Reaching New Heights with Sam Long
Your own Personal Record™ is within your reach
It’s no secret that we do things a little differently here at Athletic Brewing. Our founders, Bill Shufelt and John Walker, saw what was possible and chased a colossal goal to create a delicious and refreshing alternative to alcoholic beverages. They took a chance, chased a dream, and reached an objective far bigger than anybody ever could have imagined.
People thought they were crazy and the duo was told that it would never work. They were doubted and even laughed at, but that didn’t stop them from pursuing their dream.
We want to celebrate those who set audacious goals and push their limits to reach them. We applaud those who do things a little differently to get to where they want to be, and who ignore the naysayers. Being true to yourself can lead you to your own personal records.
We know your personal best is always within reach, so we created a brew that raises the bar with you. It’s an ode to chasing goals and striving for your own personal record.
Personal Record™ is an awe-inspiring IPA crafted in collaboration with the iconic IRONMAN® triathlon Series. It’s brewed with turmeric, boasts flavors of mango and tropical hops, and tastes like victory.
Reach for your own Personal Record™ in the refrigerator and in life, and read on for a little inspiration to help get you moving towards your dreams.
Sam Long is Anything But Ordinary
Like our founders, Sam Long does things a little differently. He’s making waves in the IRONMAN® triathlon series with his infectious ebullience and big personality. At only 26 years old, Long is the future of the sport, and the future is looking bright.
Sam Long has a tall frame, capped off with a wide, confident grin. He laughs easily and you can’t help but smile along with him, especially when he greets you enthusiastically with his catchphrase, “Yo yo yo!” Long wears his heart on his sleeve and shares all on social media and on his YouTube channel – the good and the bad. When he sets a goal, he puts it out into the world and then makes it happen. Long’s attitude towards the sport is refreshing.
“I feel like I've broken through and this is sort of the first year where I feel somewhat established, or establishing kind of a main name in the sport,” says Long. “Looking back, breaking out was really awesome and I just didn't really care what other people thought and I didn't have really any pressure on me and so in a way it was like a really fun time.”
Even though he’s only 26, Long has more than 16 IRONMAN® triathlons under his belt. Two of those races are wins at the full distance, seven are middle-distance wins, and he's the current 70.3 Worlds Silver Medalist.
Chasing a Dream
Long jokes that he has been training for IRONMAN® since he was five years old. “If anybody looked at how I grew up they’d be like, ‘this guy has been training since he was five,’ but I didn’t call it training,” he laughs, “I called it playing with my brothers.”
Long grew up in Boulder, Colorado as one of a triplet of boys, spending a lot of time in Crested Butte above an elevation of 10,000 feet. The three brothers spent their time running around in the woods, playing games, and competing with one another. As he got older, he played as many sports as he possibly could fit into his schedule. When he got into high school, he took at least three physical education classes every day because “I’d rather be working out than sitting at a desk.”
Long knew early on that he wanted to be a professional athlete. He fell in love with IRONMAN® triathlons after his first race in the series at the young age of 18. It was only his third triathlon ever, and he wasn’t even sure that he could complete it. It would be the furthest he ever rode his bike and the furthest distance he had ever run in a day – all in one day.
“My first IRONMAN® experience was probably the best IRONMAN® I ever had,” Long recalls. “And I don’t mean in terms of performance. From a mental standpoint, I don’t think my life ever changed so much in one day.”
Friends and family had warned Long that he may not complete the course, that he might be too young for a full distance IRONMAN®. “I way exceeded my expectations and everyone else’s expectations,” he says. “It was just like getting thrown into this gauntlet. I was able to push through… and I crossed that finish line and literally started crying.” It’s the only time Long has ever cried at the end of a race. He placed 13th out of 3,000 athletes.
The morning after the race, Long woke up and knew that he wanted to become a professional triathlete. He remembers thinking to himself, “I don’t even really know what that means or what that entails yet, but that’s what I’m going to do with my life.”
And he didn’t stop. He was hungry for wins. “It felt like every single race everything was on the line,” he recalls, “and that if I didn't perform, this dream of being a professional triathlete could go away, so it really fueled me.”
Part of Long’s success is due to the experience he’s garnered. He likens IRONMAN® Triathlon series to a chess match, because you’re always sizing up your competition and trying to predict your opponent's next move.
“You get more miles under your belt and those miles are important,” says Long. “You also learn those race decisions. Sometimes you play the wrong move, and even if you have the fitness as a professional then you'll lose the race. I also tried to accelerate and get that race experience… in my earlier years I was racing three or four [IRONMAN® triathlons] a year to learn those chess moves, and to learn how I need to set up and basically to learn from my mistakes.”
