Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Meant to be! Interview with Steve Monson

Less than a week ago, yours truly was out for a run on an island in the Pacific, minding my own business, when lo and behold I spot a guy chilling with his family in Ironman gear. As I got closer it dawned on me... is that Steve Monson?!?

Indeed it was!

We chatted for a few minutes, then met up a couple days later for a run. I also told him he was now on the hook for an interview, as this was truly meant to be.

Side note: Steve is a humble guy, but FYI his financial mind is as fast as his feet. He's a highly respected financial advisor with Edward Jones. Reach out to him if you feel his services could be a benefit to you and your family.  Link to his page --> Steve Monson / Edward Jones

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

I played soccer in high school but I’ve always been interested in endurance sports. I remember idolizing Greg Lemond in the Tour on TV and have a few recollections of watching the Ironman World Championship on the CBS Wide World of Sports In the early 80s. I’ve been a runner and cyclist for years but was never a swimmer. While I love the water, I’ve hated the gym, and to me, the pool was just another gym. When Ironman came to Utah, first in Provo, and then down in St. George, my brother Jeff and I really caught the bug. I stuck with running and cycling races for a few more years due to the swimming, but my brother decided to give triathlon a shot. After watching him for a couple of races, I decided to give it a try and began hitting the dreaded pool to prepare for Kokopelli in September of 2014. We raced the olympic distance together and I was hooked. Interestingly enough, I really love the pool now, and an open water swim is just as enjoyable as a run or ride.

You’re the current M4549 belt holder following the 2017 season (side note - Steve’s top 3 races for his season average were a 3% at Kokopelli Oly and 6% at both Echo and East Canyon Oly. His 8% at Jordanelle Oly and 11% at St. George 70.3 fell out of his top 3 average). Isn’t it true that outside of your wedding day and the birth of your children, hoisting the belt was your greatest honor?

Of course! Seriously though, winning the belt was a pretty big thrill. I aged up into the 45-49 division last year and knew I had a year before some of the fast guys my age that I knew, like Adam Hicken and Adam Krommenhoek, came in. So I tried to enter enough races and train hard enough to be competitive and it worked out. It’s been fun getting to know some of the other guys in our division that are working hard as well. Thomas Risse is a constant threat (and really fun to race with), and I always seem to be going head to head with Layne Argyle during the run.

After Round 1 of the 2018 rankings you’re currently in the 2 spot in your age group… a mere 1.8% out of 1st and 2.1% and 3.0% ahead of 3rd and 4th respectively. What will it take to defend the belt in 2018??

Maybe another flat for Adam Hicken? ;-) He’s such a strong biker and runner. But, Echo showed me that you just never know. Adam got a flat then and I ended up in 1st. I’ve also raced more this year to have a better chance at a good Top 3 average score to retain the title. I’m not sure it will be enough… 

What’s left on your calendar for the 2018 season?

Ironman Boulder 70.3 is my A race this year. I’d really like to qualify for 70.3 Worlds in Nice in 2019. I’ve been there once and love the venue. I’m also racing the Brineman Olympic / State Champs in September.

What are your thoughts on the inaugural Utah Triathlon Championship Series and culminating State Champ race? What do you hope to see at Brineman?

I’m really excited about it! It’s been great to see all of the race organizations get together and work out a schedule that makes sense for the athletes. The change in schedule has allowed me to race more than I usually do. It’s really fun to build points towards an end of season goal, and to have the State Championship race to give a one time opportunity for a strong showing. I’ve never done Brineman. I hope the race is filled with the best athletes in the state. It’s always fun to race with a deep field. I’d really like to see the series become more and more competitive. 

Is the flat and fast Brineman Oly a course that suits your strengths?

I’d like to think so. I’m a big guy so the climbing just isn’t my thing. Hopefully, after a good swim, I can push some decent numbers on the bike and then hold a good pace through the run.

You went 5:04 at SG 70.3, the longest race in the Series, yet also finished 2nd overall at the shortest - Icebreaker. What’s your best distance?

According to my USAT points, 70.3 is my better distance. I score better on the USAT scale at that distance than I do in the shorter distances. I thought I was fast at Icebreaker but then Dan Cushman just blew by me on the run like I was standing still. He’s a machine.

On that note, what pushed you over the edge in terms of the Ironman plunge and what are your goals for your debut at Santa Rosa?

After SG 70.3 I realized that I was ready to finally try the full distance so I signed up for Santa Rosa as soon as it opened. I find it easier to train during the school year than in the summer. Our summers are full of camps for our kids, family reunions, church camps and youth conferences and then squeezing family vacation in there. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get some good training in through the winter and show up ready to go in May.

What’s your podium for Top 3 local races and why?

