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

Hanson, Brandon win IM Boulder, but 4 Coloradans fill rest of Podium.

By Bill Plock

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!”

Kennett Peterson and wife Adelaide Perr

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!