More info: leandacave.com
Leanda Cave will have a view of the Flatirons this year as she trains to defend her titles at the 2013 half-Ironman and Ironman world championships.
Cave, who last year became the first female triathlete in history to win the 70.3 and Ironman world titles in the same year, has permanently relocated to Boulder from Tucson, Ariz. She bought a house in town this summer and plans to make the Front Range her training ground for the foreseeable future. Her coach Siri Lindley also moved to Boulder this summer, bringing along with her many of the athletes she coaches from around the country.
Though she was born in Britain, Cave also lived in Australia growing up. She's spent much of career as a professional triathlete living in the United States, though she represents Great Britain and Wales in international competitions. Cave turned pro in 1994, originally competing at shorter distances before becoming an Ironman-distance specialist.
Cave said she's looking forward to living among Boulder's renowned healthy and active population, though she's a bit worried about Boulder's colder months.
"I haven't spent a winter here, so that's going to be really interesting," she said, laughing. "But it kind of motivates you to get up and do things. When the weather's rough, you see people out and you want to do it too."
Cave's move comes almost a year after winning both the half-Ironman and Ironman world titles in 2012. Before those two races, she suffered from a painful back injury and said she assumed her season was over last July.
But unexpectedly, she found herself out front at the 70.3 world championships in Las Vegas, and then went on to win the Ironman world title at Kona after five years of competing there.
As more triathletes specialize in just one distance, Cave didn't think she had a shot at winning the half-Ironman title after dealing with her injury, as well as training for the longer-distance race.
"I thought my year was a write-off after getting injured," she said, "but I took a lot of confidence out of just winning in Vegas."
Though that momentum propelled her to win Kona, winning two world titles in the same year didn't make her cocky, said longtime friend Rebekah Keat. Keat and Cave met while competing against each other as juniors, and Heat also moved to Boulder this summer to continue training under Lindley.
Even though Cave has won four world titles in her career -- two of them in the last year -- she's still as hardworking as ever, Keat said.
Keat said she often watches how Cave trains and reacts to situations, and tries to learn from her.
"She hasn't changed at all," Keat said. "She's still shy, humble, quiet and doesn't say a lot -- but when she does, she's hilarious. I think that's why she has the success that she has. She does her thing. She doesn't bother with anyone else."
This year has been very similar to Cave's 2012 season. A hamstring "niggle," as she calls it, has been getting increasingly worse this season. At the Boulder 70.3, Cave managed to finish second, despite dealing with pain in her entire left leg. She said the pain was exacerbated by her other muscles that have been compensating for her strained hamstring.
Before Vegas and Kona, she'll compete at Hyvee 5150, an Olympic-distance U.S. championship race with the largest prize purse in the sport. Though at the beginning every season it gets tougher to start training again, 35-year-old Cave said she's not ready to retire just yet, not after she's finally figured out her own personal formula for winning Kona.
It's no one thing that helped her to win, said Cave's coach Lindley, but rather all the intangibles and years of training coming together at the right time.
Cave said she plans to replicate that winning recipe again at Kona, with some good results at the Hyvee 5150 race and 70.3 world championships along the way. The daughter of a carpenter, Cave said she's always known that working hard is the only path to winning, even if you've already achieved success.
"A little in the beginning is trial and error and figuring out what the best recipe is," said Lindley. "I used to always say to her 'This can be your race.' I felt when we arrived in Kona a couple of weeks beforehand, that she truly believed that as well. I can sit there and believe in these things, but to have the athlete believe it themselves creates a magic."
—Follow Sarah Kuta: twitter.com/SarahKuta