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303Endurance Podcast

Jun 11, 2021

A few weeks back we had Taylor Knibb on the show after her gold performance at Yokohama. She gave a lot of credit to the coaching of Ian O'Brien.  This week we have Coach Ian O'Brien of Origin Performance joining us to talk about his work with Taylor and his squad of Olympic team and hopefuls.


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In Today's Show

  • Feature interview - Ian O'Brien
  • Endurance News - Alistair Brownlee DQ'd for Unnecessary Roughness on the Swim Leeds, Iron Cowboy going for 100
  • What New in the 303 - Letter to the Editor of Triathlete
  • Video of the Week - Leeds Highlights



Interview Sponsor: UCAN

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Saw Tim O'Donnell has his hands on UCAN EDGE.  Each has 15g of SuperStarch Energy and 0g sugar.  They are not a gel consistency, which is awesome!  Is much more like a liquid.  Tear off the top and just rolled it up.  It wasn't sticky like gels.  The flavor is like the tropical orange flavor of the Energy SuperStarch powder.  I may  my extra test tubes of UCAN SuperStarch.


You put in the training, so don't let nutrition limit your performance.  Use UCAN in your training and racing to fuel the healthy way, finish stronger and recover more quickly!  Use the code 303UCAN for 20% off at or


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Interview with Coach Ian O'Brien

Ian O'Brien was the National Elite Coach of the Year for 2016, 2018 and 2019.  He is the owner at ORIGIN Performance ITU Triathlon Training Group.  He is a former Instructor, Trainer. Advisor and Mentor at West Point - The U.S. Military Academy.  He's a former Tip of the Spear Enforcer of Foreign Policy at British Army.


His credentials include:

ITU Specific Training group - designed to take development athletes to WTS podiums

British Triathlon Level III (USAT Level III equivalent)

USAT Level II (Tutor)

USAT Level II Coach

USAT Elite Mentorship Program Tutor

British Cycling Level II

UK Athletics CoachIQ+ Functional Science


Located: Boulder CO

Instagram - @ianobriencoaching

Facebook - @IanOBrienCoach



A sustainable, athlete-centered, coach-driven High Performance environment that positions Ian OBrien Coaching elite athletes to achieve the highest measures of success at major international competitions.


Post interview discussion

  • Corrected my pronunciation of Arzechena


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Endurance News:


Magnificent Maya Kingma wins first Series gold in Leeds

The Netherlands’ Maya Kingma became the queen of the north of England on Sunday afternoon, delivering a near-perfect race to take her first ever Series win at the World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds. Just as she had in the Yokohama season-opener, Kingma was able to break away on the bike, this time with Great Britain’s Jess Learmonth and Sophie Coldwell for company, and the three just grew and grew their lead. Coldwell hung on for a memorable first medal at the top level, but the day belonged to Kingma, who now finds herself top of the world rankings two races in.

The new-look WTCS Leeds course had a few surprises in store once the familiar 1.5km swim in Waterloo Lake had been negotiated, a long climb out of transition and 40km bike course entirely in Roundhay Park, before a 10km run that ended with a fierce incline and a tough finale.  With the swimming skills of British long-distance specialist Lucy-Charles Barclay - on the World Triathlon start list for the first time - and Jess Learmonth setting the pace, the swim strung out quickly, Kingma and Vittoria Lopes (BRA) both well in check with those out front.


Sophie Coldwell and Taylor Spivey (USA) completed a front six that managed to carve out a 30-second advantage by the closing stages, while Beth Potter (GBR) and Natalie van Coevorden (AUS) emerged from the second lap with Flora Duffy (BER) for company and ready to test herself on the return to racing.


While Learmonth, Coldwell and Kingma were on their bikes and up the first climb efficiently, Spivey, Charles-Barclay and Lopes dropped slightly back and could only form a trio just off the front three.  Potter was chasing to keep up with Duffy, while a third group further back included Katie Zaferes already over a minute back with Valerie Barthelemy (BEL), Amelie Kretz (CAN) and Carolyn Hayes (IRL).


Duffy road solo to bridge up to the three chasers and managed to get them organised by lap three, but by that point the damage was done and the gap to the second pack was already close to a minute, 90 seconds to to Potter and Britain’s Non Stanford’s group, two minutes to the likes of Laura Lindemann (GER) and Zaferes.  With two laps to go and the front three working so well, the gap grew to two minutes, and while the groups behind merged, there was now over three minutes to make up on the leaders.


Heading down into transition for the last time, Kingma was again into the run shoes fast and out looking fresh. Behind the leaders, Duffy again chose to go it alone and start to hunt down the podium solo after Spivey and Charles-Barclay struggled in T2. Hayes was also rolling the dice, Potter and Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) going through the gears and setting up a big finish.


