Boulder 70.3, Course Record Smoked, Electric Crowd, Close Women’s Pro Race

By Bill Plock

BOULDER–Aug 7th 2021–Through the haze and smoke in Boulder emerged a clear winner—the sport of triathlon. The male winner, Sam Long who grew up a few miles away, capped a perfectly imperfect day by setting a new course record. The temperature, cooler than predicted, helped keep the day from blowing up. The winds and smoke played havoc with some, but they ushered in many stories and memories on a course shared by a recent Olympian, top pro’s and 2,500 age group athletes from all over the country. 

Sam Long literally jumping for joy

Emma Pallant-Browne won the women’s race and moved up six spots in the PTO rankings making her an almost shoe-in for a captains pick (to be announced Thursday) for the upcoming Collins Cup. Not only did she take home $7,500 for winning Saturday, she will make at least $18,000 by making the European Collins Cup team. 

Emma Pallant-Browne

Olympian Taylor Knibb’s debut performance at a 70.3 could hardly be called beginners luck finishing second, but she did learn a few things like needing to master the water cup grab; check out this interview with her. It will be interesting if she might be a captains pick for the Collins Cup even though her ranking puts her far out of the field (because she has been racing short, ITU races).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgPCrcBc7eQ

Erin Carson and Taylor Knibb

Another fun story in the pro field was the return to racing for Chelsea Sadaro only a few months after giving birth. Due to the PTO holding rank for maternity leave, with her 6th place finish she secured a spot in the Collins Cup, so again a nice pay day for the new mom. 

In the mens field, Sam Appleton took an early lead and held on until part-way through the bike when Sam Long overtook him and widened the gap on his way to the win and setting the course record. Long called this his “redemption race” after not having his best races in his hometown.

Said Long, “Winning at home was just extra special. It was my first IRONMAN and where my journey started. It feels like I have come full circle now. It’s more fun to win at home as I know everyone, and where to party after!” When asked about the upcoming Collins cup and being the number one ranked American, “I’m not feeling that much pressure, nobody expects me to beat Jan, although I’m excited to try! I think it’s going to be an amazing event and I’m looking forward to the battle format. The lack of drafting will suite me!”

Collin Chartier

The surprise in the mens field came from Collin Chartier who finished 3rd. Colin has moved up in the rankings over a 100 places in the last year. Currently he sits at 52nd having moved up 59 places this season! He is clearly coming on having finished 2nd in Des Moines just a few weeks ago. 

The wall of smoke erased the views of majestic mountains and the Flatirons and Boulder Reservoir felt like a deserted island with a few thousand people milling around waiting for the athletes to emerge from the outlying course. With food trucks and lots of tents it felt like a long picnic in the hazy sky.  

The smoke didn’t dampen the energy and enthusiasm to be racing again and many commented how excited they were to be on the same course with Taylor and so many pro’s. 

It’s truly what makes triathlon unique, age groupers racing with the best on the same course at the same time in the same conditions. Add in the presence of a recent a Silver Medalist, the atmosphere felt unusually motivating. 

Here is a good video from Sam Long sharing some details of how his race went. Fun to hear him share his strategy!

Most Compelling IRONMAN Ever in Boulder, Here’s Why

By Bill Plock

IRONMAN Boulder 70.3 is usually a big deal. And it usually is one of the biggest races in all of IRONMAN. But the 2021 race might be the most compelling ever. Especially in the pro field. 47 men and 37 women will by vying for spots not only in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships, but some will be battling to get a spot at the coveted PTO Collins Cup in Slovakia on August 28th with some major money and notoriety at stake. Boulder is the last qualifying race for the Collins Cup.

The field is stacked with some top pro‘s like Sam Long, Sam Appleton, Chris Leiferman, Tyler Butterfield (all live and train in Boulder) all ranked in the top 30 in the world. Sam Long is the number one ranked American (according to PTO rankings) while Sam Appleton is the third ranked International for the Collins Cup. Chris Leiferman is 5th for the Americans and 1 point out of being an automatic qualifier. If he has a good race he could jump ahead of Ben Kanute and automatically make the team. Tyler Butterfield is 5th for the Internationals.

For the women it’s equally compelling with Skye Moench the number one ranked American battling Britains Emma Pallant, the sixth ranked European and Jeanni Metzler the fourth ranked International. Jeanni is barely ahead of Australia’s Sarah Crowley in the Collins Cup ranking and will need to have a good race to keep her automatic spot. That should create some exciting dynamics where the race matters on many levels. Meredith Kessler and Lesley Smith, ranked 7th and 8th for the American team and Emma Pallant who is 6th for the European team have a lot to possibly gain by good showings in Boulder. And lastly, keep an eye out for Chelsea Sodaro, she is ranked 11th in the world but hasn’t raced this season due to maternity leave. But with the PTO’s policy on holding rank, with a good showing at Boulder, she could be heading to the Collins Cup as well. 

The PTO’s Collins Cup will take the top four athletes automatically and two more will be chosen by the captains of the US team, the European team and the International team.

Throw into all of that, you have Taylor Knibb fresh off her silver medal performance in Tokyo racing. She is not known as a 70.3 athlete, but with her speed, youth and fitness coming off the Olympics, she could really make things interesting.

But there are many pro’s in field who also live in Boulder and no doubt some fun rivalries and hometown pride will keep it close. If there were odds, Sam Long would probably be favored but don’t be surprised is someone else is on top of the podium with so many factors at play. 

Keep an eye out for Olympian Andy Potts who is participating in the upcoming Paralympics guiding for Kyle Coon and is at the top of his game. Boulders Justin Metzler, Joe Gambles, and Kennett Peterson might emerge near the lead as well, and keep an eye out for Speedo sensation, Boulder native Colin Laughery who always relishes a chance to race at home.

And for Sam Long, born in raised in Boulder, in his most recent video getting ready for this race he says, “I’m the hometown boy coming after this race.” This was Sam’s first pro race years ago and he says he hasn’t had his best race in Boulder yet. He would like to make this years race his best Boulder effort since his first one as an 18 year old in 2014. Fun video here with many of the pro’s and a brief discussion with race director Julie Coleman

The race can be watched on IRONMAN Live here starting tomorrow at 6:50am: https://www.facebook.com/IRONMANnow/

Or come to the Boulder Reservoir tomorrow and check it out. Food trucks and lots of energy will be waiting for you. More on spectator transportation here: https://www.ironman.com/im703-boulder-athletes

Boulder IRONMAN 70.3 Packed Pro Field

By Bill Plock

Professional triathlete and second place finisher of the Boulder IRONMAN in June, Kennett Peterson isn’t sure exactly why he has so many competitors tomorrow, but no doubt the start list is impressive. It includes some notable international names and local pros who have won here before—Ben Hoffman, Andy Potts, Tyler Butterfield, Josh Amberger, Justin Daerr, Chris Leiferman, Sam Long, Meredith Kessler, Danielle Mack, Linsey Corbin, Maggie Rusch, Lesley Smith to name a few.

All in all, 44 men and 24 women pros signed up. The actual start line will probably be smaller as often pros sign up far in advance and then adjust their schedules for many reasons.

Kennett suggested a couple of things are probably adding to the large field. One it’s local and many pro’s live and and train in Boulder. Traveling to race is expensive and the prize purses aren’t deep enough to make it cost effective to always travel. Also, the IRONMAN race calendar is not that full right now after a packed June and early July schedule. A 70.3 right now is a great time to start a final push for those racing in Kona in a couple of months.

If you want to see some great racing this weekend, come to the Boulder Reservoir tomorrow!