With the fastest bike split by nearly 10 minutes and the second fastest run of the day, Boulder’s Sam Long won IRONMAN Chattanooga yesterday, winning by nearly 10 minutes over second place finisher Matt Russell.
Earlier in the year the two battled at IRONMAN Boulder with Matt winning that day. Sam said in post race interview with Dave Downey, “I was up two hours every night for the last two weeks wondering how I am going to beat Matt.” Looks like the wee strategizing worked.
At about 40 miles into the bike, Sam pulled ahead and says, “I wasn’t planning to break away, but I looked back and everyone was gone so I said to myself, go with it!
Earlier in the year Sam won the Chattanooga 70.3 and he told the crowd yesterday, “two of my best days of my life are here, I want to come back here every year for the rest of my career!”
To learn his behind the scenes strategy read this article:
The last edition of IRONMAN Boulder featured two athletes in Matt Hanson (7:57) and Lauren Brandon (9:09) setting two course records on their way to victory. The other four podium spots were filled with Tim O’Donnell and first-time pro Kennett Peterson for the men and Lesley Smith and Danielle Mack for the women. All will be competing in Kona at the IRONMAN World Championships this fall. For Kennett and Danielle, this will be their first trip to the big island as professionals. Danielle won IRONMAN Boulder in 2014. Says Danielle, “I’ve been a professional for 7 years, won 3 Ironman’s and have never competed in Kona….thank God!”
The story of the day might be Kennett Peterson who until yesterday hadn’t competed in a full-distance IRONMAN or even ran a marathon! He settled in on the bike early in the race in second place and never relinquished that position. Tim O’Donnell lead through the bike segment with Kennett, Sam Sam Long jostling for second and third and Matt Hanson right behind. The race took shape on the run with Hanson running everyone down with a 2:48 marathon, O’Donnell dropping back with a 3:05 and Peterson held tight with a 2:54. Colorado’s Tripp Hipple crossed in forth place with Boulder native Sam Long rounding out the top five.
The women’s race featured and course breaking swim time of 48:43 and course breaking overall time of 9:09 by Texas’s Lauren Brandon. It was her first IRONMAN 104.6 victory. Says Brandon, “got my Kona spot, and I’m ecstatic!” Off the bike she was 37 minutes ahead of the field, but “with the likes of Lesley Smith running, I knew I had to have a big lead.” Boulder’s Smith indeed had a fast run of 3:11 narrowing the gap by nearly 25 minutes. Smith chased down the field passing seven others on her way to second.
The “Flatiron wars” are complete and was a great battle fought during the last IRONMAN to be held in Boulder. A bittersweet day and much more to come on that!
The infamous “Iron War” in 1989 between Dave Scott and Mark Allen at the IRONMAN World championship in Kona is considered one of the greatest endurance races of all time. But this years IRONMAN Boulder is shaping up to have it’s own legendary finish in the pro’s race and what better way to possibly celebrate the last six years of this race? The “Flat Iron War” is about to begin, buckle up!
There are any number of pros with a good shot to win, but tomorrow, six pro men and two pro women who live and train in Boulder will battle it out. Three of them, Tim O’Donnell , Justin Daerr and Danielle Mack have won IRONMAN Boulder.
Also competing is two time Olympian, top five finisher in Kona, Tyler Butterfield. Now add in a rising star, Boulder native, Sam Long who has won two 70.3’s this year (Victoria just a week ago) with the other Boulder native and “speedo man” Colin Laughery (303 video) and his contagious love of triathlon with Kennett Peterson (303 video) making his pro debut tomorrow and we have the unofficial “Flat Iron War”.
In the women’s race, local pro and Boulder native, 2014 Ironman Boulder Champion Danielle Mack will battle it out with Boulder’s Lesley Smith (303video) in what will surely be a great competition on this final stage.
This will be a fun race to watch. Click on their names to go to their websites and learn more about these amazing athletes!
