Steamboat’s Gollnick wins age division at Ironman Boulder | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat’s Gollnick wins age division at Ironman Boulder

Austin Colbert

Steamboat Springs resident Heather Gollnick crosses the finish line of Sunday's Ironman Boulder. Gollnick, 45, won her age division and finished third overall among all women. It was the 37th career Ironman Gollnick had completed.

— When Heather Gollnick first had the idea of competing in Ironman Boulder, it was because she wanted to better understand the race for her IronEdge Coaching triathlon team. But Gollnick's competiveness — the same one that has carried her to five Ironman championships — simply can't be caged when an opportunity presents itself.

"A lot of my athletes have been preparing and doing Ironman Boulder and I wanted to do it so I can coach them better," Gollnick said. "Through my training I got competitive with myself and set a goal to race. I didn't come in just to look at the course for them. I was coming to race."

And the 45-year-old Steamboat Springs resident did just that Sunday for Ironman Boulder, one of the world's largest Ironman events by volume. Gollnick's goal coming in was to finish among the top-10 women and simply complete her 37th career Ironman.

But once the race got underway, she reached for even more. When the day ended, Gollnick was on top of the 45 to 49 age division and finished third in the women's field and 54th overall with a time of 10 hours, 17 minutes and 58 seconds.

She completed the 2.4-mile swim in 1:02:17, the 112-mile bike ride in 5:13:32 and the 26.2-mile run in 3:52:36.

"I love to race. It's fun training with my team, but I put that number on and I'm like a different person and a different athlete," Gollnick said. "I was excited to push myself at 45 years old and see what I could do. … I had a little cramping on the run, but Ironman is all about pride and love and just pushing through."

Sunday was Gollnick's first Ironman in Boulder. She only moved to Colorado two and a half years ago, having previously lived in Florida and Wisconsin. Prior to coming to the mountains, Gollnick had spent nearly 10 years as a professional athlete, of which she qualified numerous times for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

By winning her age division Sunday in Boulder, Gollnick is once again qualified for Ironman's main event, saying late that night she was still deciding whether to go or not.

"It was really fun to race as an age grouper. It would be really fun to go and compete against other women 45 to 49," Gollnick said. "I love it. It's our lifestyle. It's what I do for my job. I'm coaching athletes all the time. It's been what I've done for so many years. It's really my passion."

Steamboat's Tasha Thrasher, an experienced triathlete competing in her first Ironman, took 13th in the 40 to 44 age division Sunday in Boulder, finishing with a time of 12:03:47. Also competing in her first Ironman out of Steamboat was Marietta Colberg Roberts, who finished in 16:04:40.