Friday, March 5, 2021

BUZZWORTHY: New SUTC President Jeff Monson

Jeff Monson has been announced as the new president of the Southern Utah Triathlon Club, replacing the honorable Shawn Jaca. By all accounts Shawn led with great dignity and devotion, and we commend him for his service to Utah triathlon.

As part of our efforts to build camaraderie throughout the entire Utah triathlon community, we felt an interview with the new kingpin was in order... thanks for the time, Jeff!

What's your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon? What was your first race?

I've always been active and adventurous. I love to do lots of things, including skiing (snow/water/xc) and racquet sports like tennis, pickleball, racquetball and badminton. I love a challenge, I love to sweat and try new things and push my limits.

My brother Steve suggested we get into triathlon since we were already doing the road bike thing, including some races. I've always been one of the faster runners from playing a lot of soccer growing up and two years of rugby for USU's club team. Running and biking is something I love to do and I love the water... but I never knew how to really swim.

The swim has been my biggest challenge and area of improvement. I've been going to Masters Swim and have greatly benefited from the many great coaches that have taught this morning class over the last 8 years. Two coaches in particular made the biggest impact in my training. Heath Thurston, retired professional triathlete and owner of Blackline Swim, and Ben Rae, past collegiate swim coach.

My first triathlon was the Sand Hollow Tri from the BBSC group in 2013. I had no idea what I was doing. My transitions were 5 minutes each, and my times were not fast! The BBSC in the prior years had an award for the most improvement between the Sand Hollow in May and their Kokopelli event in September. I was determined to win this award and I came in around 30 minutes faster later that fall for the same distance. The BBSC stopped giving out that recognition, (2012 was their last year).

I'm glad I didn't find out until after the race, that was a great summer of learning and improving! I have since done numerous Tri's, Sprint, Olympic, Ironman St. George 70.3 and one full, Ironman Santa Rosa in 2019. I also have done the Xterra at SnowBasin and loved that venue and will do more off-road Xterra events in the future.

What initiatives are most important to you as the new president of SUTC.. what do you hope to accomplish?

2020 was difficult for the club and everyone. As a club, we are looking to try and jump-start the energy and momentum of the club. We are blessed with so many professional triathletes that either train or live in STG.

Many of them have been very open to sharing their time/expertise with us. This week we kick- off our first clinic! It's a smart-trainer clinic on how to use Zwift/Rouvy, and why to use indoor training from pros Nick Chase and Sarah Crowley! We're excited!

From your perspective what are the greatest strengths of SUTC as a whole?

The greatest strength of our club are the great people who are members. We continue to recruit well, and the sport is growing with new participants and move-ins. I haven't met a single member who hasn't been friendly. We are also blessed in the SUTC with an amazing climate and training playground as well as many local races to keep us busy and motivated year-round.

The Utah Triathlon Championship Series, created in 2017, attempts to unite triathletes across the state. Are Southern Utah triathletes aware of the Series and its associated awards, recognitions, etc, and how can we further build camaraderie?

Facebook has helped share the Utah Triathlon Championship Series, but many of our club aren't on Facebook. We are going to start emailing more to our club this year, and we need to include information from Utah Tri Buzz in our newsletter!

Series races are determined by prior participation levels. Participating in 3+ Series races = your name added to the 2021 "Wall of Fame" and qualifies you for a slew of season awards!
Check out this post (from 2019) for additional info.

In general in what other ways do you feel we can all continue to build camaraderie in the Utah triathlon community?

I see this year and the years ahead as great opportunities to work together with the Salt Lake Tri Club and Intermountain Tri club, as well as others. We have so much to gain from our common interests. Together we can be stronger advocates for safer roads, more trails and bike paths, more community support for races and training venues.

Speaking of the UTCS, is it true that your brother Steve still brings his age group Championship Belt from a few years ago to family gatherings, both in person as well as Zoom?

Ha, this question made me laugh! My brother Steve is certainly fast! Between us, sometimes he wins and sometimes I win. I'm hopeful he has a great 2021, but I'm coming for that belt :-) Being serious, I am grateful to Steve for racing with me and supporting me.

I've dealt with some injuries and setbacks, and he's been great to encourage and motivate me. My wife Heidi is my #1 fan and she has started joining me in triathlons, It's been so fun to watch her catch the bug and she joined the SUTC this year with two of her training friends!

What's the feeling among SUTC... are we good to go with St. George 70.3 on May 1st?

There is hope that we will race in May at the 70.3 IM, as well as Sand Hollow a couple weeks later. We have been racing the STG Races series so far this year. There have been dozens of events including so many soccer, baseball/softball tournaments, and the Parade of Homes just wrapped up.

We are seeing everyone else hold events in our town and our hospitalization levels are dropping along with the rest of the State... we all hope that we are racing in May, and can't imagine why triathlon would not be allowed to happen.

What are your thoughts on St. George hosting the 70.3 Worlds in September, and will SUTC be involved with the event?

St. George is an event town. We host the Huntsman World Senior Games in the fall, we have the iconic St. George Marathon, and as I mentioned, we are hosts to countless events and tournaments. Seems like there is some event happening in town almost every weekend!

The World Championships for the 70.3 IM is exciting! We have such a great venue and we hope the SUTC can have some involvement.

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

Such a hard question, because there are more than 3 and it would be a shame to leave off great races. Ironman is such a big event, and brings in such a high class field. It's like golfing the Masters with Tiger up ahead 2-3 holes. The pros are on the same course at the same time, and with some of the course looping, you pass them as they fly!

The BBSC Sand Hollow and Kokopelli are excellent, I never miss them! The SHAC tri is another favorite swimming pool short-distance. The intensity in a 1 hour race is amazing. The St. George Marathon is the honorable mention. Our SUTC competes in so many of the local races besides triathlon- STG Marathon is iconic. We also have the Vacation Races folks that put on fun events at some of our most beautiful locations.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I'd like to thank all those who have volunteered in the past, including our exiting President Shawn Jaca. There are so many people who offer help, stop and check on those with flats or mechanicals, invite others on a training run/ride or open water swim. We just have so many great people who share and give time, I can't say enough about such a great group of friends/fellow triathletes.

outgoing SUTC Pres. Shawn Jaca

former SUTC Pres. Amber Blair

*****Below is what we know so far for the 2021 UTCS - we'll update as we learn more! Check out this post if you need a refresher on how it all works. Thank you Trent Perry for being the title sponsor of the Series!*****




Thinking about Lasik or have other eye health needs?
Dr. Brice Williams is offering some incredible
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Local triathlete Steve Monson has a stellar reputation
as one of Utah's finest financial advisors

We started a Patreon account (link below) with the hope of raising a few bucks towards awards & swag for athletes of all abilities in our tri community. We've given out a lot over the past 3 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.



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