It makes sense that in Auburn, CA, the place that proclaims itself as the Endurance Capital of the World, you would name your triathlon, The World’s Toughest Half. At least that is what Brad Kearns, a former world-class professional triathlete and resident of Auburn, thought when he started the Auburn Triathlon twelve years ago in the town famous for being the finish of the Tevis Cup 100 mile horse race and one of the toughest long distance running races in America, the Western States 100, both of which travel from Squaw Valley to Auburn. The World’s Toughest Half is a half-Ironman distance event. The competitors swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.1 miles. With the Sierra foothills steep hills and rugged trails it is billed as one of the toughest courses in the world.
Brad Kearns originated the Auburn Triathlon after spending nine years as a pro triathlete. After moving to Auburn it didn’t take him long to decide that it was the best place in the world to train for triathlon. What Brad found in Auburn was lovely rural countryside for the ride, beautiful American River Canyon views and steep drops for the run, and a quiet cove at Folsom Lake for the swim; the makings of a great triathlon. Since Auburn didn’t have a triathlon of its own, Brad decided to start one. in 2012, Auburn Triathlon changed hands to Colleen Conners-Pace and Joe Pace both of Tahoe Peak Endurance, LLC.
Colleen Conners-Pace and Joe Pace will be going on their second year as Race Directors of the Auburn Triathlon. Colleen, a lifelong Sierra resident, and Joe bring to the Auburn Triathlon years of endurance experience, not only from having participated several times in the World’s Toughest Half, competing in XTERRA and Ironman triathlons to ultra distance running events. In 1980, Colleen completed the Western States 100, ending her very long day with a run across the infamous “No Hands Bridge” that crosses the confluence of the North Fork and Middle Fork of the American River, depicted in their new logo design for the triathlon (created by Colleen’s nephew, Ty Conners). 33 years later, Colleen attempted the Western States 100 again, finishing 78 of the 100 miles after having knee surgery the previous March. Joe competed in the Inaugural Ironman Lake Tahoe, finishing 10th in his age group. Joe and Colleen, having passion for competing in challenging events, will look at the triathlon through the eyes of competitors.