Monday, July 24, 2017

Spudman Race Preview!

Heading up to Spudman this weekend?? B.J.'s course preview from last year was so good it deserves another look. Great insider tips for beginners and veterans alike!

The Spudman takes place this Saturday in Burley, ID... although not a Utah race, since it attracts so many Utah triathletes we consider it worthy of a preview.

Who better to provide that preview than Local Legend B.J. Christenson?!? Sure, he's been to Kona 9 times or so, but his true love is the Spudman. If he races again this year it will be #21!


  • The swim is one of the main reasons why Spudman is so popular. Not sure if you can swim a mile?? The current takes that away, it's the great equalizer!
  • This is great for anyone who's a little timid in open water or stepping up to Olympic
  • It's a wide river, plenty of space to spread out
  • No turn buoys, just swim straight down river
  • Stay towards the middle, the current is stronger there
  • There's a slight bend as you go past the island. The current will try to push you into shore as it bends, so try to stay a little closer to the island
  • As soon as you sight the exit bridge and the poplar trees, start beelining towards shore 

  • You may want to walk your bike out of transition, walk up to the road before trying to mount. Most people don't mount very well on a slight incline, and there are sometimes goatheads there. Better to carry your bike to the road
  • You place your bike the night before, and I like to check things over early race morning. Get any fluids on your bike, then head to start. 
  • There are a lot of people, so plan lots of time. Start time is 8:00, but beginning at 7:00 they won't let you thru anything
  • Another great thing about Spudman, if you’re new to triathlon this is one of the easiest bike courses you can ride
  • Country roads, flat. 4 turns, big square
  • There's some chip seal, which comes with rolling resistance; you'll want to ride with a little lower pressure than you’re used to
  • Of course everyone tries to avoid drafting, but don’t get your panties in a wad if you see it. There's no way to spread it out. There are gonna be little groups that form whether you like it or not. If you want a perfectly clean race, race in the elite wave!
  • On the grass, really nice on the feet. It's nice that they open that golf course for the race so you don’t have to worry about stepping on thorns
  • There's a short, "punchy" hill in the beginning, but then it's flat around country roads 
  • 2 mile stretch of gravel on the canal bank can be a little bit slower section 
  • For people starting a bit later it can get little warm. There are 3 water stops, every other mile, but if you know you don’t do super well in heat you should make plans.
  • The finish line is awesome, you come bouncing through the trees then onto the golf course grass

Post race?

If you don't have to take off right away go check out Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, only a 30 min drive. It's actually taller than Niagara. The Snake River's also a great place for a post-race bbq or boating.


B.J. has collected the whole set! Known to throw some epic tea parties.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Results: San Rafael & Topaz Triathlons

In addition to the Toughman Utah Half, there were two other races that took place last weekend. They both have small town charm and are easily drivable for most of Utah. Consider checking them out next year!

The San Rafael Classic Triathlon takes place in Huntington, ~1:30 drive southeast of Provo. There's also a kids' race for the young'ins.

San Rafael Olympic

San Rafael Sprint

The Topaz Triathlon (sprint) takes place in Delta, ~1:30 drive southwest of Provo. It also has a fun kids race.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Results Breakdown: Toughman Utah Half

Congrats to everyone who got out to race the Toughman Utah Half.

This post has more detail behind the results breakdown methodology if you're interested.

Along with other Utah races, we'll use these results towards SWAG ANNOUNCEMENT 2017Remember we take the average of your 3 best local races (overall %) for "Most Improved Triathlete" awards, rankings, etc, so plan your season accordingly!

The San Rafael Classic Triathlon & Topaz Triathlon also took place yesterday, and we'll post those results soon as well. For all 3 races...

The next few qualifying races on the Utah calendar are:

Aug 12:  Jordanelle (S & O) - Francis
Aug 12:  Escape From Black Ridge (S & O) - Herriman

Friday, July 14, 2017

That Fish is Fast!! Interview with Kate Westra

Kate Westra is a rising star on the local scene, an SLTC coach, and currently the #1 ranked F2024 in our ranking system.

