How Breakthrough Endurance plans to change the face of Endurance racing

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Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate

I sat down recently with professional off-road triathlete Craig Evans and his nutrition coach Cliff Duhon of Breakthrough Nutrition. I’ve known Craig for several years, as our paths occasionally cross at the pool or at local races.

Craig said they had something they wanted to talk to me about. He mentioned a new business venture that included himself and Cliff with 6 x World Champion Conrad Stoltz serving as a special race course development consultant. My interest was piqued.

I met the guys at Lock 4 Park in Gallatin, TN. I arrived just as the state Cyclo-cross championships were ending. Skinny guys with big legs and scruffy chins loaded bikes onto their car racks as an announcer thanked everyone for coming. I sat on the truck tailgate for a minute looking around for Craig. I was out of place somehow among the cross guys.

 I texted Craig.

“I’m here, where are you guys?”

“Come to the pavilion by the lake,” he replied. “We’re in the woods.”

Not exactly the response I expected, but I figured Craig may have been getting in a workout. I made my way over to the nearby pavilion and sat down at a picnic table.

A minute later I heard someone yell my name from the woods. Craig Evans stepped from a freshly cut trail in work gloves. His two kids followed him. We shook hands and he introduced me again to his kids. A minute later Cliff Duhon emerged, obviously from also working on the trail. I had a feeling I had walked right into the middle of their business venture.

We spent a few minutes talking about offseason fat (mine) and the race that Craig was preparing for (The Bone Island half ironman in January). After catching up and getting to know Cliff we settled into a conversation about what they’re up to.

These guys have big plans that could change the face of endurance events across the world: The Breakthrough Endurance race series. We spent the afternoon talking about their plans, why they’re doing it, and what athletes can expect.

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Chad: Why another race series?

Craig: We saw a need for more of a festival atmosphere in the endurance racing community, particularly with the off-road crowd. If you want to do off-road triathlon it’s going to be Xterra. Nothing wrong with Xterra; they put on great events. But there are other needs not being met with just one race series. As a dad I’m always looking for races that are family friendly. Something that provides great races for the athletes and is a blast for my family to be a part of. That’s one of our goals with BE.”

Cliff: “We’ve been hearing from professional and elite athletes for years that they would enjoy something new. At least another option. Heck, call it what it is: another way to make some cash racing. They want something highly technical and competitive for them, that’s also built around the idea of this whole thing being fun. So, that’s the idea. We’re putting on this Breakthrough Endurance Series to provide that. An entire 3 day weekend of racing built around those simple ideas. 

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Chad: It sounds like a series of Wildflower races across the country.

Craig: Kind of. We’ve got a ton of growing to do first, obviously. But that’s sort of it. I’m a family man in the traditional sense: wife, kids, day job, all that, but the endurance community is a kind of big family as well. I think we segment ourselves sometimes though. I have my mountain bike friends who race Xterra and my road friends. Their paths seldom cross. That’s a shame because we all love the same stuff: swimming, biking, and running. Part of the idea is to bring everyone together. To let everyone feed off of that energy.

Chad: Tell me how this series is different.

Cliff: It has something for everyone. We’ll provide awesome races for the pros with first class treatment and prize purses. The pros will still have their off road triathlon. In fact, they’ll have it all to themselves. That’s great for the pros and the age-groupers. The age group athletes are usually out there with them. I realize that’s part of what makes triathlon different – you can race alongside the pros. But it isn’t always what’s best for both parties. The “BE race series” will allow age-groupers to watch the best in the world race and then they will race separately on the same course. We’ll have off road triathlon, mountain bike time trials, road triathlons, trail races, 5ks, 10ks, open water swims races, kid’s races, etc. The pro men will race separate from the pro women, separate from the age groupers. All of the locations will offer different races, but one thing will be consistent: over 3 days there will be lots of racing – for everyone.

Craig: I think most importantly, and what sets it apart, is it will be spectator friendly. All of the races will be multi-lap races where your family and friends and spectators will see you pass every 15-17 minutes. The race will blow right through the expo area each lap. That beats waiting all day for a couple of glimpses of your loved one. There will also be live music, food vendors, games for the kids, and a sort of kids fun zone with certified caregivers.

Chad: How about the prize purse?

Cliff: Our first race will offer a $16,000 prize purse over the course of the weekend. That’s one of the top paydays in offroad racing.

Craig Evans and Conrad Stoltz (foreground) 1st and 2nd at ITU Cross Triathlon Worlds

Craig Evans and Conrad Stoltz (foreground) 1st and 2nd at ITU Cross Triathlon Worlds

Chad: You mentioned several locations. Where will these races happen this year?

Cliff: We’re in discussion with venues across the country. Coast to coast. Eventually we want there to be 10 of these weekends each year. We’re taking it slow though and doing things right. These races will be first class events, not thrown together. Not surprisingly there are tons of logistics that go into putting on 3 days of races. We do know that we’ll be starting things off here at Lock 4 Park in Gallatin, TN with the BEast of the Southeast . We’re close to announcing races in Colorado and on the west coast as well.

Chad: When is the BEast of the Southeast?

Craig: May 24-26. Gallatin is my backyard and this is my home course in some ways, so I’m super excited to bring all of my friends from the pro series here to TN. We’ll kick things off on Friday night with a super sprint race for the pros and then roll into a full slate of racing on Saturday and Sunday for both pros and age-groupers. You can find the schedule on our website: beraceseries.com

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After my talk with Craig and Cliff I had a chance to get a few words from “The Caveman” Conrad Stoltz as well:

“Put simply, I love racing, and BE’s new, ‘exciting, off road triathlon festival’ sounds really enticing. Organizers Craig and Cliff designed a fun, technical course consisting of loops to cater for spectators and the media as well- that way everyone gets to be part of the action. The BEast of the SouthEast is a great addition to the current XTERRA schedule- not only does it provide a new angle on off road triathlon, it also fits perfectly in terms of timing and geography. I think off road triathlon is the new frontier where we’ll see a lot of growth once it branches out to beginners and kids”.

 

Craig Evans and Cliff Duhon are promising “The Future of Endurance Racing.” That sounds great to me. You can follow BE on twitter, facebook, and on their website at beraceseries.com for details.

I love you,

– Daddy

Disclosure statement: since drafting this post and interview I have agreed to assist BE  in the promotions of their series.