Saturday, February 25, 2017

Recon Mission - Icebreaker Video Preview

Another week, another recon mission, this time venturing to American Fork to scout RaceTri's Icebreaker.

The Icebreaker has historically been held in March, although this year it's been pushed back a couple weeks to April 8th. It has a similar format as TriUtah's Ghost Town (April 22), with a 300m pool swim, ~12 mile bike and 5k run.

This preview isn't affiliated with RaceTri, so apologies if something isn't perfect.

Check out the course videos below, and please share with friends/family who may consider breaking the ice a mere six weeks from today!

Icebreaker SWIM

Icebreaker T1

Icebreaker BIKE

Icebreaker T2

Icebreaker RUN

Main site: RaceTri

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Respect the RD! Interview with On Hill Events

Think it would be easy to put on a race??  


Continuing our Respect the RD! series with Joe Coles of On Hill Events. Among other things, here Joe gives some valuable insights on what goes on behind the scenes, weighs the pros and cons of lime green race shirts, and answers our burning question on triathletes vs. pure runners.

Thanks for the time, Joe!

What’s the history of On Hill Events and the origin of the name?

On Hill Events has produced over 120 races and was established around 10 years ago. Its name comes from my grandfather who ran his last two marathons at the age of 80 being the oldest to run St. George and Deseret News Marathons at that time. I always said he was always on the hill not over the hill.

From your perspective how has the Utah race scene changed since On Hill started? In what ways better & worse?

The race scene has drastically changed during the last 10 years. At the time we started the Layton Marathon it was one of 11 marathons in Utah and now it is one of 30 or more. This can be great for racers with a lot more selection however race companies are hurt because many races do not have enough racers to sustain them. 10 years ago St. George did a lottery turning away 75% of those that registered and now it struggles to reach capacity.

What are the most valuable skills you need to have as an RD?

As a race director there are important skills to gain. Basic ones are being able to manage several things at once and trust in my workers. A race has many moving parts and being able to make these parts move properly with a limited staff is done weeks in advance. An example would be the Ogden Marathon which has a volunteer staff of 2500 and paid staff of around 30 that make up the goal foundation. In order to be as effective as we can we will have a volunteer staff of 50 and paid staff of 6. We use one person to fill a void then move as the race moves. Example one person could work the starting location and then be in charge of sweeping the course. It is a very complex plan to make a race work effectively and provide all the same services as a major race. Some races cut corners to run on limited staff by doing a cupless race with no cups at the aid stations with no volunteers. We feel cutting corners like this hurts a race and can be a huge danger to it. What if someone is hurt between miles 6 and 8 or what if an aid station runs out of water? Our goal is to provide all the services of a major event at a lower price.

What are your top 3 favorite events to put on and why?

1- Drop13 Half Marathon - It is a fast race down Big Cottonwood Canyon. This race offers incredible scenery and service. We do bonus medals like PR medals if it is your fastest Half Marathon or Medals like Drop13 LBS medals. We feel this is a way to honor personal accomplishments at races in addition to those standard age group awards.

2- Bear Lake Brawl Triathlon - This is one of the most beautiful races in Utah. It has a great course in Bear Lake and is extremely fast as well. The race has the only full 140.6 course in Utah and Idaho as well as a Half 70.3, Sprint and Olympic.

3- Utah Santa Run - This race is the jolliest race in Utah. We give all racers a Santa Suit to keep and run in. This 5K is held in Ogden, Provo and Gardner Village. This race has milk and cookie aid stations and Christmas music overhead. Each of these races is followed by holiday fun provided by the venues which keep the fun going and they all donate to worthy causes.

What are your biggest pet peeves as an RD, and what are the hardest aspects of putting on a triathlon & race in general?