Among other things, here she discusses her development as a triathlete, future goals, and swimming 10 miles in a pool full of alligators.

Thanks for the time, Kate!

What’s your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon?

Growing up I played just about every sport there is, but I hated running so most of them didn’t stick. I started swimming competitively at 11 years old and stuck with it all throughout high school. I made the hard choice to not swim in college and after a year of not really doing much (and gaining about 20lbs) I missed competing and having an athletic goal to strive towards. My dad and brother had just done their first triathlon and I wanted to get in on the action.

Looking at your results, you’re clearly still elite in the water. Random question here… how would you allocate 100% (using the options below) to the question “what does it take to be a great swimmer??”

DNA ( 5% ) focus on technique ( 25% ) crazy volume ( 15% ) mental toughness ( 20% ) dedication and consistency ( 35% )

Kate took the overall win @ the Daybreak Sprint, with Julie Hansen & Jessica Smith rounding out the podium

Local pro Megan Foley (a former collegiate swimmer) once told me that now swimming is her least favorite of the three triathlon disciplines. Are you like Megan or is swimming still tops? In other words, now that you swim, bike and run regularly, how would you rank sheer enjoyment of three?

I like swimming more now than when I was in high school, but that might have to do with not swimming 20 hours a week… Even still swimming is probably my least favorite. Cycling is definitely my favorite. Running is somewhere in the middle, which is a huge improvement considering growing up I would have much rather swam 10 miles in a pool full of alligators than run 1 mile.

One more swim question – we found another Westra in the East Canyon results, also a strong swimmer… does the whole family swim, and if so, who’s the fastest fish in the family?

I have one brother and three sisters and we all swam competitively. My parents put up with year-round swimming for 13 years straight. My siblings don’t swim that much anymore. If they got back into it, we’d all be pretty close to each other, but anything more than 200 yards I would probably win.

You’re currently the #1 ranked F2024 in our Age Group Rankings after great races at St. George 70.3 (5:40), East Canyon – Sprint (2nd F Overall) & Daybreak – Sprint (1st F Overall). How would you sum up your season so far, and which do you feel was your best performance of those three?

I tend to be a very competitive person and in the past I would kind of beat myself up for not having the race I wanted. This year I’ve found more of a balance between being competitive and having fun, it’s made this season much more enjoyable. I’d say my best performance was Daybreak, but St. George was my favorite. At Daybreak everything went better than I could have imagined. St. George was more a challenge for me and training for it helped my speed for the short distance races.

You took 5th in your AG at St. George, did that equate to a qualifying spot at 70.3 Worlds in Chattanooga? Are the championship races (Kona, 70.3 Worlds) big motivating goals for the future or would you say you prefer intense, short course racing?

I didn’t qualify for Worlds this year, but it's one of my short term goals. I’ve always dreamt of going to South Africa, which is where the 2018 70.3 Worlds are, so that's keeping me very motivated! The longer distance races are becoming more of my focus right now, but that won’t stop me with having fun with a couple of sprints!

hardware at St. George!

What are your race plans for the rest of the season?

I have three more races planned this year, Spudman, Blackridge and Santa Cruz 70.3. I love racing so I may end up signing up for more as kind of a last minute thing.

What's your involvement with SLTC and how has the club helped with your own development?

I’m one of the SLTC coaches, I focus mostly on swim coaching but I am also a USAT coach. SLTC has been more than awesome. Everyone is so willing to help and supports each other no matter your speed or ability. Being surrounded by others who know a lot about the sport and have been doing it for a long time really helps. I’ve found others through the club to train with that have really pushed me to become a better athlete.

What’s your podium for favorite local races and why?

1st Daybreak- This year was my second time doing Daybreak and is what pushed it to my favorite race. Everything about the race is great, the beautiful course, the incredible support shown by everyone (I teared up a few times watching people finish), and although the swim isn’t in the “best” water (you still survived right?) it makes for great stories to tell.

