Kona Performance Motivates Hoffman
Ben Hoffman’s second place at the IRONMAN® World Championships in Hawaii was one of those results that makes you think about the future. We’ve enjoyed watching the 31-year-old Hoffman progress in his career as a SRAM athlete, and Kona confirmed his potential on the Big Island and beyond.
Hoffman’s performance also was part of a historic sweep by SRAM athletes of the pro men’s podium, with the win going to German Sebastian Kienle and third to German Jan Frodeno. We enjoyed catching up with Hoffman, who divides his time between Boulder and Tucson, to discuss his Kona experience, strategy equipment. Below are edited excerpts:
We saw you had a viewing party for NBC Sport’s coverage of the Ironman world championships. What was it like to be with friends watching the replay of yourself finishing second at Kona?
It was another special celebration for sure. I keep saying that my favorite thing is to hear about how other people watched the race live, cheering and yelling at computer screens all around the world. To have a chance to watch it myself amongst family, friends, sponsors, and other supporters, was exceptionally rewarding and memorable.
During your stay in Kona before the race, did you have the opportunity to talk with any age group competitors? Any particular advice you try to pass on to fellow triathletes when you meet them?
I always try to make myself available to other athletes, and feel that I am quite open and candid. One piece of advice I always try to remind people of is that you need to focus on how you can make the best possible decision to help your day moving forward in each moment. What has happened has happened. Put the bad behind you and make good decisions as you move through your day.
Tell us about your RED 22 setup (front chainring and cassette) for Kona. How did the range of gears help you produce such a steady cycling leg?
Absolutely. Kona is a very unique race with the conditions, level of talent, and race dynamic, and this year was no exception. Very high winds near Hawi meant that when we hit the turnaround, it was a powerful tailwind. At this moment, I was in the process of bridging to Frederik Van Lierde and Marino Vanhoenacker, and it would not have been possible without the bigger gearing. This was probably one of the most decisive moments in my race. Also, on the climb up to Hawi, I was able to “cross-chain” 55-23 without issue or need to shift to smaller gearing in the 42.
What is your favorite thing about your SRAM RED groupset?
Reliability. When I get out on course, I don’t have to question whether I will suffer a mechanical. The components are light and agile, yet bombproof solid.
As your Quarq file shows, you paced yourself almost perfectly on the bike, starting steady and pushing at key times for a normalized power of 288. Had you previously duplicated that in another race or even training?
I train almost every ride outside of being on my mountain bike with power. It’s a critical tool for me, especially over the long course races, so I was well aware of what was possible, and had done similar numbers in two other IRONMAN®s. I was targeting 290, and executed my ride to near perfection. There were moments when I had to ignore the meter and just go with a move, but when it mattered most over the last 40 miles, I was locked in on my numbers, and it made all the difference keeping my legs fresh enough for a fast marathon.
Did your second place finish give you any insight into what an American winner at Kona could do to boost triathlon in the United States?
It definitely put our country back on the map, having a bit of dry spell since Tim DeBoom won in 2001 and 2002. The sport is growing rapidly right now, and I think that it could have a really important impact if I was able to win. It will be the focus on my professional efforts for many years to come, so I am excited to continue the journey with the hopes of a country helping carry me to the top step.