Sep 18, 2021
This week we have Gold medalist and current 70.3 world record holder, Kristian Blummenfelt joining us to talk about the Tokyo Olympic Triathlon win and his outlook for IRONMAN 70.3 St George.
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In Today's Show
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Interview with Kristian Blummenfelt
A multiple Norwegian Triathlon Champion and IRONMAN 70.3 Champion, Kristian Blummenfelt is one of the fastest triathletes in the world over the middle distance.
Kristian was originally a swimmer, but also excelled on his feet by competing at the 2011 European Cross-Country Championships as a junior and showcasing the necessary tools to excel in the sport of triathlon.
Blummenfelt prospered as a junior, winning numerous events. Victories at ITU Junior European Cup events in Brno, Tabor and Antalya were followed by a Senior ITU victory at Tartu. His first major success came at the 2015 European Championship where he picked up a bronze medal.
Kristian’s Norwegian National titles came in 2015, 2016 and 2018, and now he was also showing off his talents on the IRONMAN 70.3 circuit. He notched three consecutive victories in Bahrain between 2017 and 2019, and in both the 2018 and 2019 renewals set new world records for the half-IRONMAN.
2019 was a highly successful campaign for the Norwegian as he was also crowned winner of the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final. He finished a highly creditable fourth meanwhile at the 70.3 World Championship in Nice, a race won by one of his training partners Gustav Iden.
Kristian is also an Olympian, having competed at the 2016 Rio Games where he finished in 13th place. He won gold at the Tokyo 2021, won again in Edmonton and World Championship double August 21st.
Blummenfelt’s sporting hero growing up was Alexander Dale Oen, a swimmer from his native Norway and a European champion in 2008. Unsurprisingly for someone who has set those world records, Kristian’s motto is “go big or go home”.
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Win or lose (and this year it has mostly been the former for the Norwegian), Kristian Blummenfelt impacts more races than anyone else. So powerful is his cycling ability and mentality, you feel as though he is on a mission to challenge anyone who thinks they can breakaway on the bike (from him) and win.
The result of that – for me at least, and it has been the case for some time now – is that the first major measure I look at during a race is not who is leading the swim, who is in the lead pack, is there a break etc. It’s, “did you exit the swim ahead, or behind Kristian Blummenfelt?”
Ahead, and – if you have the legs to follow him – you gain access to the world’s greatest domestique (!) to help overcome any swim deficit. If you are behind and you miss the Blu Train… expect a very difficult next 90 minutes.
And that, perhaps, is the primary reason why Great Britain’s Alex Yee wasn’t able to challenge for world championship gold on Saturday in Edmonton, despite producing the fastest run by a long way. Blummenfelt swam 18:36, Alex 18:53. Those 17 seconds would prove impossible to recover from.
303 is heading to St. George to bring you in-person coverage of the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships. With no Kona this year, all eyes are on the desert of southwest Utah. With a hilly run course, fast bike and a predicted temperature near 100 degrees, the real sizzle isn’t the rubber meeting the road, it’s the clash of top triathletes on heels of the Collins Cup that has no doubt sparked some rivalries.
In the women’s field in particular, the match up of Daniela Ryf and Taylor Knibb seems most intriguing. At the Collins Cup they went head to head and Knibb had the biggest victory of the day of all athletes crushing Daniela by double digit minutes. But Daniela reportedly wasn’t feeling her best and we all know of the four time IRONMAN World Champion capabilities. No doubt she is looking for some revenge. Obviously as the championship, the field is stacked. Maybe there is a chink in Ryf’s armor? Maybe not, but Lucy Charles, Ellie Salthouse, Sky Moench, Paula Findlay and Jeanni Metzler, all with great races in Slovakia could be in the mix at the end. No doubt there are others like Holly Lawrence who crashed in the Collins Cup could fight for the podium.
The mens field offers similar drama with Sam Long, the top ranked American and one of the favorites will have stiff competition from Lionel Sanders, Gustav Iden and fellow Norwegian and Olympic Gold Medalist Kristian Blummenfelt. Last May, Long and Sanders battled shoulder to shoulder in St. George and the two have had some fun social media banter in the last 12 months. After the race in May, Long said he knew he could take advantage of the downhill with his long stride and he did so almost winning so it will be interesting to see what happens.
