Sep 25, 2021
This week we are breaking down St. George and have local athlete Diana Hassel to share her race report. Diana is one of the most successful amateur triathletes in the world. She is the 2017 Hawaii Ironman Champion W50-54.
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In Today's Show
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Interview with Diana Hassel
Diana M Hassel, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, Dipl. ACVECC
Professor & Equine Section Head
Equine Emergency Surgery & Critical Care
Diana is one of the most successful amateur triathletes in the world. She is the 2017 Hawaii Ironman Champion W50-54. Over the years she has become an advocate for training smart and she really enjoys helping triathletes who seek her advice. It was only normal for her to join our coaching staff in 2015.
Diana discovered her passion for triathlon later in life, having competed in her first triathlon at age 29. As a child she ran cross country and track and has been an avid master's swimmer and competitor since 1986. Diana is also a cat 2 cyclist and has held age group titles in the Colorado State Time Trial Championships, Road Race Championships and Best All Around Rider. She began competitive cycling during her PhD training at UC Davis that readily translated into successful triathlon performances. She has extensive experience with both heart rate and power training for the bike.
Her knowledge of training methods and her vast experience in racing combined with her unparalleled results will be a great asset to SmartTriathlonTraining. Diana is one of the most decorated athletes with 10 Hawaii Ironman age group podium awards including one World Championship. Diana will be helping all of our athletes on our internal “ask the coach” page. Her career as a surgeon and criticalist in veterinary medicine with a PhD in Comparative Pathology and lifelong fascination with exercise physiology and nutrition adds to her coaching expertise. Diana lives in Ft Collins Colorado with her husband, Dean, who is also a triathlete, and her daughter Mikayla, an avid horseperson.
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Posted on September 21, 2021
By Bill Plock
The authentic joy Lucy Charles Barclay beamed to the world the second she broke the tape is something I’ll never forget. It gave me goosebumps and seemed deep seated, especially as she came to hug her husband with tears running down her face. I have never seen or felt such happiness.
Barclay, like all the athletes battled very unusual weather with a down pour of rain and hail and lightening that threatened the race. With a Barclay comfortably in the lead all day, she knew she was having “a day” and said at the press conference recalling her thoughts, “they better not cancel this race!”
Gustav Iden of Norway didn’t quite lead the entire way but went to the front of the pack on the bike part way through and never looked back. Fellow countryman and gold medalist Kristian Blummenfelt was in that lead group when he suffered a serious mechanical failure with his wheel and fell out of contention. Boulder’s Sam Long, with a solid swim battled hard to ride into second place never did catch Iden. Iden won by 5 minutes retaining his World Champion status he gained after winning in Nice in 2019.
The second place finishes for Long and another Boulder resident, Jeanni Metzler may be a glimpse into the future of the sport. Just two years ago Long finish 26 minutes back and has kept a poster of Nice in his “pain cave” as motivation ever since. Metzler has been climbing the ranks and finished 3rd in Boulder a few weeks ago behind Taylor Knibb and Emma Palant Brown, but in St. George she beat both of them.
Metzler passed Knibb just a few minutes out saying later, “I didn’t want a sprint finish with Taylor as I don’t think that would’ve gone well.” Knibb finished about 30 seconds back and the two training partners and friends shared exuberant hugs in the finish area .
It felt like the finish area was filled with camaraderie and respect unlike any race I had seen before. This wasn’t “new blood” so to speak, but in way it felt like a new group of champions and future champions were making their mark in St. George. At the press conference, the top five male and female finishers all were under the age of 28. It’s a young group who genuinely seem to enjoy each other.
Of the ten, eight raced together at the Collins Cup just four weeks prior. When asked if that played into the feeling of camaraderie, Sam Long said, “I do think we all got to know each other there. It also could be because we are all pretty young, it was a bit of a different atmosphere. And I also think the sport is changing, where you can talk smack but in a friendly way and at the end everyone knows it is for fun.”
Besides Coloradans, Long, Metzler and Knibb, several age group athletes made it in the top five. In no particular order. Colleen D’Reuck, Diana Hassel, Mike Wein, Eric Long (Sam’s dad), and Sandi Wiebe.
So what about Kona maybe moving to St. George?
St. George is an iconic venue with massive hills to run up and down. And the ride up Snow Canyon provides a separation point (along with an amazing picturesque backdrop) just before athletes start their run. There is speculation that the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona will move in the future and St. George seems primed to be a top choice. It has all the features that make a world championship course with hills, weather exposure, and a welcoming community and a downtown finish with plenty of potential to the house larger crowds seen in Kona. It is certainly more accessible than Kona and far less expensive for athletes, spectators and industry supporters.
