ST. GEORGE – The Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championship is palpable as athletes pro and amateur, with family, friends and fans, can be seen moseying, cycling, running and swimming about the greater St. George area.
“As a championship race, St. George continues to attract the sport’s most prominent professional athletes,” St. George Tourism Office Director Roxie Sherwin said.
And who can forget Ben “The Hoff” Hoffman, now a decorated four-time Ironman champion, including St. George in 2012? Hoffman returns from Boulder, Colorado, for his sixth Ironman event in St. George, making him one of only two pro athletes that have raced here since the event began in 2010. The other is Meredith Kessler, Ironman 70.3 St. George current female defending champion.
St. George News “No Filter Show” Co-host Paul Ford, along with triathlete Paul Jewkes, who served as the St. George Tourism liaison for Ironman events in previous years, caught up with “The Hoff” Thursday, as well as a few other notables like Trevor Wurtele, Luke McKenzie and others in the Ironman community – not all of them triathletes.
One such notable is the owner and staff of Red Rock Bicycle Company in St. George, a dealership for Specialized bicycles, which has sponsored Hoffman for about 10 years. To make a living at the sport, athletes rely on race prize money, but also on their sponsors. Hoffman takes great pride in the company and what they mean to the cycling world, he said, as he joined up with Ford and Jewkes to pay a visit to the bicycle shop in the days before the race.
See Hoffman and other interviews here: Click above
Hoffman’s history with St. George
While Hoffman was attending the University of Montana in Missoula, he would spring break in St. George. He spent his time mountain biking, visiting Zion National Park, and generally enjoying the red rocks of Southern Utah.
“I used to come down here in college and do some training on a spring break trips,” Hoffman said. He knows the area well, and the landscape just resonates with him, he said.
When they announced the first iteration of the Ironman St. George in 2010, Hoffman said, “and as soon as they announced it, I knew I had to do it.”
That he did – and did well. Coming in second place in 2010 showed the triathlon world that this then 26-year-old had something special.
“It’s a special race, it’s a beautiful place, really challenging course, obviously,” Hoffman said. “The community embraces it fully and supports it in an incredible way; so I mean St. George? There’s no race like it and yeah, I wouldn’t miss it for the world; so I’ll be back, as long as they’re having the race.”
Fast forward to 2014 where Ben finds himself in great shape at the Ironman World Championships in Kona Hawaii: A Kona underdog hoping to make the Top 10, Hoffman took the field by surprise and strongly placed second overall. Triathlete.com reported:
Ben Hoffman turned in a huge performance at the Ironman World Championship last year to earn the runner-up spot. Some might consider it hard to follow up such a feat, which Hoffman himself deemed a ‘perfect race,’ but the American is not one to shy away from the challenge.
Hoffman makes a living out of triathlon. It’s his full time job.
“Training to me is what a cup of coffee and a cold beer is to most – the beginning and end of every day,” he wrote on his website. “I wake up before dawn to a swimming pool and often get off my bike just after sunset.”
St. George is one of only four regional Ironman 70.3 Championship destinations in the world. The course has quickly become an athlete favorite because of its intense topography, unmatched scenery and helpful volunteers.
Clearly, St. George is one of Hoffman’s favorites and he offers his five prior years of experience in the St. George Ironman competitions to fellow triathletes, admonishing fellow triathletes to watch their nutrition, stay on top of their fluids in light of the hills and weather challenges in St. George. Finishing with, as he told Triathlon.com:
Finally, use the landscape for inspiration and enjoyment, as it is not every day you get to experience an event like this.
Written by Paul Jewkes, for St. George News
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