Parkite earns second at World Cross Triathlon Championship in Ibiza
Betsy Hochman, 29, finishes her second competition despite bike crash earlier in race
Triathlete Betsy Hochman was transitioning from swimming in the crisp blue waters of the Balearic Sea to traversing down the rocky coastal cliffs on her cerulean mountain bike when she hit a rock and took a header. The handlebars were bent around 90 degrees, but Hochman quickly twisted them back into place, jumped onto her bike and completed the race.
The 29-year-old Parkite went on to earn second place for her age group in the 2023 World Cross Triathlon Championships in Ibiza, Spain on May 5 despite her tumble. Hochman completed the nearly 20-mile route in around two hours and 40 minutes, finishing around 30 minutes after the Australian woman who took home first.
It was the second time Hochman has earned a position on the podium after she placed first in her division at the 2015 Sardegna ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships. She was also invited to attend the 2022 World Cross Triathlon but was unable to attend the event.
Hochman was disappointed that she couldn’t compete and decided to attend a national event last June to earn a spot in this year’s world competition. She was the fifth woman overall, qualifying her for the event.
“When that happened, I was like, ‘OK. Now I’ve qualified twice. I’m going to make it happen no matter what,'” Hochman said.
She started that summer with mountain biking, which is one of her favorite sports. Hochman started the activity for fun while she was in high school and became more competitive with it throughout college. Then, Park City became Hochman’s training grounds after she moved to the area around six years ago.
The Wasatch Back provides an ideal environment for the trail-running and open-water aspects offered in the niche sport of cross triathlons, Hochman said.
One of her favorite summer rides in Summit County is to go up to Utah Olympic Park, near the Rob’s or Yeti’s trails, after she finishes work. Once Hochman is at the ridgeline, she looks down at the countless pathways and decides which one she wants to take. Bob’s Basin is another favorite of Hochman’s due to its proximity to her neighborhood.
Hochman shifted her training regime to focus on swimming, which she said is her weakest sport, when the weather shifted into autumn. She found herself spending four to five days a week at the Ecker Hill Aquatic Center and the pool at The Fieldhouse practicing her strokes and breathing. Hochman also spent time in the Jordanelle Reservoir to become more comfortable swimming in large, open water.
“I didn’t grow up swimming competitively so it’s been fun to meet people at the pool,” she said, noting the incredible athletes that call Park City home. “It’s a nice little community so it’s really easy to get good tips.”
And when the snow began to fall, Hochman did a bit of skate-skiing as an alternative to mountain biking.
Running was something she did several times a week, too. The Flying Dog Loop offers a variety of fun and challenging trails while Round Valley is another great option in the spring, Hochman said. She also runs with the Park City Trail Club every Sunday as a way to change up her routine and meet other athletes.
“It was fun in some ways,” Hochman said of training for the triathlon. “It’s all of my favorite sports so it’s great to have an excuse to go do them.”
Her hard work came to a head last month when Hochman shipped her bike across the Atlantic Ocean and found herself in the Mediterranean.
The World Cross Triathlon Championships began with a 1,000-meter swim in water that was around 67 degrees. The temperature was just at the cusp of whether athletes could wear wetsuits, something Hochman was ultimately grateful for. She said it felt amazing to swim in the clear ocean compared to the murky lakes so many Utahans are used to.
Hochman is proud of her swim. She completed the swim in 20 minutes, which is one of her fastest competitive times. The triathlete then transitioned from the water to her bicycle.
The terrain in Ibiza was similar to Summit County in that it is dry and rocky. However, there isn’t much elevation on the island, which creates punchy hills that go straight up and right back down. The trails were also tight with some areas surrounded by trees. Portions of the route had also been constructed the week of the competition, which resulted in softer soil. The area opened into wide gravel roads at times, allowing riders to pass each other and fight for their spot.
But Hochman crashed soon after she started pedaling, which she said was caused by a combination of sunscreen-greased hands and a bump that was just a bit too big.
“We don’t typically wear gloves when we race. When we got to the big, rocky downhill, I was just super stoked and excited. I was thinking, ‘This is where it opens up and I can really go.’ But I hit just a big enough rock and slipped right off,” she explained.
Hochman took about 30 seconds to check herself for injuries before looking at her bike. She feared it was damaged after preparing all year for the race. But luckily, it was just a bit bent. So Hochman made a few adjustments before hopping back on and continuing the competition.
“It was nice to get up and feel that relief. To see that everything was still good and to know that I could finish. So I took a deep breath and I kept going,” she said.
The mountain bike track was fast and short with athletes completing two laps totaling around 13 miles. Finally, they started running.
Hochman finished the race after completing 6 kilometers, or almost 4 miles, in 36 minutes. It was exciting for the Parkite to earn a place on the podium as it signified that her hard work and training had paid off. Her second-place spot also guaranteed that Hochman will qualify for the 2024 World Cross Triathlon Championships in Townsville, Australia, which she hopes to attend.
Though it can be daunting to be in the male-dominated field of off-road sports, Hochman is proud to have the confidence to participate.
“It’s easy to be intimidated but the people are so friendly. We’re all out there because we enjoy it,” she said. “If you just show up and do it, you’re going to enjoy it, too.”
A woman was arrested by the Wasatch County sheriff’s deputies on four felony charges — including aggravated murder — after reportedly leading deputies to search for her deceased baby’s body by Exit 131 in Parleys Canyon.
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