Steamboat woman takes silver at 70.3 Ironman World Championships

Steamboat citizen Joy Rasmussen-Otterman celebrates her second-place finish in the women's 65-69 age division of the 2022 70.3 Ironman World Championships in St. George, Utah on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022.
Joy Rasmussen-Otterman/Courtesy photo

Over 6,000 athletes from 105 countries traveled to St. George, Utah to compete in the 2022 70.3 Ironman World Championships on Friday, Oct. 28 and Saturday, Oct. 29. 

Among those athletes was Steamboat Springs resident Joy Rasmussen-Otterman who qualified for the race in 2021 and traveled to St. George to compete in the women’s 65-69 age category.

To qualify for the world championships, athletes must place first in their age group at one of the half-Ironman qualifier races leading up to the big race. Rasmussen-Otterman won for her age group at a race in Oceanside, California to punch her ticket to the world championship.

For the first time in the race’s history, there was a rolling start with five-second intervals between each launch. On top of that, this was the first time where men and women raced on separate days with the women racing on Friday, Oct. 28 and the men on Saturday, Oct. 29. 

Rasmussen-Otterman said the change was made because the sport has grown so much over recent years that more and more athletes are qualifying for the world championship. It would be too dangerous to have everyone start at once. 

“It’s pretty cool to see the fact that world championships had evolved into 6,000 athletes that had to earn a spot to be able to get to the top and then compete against each other,” Rasmussen-Otterman said. 

A 70.3 Ironman race, like the world championship, consists of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a half-marathon. 

Joy Rasmussen-Otterman completes the 2022 70.3 Ironman World Championships in St. George, Utah on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022.
Joy Rasmussen-Otterman/Courtesy photo

Starting in the water, Rasmussen-Otterman was among the first in her age group to take off during the rolling start. After powering through the water, she hopped on her bike, which is her strongest of the three legs. 

Rasmussen-Otterman said she was “wicked fast” on her bike, finishing 15 minutes ahead of her closest competitor and completing the 56-mile bike ride in just under 3 hours. 

Coming down the final stretch of the half-marathon, Rasmussen-Otterman was celebrating a great race when she turned to see her nearby competition not far behind. 

“About 200 yards from the finish line, I come up and I’m high-fiving my husband as I’m getting ready to finish,” Rasmussen-Otterman said. “I just hauled as fast as I could, sprinted across the finish line and took what I thought was first place.”

Despite being the first in her age group to cross the finish line at six hours, one minute and 54 seconds, Rasmussen-Otterman lost the race by 11 seconds because her opponent, Donna Smyers, started in a later chute of the rolling start. 

Rasmussen-Otterman is a major advocate of competing in triathlons, but she says it takes time to get there. She said anyone has the ability at any age and encourages all to give it a shot. 

“It just takes people a desire and a goal and a want to be able to do something special in their lives, to make a change in their life,” Rasmussen-Otterman said. “Anybody can do it if they have the motivation and they have the drive and they are willing to start slow.”

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