The champion of Sunday’s race will be the last champion for the foreseeable future of a full-distance IRONMAN race in Boulder. For us at 303 Endurance Network, parent of 303Triathlon, it’s been an amazing 6 years of covering and racing this race.
The first race director of IRONMAN Boulder, Dave Christen shared his thoughts saying, “IRONMAN Boulder has been such a great event because of the people who raced it and those amazing volunteers who put the race on. Between Dan, Tim, and myself as the different Race Directors of the event for the 6 years, we all agree we have only played a very small role. The City of Boulder, Boulder County, and Colorado State Patrol, all hosted a world class event in a world class city. We are excited about the changes in the IRONMAN calendar as we are seeing athletes gravitating towards new experiences and new host communities. Boulder will always be in the IRONMAN calendar in some form and we are are proud of the athletes who raced one of the most beautiful and challenging courses in the series. I personally want to say thank you to everyone who played a role in the event and for those that provided such honest and constructive feedback over the years. I wanted it to be a race dictated by the athletes and I can say we did that. Congratulations to everyone who has and will conqour this race! “
Sunday’s race should be iconic with three former champions racing the men’s and women’s pro field and Boulder native pros Sam Long, Colin Laughery and Danielle Mack competing.
For us at 303Triathlon, this race has been our “Super Bowl” and covering it with the iconic Boulder creek path “flux capacitor” run course, the downtown finish line, and the amazing support of so many local triathletes made the atmosphere simply electric.
No doubt the race had declined in popularity and there are many possible reasons for that. When you look at the national landscape and see the decline in participation in some long standing races and the increase in participation in new venues, it seems to support how athletes do like different choices. Some races will be returning to their origins such as St. George and Penticton. So who knows, maybe a return to Boulder is possible someday.
A few of our favorite stories from over the years:
In one place, at one time, you will have a chance to hear about five amazing people, how they approach life, triathlons, and how they shape the experiences of fellow athletes and fans. Maybe there will be some good tips for those racing Sunday! Newton Running is hosting this opportunity to hear these stories at 2pm at their store at 3655 Frontier Ave, Boulder, CO 80301
The panel of athletes includes:
Craig Alexander, three-time world IRONMAN World Champion. Learn about his path and what’s it’s like to win it all.
Chris McDonald, multi-time Ironman champion and founder of Big Sexy Racing. Learn about his journey to becoming a champion and who he transformed himself and wanted to inspire others.
The Pease brothers–the team of brothers who conquered Kona last year. Kyle has cerebral palsy and Brent pulls him in the swim, on bike trailer and pushes him in the run. Check out this ARTICLE
Andrea Ramos, from Mexico and of “Mortal Athlete” is part of a movement to involve others in sport and share her passion.
Newton’s own Andrew Maxwell will lead the panel and there will be time for some Q & A. I asked Andrew what he most hopes to learn tomorrow and he said, “I want to really find out their why and what legacy they hope to leave behind in this sport we all love.”
Should be fun, and there will be some prizes and raffles, get there early!
Ironman Boulder is almost HERE! So if this is your first 140.6-mile race or if you are doing Boulder for the first time, this is a MUST-LISTEN podcast Chaskis founder and Dig Deep Podcast host, Hugo Mendez, invited experienced Boulder-based coach Eric Kenney to share his knowledge and advice on how to have a great Ironman Boulder! Eric has great advice on several key topics like pacing yourself, especially if you are racing at altitude, nutrition, the course, logistics, how to have a smart bike ride and solid marathon, key sections of the race, logistics and more.
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!
Do you have the Ironman “blues”? Do they happen or even exist? I’ve decided the blues are a result of losing a very predictable slice of life in the form of calculated training replaced by general life with full unpredictability. Now we are left with a void of something known transformed into the unknown and the anxiousness that happens. Is it that??