2nd East Canyon- It's just a fun, fast course. It’s probably my favorite bike course and the lake is beautiful.

3rd Blackridge- It was my very first triathlon and it was also the first race where I heard about SLTC. I have a lot of great memories from this race and it will always be a race that I try to do every year.

L to R: Kate, Nicole McConkie & Haley Tadler on the overall podium
@ East Canyon Sprint

Anything else you want to share?

If you’re struggling with one (or more) of the disciplines be patient with it. The very first 5k I ran took me almost 40 minutes to complete. Over the next couple of years I didn’t see much improvement, I started to settle on the fact that I could never be a strong runner and almost gave up on running all together. Over the last two years I focused more on running and didn’t give up on it and slowly my times started to get faster. So be patient, change doesn’t happen over night and keep working hard!

Related Posts

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Toughman Utah Half - Course Preview + Start List!

The Toughman Utah Half fast approacheth.

While it's fun to "PR" on a course you've done before, it's also fun to break in brand new terrain a la Lewis & Clark. In place of a fur hat will be your swim cap, instead of rifles you'll be armed to the teeth with energy gels, etc, etc... but it will still be an epic adventure, we promise you that!

Sacagawea famously points over Lincoln Beach, home of this year's swim course

A picture is worth a thousand words, and thanks to Tyson Alexander you don't have to go into the course blind... check out this recon mission he recently undertook on behalf of Utah Tri Buzz, as well as his written course preview below!

If you're feeling spontaneous and want to get in a race and/or good training day... sign up!

Toughman Utah Half – 2017 Course Preview

For those of you who have looked forward or backward (or sideways maybe) to Kona with two eyes and a heart full of wanting year after year, and yearned for the day when you could test your meddle against the harsh elements; the charred landscape, the unforgiving heat, the swirling wind, and the mental challenge of seeing the course stretch on before your eyes.  For those of you who have spent countless hours on a treadmill (or the trainer) while watching Kona DVD’s and visualized yourselves grinding through the energy lab knowing full well the relentless physical and mental assault that eludes you - prepare yourselves for the 2017 Toughman Utah Half, a great course that will allow you to test your mind and body in a Kona like setting on (the west side of) West Mountain.  A place without a name – a no man’s land where you will be able to visualize the big island as you bike and run past the charred, fire burnt landscape of one of Utah County’s greatest, most hallowed, yet less travelled terrain.  Thank you RaceTri.  Having grown up in Payson, and having lived in Santaquin and Genola, this course is a perfect jaunt through some great parts of the county that many never get to see.     


The entire course is located in and around West Mountain, which happens to be the name of a town west of Payson, but also the name of the actual mountain that will be fixed in your mind for the rest of time.  Located at the south end of Utah Lake (the northern tip of West Mountain), the transition area and swim start are located at the Lincoln Beach Campground.

Transition Area:

At Lincoln Beach there is a grassy area with bathrooms and space to prepare yourselves – as you are able to gaze across the lake to see Utah County with the backdrop of Mt. Timpanogos.  A wonderful sight if you’ve never ventured to this part of the state (that is, a sight you may not have enjoyed quite as much if you were locked into aero position during previous years races).  This transition area is approximately 250 feet from the swim start (asphalt road) and is wide open. 



Straight from the RaceTri website, the swim is a long straightaway, with two laps in the triangle, followed by the long straightaway finish. As you can see from the image above – there is a lot of area that spectators can utilize to watch the swim.  This is a bonus, since there are limited races where spectators can watch the entire 1.2 mile swim.  Below is a picture from the actual boat dock (swim exit) with the swim start being the dock on the left side of the image. 



The bike leg will take you in a clockwise direction for 2 laps around West Mountain (the actual mountain).

The image and elevation chart above only show 1 of the two laps – so everything you see will be done twice. 

