GJ native Ben Hoffman wins 3rd straight Ironman Triathlon
The weather was perfect, and Ben Hoffman took advantage of it.
The 29-year-old Grand Junction native set an Ironman Coeur d’Alene course record to win his third consecutive Ironman triathlon race of his professional career Sunday with a time of 8 hours, 17 minutes and 31 seconds. The record was previously held by three-time Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander.
“I knew I was capable of it, but that is always the best-case scenario,” said Hoffman, who took a couple of days off after the race in Glacier National Park. “I didn’t have my focus on (the record), but I thought I might be close toward the end and gave a run at it.”
It rained in Coeur d’Alene for three or four days before the race, Hoffman said, then it let up by Saturday evening and cooled off the day of the race.
“In Coeur d’Alene, (the weather) can be anything this time of year,” he said.
“I felt the weather was comfortable. The water was 62 degrees, which might seem chilly, but it was good for the race.”
Hoffman was in third place after the 2.4-mile swim, but he quickly took the lead on the bike. By the time the 112-mile bike ride was over, he had a four-and-a-half minute lead. Hoffman stretched his lead and pulled away during the 26.2-mile run. He won by eight-and-a-half minutes over Viktor Zyemtsev of the Ukraine.
“I’ve started to pride myself on being a good cyclist,” Hoffman said. “I had the second fastest run. Everything felt smooth. I felt in control.”
Hoffman completed the first 56 miles of the 112-mile bike ride in two hours, 15 minutes, and the second half in the same time.
“I was even all day,” Hoffman said. “That’s what you’ve got to do. I had my fastest run in the Ironman, my fastest bike time and third fastest swim.”
Hoffman, who resides in Boulder, watched the Ironman Coeur d’Alene in person when he was a student at the University of Montana, but this was the first time he competed in it.
The win likely will qualify Hoffman for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, in October, and he will find out officially in one month.
Qualifiers are determined on a points system. The top 50 male professionals in the Kona Points Ranking at the end of the qualifying year will race in Hawaii. Hoffman is ranked 18th in the Kona Points Ranking.
Hoffman has qualified for the Ironman World Championships three times (2009-2011), but he is looking for his first world title. He placed 42nd in the men’s pro race in 2010 with a time of 9:03:29.
“Guys that win the Ironman Worlds are usually in their mid to late 30s,” Hoffman said. “That’s encouraging. I’m probably one of the better guys my age now.”
Hoffman started competing in triathlons professionally in 2007 and competed in his first Ironman in 2008.
He’s competed in 12 Ironman races and won four, including the past three he’s entered.
“I’m starting to feel that way,” Hoffman said of getting into a comfortable training regime. “It’s a big learning process. I feel I have a much better handle. Knock on wood because anything can happen, but I feel like I’ve matured.”
Hoffman is sponsored by Volkswagen, Specialized bicycles and Zoot Sports, among other businesses.
Hoffman plans to compete in a couple of half-Ironmans in the next two months before the Ironman World Championships on Oct. 12.