Ooohhh, that’s tough. I really love racing in Utah. We have so many great venues and race organizers putting together such great events. Kokopelli is a fav. It was my first race and is still such a great course. Doing Sand Hollow in the spring and Kokopelli the fall is a great way to evaluate your fitness through the season. East Canyon is also a favorite. I like to think of it as mini SG 70.3 as it has two transitions, a pretty nasty climb, and a zoom down to T2. It’s a great way to start out the olympic distance for the year. The top of my podium would have to be SG 70.3. I love the National Championship vibe. So fun to see the big names of our sport out on the course. It’s such a challenging course too. I hope to get faster and faster there each year.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks for all you guys at Utah Tri Buzz are doing to promote the sport here in Utah. We are really blessed to have gorgeous venues, great race organizers, and really supportive local clubs. I hope this new championship series format really takes hold and that the state championship race becomes more and more competitive over the years. Thanks again!

Steve Monson / Edward Jones

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Buzzworthy: New SUTC President Shawn Jaca

We started a Patreon account (link below) with the hope of raising few bucks towards awards & swag for athletes of all abilities in our tri community. We've given out a lot over the past 2 years, but would like to continue to expand our offerings & the volume we can do.

If you enjoy Utah Tri Buzz and would like to pitch in, any amount would be greatly appreciated... (there may be something in it for you as well!)

We're also always grateful for talented people who contribute in terms of time... let us know if you'd like to be part of the Utah Tri Buzz team.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Locals at USAT Nationals!

After two years in Milwaukee followed by two in Omaha, the USAT Nationals venue has shifted to Cleveland for 2018-2019.

Here are locals who will be toeing the start line on Aug 11th (Olympic) and 12th (Sprint).

Shout out to the 6 brave souls who will be doubling down by doing both!  Andrew, Elizabeth, Karl, Nat, Robert and Stephany.

Related Posts

We started a Patreon account (link below) with the hope of raising few bucks towards awards & swag for athletes of all abilities in our tri community. We've given out a lot over the past 2 years, but would like to continue to expand our offerings & the volume we can do.

If you enjoy Utah Tri Buzz and would like to pitch in, any amount would be greatly appreciated... (there may be something in it for you as well!)

We're also always grateful for talented people who contribute in terms of time... let us know if you'd like to be part of the Utah Tri Buzz team.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Spudman Race Preview

Heading up to Spudman this weekend? It's time to dust off B.J.'s exceptional course preview... 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 10 times or so, but his true love is the Spudman!


  • 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.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Results: San Rafael & Topaz Triathlons

In addition to Echo, 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 Sprint

San Rafael Olympic

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

Topaz Sprint

Topaz Olympic (new this year)

Monday, July 16, 2018

Results Breakdown: Echo 2018

Congrats all!

Echo marked Race #8 of the Utah Triathlon Championship Series, with the next race up in the series being:

#9 Jordanelle (Sprint & Olympic - Aug 18th)

Keep in mind also that Black Ridge is going on August 11th. Support this race if you'd like to see it steal a spot in the Championship Series next season!

In general we hope you'll get out and support the local race scene, and let's continue making 2018 an awesome season.

Below is the results breakdown for Echo, and this post explains what this is if you need a refresher.

PS - Round 2 of the Utah Tri Buzz 2018 Age Group Rankings will be calculated following Jordanelle on Aug. 18th



Related Posts

We started a Patreon account (link below) with the hope of raising few bucks towards awards & swag for athletes of all abilities in our tri community. We've given out a lot over the past 2 years, but would like to continue to expand our offerings & the volume we can do.

If you enjoy Utah Tri Buzz and would like to pitch in, any amount would be greatly appreciated... (there may be something in it for you as well!)

We're also always grateful for talented people who contribute in terms of time... let us know if you'd like to be part of the Utah Tri Buzz team.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Splash & Dash July 18th!

We were asked to help spread the word about this event taking place July 18th in Riverton, which we're happy to do.

Proceeds will benefit local youth and junior triathletes.

Register here!  balancedartmultisport.com

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Echo Course Preview

Echo is a classic, turning 17 this year. We reached out to a few experts to get some insights on this great race.


Kinda like Jordanelle and others, requires a short bike to the start. It's only ~2 miles, and serves as a good little warm up.

"In the past there’s been a port-o-potty near the high school (where you park), might wanna consider hitting that instead of waiting in line at the venue."

"Allow yourself plenty of time. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever felt “rushed” at Echo, but I’ve never had tons of time either (for the Olympic). That's probably more on me, but just saying."


Two 750m loops, pretty standard.

"Some years the sun can be pretty blinding. If you have tinted goggles consider taking them."

"Water level can vary greatly. In past years there’s been a long-ish run from the water to T1. Take old shoes for this just in case."


"Out and back, 'false flat' to slight incline on way out. Miles 5-12 make up most of that (for Olympic). I tend to average a full 5 mph faster on the way back, so keep that in mind."

"Don’t get distracted - watch the road. There are some rough sections to avoid, although the road condition has improved vs. past years."

"Kinda rocky into T2. This is the only race where I don’t do a flying dismount… I just clip out and run in my shoes."

Need a refresher on the course? Check out this video from last year courtesy of Mandy and Eric Oscarson


Out and back on the old rail trail. Painful while racing, but relatively "fun" course.

Watch your step though, it’s a little rugged in parts. More or less pancake flat.