As Coldwell dropped back it became a shootout for gold between Learmonth and Kingma, neither looking like slowing their pace. Duffy was flying but running out of course, her 10km split of 33’47 nearly 20 seconds faster than Potter who ran her way into the top 10 but couldn’t quite catch Spivey and Charles-Barclay.


It wasn’t until the final 500m that Kingma made her decisive move and by that point, Learmonth could not respond. Taking the final climb solo, the 26-year-old was able to soak up the moment, taking the tape with joy. Learmonth’s silver was a typically gutsy display, a delighted Coldwell finishing ten seconds behind her teammate to celebrate a first WTCS medal.


Duffy finished fourth, Charles-Barclay managed to out-pace Spivey to fifth, Potter, Beaugrand, Lindemann and Hayes rounding out the top ten.


You can see the full results here

Elite Men

Elite Women



Through pain and controversy, the ‘Iron Cowboy’ chases 100 triathlons in 100 days

“Iron Cowboy,” Lawrence aims to conquer 100 full-distance triathlons in 100 days. Set to finish Tuesday, he has said he wants to push the limits of human endurance while raising funds for an organization that claims to fight human trafficking.


His plan is simple, if maniacal: He hits the local pool at 5:30 a.m. and swims for about 90 minutes. Then he hops on his bike for a loop around Lindon that takes five or six hours. Then, after a break, he starts his daily marathon, which normally takes around seven hours. It all adds up to about 15 hours of daily exercise, which supporters can, and do, follow online or even in person.


Lawrence said his nails have fallen off and regrown over the length of the Challenge 100. (Matthew Norton)

But controversy has trailed him, too. Ironman, the corporation that owns the majority of triathlon events worldwide, has urged Lawrence not to use its brand name. Some triathletes have criticized his use of IV injections to stay hydrated, because a dose of more than 100 milliliters in a 12-hour period would be prohibited in a World Anti-Doping Agency signatory event. (WADA, which has no jurisdiction over Lawrence’s event, declined to comment.)


The beneficiary of his fundraising is controversial, too: Operation Underground Railroad is a nonprofit supported by former president Donald Trump that claims to fight human trafficking. It is under investigation by Utah prosecutors after reports surfaced of it falsely claiming credit for the results of operations. (In a statement, the organization said it followed the law and would cooperate with any investigation.)


Last month, on Day 87, Lawrence answered a video call wearing a red T-shirt, camouflage shorts, electric blue shades and a baseball hat. He was in the middle of that day’s marathon; some supporters flanked him as he walked. He quickly switched off the video and answered questions with the economy of a man in conservation mode. He felt “fantastic,” he said, but wanted to “only focus on the positive things,” such as “good times with family.”


Those have been harder to come by lately. In an interview, his wife, Sunny, said Lawrence is “perfectly miserable and ready for this thing to be done.” He is “always in pain,” she said, “and there’s always something that bothers him. He didn’t even start taking any pain relievers until two weeks ago.” He’s been walking the marathon since Day 3 or 4.


Image without a caption

Lawrence bikes on Day 17 of Conquer 100. His use of IVs has been divisive among triathletes. (Matthew Norton)

He knows well how to endure pain and carry on. He’s a former wrestler turned golfer who tried, unsuccessfully, to go pro. He started his endurance sports career with a four-mile run in 2004, followed by a marathon, then triathlons. In 2010, he set the world record by completing 22 half-distance triathlons in 33 weeks. Two years later, he completed 30 long-distance events in one year.


Sunny says his mental resilience has roots in wrestling and golf, but she adds that she never saw anything in her husband that showed such toughness until they lost their mortgage business — and their house and their car — in 2010.  “I hadn’t seen anything in our marriage to show any sign of mental grit until we hit the recession,” she said. “That’s when we had to pull together and, when he went into triathlon, saying he wanted to do some crazy stuff.”


In 2015, he took on a seemingly impossible challenge: 50 full triathlons in 50 days in 50 states, which he said he did to increase awareness of childhood obesity and raise money for the now-defunct Jamie Oliver Foundation. Lawrence, who now makes a living as a professional speaker, came under fire because the link for donations on his website didn’t work, though the foundation later confirmed it received the funds. The physical and logistical nightmare was portrayed in the documentary “Iron Cowboy: The Story of the 50:50:50.”