I do not like venting but I will because you asked. Our biggest pet peeve is from a few select racers complaining about silly items. We understand if we missed something like a turn sign or ran out of cups at an aid station, however a few racers are just too demanding of us for things we will never please 100% of the racers out there. Example would be someone yelling at you for the color of a race shirt. We had someone yell at us for a navy blue shirt and said it was the ugliest color they had ever been given in a shirt. We then apologized and asked what they would have liked more and they said a lime green, which would have ticked off 75% of the racers. If a race is 99% perfect and 1% of the race is off please do not give the race 1 Star on Facebook. Do not show up 15 minutes prior to the start of the race and complain that we are unorganized when packet pickup has been over for 15 minutes and we are scrambling to get your race bag in time for you to start in time. 99% of racers are awesome and well prepared.

You put on a wide variety of races. Don’t be modest here… in what ways are triathletes the best to work with and in what ways the worst?

Triathletes are traditionally the best to work with because they usually represent the most experienced racers. They read the instructions and have generally done a few races prior to this so they come prepared and register early. They rarely fall into my pet peeves in question 5.

The only issue I have with Triathletes are with a few racers that are primadonnas that rarely show who demand a lot. Very rarely a racer will compare our race to an Ironman race for swag. They will say Ironman had a better shirt or fancier medal. Though our shirts and medals are great they do spend some more on theirs than we do. Their races also cost the racer 3 times our races. Again we strive to give the same experience especially when it comes to support but we cannot compete when it comes to a race with 5 times our racers and 3 times price plus we cannot use their brand or the term Ironman because it is their copyright.

Who is your favorite type of athlete to watch at your races, and what has been the most inspiring situation you have witnessed at one of your events?

I have two favorites:

(1) The Elite Athlete - We used to have Jason Crompton come to our Bear Lake and Powell Triathlons. He was extremely humble about his talent and would help first time athletes. One year he raced the Half one Friday and came in first by 25 minutes. The Saturday after he raced the Olympic and when starting the race he went off course during the swim and swam an extra 100 meters and still came back by the end of the race and won it. We were sad to hear about his passing last August and the industry will miss what he brought to it.

Heath Thurston & Jason Crompton

(2) The Supported Athlete - We had a disabled athlete get pushed by his family members a few years back. Racers loved cheering him to finish. The inspiration is not only from the athlete but the pushers. We are so inspired by these athletes that we give one comp per race to athletes and pushers who do this.

What do you wish athletes knew about being an RD?

It is not easy. I have had racers think that all we have to do is set up a website and collect registrations. Races are 9 to 12 months in the planning process. Race week we work an 80 to 100 hour work week with often 36 hours straight without sleep. If something does not go exactly according to plan due to a massive lightning storm or 50 MPH winds, be patient as a RD or athlete. It is one of the most stressful things that can be done but very rewarding.

You announce some changes for 2017 on your site. In a nutshell, what’s new?

Most changes are not with courses. Once we have a good course we strive to keep it. We strive to add more service or swag each year. For example one year we went from not having a medal for the Spring to doing one then now upgrading it to a higher end medal. One year we went from cotton to tech shirts. We hope to have better support in 2017.

Anything else you want to share?

I just hope that racers do not feel that I was complaining in the fields above. We love our racers and that they are continuously supporting and coming to our events. In this interview many of the questions asked about concerns from a race director's perspective. We know this industry has the best customers out there.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Recon Mission - Ghost Town Video Preview

The other day I ventured to Tooele with two missions at hand 1) escape inversion air in the valley for a run and 2) do some recon work on TriUtah's Ghost Town tri!

I enjoy exploring new places, and scouting the course definitely got me pumped for the upcoming season.

So check out the course videos below and consider doing Ghost Town as a nice early season race on April 22!  PLEASE NOTE: it appears from the TriUtah site that the race is now April 29th.

Great for all levels, and if you're doing St. George 70.3 two weeks later, this would be a fun "kick off the cobwebs" race as part of your taper (there's also a 5k if any non-triathlete family members wanted to get involved).

