size cut-out of himself at his most weight through the finish line that brought a massive roar from the crowd.
5. More people seem interested in what Khem was eating than almost anything else based on our Facebook post of her “guess what I am eating contest”.
6. Colorado has great industry representation: BASE Performance, Newton, BOCO Gear, Triathlete Magazine, Rudy Project, Ceramic Speed, Stryd, Scratch, Stages, and TrainingPeaks.
7. Simon Butterworth and Bob Babbitt do look like Elvis
8. The Pros have fun too: Patrick Lange proposed to his girlfriend right after he crossed the finish line saying it “was the best part of day”, after winning and breaking a record. Sarah True said, “I felt like I was just riding bikes with friends,” after finishing her first Kona.
9. Bill Plock Sleepwalks and tries to get out of a condo in the middle of the night.
10. The 303 team went through six bags of gummy bears, 2 tanks of gas, shot over 500 pics, conducted 8 live podcast interviews, swam to the coffee boat a few times, was up at 4am and back home at 1am covering the race from beginning to end.
University of Colorado student and member of the CU Triathlon team, Phoebe Iguchi was hit by a green pick-up truck on Saturday during a training ride on Monarch road near Tom Watson park northeast of Boulder. The motorist fled the scene and has not been found. Fortunately it appears she will make a full recovery and luckily Matt Miller was right behind her and first on the scene.
Matt Miller, owner of BASE Performance a popular nutrition and supplement brand based in Boulder commented, “Phoebe was face down and crying, devastated as to what was occurring. Her bike was in pieces. One of her cycling shoes was literally 10-15 feet up the road. The impact had knocked the shoe right off of her foot. And yet this guy in the truck fled the scene. It was deplorable. We stayed with Phoebe until the police and ambulance arrived. At that point there was not much else we could do as it was under control.”
Realizing she was going to be ok, Matt said, “Without insurance, thanks to the driver fleeing the scene, and with the triathlon season around the corner, I wanted to help her get back as fast as possible. I quickly got on the phone with companies I work with and they didn’t hesitate to help. Our community is so helpful and fabulous, that’s what I love most about the triathlon community, the people.”
Matt’s efforts resulted in several companies in the triathlon industry helping her replace her bike and helmet. QUINTANA ROO, COBB SADDLES and Denver’s RUDY PROJECT have all committed to getting her back on the road as quickly as she can. CEO of Rudy Project North America, Paul Craig said, “All of us at Rudy Project send our best wishes and prayers to Phoebe for her speedy recovery. To help Phoebe get back on her bike and gear up for the road ahead we will donate 20% off all sales on E-Rudy.com in the month of April using the code PHOEBE at checkout and get a 30% discount.
Phoebe knows it could’ve been a lot worse and said to 303Triathlon, “I just want to thank the triathlon community for all the support they have shown. I also want to take this opportunity to say that I was doing all the right things as a cyclist, yet it doesn’t guarantee safety. Take precautions and invest in a good helmet, mine probably saved my life. As for vehicles, they need to take equal responsibility when sharing the road.”
Longmont Times Call article commenting on IBM security footage of the accident held by Colorado State Patrol here