ITU World Grand Final, Loads of Coloradans, Steph Popelar Defends Title

Lausanne, Switzerland…Many Coloradans are competing in this weekend’s ITU World Triathlon Grand Final featuring sprint and olympic distances and draft legal sprint distances along with many para categories.

Shannon Dee and Melissa Langworthy with 303’s Khem Suthiwan

Coloradans competing in the Elite, Junior and Para categories are:

Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.)
Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.)
Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.)

Liberty Ricca (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Allan Armstrong (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Allysa Seely (Glendale, Ariz.), Hailey Danz (Wauwatosa, Wis.), Kendall Gretsch (Madison, Wis.) — all resident athletes at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs

In the age groups, , Steph Popelar (F50-54, Elizabeth, Colo.), defends her world title. The rest of the age group Colorado athletes are:

Non-Draft Standard/Oly Dis AMES Taylor 33 MALE GOLDEN
Non-Draft Standard/Oly Dist Beckman Jeff 47 MALE Golden
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Caldwell Alicia 57 FEMALE Denver
Non-Draft Standard/Oly Dist DANDLEY Lori 65 FEMALE denver
Non-Draft Standard/Oly dist Dee Shannon 36 FEMALE Littleton
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance DEVINCENZO EVAN 24 MALE Arvada
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Dunn Michael 37 MALE Denver
Non-Draft Standard/Oly Dist Elliott Katie 39 FEMALE ASPEN
Non-Draft Standard and Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Framke Kirk 45 MALE Denver
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance HOBAN Jennifer J 48 FEMALE Parker
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Hodge Christeen 38 FEMALE Boulder
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Hoffmann Heidi 70 FEMALE Aspen
Non-Draft Standard/Oly Dist Isaacson Cora 18 FEMALE Superior
Non-Draft Standard and Draft-Legal Sprint Distance KOSTNER Barbara 71 FEMALE Lakewood
Non-Draft Standard/Oly Dist Laney Judith 66 FEMALE Denver
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Langworthy Melissa 39 FEMALE Denver
Non-Draft Standard/Oly Dist Lowry Danielle 32 FEMALE GOLDEN
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Maloney Melissa 53 FEMALE Durango
Non-Draft Standard and Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Mason Jonathan 43 MALE fort collins
Non-Draft Standard/Oly Dist MATTERN Tess 32 FEMALE FORT COLLINS
Non-Draft Standard/Oly Dist McDonald Laura 37 FEMALE Castle Rock
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance McLaughlin Neal 59 MALE CENTENNIAL
Non-Draft Standard and Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Meisner Stephanie 46 FEMALE greenwood village
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Myers Kristy 40 FEMALE Lakewood
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance NEELAN NANETTE 61 FEMALE Lakewood
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Orcutt Paige 29 FEMALE Morrison
Non-Draft Standard/Oly Dist Popelar Steph 52 FEMALE Elizabeth
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Swayze Jetson 34 MALE louisville
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Trujillo Charles 53 MALE Denver
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Valentyik Peter 50 MALE Boulder
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Vanderstoep Sandy 78 FEMALE Colorado Springs
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Waterman Robin 56 FEMALE Golden
Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Welber Jack 81 MALE Boulder
Non-Draft Standard and Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Wood Lockett 80 MALE Lyons

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

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 for coverage of U.S. performances in all events, and follow @TriathlonLive on Twitter for live updates during each race.

Eli Hemming of Kiowa To Compete in Worlds Saturday

The ITU World Championship, Olympic distance triathlon is this Saturday, August 31 in Lausanne, Switzerland. 303 will highlight a few Colorado athletes participating. Today we offer you some background on the top U.S. man at the 2018 Championship in Gold Coast, Australia, Colorado’s Eli Hemming.

Eli was a standout track and cross-country runner at Ponderosa High School, earning the Colorado 4A state title in cross country as a senior. He went on to run cross country for Metropolitan State University of Denver, where his older sister Brenna was on the women’s team. Hemming has become an athlete to watch leading in to the 2020 Olympic Games after having several breakthrough races on the ITU circuit over the past year. He was the top American male at the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia, finishing 16th. Later that year, he earned his first career ITU Triathlon World Cup medals, a silver in Miyazaki, Japan, and a bronze in Tongyeong, South Korea. Hemming then earned his first ITU World Cup victory in Tiszaujvaros, Hungary, in July of 2019. He was named the 2016 and 2017 USA Triathlon Under-23 Athlete of the Year, and the 2018 USA Triathlon Men’s Olympic/ITU Triathlete of the Year. 

