The Xterra Mountain Championship isn’t the type of triathlon Ben Hoffman trains for. A master of the road, Hoffman won the St. George Ironman in May and three Half-Ironman events last year. But those were considerably different than the Xterra competition in the mountains of Beaver Creek Resort on Saturday.
In switching from Ironman formats to the Xterra event, Hoffman went from swimming in an open-face lake to swimming two quick laps around a mountain lake, from peddling on a smooth pavement to climbing 3,600 feet up a ski hill and from running along the roads to trekking on uneven dirt trails and even passing a black bear.
Facing little pressure against the Xterra specialists, the Boulder-based Hoffman, 28, considered the Beaver Creek event a bit of a lark in advance of his six-week training regimen for the Ironman Wisconsin on Sept. 9. He surprised even himself in his first major Xterra event, finishing third in 2 hours, 10 minutes, 40 seconds. He made the podium by finishing 10 seconds ahead of fourth-place David Henestrosa of Spain.
“I’m just mixing it up,” said Hoffman, who was raised in Grand Junction. “I have to focus on doing another Ironman later in the year, and this is my last little fun break in the year.”
Hoffman isn’t the only Ironman specialist who has tried Xterra. Most notably, Spaniard Eneko Llanos won the Xterra worlds three times before winning the 2011 Ironman Arizona.