Blummenfelt’s slow burn to success – Triathlete


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Kristian Blummenfelt is perhaps the reigning king of triathlon (he won an Olympic gold medal, a WTCS world championship, a Ironman World Championshipand one Sub-7 Iron Remote Finish, all in ten months), but his progression in the sport has been more of a slow burn than a flash in the pan. In fact, the 28-year-old Norwegian has been racing for over a decade, and it’s taken a good five years of racing for his performance to really raise eyebrows in the sport. A look back at Blummenfelt’s (somewhat) humble beginnings as an athlete.

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He’s had a “big motor” since he was a kid

As a young swimmer, Blummenfelt began building the powerful endurance engine that would eventually shatter Ironman records, although the potential to go long remained mostly untapped until he was teenager. “Growing up I swam and played [soccer]. I had a big drive from swimming, but I was a goalie, so it wasn’t like I was able to use my stamina on the football pitch. he said. After reaching a performance plateau in the pool, he toyed with the idea of ​​taking up open water swimming before finally choosing triathlon. At 14, he won his first race, a local event in his home town of Bergen. “A few months later I was contacted by the federation and asked to be one of four children to join the national junior team,” he said.

He was a (pretty good) runner before the triathlon

As a teenager, Blummenfelt also tried his hand at running. And he was pretty good, though even his fastest times on the track at the time didn’t indicate how great he had become. Case in point? At 17, Blummenfelt ran 15:12 in the 5K on the track; fast enough to place second at the 2011 Norwegian Junior Championships. Although impressive, his time would have placed him just 21st among all American high schoolers at the event that year. (Another comparison? His compatriot and fellow 2020 Olympic gold medalist Jakob Ingebrigsten ran 1:35 p.m. at age 17 and has since cut his 5k time to 12:48 p.m.). But it should be noted that Blummenfelt has only gained speed as a triathlete: in 2021, he completed two 10Ks under 30 minutes on the bike.

He was one of the first professional triathletes in Norway

Norway can be a triathlon center these days, but when Blummenfelt first made the move to multisport, he was one of the only elite runners in the entire country. “It wasn’t like the standard to join the team was very high,” Blummenfelt said to be selected for the Norwegian national triathlon team. “There were no other triathletes to be found.” The country, more rooted in winter sports like cross-country skiing and speed skating, didn’t have a single triathlete competing in the Olympics until Blummenfelt qualified in 2016, where he finished 13th. Five years later, at the Tokyo Games, Norway took three places in the top 11 (Gustav Iden 8th and Casper Stornes 11th), the highest collective ranking of any other country.

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He had a lot of races me too

On the legal triathlon World Series circuit alone, Blummenfelt has racked up 18 career wins. But he didn’t knock it out of the park every time. In his very first triathlon competition as part of the Norwegian elite junior team at the age of 16, he placed 52nd out of 62 competitors (although, it must be added, he bounced back the following season with a victory at Brno in the Czech Republic in the same series). After moving from junior to elite level in 2013, Blummenfelt’s results were lukewarm – he mostly placed in the double digits in major races – for the better part of four years until he made his first breakthrough in 2017, winning the silver medal at the Rotterdam World Triathlon Series Grand Final.

But while he’s good at winning races, Blummenfelt has proven he’s just as good at bouncing back from bad ones. “I guess it’s good to get that kind of slap in the face,” he said after a disappointment tenth place at Ironman 70.3 Dubai last March. “It hurts to lose and it’s awful after the race, but I’ll use it as fuel for training.” He won the Ironman World Championships nine weeks later.

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