The Norwegians are going to be tough to beat. Both Iden and Blummenfelt have had fantastic seasons. Iden handedly won his race in Slovakia and Blummenfelt has focused on training for St. George since winning Olympic gold. With no Jan Frodeno, putting odds on this race is challenging. There are many podium worthy contenders like Chris Leiferman, Rudy Von Berg, Alistair Brownlee, Ben Kanute, Javier Gomez, Sam Appleton and maybe a dark horse to watch is Collin Chartier from Louisville, Colorado.
What's New in the 303:
Pro Race Insights from Jocelyn McCauley
Here’s a nod to some of the state’s most infamous challenges spanning 100-plus miles:
Clearly, lockdowns of last year fueled ambitions. Example: François D’haene’s record dash over the San Juan Mountains this summer. The French man became the first in the fearsome race’s 28-year history to clock a time under 22 hours — stunning, considering the 100 miles and 33,000 feet of climbing in the jagged alpine around Silverton, Telluride and Ouray. Lottery-based entry, race is usually mid-July.
LEADVILLE 100 RACE
Andy Fox of Evergreen, Colo. rides his bike near Twin Lakes during the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race Saturday, August 14, 2010 in Leadville, Colo.
Leadville Trail 100
This is a classic in the ultra world. Where miners once flocked for gold, now runners and mountain bikers race to finish within demanding cutoffs (30 hours for runners, 12 for cyclists). It’s a test of lung power, starting from North America’s highest incorporated town near 10,200 feet and rising to Hope Pass above 12,600 feet. It’s better known as Hopeless Pass. Lottery-based, races in late August.
Run Rabbit Run
Are you a tortoise or a hare? That is the first question to ask when approaching this 100-mile sufferfest from Steamboat Springs. While gaining 20,000 feet of elevation, you’ll be covering parts of the Continental Divide and the town’s recognizable summits: Mount Werner and Emerald and Rabbit Ears mountains. Hares finish under 36 hours, tortoises under 30. Usually mid-September.
Flaming Foliage Relay
This 165-mile overnighter showcases autumn’s aspen glow where it is famously glorious, along Guanella, Georgia and Fremont passes. Running teams might struggle to admire the beauty. Their heads are down on the course between Idaho Springs and Buena Vista, crossing roads and trails amounting to about 17,000 vertical feet. Usually mid-September.
In 1988, a group of cycling buddies thought it would be fun to ride from Evergreen to Vail. Ever since, that’s been the idea of fun for riders traversing a trio of heart-pounding passes over 100-plus miles and 10,000-plus feet. An exclusive bunch has made it a “double triple” in recent years, pedaling back the way they came. Slated for late July/early August 2022.
Mountain bikers have come to know this, not the Leadville 100, as Colorado’s ultimate endeavor on a saddle — a tantalizing route shaped like a clover leaf, crossing the Continental Divide three times. But the race has been on hold for two years; the pandemic again caused a cancellation this summer. And the past two plans were a condensed course, closer to 70 miles. Will the real Breck 100 return? “That’s the million-dollar question,” says organizer Thane Wright. Previously mid to late July.
Colorado’s gravel revolution begins in Steamboat Springs, a cycling town proud of its crunchy backroads. This race has risen to prominence with a variety of endurance courses amid classic scenery. They have recently ranged from nearly 40 miles to more than 140 miles, with climbing between 2,000 and 9,400 feet. Slated for Aug. 22, 2022.
Vapor Trail 125
Any ultra competitor knows about “sleep demons,” those hallucinations that manifest at night. That’s when this whacky mountain bike foray begins, in the darkness of 10 p.m. It begins in Salida, where some of the whackiest riders reside, molded by the vaunted Monarch Crest. Vapor is reserved for the most skilled and wilderness prepared. One must negotiate technical singletrack by headlamp and sustain long climbs over 125 miles. Slated for Aug. 26, 2022.
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