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Tyler McCandless has raced alongside the world‘s best at the Bolder Boulder. He also has often competing right alongside his fellow citizens from the city he now calls home.
On Monday McCandless put together his most memorable Bolder Boulder moment, celebrating Memorial Day by winning the men‘s citizen‘s race.
The former Penn State star works at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and represented the U.S. in the International Team Challenge in 2013 and 2014. Since 2015, McCandless has competed in the citizen‘s field, improving his finish each year before grabbing the title at the Bolder Boulder‘s 40th anniversary festivities.
McCandless finished in 30 minutes, 54.76 seconds, outpacing runner-up Connor Winter of Littleton by exactly 26 seconds. McCandless posted the race‘s only sub-five mile splits between the third and sixth miles. Forty-three year old Clint Wells, a former University of Colorado star, placed 10th. All of the other top 10 finishers except McCandless, who is 31, were older than 35.
“It means a lot. This is a peak race for me for the year,” McCandless said. “This was something I put on my race schedule in December. I wanted to do well at the Bolder Boulder and make it a big one.”
McCandless jumped into the lead pack from the outset and soon built a sizeable lead that wasn‘t challenged throughout the 10-kilometer course. It was an efficient and obviously successful approach for McCandless. Yet it also was one that went against the advice of his coach, Steve Jones, who typically preaches the virtue of starting strong but instead offered contrary wisdom to McCandless prior to the Bolder Boulder.
“Coach Jones is known for going out hard and he likes racing aggressively,” McCandless said. “Before this race he texted and he was like, ‘Patience early.‘ And then I go out to a lead in the first half a mile and I thought, ‘I don‘t know if this is patient, but it feels kind of comfortable.‘ Once I had established myself in the lead I needed to keep that. Somebody was with me for a little while and I felt a slight break. I was like I had to push harder and that was mile two. I really ran steady and strong the whole way.”
McCandless finished 21st in 2014 while competing with the U.S. pro team but has raced in the citizen‘s field every year since. He placed 26th in 2015, sixth in 2016, and fourth last year before continuing that ascension with his victory on Monday.
A marathon racer by trade, McCandless competed in the U.S. Olympic trials in the marathon in 2016. His winning time on Sunday was his personal-best mark in the Bolder Boulder, even eclipsing the time of 31:23.32 he posted in the pro field four years ago.
“It‘s become a tradition,” McCandless said. “My wife is out there and she‘s trying to break 40 (minutes). Her dad is out there, he‘s hoping to break 60. Each year we come back and we just try to improve and set new goals and achieve them.”