Sand Hollow reservoir is great for the swim with plenty of room for transition. In Kona the iconic pier is busting at the seams with room (barely) for 1,800 athletes. In St. George 4,200 athletes competed. Undoubtedly the age group women probably don’t love the current format with the last group starting their swim at almost 10 o’clock. In normal years that would force them to be running at the hottest part of the day. This year, some had to be pulled out of the water with the rare thunderstorm that rolled through.
In previous years, the 70.3 Championship features two days of racing—one for the men and one for the women. In St. George that seems a difficult task with races not generally taking place on Sundays in Utah. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future. Next year the 70.3 Championship will return to St. George along with a full distance race in June. We shall see!
But for now, the young group of pro’s stole the show and perhaps this race will serve as a springboard for future success for all of these athletes as they scatter into the world doing more races. In fact, watch this coming weekend in Chattanooga where Sam Long will attempt defend his title as champion and battle rival Lionel Sander—keep an eye on that!
IRONMAN 70.3 Championship in St George
The 2021 Supersapiens IRONMAN World Championship will take place in St. George, Utah, on May 7, 2022, giving professional triathletes the opportunity to claim a world championship title and a share of the $750,000 prize purse that goes with it. The ongoing uncertainty regarding Kailua-Kona, Hawaii`s ability to host the event in February required a change in venue to outside of Hawai`i for the first time since the inaugural event in 1978.
St. George was selected as the first new host location of the event outside of Hawai`i in 40-plus years based on its strong community support, challenging course, and experience hosting IRONMAN® triathlons and other major events, including the successful recently completed 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3® World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission. St. George will also host the 2022 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship on October 28-29, 2022.
For the first time in the 40-plus year history of the IRONMAN World Championship, the pinnacle event for triathlon will take place over two days with the 2022 IRONMAN World Championship returning to Kona, Hawai`i on October 6 and 8, 2022. The two-day event will see an expanded women’s professional field of 50 athletes race on Thursday, October 6, and 50 professional men race on Saturday, October 8. Details of the age-group races will be communicated in the coming weeks.
“The loss of the past two IRONMAN World Championship races certainly dealt us an economic blow. Our restaurants have always received a big boost from the race, athletes, and their families. We are very excited to hear that with two races next October we can plan to make up for the economic losses from the past two race cancellations,” said Luana Hospitality Principal, Eric von Platen Luder
“It has been a challenging few years, however we have stayed true to our goal to create exceptional experiences for our ‘ohana,” said Diana Bertsch, Senior Vice President, World Championship Events for The IRONMAN Group. “We are grateful to our host communities in St. George and Kailua-Kona as well as their local and state officials, for their willingness to trust us. Our team is committed to putting on incredible race weeks as we add pages to the IRONMAN World Championship history books in May and October 2022.”
IRONMAN athletes registered for the 2021 and 2022 editions of the IRONMAN World Championship triathlon, along with athletes currently registered for 2022 IRONMAN St. George, will be contacted directly with additional information.
For more information and event details for the IRONMAN World Championship, please visit www.ironman.com/im-world-championship.
IRONMAN Chattanooga Pro Rankings by TriRating
Would you DNF to give aid to a fellow competitor?
SEPTEMBER 22, 2021
When Emily Hippen and Tristen Rogers qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship together at Steelhead 70.3 earlier this year, they immediately began making plans for a joint trip to St. George.
“We were in the same age group, and so excited to have both made the cut,” said Hippen. “We had been talking about this big race and planning our time in St. George for months.”
As members of the same triathlon team, HAT House Altitude Team in Denver, Colorado, the two were already frequent training buddies. But in St. George, they became more than that; they became close friends with an unbreakable bond. The pivotal moment came at mile 40 of the world championship race, when a freak storm blew through the course, bringing high winds, hail, and lightning. Approximately 70 age-group women who were still in the midst of the swim in Sand Hollow were pulled from the water; Hippen and Rogers were just a few miles into the bike leg.
“I was on a climb when I saw about 20 or 30 women just standing on the side of the road,” said Rogers. “I thought that Ironman was halting the race for our safety, until the worst of the storm passed, and was preparing to stop. But then realized, when I got to the top of the climb, that these women had voluntarily pulled over because they were literally being blown off their bikes and some looked fearful for their safety. The bike ride at that point instantly became one of survival, and not of performance.”
Rogers continued on, her knuckles white from the tight grip on her handlebars. After all, this was a world championship race— the first one since 2019—and she was determined to make it to the finish. Besides, she reasoned, the storm would surely pass.
Meanwhile, Hippen was just ahead of her teammate on the course (“I’d been pushing all day to stay ahead of her,” she said) with the same white knuckles. She, too, was waiting for the storm to pass, when she reasoned the ride would become much easier. Just before a pivotal turn in the course, Rogers finally laid eyes on her teammate—but not the way she expected.
“I heard a bunch of women ahead of me scream, and looked up and literally saw feet in the air and then a body hit the ground,” said Rogers. “It happened so fast.”
