Shop Talk: Ellie Salthouse & Jeanni Seymour
Up and coming IRONMAN 70.3 pros talk about their successful seasons so far.
by Megan Evoe
They have only raced each other twice and already they are making their new found rivalry an exciting one. IRONMAN 70.3 sensations Ellie Salthouse and Jeanni Seymour may be young pro triathletes, but their years of experience are already helping them rise to the top as they battle some of the sport’s greatest female pros—Salthouse herself will toe the line at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship next month on the Sunshine Coast.
With both athletes living and training in Boulder, it’s safe to say they’ll probably get used to seeing each other both on and off the race course in the next few years. We chatted with them recently over lattes and discussed their surprise finishes this year, and why there’s no place like home.
How do you do
Salthouse: Jeanni and I say 'hi' at races, but this is actually our first real meeting.
Seymour: The first time we interacted was at IRONMAN 70.3 St. George this year.
Salthouse: We’ve raced each other twice now.
Seymour: Boulder is a tight community, so I have seen Ellie out on the bike and run.
Salthouse: I have given Jeanni a wave from the bike. I think we’ll be seeing each other a lot more now, though.
Salthouse: I have competed in only four IRONMAN 70.3 races ever, the first one being last September.
Seymour: I turned pro four years ago at 20 and went straight into racing IRONMAN 70.3 events.
Salthouse: I turned pro at 17 and have been racing only ITU until now.
Seymour: I was terrible my first couple of years as a pro. I had no idea what I was doing.
Salthouse: My coach, Siri Lindley, sent me to do my first IRONMAN 70.3 race with an inkling that I might be good at it. I didn’t enjoy it at first.
Seymour: I am just now feeling like I am getting on my feet at this distance.
Salthouse: Now that I train for the half distance, I love it! I never want to go back to short-course racing—I feel like this is where I belong.
Seymour: The race is getting so fast that it’s becoming like an ITU race, just double the distance.
By George, they’ve got it
Seymour: I wanted to be ready for a championship race like IRONMAN 70.3 St. George and got some confidence from my first race this year.
Salthouse: This year is about having fun. I had no expectations because I am so new to the 70.3 circuit. (Salthouse ended up scoring enough points to qualify her for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Australia, however.)
Seymour: I had no expectations at St. George because I didn’t want to put pressure on myself.
Salthouse: I had it in my head that I wanted to go top five in St. George and just tried to put together my best race.
Seymour: I had some issues in my race, but was super stoked to get sixth against the best women in the sport.
Salthouse: Every race is a surprise for me right now, but I was stoked to get fifth. The course and conditions were brutal!
Battle in Boulder
Salthouse: I was worried during my warm-up because I felt terrible.
Seymour: I didn’t feel great either. I was so nervous and had told my coach earlier in the week that I didn’t want to race.
Salthouse: Luckily, I swam with Alicia (Kaye) and we exited the water with a two-minute lead.
Seymour: I started with Ellie, but went past my threshold and couldn’t catch my breath. I had to slow down.
Salthouse: Once on the bike, Alicia stepped on the pedals in the first miles. Thankfully, I had my fastest ride ever.
Seymour: Even after a bad swim, I stayed positive and headed out on the bike. I knew it would be super hot so I made sure to drink a lot to stay cool.
Salthouse: I caught Alicia by mile 40 and we headed into T2 together. I just tried to quickly take off.
Seymour: I was glad to bike by myself and just locked into my pace. I had to stop because my arrow box popped off. I came into T2 feeling ok.
Salthouse: I soon got a run split that Jeanni was only two and a half minutes back. I knew she was coming for me.
Seymour: The run course was hard and hot! Honestly, I wanted to DNF, but I was in third.
Salthouse: I wasn’t having a great run and I knew it was going to be a tough day.
Seymour: I ended up catching Alica and knew Ellie was ahead, but I stayed patient because it was getting so hot.
Salthouse: I kept hearing splits between me and Jeanni that kept going down and down. By the start of the second lap, she was only 40 seconds back.
Seymour: I heard splits that I was doing better so I kept thinking about catching Ellie and told myself I would be ok.
Salthouse: Siri told me that Jeanni was going to pass me at some point and to just sit on her heels and be tough.
Seymour: I could finally see Ellie and even though I was giving everything I had, I thought “Why can’t I catch her?”
Salthouse: I could see Jeanni on an out and back and knew she was close.
Seymour: As I got closer to Ellie, I kept focusing on her socks. They had donuts on them, right?
Salthouse: Yes, they did! Suddenly I heard her lead bike and my lead bike talking about how to organize “the pass” that was about to happen.
Seymour: Those last two miles felt like a lifetime!
Salthouse: With a half mile to go, we could see the finish line together.
Seymour: I went too early in my attempt to pull away.
Salthouse: I told myself “If you don’t sit on her feet, you’ll regret this!”
Seymour: People were cheering for both of us. When she finally surged ahead, I had nothing left.
Salthouse: Coming from ITU, I knew I had a sprint, but I didn’t know if Jeanni did too. I just went for it with 250 meters to go.
Seymour: It was tough to take, but I was stoked to finish second.
Salthouse: After over four hours of racing, it came down to that moment!
Home sweet home
Salthouse: Racing in your backyard is amazing because you have so much crowd support.
Seymour: We don’t get that kind of support that often, which made IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder special.
Salthouse: I enjoyed some ice cream, cheese cake, and popped a little champagne to celebrate with friends.
Seymour: I had family in town and went to Rocky National Park so I could enjoy something non-triathlon.
Salthouse: It’s nice to let your hair down, but you have to stay focused during the middle of the season.
Salthouse: It’s cool to be up and comers at the half distance.
Seymour: I think we’ll see a lot of each other at races in the coming years.
Salthouse: We've both had good results this year and so we’ll see what happens next.
Seymour: My life is triathlon and I want to be a good ambassador as a strong woman in the sport.
Salthouse: Racing this distance is a fun experience for me so far, especially racing Jeanni.
Seymour: I am definitely trying to build a career in triathlon. It’s nice having Ellie as a competitor.
Watch for these two on the race circuit, and Salthouse as she competes next month in Mooloolaba.