For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, sign up for Outside+.
It was a blustery winter day in Denver last Saturday, but the falling flakes did not deter a group of revelers gathered to celebrate Colorado native Ben Hoffman’s breakthrough Ironman World Championship performance. The party, which showcased the NBC Kona broadcast, was hosted by two of Hoffman’s unique sponsors. The Infinite Monkey Theorem (theinfinitemonkeytheorem.com), an eclectic winery, welcomed partygoers into their urban cool downtown Denver wine bar with signature mimosas. Tender Belly (tenderbelly.com), purveyors of gourmet bacon and other fine pork products, served up a delectable brunch of eggs, grits, pancakes and bacon from their food truck. Along with the Kona broadcast, the event featured a raffle of prizes from Zoot, Specialized, Oakley and Fuel Belt, a fundraising effort for Movember and an opportunity to meet and mingle with Hoffman, his family and his fiancée, Kelsey Deery, to whom he recently proposed to before the UWC Bahamas Triathlon. As the festivities wound down, I had a chance to chat with Hoffman to learn how he’s enjoying the exciting developments in his professional and personal life.
Triathlete.com: In terms of everything that’s happened recently with Kona and your engagement, how are you feeling right now? Describe your state of mind and emotion.
BH: Life is actually really crazy right now. I’ve been traveling a lot and riding this wave of emotion from Kona. Right after Kona was done my mind obviously shifted to proposing to Kelsey. I had that planned well before the Hawaii result. It’s really cool because I feel like there’s this huge upward trajectory right now, both in my career and in my relationship as well. And to be here today and relive the Kona experience, it just keeps that feeling going. There are these slight lulls but then somebody will remind me, “I was watching you online!” or something and it reminds me of it all. So that’s how it’s been since Hawaii. Overall, it’s just an incredible sense of happiness!
Triathlete.com: Everyone watching Kona saw the emotion between you and Kelsey at the finish line–a truly beautiful moment. I’m sure having her support was really important to you.
BH: It was really cool to have her there, and to have my whole family there. It’s funny, I was telling somebody today about Kelsey. When I proposed I didn’t get nervous in the typical sense that I think most guys do when they ask a girl to marry them–I was really confident in our relationship. But there were a few moments where I thought: There is the outside possibility that she’ll say no. But then I would remember the finish line photo of us and I would think: She loves me so much! I got this. I got this!
Triathlete.com: I saw your engagement photo on Facebook. You put the ring in the ocean in an abalone shell. Well done!
BH: Yeah, in a super beautiful abalone shell. I put the ring in there and we were snorkeling and she found it.
Triathlete.com: Was it attached to the shell? A wave could have washed it away!
BH: I did attach it with a piece of fishing line. But I was still really nervous because fish started swimming around it and checking it out, and I thought: If a fish bites it or picks it up because it’s shiny, it’s gone forever! I put it on a spot on the reef where it really stood out, so as soon as she started snorkeling in that area it was the first thing that caught her eye. I actually heard her say in her snorkel, “What’s that?” I pretended I didn’t hear her, just to let her find it. She grabbed it and brought it up to the surface and said, “Is this for me?” I said, “Of course it’s for you!” It was really special. We’ve been down there the past three years and so I knew exactly what I wanted to do and it went pretty much according to plan.
Triathlete.com: Speaking of plans, what’s next for you?
BH: Things have changed a bit in my career, so it’s about navigating new opportunities but also just taking a breath. Because it has been a lot of travel. I did Ironman Florida three weeks after Kona, then we went to the Bahamas, then I went to New York City for the Kona broadcast screening, now I’m back here and next we’re going to work on Kelsey’s house that she just bought. So there’s a lot going on, but it’s also my chance to take a break away from structured training. I probably won’t do much racing early season. I have Ironman 70.3 Pucon [January 11th] on my radar as a possibility again, just because it would be a fun trip, but mostly now it’s about taking a breath after basically a month of non-stop stuff. It’s about regrouping and putting the pieces together to build my season next year, both in terms of sponsorship and managing my brand and also in terms of putting together a race schedule that sets me up to have my best Hawaii next year.