You will head south out of Lincoln beach, through some farming country, and then onto highway 147 south.  The elevation gain is approx. 842 ft. per loop (1680 total) with miles 4 through 14 being a mild climb.  Some of these roads have recently been refinished and you will enjoy the difference between those roads and the roads that have not been refinished.  Please note that in the course video below, I did encounter a goat running along side the road (2:10 in the video).  This may or may not be a normal occurrence on this course.  Be advised that there is a downhill portion (mile 3) coming out of the beach followed by a right turn.  It isn’t extremely tight, but you will likely still have more speed than normal following the downhill portion on this turn.  Many of these turns (90 degree turns) and winding roads from miles 3-10 may have gravel on the road, and possiblly hay, debris, etc. from the farms and wind.  Please be careful.  At mile 10, you will be on Hwy 147 heading south.  There are apple orchards and cherry orchards for which Payson and Santaquin are famous (well, as famous as Payson and Santaquin can be).  Mile 14 will bring you through the “Goshen gap” and down into Genola.  A hidden gem of farmland and homes where many will want to live following this race.  Enjoy this through mile 18 where you will encounter some more cherry orchards (and probably some cherries on the road).  At mile 19 you will be at the southwest corner of West Mountain and turn towards the North on Lincoln Beach Road.  This stretch (miles 19-25) is a dry, burnt, wasteland on the right and will remind you of Kona if you want it to.   Be on the lookout for the few trees that survived the fire, and are thriving in the burnt hillside, inspiring your mental image to grind through the heat, and your aching glutes/quads, just like those you’ve seen so many times on TV.

At mile 25-26 you’ll have a brief section with some shade as you make the turn back south to start loop 2.


The run portion is an out and back section that goes the opposite direction of the bike – meaning you’ll be running out the last 6.5+ miles that you just finished on the bike and back on the same 6.5+ section you finished on the bike (twice). Mile 1-2 may give you a bit of shade, but after that – you’ll be fully exposed to the scorching sun on the western stretch for miles 2-11.  This is where you can imagine yourselves in Kona, running through the lava fields, with nothing but burnt dreams and wasted landscapes taunting you to give up or quit. 


 This is where you can dig down into our psyche, and motivate yourselves with that inner voice, reminding you that all throughout your life, you’ve had charred hillsides or negative influences urging you to quit, giving you reasons to stop running - but you aren’t a quitter – you are a triathlete – and so you just keep moving.  You keep reminding yourself that a burned up mountain that is baking in the July heat is no match for your awesome.  So you keep on moving forward to the next aid station, and to the next mile marker, knowing full well that just on the other side of this mountain, around the next turn – is the finish line – and that is where you belong.       

Preliminary Start List

Monday, July 10, 2017

Results Breakdown: Echo 2017

Echo sold out this year and was epic for 99% of the field. Sadly, however, there was also a gnarly crash involving Utah Tri Buzz contributor Mary Day, Mari Riser, and at least one other person (unknown to us). Along with the whole tri community we wish everyone involved a super speedy recovery!

We want to also mention the multiple reports of "Good Samaritans" who unselfishly stopped their races to assist those in need, including Chris Bowerbank, Courtney Duckworth, and Emily Blodgett. There has also been an outpouring of support in terms of hospital visits, etc, which has been awesome to see.

Mary Day showing strength over adversity!

This post has more detail behind the results breakdown methodology if you're interested.

Along with other Utah races, we'll use these results towards SWAG ANNOUNCEMENT 2017Remember we take the average of your 3 best local races (overall %) for "Most Improved Triathlete" awards, rankings, etc, so plan your season accordingly!

Sportstats link (official results)

The next few qualifying races on the Utah calendar are:

Jul 15:    Toughman Utah Half - Provo
Jul 15:    San Rafael Classic - Huntington
Aug 12:  Jordanelle (S & O) - Francis
Aug 12:  Escape From Black Ridge (S & O) - Herriman


(FYI the source file didn't split T1 & T2 so we backed into combined transitions)