Hippen, unconscious after crashing during the bike leg at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. (Photo: Courtesy of Emily Hippen)
Rogers didn’t realize it was her teammate who she’d seen fly into the air until she stopped to give aid. Hippen was unconscious, her eyes rolled back in her head. While other athletes hurried ahead to alert medical authorities at the aid station, Rogers stayed with her friend. A volunteer arrived to assist, and Rogers gave what information she could—Hippen’s name, the name of her husband, and a phone number. When an ambulance arrived minutes later, Rogers was thanked for her help and told she could resume her race. Though the storm had finally passed by then, she couldn’t bring herself to finish the race. After riding her bike back into town, she turned in her timing chip, racked her bike, and immediately headed for the hospital.
Hippen, thankfully, was fine—banged up, to be sure, but expected to make a full recovery. In her post-crash fog, she was especially surprised to see Rogers.
“Tristen stayed with me at the hospital, helped my husband get there, picked up my prescriptions, and got me back to our Airbnb,” Hippen said. “She did it all. All while she could have been finishing a race that was very important to her.”
For Rogers, taking the DNF wasn’t a difficult decision. “I don’t think I would have been happy with myself had I not stopped. I want to promote all things good about being a positive member of our endurance community,” she said. “On our team website, one of the examples we have for people who are interested in joining is, ‘If you wouldn’t stop and help someone on the side of the road because it is going to mess up your data/Strava/personal record, then we probably are not the team for you.’”
While Hippen recovers, she’ll be cheering on her friend who plans to finish her race via a self-supported 70.3 in Denver. The two have plans to qualify again for 70.3 Worlds and, this time, to finish together.
“Tristen is a model athlete,” said Hippen. “Being a champion is so much more than crossing the finish line ahead of others. It means being a champion of fellow athletes and giving selflessly to others. And Tristen is a true champion.”
What's New in the 303:
LONGMONT, Colo. – The University of Denver Triathlon Team won the women's team event at the 2021 Oktoberfest Sprint at Union Reservoir on Sunday morning, taking each of the top-five spots and placing all nine of its athletes in the top 16.
Denver freshman Freya McKinley, competing in only her second collegiate race, won the individual women's competition in a total time of 1:03:28. Graduate student Emily Pincus followed in second place at 1:05:17, while freshman Avarie Faulkner finished less than a minute later (1:06:10) to round out the podium for the Pioneers. Freshmen Olivia Ebenstein (1:06:26) and Bella Chirafisi (1:07:25) joined their teammates in the top five.
The race was the DU program's first-ever in its home state.
"It was just a dominating performance, wire-to-wire," said head coach Barbara Perkins. "They mixed it up a little bit with their positions during the race, but it was a super exciting meet for us. We're just so thrilled to be here, back to racing in our home state and just show what we can do. It was a strong showing, but we still have a lot more to prove this season."
Also finishing for the Pioneers were senior Amanda Ballard in 11th (1:13:48), junior Stormy Hegg in 13th (1:14:57) and freshman Marta Meinardi in 16th (1:16:13). For Hegg and Meinardi, the race represented their first as collegians. Senior Grace Arlandson was among the leaders following the swim and was the first into the second transition after the bike leg, but she didn't complete the race as she was a pre-planned DNF.
Pincus led all women out of the 750-meter swim in Union Reservoir and was followed closely behind by teammates Meinardi, Chirafisi, Arlandson, McKinley and Ebenstein. The Pioneers held each of the first seven spots heading into the first transition, and it was a lead they never relinquished in the race
McKinley posted the fourth-fastest swim at 9:31 and moved out to the front heading into the run after recording the second-fastest bike time, finishing the 12.9-mile non-draft ride at 32:59, six seconds behind Arlandson. She completed the 5-kilometer run in 19 minutes and 12 seconds, the best mark among the women.
"It was a phenomenal race, I really enjoyed it," McKinley said. "Being out there with everybody and having the motivation of the other girls and the support was so nice. To be able to race a local race in Colorado was awesome."
The University of Colorado came in second place in the women's team event after placing athletes in each of the 6-10 spots, while the Air Force Academy finished third.
Barbara Perkins was named the University of Denver's first triathlon head coach in program history in July 2020 and is in her second season in that position in fall 2021.
In the inaugural 2020-21 campaign, Perkins guided the program’s first season that featured three DU triathletes finishing in the top 10 in the Pioneers’ only collegiate race: the Clermont Challenge in Florida in March 2021.
Perkins joined the University of Denver as an assistant coach for the men’s and women’s swimming and diving team in November 2019 and served two seasons full-time in that position. Her role as the triathlon head coach was converted to a full-time position on July 21, 2021.
Video Of The Week:
Lucy Charles "Pure Joy" Finish at IRONMAN 70.3 World Champs in St George
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