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The Grand Junction, Colo., native first discovered triathlon the summer after his freshman year of college while living out of his car and exploring Alaska. “I was just at the library because my truck had broken down and I was waiting for it to get fixed,” he says, when he came across a book about triathlon. After returning to school at the University of Montana in Missoula, he saw a flyer for the Grizzly Triathlon Club Team and decided to give it a shot. “I immediately enjoyed the three sports, and the discipline of just getting super fit and competing.” Now 14 years later, the 33-year-old has two top-five Ironman World Championship finishes (second in 2014 and fourth in 2016) and is a favorite to bring the Kona title back to the U.S. [Editor’s note: This interview took place in early April, before Hoffman’s sub-8 performance in South Africa and his wedding to now-wife Kelsey.]
In the summer of 2006, a friend of mine and I lived out of a vehicle and traveled around the Pacific Northwest and raced a bunch of races with small prize purses. I think I won something like $3,000 that summer and I thought, ‘OK, maybe I don’t have to get a real job,’ and I decided to postpone reality to pursue triathlon.
Finishing second in Kona in 2014 has made the race more exciting than it ever was before. … I look forward to Kona now because I believe in my ability to perform there and I think about it as this opportunity instead of this overwhelming race that maybe I won’t do well at.
I appreciate the conversation around who will be the next American male to win Kona and being a part of it. … I think at the moment I’m proving myself to be the frontrunner in that position, and I’m happy to carry that title and that honor. Everyday I’m working to bring it back home.
My biggest supporter is easily my fiancée Kelsey—we’ll be married on May 10, a few days after I race Ironman 70.3 St. George. I have had incredible sponsors, coaches and family that have supported me along the way, but in the day-to-day management, it is definitely Kelsey. She takes care of the majority of the details and lets me just do what I need to focus on training and recovering for the next day of punishment.
Part of why I do this is for the pursuit of the highest level of sport, but a lot of it is lifestyle-based. I really love getting out there and training every single day. I get to push myself, see what I can do and live a healthy lifestyle. The camaraderie and the friendships that you form, the travel that you do—this is a pretty awesome life. I’m super appreciative of it and
really love what I do.
Ben’s Life Hacks
“You need to get everyone on board, but that’s not a one-way street. It’s not ‘what can you do for me?’ You need to make them a priority too. … I think a lot of people make that mistake and then they’re at odds with the people in their life. “
Use the laws of activation energy
“You have to really train your mind and your brain to take that first step, whether it’s a run, meal prep or recovery and get over the hump, and understand that once you do, things will
“It’s really hard to get up in the morning sometimes, but when you know that someone is waiting for you at the pool or at the park, it’s harder to go back to sleep. Just tell someone you’re going to do it, because then you will and you’ll always be happy you did it.”