The Boulder Sunrise Triathlon promised to be a great test of both the physical and mental capabilities of its participants as athletes dipped their feet in the Boulder Reservoir on a chilly morning. Along with the tough competition and distances, athletes would be going up against less-than-ideal conditions. Boulder has had a warm summer, with temperatures consistently hitting 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, on the Sunday morning of the race, things were different. The temperature was about 55 degrees, and the wind blew strong cold gusts across Boulder Reservoir, promising to make the bike course a true test of fortitude.
The Boulder Sunrise offered all types of endurance athletes an opportunity to race. Not only were there Olympic and sprint distance triathlons, but there were also duathlons (run-bike-run), running races (5 KM and 10 KM), and an aquabike (swim-bike).
Athletes began arriving at 6:00 AM as the transition area opened. Nervous, anxious, and excited, they began to flood the area while organizing their swimming, cycling, and running gear. Due to the chilly morning, few athletes had the courage to enter the water for a swim warmup. Many athletes jogged alongside the reservoir instead, in an attempt to raise their core body temperature and prepare their bodies for what was about to come. Families and friends of the competitors stood along the little beach and grassy area beside the reservoir, most with their hands in their pockets to stay warm, waiting for the sun to become stronger.
At 7:17 AM, the first wave of athletes — the Olympic distance male competitors — sprinted into the reservoir and began what would be a fast swim. Brandon Hatanaka exited the water first, with a 20:21 swim time over the 1.5 KM course. Right behind him was Cameron Hackett, who swam the course in 20:32 and set himself up for a very successful day of racing.
On the bike, the athletes would face some rolling hills on Highway 36, head east on Nelson Road, and then come back toward the Boulder Reservoir via a combination of 75th Street and 63rd Street.
Brian Hrynkow turned in the fasted bike split of the day with a blistering time of 1:03:38.
Cameron Hackett, who exited the water in second place, posted a bike split of 1:04:55, which kept him in front of the race out of T2. From there on, nobody could catch him as Hackett brought it home for the overall Olympic distance win, closing with a 40:17 run to finish in 2:07:58.
Alex Ranum ran his way into second place by posting the third fastest 10 KM split of the day in 38:41, giving him a total time of 2:08:50. Darren Hewitson rounded out the podium with strong performances across all three disciplines to clock a final time of 2:09:13.
The women’s Olympic distance race got underway approximately five minutes after the start of the men’s wave. Colleen Cox exited the water first in a time of 23:12, followed by Kate Elliot and Hattie Green.
Kristen Delong claimed the fastest women’s bike split of the day, posting a time of 1:14:50. Ali Ozymy and Toni Brenzikofer followed with the second and third fastest bike splits, managing to navigate the windy course in 1:16:55 and 1:17:04, respectively.
The women’s race came down to the run on the packed dirt of the Boulder Reservoir course that is a favorite of the many endurance athletes who live and train in the Boulder area. Megen Schlesinger posted the second fastest run of the day in 48:40, which allowed her to run her way through her competition and into first place overall at the Boulder Sunrise Olympic distance race in a time of 2:41:16.
Lucy McGraw, Hattie Green, and Toni Brenzikofe engaged in an electric battle for a spot on the podium. McGraw came in second with a final time of 2:42:05, followed by Green in third with a time of 2:42:52. Brenzikof crossed the finish line 10 seconds later to secure fourth place.
In the tight sprint race, Brandon Conklin took the win with a time of 1:21:32. Christopher McMahon and Nathan Barkin rounded out the podium, with times of 1:22:28 and 1:23:25, respectively.
On the women’s side, Ruth Gabbert took the sprint triathlon win with a time of 1:30:42, followed by Rachel Densmore in 1:32:52, and Caitlin McMahon in 1:34:17.
The Boulder Sunrise proved to be a fantastic event with plenty of spectators lining the transition area and giving words of support to the competitors. The environment provided the perfect opportunity for individuals to test themselves and push their limits. While these endurance events certainly require a big physical demand and take a toll on the body, athletes could be seen smiling as they crossed the finish line and thanking the volunteers before heading over to hug their loved ones and enjoy some post-race food.