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

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

Chris Leiferman and Sam Long in for Daytona as Wildcards!

Boulder, October 23–Yesterday the Professional Triathlete Organisation (PTO) announced the final wildcard selection the PTO Championship in Daytona in December and Boulder’s Chris Leiferman was selected. Also selected was Lucy Hall, Chris Simone Mitchell and James Cunnama.

Earlier this week, in case you missed it, the PTO announced Sam Long, Danielle Dingman, Magnus Ditlev and Renee Kiley will be racing in Daytona.

Sam Long (photo: Kenny Withrow)

Sam Long commented, “The PTO 2020 Championship is going to be epic, and I am thrilled to have been selected to be a part of it. It is fantastic professionals have all come together to form the PTO. This will be the greatest race EVER, and the best thing about it is that this is OUR race and the PTO is OUR organization. I am ready to give triathlon fans the race they have all been waiting for

Chris Leiferman

Chris Leiferman, said, “I am excited about being awarded a wildcard slot at the PTO 2020 Championship. With the calibre of the field, it will be the event of a lifetime. As the first event that has been organized by PTO Professionals, it is a historical moment for our sport, and it is an absolute honor to be part of it.”

Charles Adamo, Executive Chairman of PTO, commented, “Our final wildcard selections could not have been more difficult. There were many talented and qualified athletes to choose from. We very much wish we could have selected them all. We are satisfied that the wildcard selections represent a good balance from our criteria of top ITU talent, professionals whose ranking does not accurately represent their historical performances, and the newer, up-and-coming professionals. These were not easy decisions to make, but we think the result clearly delivers the greatest field ever assembled for a triathlon event.”

Heather Jackson and Chris Leiferman Take on Star Studded Cycling Field at Old Man Winter Rally, Feb 9th

BOULDER, CO. (February 4th, 2020) – Boulder County got almost a foot of snow on Monday and Tuesday, but that will not stop a record numbers of winter adventurers from taking on the challenge of the Old Man Winter Rally. The world’s best gravel bike racers will face off in Lyons, Colorado this Sunday, February 9th to see who can conquer the winter elements and elite competition at the 2020 Sufferfest Beer Co. Old Man Winter Rally. The 6th annual bike and running event will be a celebration of snow, mud, sweat, and adventure, including a 50km and 100km bike course along with a 10 km run course.  

Attracting athletes from 25 states, the 100K bike course will be a who’s who of top cyclists and triathletes:

  • Colin Strickland – Male winner of the Dirty Kanza 200
  • Amity Rockwell – Female winner of the Dirty Kanza 200A
  • lex Howes – Male US National Road Race Champion and Pro Tour RiderRuth Winder – 2020 Tour Down Under Champ, Female US National Road Race Champion
  • Pete Stetina -Male winner of the Belgian Waffle Ride
  • Sarah Sturm – Female winner of Belgian Waffle Ride, Cyclocross Single Speed National ChampIan Boswell – Pro Tour racer
  • Heather Jackson – Ironman World Champion top 10 finisher
  • Chris Leiferman – Ironman World Champion top 10 finisher
  • Erin Huck – US National Mountain Bike Team, 2020 Olympic contender
  • Yannick Eckmann – Defending Champion

Old Man Winter Rally The elite competition and inclimate weather will make for a unique Colorado race day experience. The increased cash prize purse of $4300, equally split between male and female winners also has helped draw top athletes. However, the Old Man Winter Rally’s reputation as a challenging, fun, and well-supported event is what brings back participants each year.  “Old Man Winter is all about gearing up for winter adventure, having fun with your buddies, and enjoying a great party at the finish line” says, Josh Kravetz, the event’s founder and President of Adventure Fit, a Boulder-based Active Entertainment event company. Registration is still open for the event.

For those not competing, the top of the Rowena trail (off CO Rd 83) and Old Stage will be great spectating locations – showing off the variety of terrain the riders will challenge. Early February in Colorado can bring spring conditions, or mid winter snow. This year, racers will likely face winter’s more inclement weather with temps in the 30’s and plenty of snow on the roads and trails. All athletes will be supported with well-stocked aid stations with CLIF products, Nuun hydration, Justin’s nut butters, and more. The after party in Lyons is open to all, with bonfires, s’mores, cold Sufferfest beer, and Cyclhops warm food for sale. Join in on the winter adventure! Registration and additional event information is online at: www.OldManWinterRally.com