As the sun rose over Boulder Reservoir, athletes made their way into the transition area to set up their gear and begin the challenging morning ahead. While nervous athletes put on their wetsuits, racked their bikes, and laid out their running shoes, the temperature shifted from chilly to warm. This promised to be a special Sunday at one of the most legendary Olympic-distance races around.
The Boulder Peak Triathlete challenges competitors with a 1,500-meter swim in Boulder Reservoir, a 40-kilometer bike that passes over Old Stage Road, and a 10-kilometer run.
What makes this race so unique is its bike course. Within just a few minutes of riding away from Boulder Reservoir, athletes begin to climb the infamous Old Stage Road. Old Stage is notorious in Boulder for being a steep and punchy climb, which will inevitably crush some legs and force athletes to push their limits. After climbing Old Stage, athletes make a speedy descent before turning into Lefthand Canyon, which spits them out onto Nelson Road before hitting the rolling hills of 63rd Street and returning to Boulder Reservoir.
Although the bike course is what makes the Boulder Peak Triathlon so famous, the unassuming run course can be equally, if not more, challenging due to the July heat. Athletes run 6 miles out and back along the packed dirt around Boulder Reservoir with just enough rolling hills to keep things interesting. On race day this year, temperatures rose above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, which only added to the difficulties.
Thankfully, runners were greeted, aided, and cheered on by fantastic volunteers at well-stocked aid stations on every mile of the run, handing out water, BASE nutrition, and even ice for athletes to cool themselves. Without Limits Productions is famous in Colorado for organizing top-notch races and Boulder Peak was no exception. The race logistics were flawless.
Matthew Guenter dominated the race in the elite men’s competition. First out of the water in a blazing time of 17:56, Guenter went on to post what would also be the best bike split of the day, covering the bike leg in 1:04:22. This gave Guenter a solid lead coming out of T2, but he had to keep pushing with Sam Teller in hot pursuit.
Teller, who exited the swim in 20:46, biked his way up through the elite field with a split of 1:07:16, the fourth fastest of the day.
Guenter ran 38:33 over the 10-kilometer course to hold onto his lead to take the overall victory.
Teller ran a jaw-dropping time of 35:06, making his way through the field to position himself on the second highest step of the podium. While 35:06 is already an impressive time, it is even more astounding when taking into consideration how tough the conditions were during the race.
Todd Suttor, who displayed strong performances across all three disciplines, rounded out the elite men’s podium. Suttor swam close to the front of the race with his time of 19:14. He followed that with a solid bike split of 1:05:05, the second best of the day. He then finished the race with a run split of 40:14 to secure a spot on the podium.
Less than four minutes differentiated Guenter’s winning time and Suttor’s third place performance.
As with the men’s competition, the elite women’s race did not disappoint. CU Triathlon Team’s alum Ali O’Donnell exited the water in second place with a time of 23:06, just behind Gwyneth Lamastra’s impressive swim of 21:26. Lindsey Knast, who would go on to have a stellar day, was a little bit behind O’Donnell, coming out of Boulder Reservoir in 25:48.
Knast went on to post one of the fastest women’s bike splits of the day with her time of 1:14:56. That was enough to pass O’Donnell, who rode an impressive split of 1:19:01.
The battle for first place among the elite women would come down to the hot run, as the sun challenged all the athletes who ran along the reservoir roads.
Knast closed with a run time of 44:10 to hold onto her lead and win the race in an overall time of 2:27:41. O’Donnell posted a time of 45:35 to finish the race in 2:29:14 and secure the second place on the podium. Cassidy Hemp, also a CU Triathlon Team alum, performed well across all three disciplines to take third in the elite women’s competition with her time of 2:33:55.
Although racing in the women’s 25-29 age-group instead of the elite category, Tori Dippold posted the fastest time of the day among women with her finishing time of 2:25:38. Dippold’s time was helped along by her top women’s bike split of 1:08:25 — the seventh fastest of the day including the men.
The Boulder Peak Triathlon is a legendary race. With superstars such as Tim O’Donnell, Greg Bennett, Lisa Norden, and Paula Findlay having raced it in the past, it is widely regarded as one of the best non-drafting Olympic-distance races in the world. The race did not disappoint this year, as hundreds of athletes challenged themselves in this iconic venue.