Narrowing the Focus
Long has had to make a difficult decision this year, but he’s held onto certain goals and that helps him make the right decisions. The full-distance IRONMAN® in Kona, Hawai’i is considered the ‘golden race’. It’s the IRONMAN® World Championships, and it is the race every serious IRONMAN® athlete wants to race and to win, but Long has chosen not to attend this year.
“It was an extremely hard decision to make and I’m still sometimes finding myself wanting to go back,” says Long. “But the thing is, our half-distance World Championships is only three weeks after.”
Long came in second place in last year’s half-distance IRONMAN® World Championships in ST. George, Utah. He knows that he has a very good chance of securing himself a world title at St. George, but if he were to race in Kona, that could ruin his chances.
“Realistically I feel like my best race at Kona this year might be like a fifth place,” Long explains, “while my best race at St. George at the 70.3 world championships can 100% be a world title. But if I do both, I'm likely sacrificing the world title because Kona's only three weeks beforehand. So yeah, it's trying to be smart.”
Long seems to live by a quote he heard from a triathlon coach, “‘Be ambitious, but don't get greedy’ and I think that carries into all aspects of life,” says Long. “There's actually a very fine line between ambition and greed and it's fine to want to push and to work really hard or to achieve these goals. But at what point are you getting greedy with those goals?”
There are many Kona’s in Long’s future. “I know I'm making the right decision. I have the right plan and I need to just stick with it and also it's not even just about this year. It's also about setting Kona in five years or three years or even ten years from now… I'm 26 and even if I start at Kona next year at 27 I could still potentially have 13 or 15 konas in my career which would be a lot.”
Wearing His Heart on His Sleeve
The openness and honesty that Long exhibits in such a public way is out of the ordinary for an IRONMAN® triathlete. When he sets a goal, he shares it, essentially putting pressure on himself to perform. Long also owns the mistakes he makes and actually uses it to his advantage. He celebrates the wins with pure joy and is open about his weaknesses.
“When you’ve got eyes on you, you feel like being vulnerable is a weakness,” Long said in an interview, “but to me, it’s a way of actually getting rid of weakness… If I say, ‘Yeah, I sucked at swimming here and it’s gonna get better,’ for me, it makes it so nobody else can say anything. They can say something negative, but I’ve already said it about myself, so you’re not going to get to me if I’m honest.”
Wearing his heart on his sleeve has also garnered him quite the following on social media. Long has nearly 27,000 subscribers on YouTube, and over 68,000 followers on Instagram, arguably making him one of the most followed IRONMAN® triathletes.
During the pandemic, with travel restrictions and canceled races, Long created challenges for himself and his followers, and even called out his fellow IRONMAN® athletes and opponents. “I actually did almost more race days during COVID when there were no races than I have any other year because I could just make them up,” says Long. “It was like my brain just went wild. Oh I'm going to do this FKT I'm going to do this KOM. I'm going to make this crazy challenge and then I'm going to tell a story around it… and sometimes you can come up with this cool challenge and if you can get your friends to do it, that's as good of a race as anything.”
A big following is not what it’s about for Long, “The future is still so big and so in front of me,” he says, “I’m only 26 and I really think the peak years are like 33 to potentially 40 so I'm just doing what I can to set myself up for that time.”
Be True to Yourself
True authenticity is not always easy, but it can lead to great places and to reaching your own personal best. Sam Long is doing things differently in IRONMAN®. He’s being authentic and in doing so, disrupting the status quo.
Long sticks to his guns and continues to tell his story, whether it’s good or bad. “Being a human being we make mistakes and I actually think my story and my journey would be really boring if it was just always success, success, success,” he says. “We can look at the hero's journey in a book, right? You come up and you have to fall down below and then you have to rise up again. I think that's everyone's journey. That's life's journey… It's hard for a while and then we ultimately overcome and get even better than we were before.”
Athletic Brewing x IRONMAN®
We’ve supported IRONMAN® races and athletes for two years. We believe that everyone is capable of achieving great things if they are true to themselves and work hard.
If you're ready to reach for the best, reach for a cold Personal Record™ to fuel your inspiration. With determination (and a little grit), you can set your own personal record.
Bigger flavor, bolder ingredients, and a name inspired by your greatest achievements…this brew is in a league of its own. It’s our latest awe-inspiring IPA, crafted in collaboration with the iconic IRONMAN® triathlon series. With the powerhouse flavors of mango and tropical hops taking the lead, this brew tastes as close to victory as you can get. It’s our tribute to staying the course, chasing your goals, and knowing your personal best is always within reach. And now, within your fridge.
It’s a brew that raises the bar.