Career Highlights

2019 Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup gold medalist
2018 Miyazaki ITU Triathlon World Cup silver medalist
2018 Tongyeong ITU Triathlon World Cup bronze medalist
2018 ITU Mixed Relay Series Nottingham gold medalist
Eight-time CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup medalist (5 golds, 2 silvers, 1 bronze)
Three-time CAMTRI Triathlon Mixed Relay American Championships medalist (1 gold, 2 silvers)
2018 Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon North American Championships gold medalist
2017 USA Triathlon U-23 National Champion
2017 Sarasota CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Championships silver medalist
2016 West Des Moines CAMTRI Triathlon U23 American Championships silver medalist
2016 Nyon FISU World University Triathlon Championship men’s team bronze medalist
2013 Vila Velha PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championships junior men’s silver medalist

Elite Triathlon Career

2019: Finished 13th at the Dam an World Triathlon Abu Dhabi on March 8 • Earned silver as a member of the U.S. Mixed Relay team at the Daman World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series Abu Dhabi on March 9 • Finished 39th at the ITU World Triathlon Yokohama on May 18 • Finished in 9th as a member of the U.S. Mixed Relay team at the Hamburg ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships on July 7 • Won gold at the Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup on July 14 • Placed 27th at the Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event on Aug. 16

2018: Earned his first two career ITU Triathlon World Cup medals with a bronze in Tongyeong on Oct. 27 and a silver in Miyazaki on Nov. 10 • Placed 16th at the Sarasota-Bradenton ITU Triathlon World Cup, which was held as a duathlon, on Oct. 13 • Led the U.S. men with a 16th-place finish at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia, on Sept. 12 • Finished 23rd at ITU World Triathlon Hamburg on July 14 • Placed 20th at ITU World Triathlon Leeds on June 10 • Was part of the gold-medal-winning U.S. team at the first-ever ITU World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series event in Nottingham, England, on June 6, teaming up with Kirsten Kasper, Matt McElroy and Katie Zaferes • Took fifth at the Cagliari ITU Triathlon World Cup on June 2 • Placed 11th at ITU World Triathlon Bermuda on April 28 • Was part of the gold-medal-winning mixed relay team at the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon North American Championships on March 11 • Started the season with victories at the Clermont CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup on March 3 and the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon North American Championships on March 10 

2017: Earned a silver medal in the men’s elite race and was part of the silver-medal-winning mixed relay team at the Sarasota CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon and Mixed Relay American Championships • Took the win at the Hamilton CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup • Placed seventh at the Cagliari ITU Triathlon World Cup • Finished 38th at ITU World Triathlon Leeds • Won gold at the West Des Moines CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup, earning the USA Triathlon U-23 national title in the process • Placed 26th at ITU World Triathlon Edmonton • Took 14th at the ITU Under-23 World Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands • Placed 23rd at the Sarasota-Bradenton ITU Triathlon World Cup

Renown Olympic Cycling & Triathlon Coach Neal Henderson Toes the Line in Penticton, Wins Big

By Neal Henderson, Reprinted with Permission

Sending out a massive thank you to my family – especially Jane, Abby & Renee for the support as I traveled to yet another race…but this time with a focus on trying to get the best out of myself on the course at the 2017 ITU Aquabike world championships in Penticton, Canada.

Last year when the ITU announced the inclusion of Aquabike (basically triathlon without the run – just swim 🏊🏼 & bike 🚴🏻) at this year’s long distance & multisport world champs in Canada I knew I had to go for it.

Way back in 1998 I had placed 2nd in my age-group at the XTERRA World Champs in Maui, and I always wanted another chance at an age-group world title. (Yeah, I’m nuts.)

To qualify for the race this year, we had to qualify in November of 2016 at the USA Triathlon Aquabike national champs at the MiamiMan race in Florida. I had kept in touch with a former roommate from my graduate school days coaching the CU Triathlon Club team at CU-Boulder who is now Dr. Timothy James in Portland, OR – and convinced him to join me & try to qualify.

Even though I was pretty shot from an exhausting 2015-2016 Olympic cycle getting athletes ready to compete in Rio, and then hitting the presentation circuit last fall to share some of the work we with coaches at USA Cycling & USA Triathlon coaching clinics, as well as to business folks sharing our development & use of technology from IBM to help our Team USA women’s team pursuit squad earn Silver in Rio I found just enough fitness to quality for Penticton, as did Tim. I was 4th in my age-group there…good enough, but I knew I could do better.

