BEN HOFFMAN RACING

i like to go fast.


Second. In the Universe.


Posted By on Oct 18, 2014

Once upon a time there was a triathlete from Grand Junction, Colorado who traveled to a far away land to chase his dream…

It does still seem a little surreal (maybe even like a fairytale) to be typing a race report from the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii where I get to say that I am 2nd. In the universe (as my mom wrote to me in an email after). It’s not at all to say that I didn’t believe in myself or the possibility of a high finish in Kona, but the plan has always been longer-term, and in some sense I am reeling, suffering a good form of whiplash from the accelerated upward trajectory. I came prepared for a top ten in body and mind, and technically I got that, but a podium at worlds? I’m just thrilled.

The story starts way too far back to recall it all, as is the case with any of our lives that lead to a great moment. Instead, I suppose that touching on the energy around my time on the island will suffice for now.

I arrived about ten days before the event, in very good shape from my year of hard work, especially the final touches in Tucson. Mentally, I was in the zone: Relaxed but excited. Confident but not cocky. I had incredible support from my family, girlfriend, sponsors, friends, coach, and massage therapist, and many notes were pouring in from fans wishing me well on the big day. I was still hungry for something special after some hard luck and mishaps, close calls and underperformances. It was time.

 

So, after bringing my taper to a finely sharpened point in the final days pre-race, I was anxiously awaiting the morning buzz, getting body marked and setting up the rest of my gear. I quietly warmed up in Kailua Bay, calmed my mind, and focused. The cannon sounded, and a career of hard work was being tested for any holes by the strength of the winds in Hawi, the heat and humidity of the lava fields, the best athletes in the world, and my own demons of self-doubt. Fortunately, I had done my homework in my previous trips to the island, trained appropriately, and was ready for the challenge.

 

A clean start in the water set me up for a comfortable front pack swim, and then I stayed attentive and aggressive on the bike. When the time came to push a little harder, my legs were strong, and I went all in. It was always my game plan to do my own race and not react too much to other athletes, but in the end “my race” was to take this chance. In a World Championship, I feel that it is a privilege to compete, and out of respect for the race, other athletes, and supporters, one must give everything. So back into town we rode, steadily pulling time out on chase groups. Being close to last year’s champion gave me confidence, and I closely monitored my hydration, nutrition, cooling, and mental state. All systems go.

 

My running has come a long way in the past two years, and I believe I am finally starting to touch on my potential. Confidence in my ability to execute a strong marathon was bolstered by a breakthrough run at Ironman Coeur d’Alene and several of my fastest half-ironman runs throughout the year. Strong and steady was my mantra on the run, feeding off the energy of so many supporters. From 5th to 4th, to 2nd, to 3rd, to 2nd once more, the battle raged on. I stayed in my head, daring myself to forget about the chasers and focus only on what was in front… a world title. In Kona, anything can happen, so I fought and protected what I had worked so hard for all day, year, career. And then it came, the top of Palani, like the reassuring pat on the back from an old friend. I was descending, around the corner on Kuakini, then Hualalai, then the sacred Alii where dreams come true.

 

On this day, my dream did come true. I clashed with the best warriors in our sport, and proved myself a worthy contender on the hallowed grounds of Kona. Clutching the American flag, feeding off the energy in the finishing chute, I will forever cherish those moments. And, soon it will be back to work, for there is another step yet to take…

 

There is no way to properly express in words my gratitude to all those who have been part of this effort, and it is a deep fear of mine that I would overlook someone, but I will try my best now. Triathlon is not truly an individual sport, and no athlete accomplishes great things entirely on his or her own. To my parents, girlfriend, coach, massage therapist, training partners, friends, fans, and media, thank you for all the support and love. To my sponsors, thank you for the belief and backing for so long now. Zoot, Specialized, Clif Bar, Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery, Tender Belly, SportPump, Fuelbelt, Zipp, SRAM, Vector 450, and Oakley: You are the best of the best, and enable me to race to my potential at the highest level. To anyone and everyone else, past present, and future, thanks for being part of Hoff Racing!

 

Photo Credit to BrakeThrough Media, Competitive Image, Herbert Krabel

Read More

2nd Place Lake Stevens 70.3


Posted By on Aug 22, 2014

Not much to say about this one, except to reference the old adage: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.


Screen shot 2014-08-19 at 3.42.43 PM

 

After a very hotly contested battle in St. George with last year’s second-place finisher at the Ironman 70.3 World Champs, Terenzo Bozzone, which ended with me a couple seconds behind in a sprint finish, I found myself again matching pace with him on the run in Lake Stevens. The story of how we got there involved a swim and bike ride through the heavily forested and occasionally foggy hills of the pacific northwest, but that part was history and meant nothing as we battled for what would be the first win in both of our 2014 seasons. We had come out of T2 within seconds of each other, and to be honest, our first few miles consisted of trying to match the footspeed of Matt Reed as he throttled up and made us hurt. Shortly after mile 4 though, it became a back-and-forth battle with TBone, neither of us relenting under the strain of 5:35/mile pace, and Matty falling a bit back. I tried on a number of occasions to dispatch Terenzo, including some of the harder hills where I could tell his breathing was more labored, but he hung tough stuck on like super glue. At each passing aid station, we fueled and I counted down to what was appearing an inevitability. On the front I continued to turn the screws the best I could at that stage in a hard race,  fully aware that I was better known for my extremely good looks than my explosive sprint. Alas, Terenzo weathered the storms, and we both hit the gas with a little over a kilometer left. I had been through the finishing chute the day before when helping with the Ironkids race, but T still got the better line around some barriers and initiated the true sprint. I matched the best I could, moving left to try and come around, furiously pumping my arms and losing all semblance of form in a desperate bid to win. I held on, but never had another gear to come past, finishing just .79 sec behind, empty, bittersweet.

Of course it stings to lose a close one like that, but it is over and done with now. Instead, I will take some good fitness away from it, knowing that my body is coming into form just in time for the big races of the year in Mont Tremblant and Kona. Additionally, I know that I gave everything I had on the day. No regrets, no big “what ifs,” and was simply beaten by a world class athlete in Terenzo. Now it’s back to work for  some finishing touches… Please stay tuned for the World Championships this fall.

As always, tremendous thanks to all my supporters, especially family (my dad raced as well and earned his WC slot), friends, fans, sponsors, volunteers, coaches, and others.  I know my best years are still in front of me in this sport. Exciting times.
Screen shot 2014-08-22 at 11.02.16 AM Screen shot 2014-08-22 at 11.01.58 AM

Read More