This preview isn't affiliated with TriUtah, just an age grouper doing a little recon, so my bad if something isn't perfect. I did reach out to Dan Aamodt for a quick comment, and here's what he had to say: "It's a cool, fun race. The bike has 3 loops to make it great for newbies and families to see their athletes on the course... everyone gets a cowboy hat, medal, shirt... and don't forget the sweet beer stein mug awards!" (fill those bad boys with beer, root beer, sweat, blood, tears, etc... whatever you want :)

Ghost Town SWIM

The best I could do is a picture of the Pratt Aquatic Center, as the pool was closed for renovations.  :(

From the TriUtah site: "The swim is 300 yards with athletes starting single file, jumping feet first, one at a time, and swimming 50 yards, then crossing lanes."

Ghost Town BIKE video

Ghost Town RUN video

Main site: TriUtah

Related Posts

TriUtah: The Prequel

Respect the RD! Interview with TriUtah

get your bike & spurs and venture west... it ain't that far

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Joining Forces??

The feedback Utah Tri Buzz has received since starting 8 months ago has been phenomenal, and we want to thank everyone who's contributed along the way.

As we head towards the 2017 season, there's a lot of really cool stuff we can do with a little more manpower / womanpower.

On that note, just a quick post today inviting anyone who may be interested in joining the Utah Tri Buzz team!

There are a wide variety of ways to contribute... before, at, and after races, interviews, shooting video, writing content, social media, etc, etc.  Email us at or shoot us a note on FB or IG... we'll find some fun ways to utilize your interests and skillz for the betterment of our tri community.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

St. George 70.3 - Snow Canyon Climb

Following the Snow Canyon reference in Sage Maaranen's interview, thought it would be fun to share this video shot last year by SG 70.3 Race Director Dave Reid. Tackling Snow Canyon while shaking like a leaf in a freak desert downpour (2016) makes it even more enjoyable!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Very Fast, Very Wise: Interview with Sage Maaranen

Get to know speedy Sara Jane aka Sage Maaranen, last year's F2529 AG champ.

Thanks for the time, Sage, and best of luck this coming season!

Standard question – what’s your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon?

I swam and did every sport imaginably as a kid, but never really invested much enthusiasm until college when I became determined to outrun the Freshman 15. Post-college I fell back in love with swimming and continued running my heart out. I come from a family of beastly cyclists, and finally my sister (now my coach through Wenzel Coaching) insisted I get on a bike and give triathlon a shot. So I borrowed a set of wheels, and it was love at first race!

You go by many aliases. Should people call you Sara, Sara Jane, SJ, or Sage? I believe I’ve seen all of these in results and/or social media. How did “Sage” come about… is it a reference to your legendary wisdom?

2016 USAT Nationals in Omaha

Yes, I’m a gal of many names! Sara Jane is my legal name, but it’s morphed over the years. Sara Jane Say Jay SJ Sage. It’s no reference to any guru-like qualities, but hey! Maybe like my name that wisdom is similarly evolving?

Similar to our last interview (“THE DANIMAL” Dan Trott), you’re from New Mexico, correct? What brought you to SLC and how long have you lived here?

I’m a high altitude, green chile loving New Mexican to the core! At 18 I left home for college in Missouri, and then after my undergrad proceeded with something of a walkabout, living in the Czech Republic, Spain and Ecuador. But there’s something about Utah! Mountains and desert right at your fingertips? That’s just about perfect.

trying something new: fatbiking!

I see you in 6 local race results from 2016: Icebreaker (7th place), Salem (2nd), East Canyon Olympic (2nd), DinoTri Oly (1st), Echo Oly (5th), & Brineman Oly (3rd). You also mentioned you did USAT Nats, any others as well? What was your best race? Worst race? And/or what was the highlight and lowlight of the season?

