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A Colorado Ironwoman You Should Know: D’Arcy Toffolo

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D’Arcy Toffolo recently shared her experiences as a Colorado athlete for a new state tourism campaign, and we quickly learned she has many more stories to tell. A Chicagoan-turned-Coloradan who moved to Denver to enrich her family’s athletic life, Toffolo is an elite triathlete and all-around cool adventure chick. Here’s how she became a Colorado “wonder woman” and fierce champion of her fellow female triathletes.

Before she moved to Colorado, training and competing was a mostly solitary adventure for D’Arcy Toffolo. A swimmer since age 9, she competed all the way through high school. She fell in love with triathlon as a student at Boston College, and went on to become an eight-time Ironman athlete, a USA Triathlon All-American Triathlete for five consecutive years and a top 10 finisher in the nearly 100 triathlons she has completed.

“Training for tri has always kept me motivated and in the gym, but it has also meant training mostly solo,” she says. “Success in triathlon, particularly Ironman, requires more mental than physical toughness; the result was an isolating regimen that didn’t always feel fun or rewarding.”

That all changed when she moved to Denver.

“I noticed that people here love to train together. There’s a club, or several, for every sport. Camaraderie is big, and athletes are keen on supporting each other,” she says.

So, for the first time, Toffolo began surrounding herself with female athletes, many of whom had come to Colorado to live richer, fuller lives — just like she had. She joined up with two Front Range groups, Runners Roost triathlon team and the all-female TriBella Multisport team. Instead of feeling threatened by her fellow competitors as she might have earlier in her career, she became inspired.

In short time, Toffolo turned her attention to lending that same support to other women starting out in triathlon. She’s been an ambassador for Women for Tri, an Ironman-affiliated organization focused on increasing female participation in the sport. Now in her third season with TriBella, she lends her expertise at beginner races and training weekends in Boulder.

“We talk about nutrition and hold swim clinics, yoga sessions and training rides, but most importantly, we just enjoy each other’s company,” she says.

In 2016, she founded the Wonder Women Elite Athlete Panel to give women an opportunity to learn from some of the top female runners, mountain bikers and swimmers in the state.

“Training and racing as an elite athlete requires superior logistics skills, particularly for those of us in a full-time job, married and with children,” says Toffolo, who is also a marketing exec.

Legends such as Kim Dobson (Pikes Peak Ascent record holder), Sarah Thomas (world-record holder for the longest unassisted swim) and pro triathlete Katy Blakemore Evans have shared their experiences, discussed topics like equality in sport, and passed on tips for how to balance it all. (Stay tuned for more potential Wonder Women Elite Athlete Panel events in the future.)

Another benefit of moving to Colorado: Using the naturally challenging terrain of the Front Range as her training ground. Alongside her teammates, you might find D’Arcy running trails at Matthews/Winters Park in Golden and pedaling the steep climbs of Lair O’ the Bear Park in Idledale, near Morrison. For beginner riders, Toffolo recommends Waterton Canyon in Littleton.

“Also, I really love some in-town trails, including Cheesman Park and Washington Park,” she says. “Both are flat and great for doing loops around — and people watching.”  

Toffolo hasn’t totally left her solo pursuits behind; she just completed a 20-mile swim up the coast of Lake Michigan. But moving to Colorado helped her see her role as an elite athlete differently.

“What I’ve learned in my 30 years of racing is that we are stronger together,” she says. “I still have much to learn from this amazing athletic community of women who push each other to go further every day, and I believe that our experience can and should be passed along to other women in sport.”

D’Arcy’s Recommended Resources for Triathlon Training & Supplies:

Women for Tri
TriBella Women’s Multisport
Runners Roost
Rocky Mountain Tri Club

Read Winter Women: Ladies’ Outdoor Programs >>