What's New in the 303:


An Open Letter to Editor of Triathlete Magazine After Bashing Boulder Tri Community

Dear Kelly O’Mara, Editor-in-Chief of Triathlete Magazine,


This letter, from me Bill Plock, owner of 303Endurance Network, a native of Colorado, a triathlete and an advocate is in response to your Editor’s Note in the May/June issue of Triathlete Magazine where you wrote:


When I first got ready to start this Editor’s Note, I was going to make fun of the Boulder Tri scene. I was going to tell you how I think it’s overrated and I don’t “get” it. I was going to poke to fun of the weirdly terrible bike paths and perpetual poor air quality. I was going to laugh at all the YouTube videos always being filmed everywhere you workout—as if the entire town is just a backdrop for social media… But then the day I started writing, a man with a gun walked into a grocery store here in town and shot 10 people…In reality, I still think the Boulder tri scene is silly. I’ll probably make fun of it again soon…


Where do I begin? Let’s see, using a mass murder shooting as a reason to not further bash the Boulder triathlon community, the athletes, and the people who work their asses off to provide infrastructure for safe routes for cyclists seems like a start. But wait, you did then go on to do exactly that… bash the Boulder community and the Boulder triathlon community anyway?


And then you go on to say you will probably make fun of Boulder again soon? Seriously? Why? Maybe you should spend some time in the community and apologize.


I realize this is your opinion and you are certainly entitled to it. However, as an industry representative speaking on a public platform to a wide audience – especially considering Triathlete’s recent partnership with USA Triathlon – your middle-school-bullying approach is damaging, offensive, and unprofessional.


To call the Boulder triathlon scene “overrated,” or triathletes (mostly pro’s) “silly” for making YouTube videos or bike paths “weird” or the air too polluted is simply outrageous.  Did you sit in town council meetings planning those bike paths? You were a pro triathlete, you know how hard sponsorships are, why bash athletes trying to make a social media effort? Where else would you like them to go? And the air pollution—sure, during fire season there are bad days, but you paint a picture for those outside of Boulder or Colorado that is wrong. (If you do the research, you will learn much of our air pollution is also a result of our high frequency of full sun days, combined with wind patterns from other states and countries.) Who are you to judge? 


Last I checked, Triathlete Magazine is part of Outside (formerly Pocket Outdoor Media) and is based in Boulder. Am I right? So you have chosen to make fun of the very community in which you work. Why make fun of professional triathletes making YouTube videos while training during a pandemic to try to be relative to their sponsors? Those same athletes who spend time on your podcasts or provide content for your readers and, like you, are trying to make a living in this industry not known to be lucrative. Aren’t we here to help each other?


Additionally, Triathlete Magazine’s reach to youth, first-time triathletes, Olympic hopefuls, and Team USA members are now among your front-row audience. You have wielded your PR wand in a terribly damaging and harmful way.


The Boulder bike path system is what makes Boulder one of the most bike friendly cities in the country. How many employees at Outside ride those trails? Did you know recently a sister publication of Outside graciously helped gather content for a cyclist killed a few miles south of Boulder to help the community heal? Do you know how hard it is to advocate for what you call, “those weirdly terrible bike paths” that undoubtedly save lives? What’s silly about that? Do you know the local advocacy team at Cyclists for Community? They are friends of mine because I ride with them. I take the time to know their mission. I would love to watch you tell them how silly those paths are at their next fund raiser.


So coming out of a pandemic with people anxious to race, and on the heels of a tragic shooting event, you call triathletes in Boulder silly? You call the triathlon community overrated? Overrated compared to what? Did you go to the Colorado Triathlon last weekend and feel the joy of athletes seeing each other again? Do you know Lance Panigutti of Without Limits and how hard he worked to save his business this past year? And you call him and the community overrated? How dare you.



Bill & Rich's Excellent [Endurance] Adventure

On Friday, your team of 8 friends will begin your journey of three challenging trail loops that start and finish back at Ragnar Village. When the sun sets and the moon comes out, the party keeps going as runners head to the trails in the dark for a spirit-quest, soul-searching, star-fueled night of running.


Experience true mountain running with snow-capped peak views, blooming wildflowers, ridge running, buffed-out trails, and even a little climbing (with a BIG pay-off). With its incredible views, the altitude definitely won’t be the only thing taking your breath away. Your whole team will finish together on Saturday, triumphantly, under the Ragnar arch with unforgettable memories and a bond to last a lifetime.





Video of the Week:

AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds - Elite Men




AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds - Elite Women



Upcoming Interviews

  • 5th at Arzachena, Matt McElroy joining us to talk about that race, his race this weekend in Leeds and the Olympic selection process.



Thanks again for listening in this week.  Please be sure to follow us @303endurance and of course go to iTunes and give us a rating and a comment.  We'd really appreciate it!

Stay tuned, train informed, and enjoy the endurance journey!