Each race, each event teaches us something. For me, Ironman Boulder came with a few surprises and one dark moment that almost resulted in a DNF next to my name. An unusually relaxed and well navigated swim led to a good start on the ride. But then the wheels fell off.
About 65 miles in, I just wanted to lay down and sleep. I kept looking at each shady spot on the side of the road like it was the most amazing bed to ever greet my eyes. I became obsessed. I slowly crawled into a dark space of quit and craving sleep. Just quit. Go away. Be quiet. Rest for another day. The bike is where I usually do my best. My legs wouldn’t push, my heart began to slow. My speed dropped.
Then my guardian angel, and as it turns out, a baby was born to her only 7 days after, saved my race.
303’s long time ambassador and Kona qualifier Kirsten Smith, obviously quite pregnant, stood on 65th just north of Nelson road. She greeted me with a cheer and uncharacteristically I stopped to say hi. Just an excuse to stop, I was looking for any excuse. She crossed the road and grabbed my shoulders felt my gritty hot skin caked in salt but with no moisture at all and told me to get going—emphatically! I think she wanted to slap me noticing I had a bottle and a half of water on my bike that could’ve been used to douse my body. The next aid station wasn’t that far so why have so much water? She urged me to continue and use that water. She shook me from delirium and onwards I went. I clipped in and continued, head pounding and feeling frustrated but so thankful for Kirsten’s intervention.
This is where the dry air deceives you. I was hydrated, but with humidity of less than 10% and 96 degree heat with a hot wind blowing in our faces, our sweat immediately evaporated starving our bodies of any way to cool naturally. I decided to stop in the shade and took all that water and drenched myself. Then I started to ride. I started to cool and feel more normal. The next aid station, an oasis only a couple of miles ahead greeted me. I loaded up, drenched myself more and continued on regaining my normal pace. I had done it, I crawled out of the hole and knew, even if I had to walk, my day would finish hearing Mike Reilly proclaiming my name as an Ironman.
I’m confident I now have more confidence when adversity strikes. Now I have Haute Route in three days with its daunting week long, 523 miles and 52,000 feet of ascension staring me in the face. The ride starts in Boulder, heads to Winter Park, then to Avon, off to Breckenridge with a final stage riding up Pikes Peak.
Seven days of early starts, possible cold rain, steep roads, and who knows what else will greet us. I’m hoping my “dig out” from Ironman’s pain cave will push me through any difficulties and hopefully I won’t need a guardian angel, but if so, I hope there is one somewhere. Kirsten is a little busy being a first time mom, with all kinds of unpredictability!
We at 303 send her our best wishes of course and I’ll sprinkle those with an amazing amount of gratitude I’ll never forget!
Onwards….and upwards! Stay tuned for daily coverage of the Haute route and a course preview in the next couple of days
As a four-time IRONMAN finisher, I’ve really enjoyed being on the other side of the proverbial “fence.” Not only does it give you a way to experience the race without all the training, but the change in perspective gives you a true appreciation of all the moving parts that makes race day happen.
Being behind the lens and capturing so many special moments, you realize there are stories with each grimace, smile, sigh, and hug. One by one as they crossed the finish line, I couldn’t help think about how they’ve been through hell and back…and not just on race day. But every day since the submit button on the registration form was pushed. Because of this I feel some level of responsibility in capturing as many moments as I can, and because of this I thought it would be a good idea to put these thoughts to paper (well, the internet in this case) and share with you all some things I’ve learned and experienced as an amateur race photographer. So here are a few considerations, including some that I’ve shared with the athletes I coach, for the next time you race, spectate, or volunteer at an event.
Smile. Especially if a camera is pointed at you. You’ll soon forget about all the pain, even if it’s for a quick moment. Otherwise, you’ll have this not so pleasant look in all your race photos and someone will probably hijack it and incorporate it in a meme, or ship you some Metamucil for Christmas. You don’t want that, do you?
