Ben Hoffman Returns to South Africa On A Mission

Friday 05 April 2019
After an injury and disappointing finish at last year's Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship, the American (and former champion) returns to South Africa this weekend for a redemption race.

Rewind to exactly a year ago… The American from Colorado, Ben Hoffman, was looking to set what would’ve been a hattrick of wins at the Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship. His confidence was sky high as he looked to first take on the grueling Cape Epic stage race, one of the toughest off-road cycling events, just two weeks before competing in the IRONMAN event. Tackling South Africa’s two most demanding endurance events with that small of a gap between them is absolute madness to say the least, but "The Hoff" was determined—and you would’ve been a brave soul to bet against him.

"Entering my 12th pro season (last year), I was looking for something different to keep things fresh and exciting," says Hoffman. "When the IRONMAN Foundation reached out to me about this opportunity [to race as an ambassador], I immediately knew this would be a perfect way to mix things up. While the timing isn’t typical for an IRONMAN build up, I was looking forward to both the cycling and mental workout which I thought would hopefully bolster my goal of having a great race at the Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship."

Teaming up with fellow pro Sebastian Kienle, he took to battle, navigating the rugged Cape mountains. "It was both an amazing and extremely painful experience," he says. "I think I underestimated the Epic a little, and it definitely beat me up. Unfortunately, with the level of suffering we experienced, I did not have as much time to enjoy the scenery and experience as I would have liked, but I am proud to have taken the event on and completed it with my partner, Sebastian. I will remember it forever, and that is more than you can say about some races. I am thankful for the opportunity to have raced such an iconic event for a great cause with the support of the IRONMAN Foundation."

With Cape Epic behind him, Hoffman turned his focus to the Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship, looking to defend his title against a world-class field determined to dethrone him. With Josh Amberger, who is always the first athlete out the water, and uber-biker Cameron Wurf in the same line-up, it promised to be a thriller. However, it was the hometown hero, Kyle Buckingham, who would turn the script on its head, making headlines as he took his first Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship title. Hoffman crossed the finish line almost four hours behind Buckingham, stopping his watch at 12:06:48, which is a far cry from his 2017 victory in 7:58:40.   

So, what happened? Hoffman explains, "The main problem was that I suffered a crash in the Cape Epic race that caused me lower back problems, which stopped my run training before the race. I hoped for a miracle on race day, but even as I ran into the water to start the swim, I knew it would be an issue. It took several weeks of rest after the event to recuperate and resume normal training."

Despite the excruciating pain he felt on the marathon and seeing age-groupers zoom past him, Hoffman persevered to the finish line, earning rousing cheers from the Nelson Mandela Bay crowds. A DNF was just not an option for The Hoff: "I have tremendous respect for my fellow competitors and participants, the race crew, fans and all of my supporters. To simply quit was not a good option for me, as I wanted to show my appreciation for everyone who was involved in the effort. Finally, I did need to finish to secure my spot for Kona, so I persevered. In the end, I knew that time would pass the same whether I was in the hotel room or on the course, and with all the cheers I received, it kept me going."


This year, Hoffman hopes to tell a personal story of redemption. "I suffered another unfortunate injury at the end of 2018, so needless to say I am happy to put last year behind me and move on to 2019. I am in a good place right now, feeling strong, healthy, and ready for some racing. The time away gave me a fresh perspective on this career and I am hungrier than ever to come back and have some great performances. The big early season goal is to have some redemption and target my third title at the Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship."
With a deep field this weekend that includes defending champion and hometown hero Kyle Buckingham, Hoffman has his work cut out for him. But with a healthy body and a gracious spirit, you can count on him giving it his all.  

You can follow all the live pro action on the IRONMAN Now Facebook Watch page.

MALE PRO:
1 Kyle Buckingham SOUTH AFRICA
2 Ben Hoffman UNITED STATES
3 Josh Amberger AUSTRALIA
4 Maurice Clavel GERMANY
5 Bart Aernouts BELGIUM
6 David McNamee UNITED KINGDOM
7 Tim Don UNITED KINGDOM
8 Nils Frommhold GERMANY
9 Matt Trautman SOUTH AFRICA
10 James Cunnama SOUTH AFRICA
11 Tim Van Berkel AUSTRALIA
12 Patrik Nilsson SWEDEN
13 Eneko Llanos SPAIN
14 Andreas Dreitz GERMANY
15 Michael Weiss AUSTRIA
16 Jan van Berkel SWITZERLAND
17 Giulio Molinari ITALY
18 Johann Ackermann GERMANY
19 Alessandro Degasperi ITALY
20 Gerhard de Bruin SOUTH AFRICA
21 Peru Alfaro San Ildefonso SPAIN
22 Victor Arroyo bugallo SPAIN
23 Reece Barclay UNITED KINGDOM
24 Vinicius Canhedo BRAZIL
25 Karl-Johan Danielsson SWEDEN
26 Eneko Elosegui Armendariz SPAIN
27 Samuel Huerzeler SWITZERLAND
28 Philippe Lamberty LUXEMBOURG
29 Markus Liebelt GERMANY
30 Urs Müller SWITZERLAND
31 Sebastian Norberg SWEDEN
32 Jonas Örarbäck SWEDEN
33 Gustavo Rodríguez Iglesias SPAIN
34 Paul Ruttmann AUSTRIA
35 Evert Scheltinga NETHERLANDS
36 Markus Thomschke GERMANY
37 Clinton Gravett SOUTH AFRICA

FEMALE PRO:
40 Lucy Charles-Barclay UNITED KINGDOM
41 Gurutze (Guru) Frades SPAIN
42 Lauren Brandon UNITED STATES
43 Mareen Hufe GERMANY
44 Anja Ippach GERMANY
45 Annah Watkinson SOUTH AFRICA
46 Federica De Nicola ITALY
47 Tessa Kortekaas NETHERLANDS
48 Angela Lindberg GERMANY
49 Ashley Paulson UNITED STATES
50 Antonina Reznikov ISRAEL
51 Natalie Seymour UNITED KINGDOM
52 Angela Naeth CANADA
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