Best race of 2016 was most definitely Rage down in Las Vegas. It was insanely gusty, making the course super tough; every stroke, pedal and step was a fight. It also involved a lot of strategy to create the fastest finish time while also staying safe in the conditions. In the end I was pretty stoked about how I handled myself in the wind, an element that has rattled me with nerves in the past.

rolling out of transition at Salem Spring 2016

As for a worst race, I don’t know that I believe in “bad” races. Any time you get to race is pretty awesome! I will concede, however, that some races pose more challenges and learning opportunities than others. My all-time most challenging race was Echo 2015. I was returning to triathlon after a gnarly crash, and I had some pretty big mental demons to overcome. On top of the pre-race nerves, I had a mechanical issue before the start that I didn’t know how to deal with. Fortunately, tri people are good people! Rory Duckworth, a relative stranger at the time, came to my rescue and fixed the problem, no questions asked. I really needed to get back on the horse, and without the help, I wouldn’t have had a horse to ride! So, I guess it wasn’t such an awful race after all. I got to ride, I got to finish, and I got to witness firsthand how the kindness of a stranger can save more than just the day.

sweating it out with fellow Coeur teammate
Heather Casey at a BAM computrainer ride

What are your plans for 2017?

I really love USAT Nationals, so I’ll be heading out to Omaha in August for what I’m calling “Battle of the Humidity, Round 2.” I’m also mixing it up a bit this year and am giving St. George 70.3 a shot. It’ll be my first 70.3, so that’s pretty exciting! Aside from those, I’ll throw in a few other fun local races. It’s always great to go out and see training buddies and local teammates crushing it.

Will your strategy at St. George be more “go big or go home” (70.3 Worlds??) or “finish with a smile/happy to be there?”

I’m just excited to try something new! I’ve coached athletes through 70.3’s, but I’m excited to learn more of the nuance myself. I’m diving in and planning to give it my all, but it’s such an unknown. Regardless of the outcome, it should be a fun new adventure!

Snow Canyon - equal parts beauty & misery

You’ve done a lot of local races, which is awesome. What are your favorites?

Oh, that’s tough! Dino Tri, which was my first ever triathlon, holds a special place in my heart. It’s a beautiful course, and they hold a King/Queen of the mountain competition, which makes for a fun extra challenge. I also really like experimenting with other disciplines and formats. Last year I did a TT through the Utah Crit Series, and I loved hanging with roadies and feeling completely out of my element! I’m also a pretty big fan of the Haunted Half Marathons. Showing up to the start line in an outrageous costume, then gorging yourself on Sour Patch Kids at aid stations is a great reminder that sports are meant to be fun!

celebrating victories with the Judge Memorial swim team

What are all the coaching relationships you're involved with?

I decided I wanted to create a life doing what I love, and what I love is triathlon, so coaching seemed the way to go! I am the owner of Sage Training Multisport, and offer online custom training plans for triathletes and other endurance athletes. I particularly enjoy helping athletes train smarter to balance professional and family life, and connecting them with resources in the greater tri community. I also work with Salt Lake Tri Club athletes as a coach, and offer one-on-one triathlon swim coaching at Northwest and Fairmont aquatic centers. It’s cool to be a part of such a large network of people who are eager to support each other on their respective journeys.

Outside of my tri-specific life, I spend my time breathing in chlorine and coaching various Masters and youth teams. My big winter project is Judge Memorial High School, where I’m just wrapping up my second season as Head Coach. It’s just so cool watching the process. These kids end up in the pool for friends or because a parent pushed them there, but then gradually they begin to see their potential and buy in. They put in the work and get after it, and the results are starting to show. Yeah, coaching is pretty cool.

Related Posts:

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Top 10 Signs of a Triathlete Parent

10) Pull buoy riddled with teeth marks

9) Aero helmet has been worn more times as a “jousting knight” costume than actual races

8) The significance of the numbers 2.4, 112, and 26.2 mastered before multiplication tables

7) IronKids t-shirts heavily featured in wardrobe rotation

these bad boys give me the energy I need to skateboard home from school

6) Routinely find toys hidden in pockets of bike jersey

5) Generally accepted that mom will eventually return after she emerges from water only to suddenly leave us in the lurch

4) A 90-min bike ride takes exactly 90 min… not a minute wasted

3) Mutual respect in that mom and/or dad have “swimming lessons” (masters) on various mornings just like they do

2) Clif "Z Bars” (marketed to kids) routinely appear in workplace lunch – hey, they taste great, what can I say?

1) Daughter has mastered flying dismount off pink Barbie bike