Finish Line Catchers. If you’re waiting for your person at the finish line, give them a few moments alone in the spotlight to celebrate their accomplishment before rushing in to hug them. They’ve earned it. Plus, your backside will be forever etched in your friend’s finish line photo, ruining a perfect moment they spent the last 6-8 months training for. Don’t be a dream killer. There were a few times I just gave up and couldn’t take any photos because there were so many people congregating with an athlete. More is not always better in this situation. A volunteer actually heard an athlete tell their friend who was hugging her while jumping up and down, “I’m going to throw up on you if you don’t get off me.” So there’s that potential biological hazard to worry about too.
Sprinting to the Finish Line. Athletes, before you get to the finish line, look in front and behind you. Allow the person in front to have their 5 seconds of fame. Don’t go sprinting to the finish (which means you had way too much gas left in the tank, but that’s a different discussion). You’ll end up ruining finish line photos of two people. Your fellow athlete and YOURS! In this case, photo-bombing is not cool, so don’t do it. Unless you’re okay with being THAT guy…or in my case, that girl from Japan who sprinted past me in the finish line chute in Kona only to hear Mike Reilly call my name first, and then hers as an afterthought because she couldn’t wait. She will be forever known as THAT girl. Choose wisely folks.
Celebrate and Get Out of the Way! If there’s another athlete finishing behind you, be courteous and do your end-zone touchdown dance and clear out. The person behind you should also have the opportunity to celebrate their finish…WITHOUT you in their picture. A set of triplets crossed the finish line at IRONMAN Boulder and spent what seemed like an eternity dancing around the finish line arch. A friend of mine along with several other athletes, were completely robbed of their finish line moment because of these three guys. She was only planning on racing one IRONMAN, so there’s no redo. Thanks guys, thanks a lot.
Distractions. There is nothing more fun at a race than seeing so many friends out racing and spectating. However, there is a time and place for catching up. Working media at a race is an entirely different beast. Not only are we tracking our own friends, but we are also keeping tabs on professional and notable athletes. Time is of essence and we are constantly looking at our watches and athlete trackers. Figuring out where to be and what part of the course. Sometimes we have a short window to use the restroom or grab a quick bite. If we seem distracted and not paying attention to you, it’s not because we don’t care. We have a job to do and don’t want to miss out on capturing special race moments. At IRONMAN Boulder, each Colorado-based athlete had a 303 sticker on their race bib (we hope to continue this tradition). Our mission was to take as many photos of these athletes along with many others. Being ready to point and shoot while two people are chattering in each ear takes sensory overload to a different level.
Look Up and Leave the Garmin ALONE! No one on Strava is going to care that your Garmin went over by 20 seconds. Your official finish time will be based on your timing chip, not your GPS tracking device. And if you are wearing a cap or visor, look up. We can’t see your pretty/handsome face if you are looking down at the ground. There’s nothing there but red carpet, concrete, and puddles of puke from the last person whose friend wouldn’t stop jumping up and down and hugging him. Eyes up folks!
Even with all these tips, sometimes the best photos are those capturing the human spirit. You might think you look awful, but someone else might be inspired by that image. Try to look beyond the ratty hair, salt stained clothing, and sunburnt limbs. Because behind that crusty and rough exterior is an awesome story of how that person woke up one day and decided they were going to be an IRONMAN.
Khem Suthiwan is a 4-time IRONMAN finisher (Canada, Lake Tahoe, Arizona, and Kona), triathlon coach with Mile High Multisport, IRONMAN Foundation Ambassador Athlete, and staff content editor/media correspondent with 303 Endurance Network. In addition to triathlon, she also races for the Palmares Racing cycling team in road and cyclocross. She’s an avid skier, SCUBA dives, and as a Colorado resident since January 2001 – enjoys all things Colorado. On December 31, 2017, she reached Everest Base Camp (elev. 17,600′, 5,380m) after trekking for 8 days in Nepal. If she’s not racing, you can find her out on the course supporting her friends.