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BOISE -- A journey of 1,000 miles starts with one step. But a journey of 70.3 miles of swimming, biking and running started at Lucky Peak on Saturday morning.

I think, once I actually get on the course, I'll be fine, said Peter Midgley, an amateur competitor from Boise. But, these pre-race jitters are, heh, they can get to you a little bit! I'm feeling a little anxious, ready to get going.

Hundreds of amateurs, like Midgley, compete in the Boise Ironman 70.3 just to test their limits.

When you do it, you're like, 'Whoa, that wasn't too bad', said Rob Johnson, an amateur racer from Boise. Then you wake up the next morning, and you're like, 'I can't walk!'

It is a little intimidating, said Rich DeBorba, an amateur competitor from Sunnyville, California. When you say you're at an M-dot (Ironman) event, it has a little more clout than doing a long course. But I didn't think it'd bring out this many elite athletes. There's not a lot of fat people here.

Plenty of top-tier pros were there too, like Ben Hoffman. Hoffman finished 2nd by 10 seconds last year. He said he loves coming here.

I've never heard a bad thing, said Hoffman. I mean, I think the town really gets into it. There's obviously a great crowd downtown when it finishes in the afternoon like this. I think people like the afternoon start. It's something different. The course is beautiful. Boise is a beautiful city. It's nice and clean, and it's just a great venue for a race.

But whether amateur or pro, they all seem to come for the same reason.

It's actually the challenge, said Anne Ciaverella, a Portland, Oregon, competitor racing for the first time as a pro. I'm not going to be one of the top pros, but I just was looking forward to another challenge and seeing how I did.

It really stretches you, said Johnson. It really helps you tap into your endurance. It's a great challenge.

But, what keeps these competitors going through more than 70 miles? It's just the thought of finishing.

It's gonna pull me through this swim, said DeBorba. I mean, elation like I've never felt before. I'm really excited.

I'm anxious for the race to be over, said Midgley Hopefully I will be able to say by the end of the day, 'I've accomplished this.' It will be a nice feeling.

You keep saying during the race, especially during a full, 'I'm never doing this again. I'm never doing this again,' said Ciaverella. Then when you're done, you sign up for another one immediately. They're addicting.

You challenge yourself to see if you're the best on the day, said Hoffman. I'm looking forward to another hard race, and maybe a close finish. I'd be okay with it if it wasn't. If it comes down to it, I'm confident that I can pull it out.

Hoffmanhad a reason to be confident. Following the bike portion, he was in 1st, and after running the half-marathon portion along the Greenbelt, he held on to win this year's Boise Ironman 70.3.

Hoffman said he'd be happy with a not-so-close finish. That's what he got, winning this year by more than two minutes. He's competed in every Boise Ironman 70.3, but this is his first win here.

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