"The path bends before the finish line, so even late in the race the finish line seems forever away. If you race with GPS, trust the mileage and start picking it up before you can actually see the finish line."

Coalville in relation to SLC 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Respect the RD! Meet the San Rafael Crew

With San Rafael taking place this Sat, we thought we'd re-visit this interview from February. Get out and race!

Continuing our ongoing "Respect the RD!" series, Utah Tri Buzz contributor Christopher White had the opportunity to talk with the three awesome dudes who collectively run the San Rafael Classic.

Word on the street is that San Rafael is a great race with a friendly, grassroots feel... worth checking out!

Last July I traveled to my hometown down in Emery County to compete in the San Rafael Classic Triathlon, which is held every July at the Huntington State Park. This race holds a special place in my heart. It was the first triathlon I ever did way back in 2008. I met up with race directors Wade Allinson, John Karren and Emery County Sheriff Greg Funk to talk about the race.

L to R: Greg Funk, Wade Allinson, & John Karren

How long has the San Rafael Classic been running?

JK: We started in 2007 as a fund raiser for the Emery County search and Rescue. Nobody here gets paid by anything that goes on here, everybody is a volunteer. That’s what the race was created for and that’s why we do this, to benefit the Search and Rescue.

All three of you are the race directors right? How long have you all been doing this?

WA: This is my 3rd or 4th year
JK: 9 years
GF: I’ve been the Emery County Sherriff for 7 years, part of the race for 3 years

What is your favorite thing about directing the San Rafael Classic?

WA: I like the early morning. Just before the race starts, everybody is excited and it’s just fun.

Chris at his triathlon debut, the San Rafael Classic in 2008

JK: My favorite part of being the race director is when the race is over, honestly. Another favorite part is watching the kids' race. We have an open water swim that the kids do. There are kids that are really, really fast and really competitive. Actually some of those kids are doing really well as they’ve gone through the ranks and do well competing against adults. If you look around this place, it’s a really family friendly environment. Everybody camps, everybody hangs out. It’s super low-key. Having the search and rescue here is great. This past year felt really easy, everything was dialed, everything was super smooth and everybody knew what to do. We had a lot of support, a lot of volunteers, a lot of manpower.

GF: Truthfully the best part of this race is the participants. I've been part of the race three years, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Next year is my final year as sheriff, and mark my words, I will do the race this year.

We’re going to hold you to that!

GF: You better. Whoever beats me this year gets an extra medal.

JK: We’re gonna have a competition called “Race the Sheriff.” We’ll hand out medals and if you beat the sheriff you get a coin.

Chris had a lot more energy in 2014

WA: I think what we ought to do is give him about a ten minute head start and whoever catches him first gets an extra award.

Are there any inspirational stories you can think of as race directors?

GF: I would definitely like to talk about Jana White. She's actually won this race. Her family is really close to all of us at Search and Rescue. We did participate in a rescue for them. She lost both of her parents in an accident down here. They have been phenomenal supporters of us. They show up every year and participate in the race. Kudos to Jana and Brenden White and their kids, Cooper and Cam.

JK: For me there are a lot. There are a lot of people, like you, where this was their first triathlon. I don’t know if you ever see the back end of the swim but there are a lot of people that are barely getting through this thing. For me, it’s about getting people off the couch, getting all these kids off their computers. If you look around, none of these kids are on their phones. These guys are all on their bikes, they are jacked up for this. For me that’s the best thing. Jana and her husband are really good friends of mine. We swim together, and I’ve known them for a really long time. They are near and dear to us. There are a lot of rescues that happen here so this race means a lot.

The San Rafael Classic is an official Challenger Race in 2018. 
Check out this post for more details: Utah Triathlon Championship Series!

WA: What I like about this race is about two months before the race here in Emery County you see people hitting the pool, you see the road bikes start coming out around town. It’s kind of fun to see people get excited about getting out and getting some exercise in, getting on their bikes and zipping around town. It’s fun for me to see the excitement.

as a reference, only ~90 min south of Provo

Last question: why should someone come down from Salt Lake, Colorado, or wherever they come from to do the San Rafael Classic?

JK: This is the best race in the country. Bar none. If you’re looking to be competitive, there are a lot of really fast people. If you’re looking to just have a good time, there are a lot of people here, lots of family, everybody is here watching. It’s a really laid back, super fun event. We have a big spaghetti dinner for everybody. Homemade cookies, homemade rolls, and everybody camps. For me it’s the race experience. As triathletes we can be selfish. We spend time away from our families training and they suffer a little bit and they sacrifice for us to race. For me this is a little bit of payback for them. We can get away and give them a little weekend away. There are a few families like the Goates and the Bayles families, they have 30 something people coming down. It’s almost like a family reunion for them. They all come down a few days early and stay a few days late. This is the highlight of their kids' summer, coming down to the San Rafael Tri. For me what it’s about is the opportunity to hang out.

Come down to Huntington this year to participate in a great race and to support a phenomenal cause.

Learn More Here!   San Rafael Classic


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