I was very clear about my goal of shooting for the top step of the podium today until Thursday night…when I noticed the name Stephen Sheldrake of New Zealand on the start list. Steven was also an elite triathlete back when I raced as an elite…and he was clearly faster back then. (Like 24 minutes faster than me at a 2002 draft legal ITU race we both did in St. Kitts)

I checked out his results on the ITU website & noticed that he won this year’s world masters triathlon champs in the 40-44 age group as well as winning the Aquathlon (swim + run) world champs here in Penticton on Friday…so Stephen was definitely going to be fast.

Today’s swim was 3K long…and the few swims that I was able to get in “with” the APEX Coaching crew (okay, definitely hanging on for dear life at the back) had prepared me reasonably well. Unfortunately, I didn’t put together my best work in the water and exited in 9th or 10th place in the age group…about 8 minutes behind the leader (Stephen, of course).

I got on the bike and started out hitting my power & speed goals without straining, so I knew things were going well. The long distance triathlon athletes were also on the same course and had started before us, so there was plenty of passing to be done.

About 40km into the 120km bike a tall guy from Canada who was in my age-group went by me. I tried to keep him in sight, but he rolled away through one of the busier parts of the course…and I never saw him again. Dang.

I was pretty sure that there were still other guys in my age-group ahead so I just kept the pressure on the pedals & held a good pace averaging 40 km/hr (24.8 miles/hour for non SI folks).

On the second hilly lap of the bike course I was able to keep basically the same effort while lots of athletes who had been in front of me started to fade. I got stung by a bee on my left inner thigh…and once a very long time ago on a bike ride I got stung by something and had a full emergency room required anaphylactic reaction…so I started getting a little concerned.

Fortunately after a couple of minutes nothing bad happened, so I resumed the flogging full bore. I was absolutely smashing myself in the final 10km hoping that I might see the tall Canadian or Stephen in the distance – as I wasn’t going down without a fight.

By this point my stomach wasn’t super interested in the intensity of effort that I was putting out after nearly 4 hours of racing and there was a bit of a GI rebellion going on. Sorry to anyone that I passed on those final few miles as I was definitely losing some weight along the side of the course.

As I finally approached the finish line, I knew that at least Stephen & the Canadian (McNaughton was his last name…I kept repeating in my mind some stupid car commercial that I’ve heard too many times – “Big Mike Naughton is Ford…” because it rhymed with McNaughton…and my racing brain gets pretty stupid – would have finished ahead of me. I was just hoping that somehow I had finished on the podium.

As I got to the transition there were two bikes on the rack…indicating that maybe I was 3rd. I waited for Tim to finish in the transition area and then we pitted ourselves off in an unofficial and completely stupid & pointless final 50 Meter sprint together down the ITU blue carpet finish line (our official time for the Aquabike was taken just before we entered transition so when we actually crossed the finish line was irrelevant). I’m probably going to be most sore from that tomorrow. And Tuesday. And maybe Wednesday, too.

About 30-minutes later I pulled up the online results at and my heart sank a little.


And 4th is NOT the worst place…as I’ve learned as a coach of many athletes who have finished 4th at major events (like the Olympics), but 4th is one of the most difficult positions to finish.

So, I was a little bummed…but I had given everything I had in me and was okay with 4th. Then, as I looked a little closer I noticed that I was actually 4th overall…and 3rd in the 40-44 age group, so I was psyched again. And as much as I would have loved to be a couple spots higher on the podium, I’m happy with what I did and might even be content. For now.

Which for those who know who ridiculously competitive I am, is definitely saying something. So thanks again to my more than patient wife for letting me indulge my silly competitive obsessions and as well thank you to all the coaches and athletes at APEX Coaching who inspire me and keep me in my place…at least most of the time. I think.

Thanks to everyone at USA Triathlon for keeping things smooth and organized both in the lead up and to everything here in Penticton.

And, much more importantly a HUGE congratulations a couple of phenomenal APEX Coaching athletes: new father Joe Gambles who took a stellar 3rd place in the men’s elite ITU Long Distance Triathlon here today and to Ellen Hart who won her 3rd world title in the women’s 55-59 age group in the Long Distance Triathlon to go with her two Duathlon ( standard and draft-legal) world titles & her silver medal in the Aquathlon earlier this week here in Penticton.