#60: Is college the future of women's tri?
issue #60: Nov. 8, 2023
This week’s issue is presented by:
This past weekend, I paced the last 23 miles of a friend’s first 100-miler—which, for whatever reason (probably mental/emotional), was the hurdle I needed to get through before I actually signed up for this big spring 100K I’ve been eyeing. I am now registered both for the Canyons 100K to get my UTMB stones and for a local neighborhood 50K that starts 400m from my house. A big thanks to Precision Fuel & Hydration for their help with these eating running contests. I started with going through some of the PF&H case studies to see what’s worked for ultrarunners before; you can also use their race planner to put together your own plan. Now, more testing and training on my end.
I also have been finishing up this quarter’s Book Club book, ‘Sidelined.’ Reminder: We have a Q&A with the author on Nov. 16 for paying subscribers!
A quick preview/review of NCAA triathlon
This weekend is the NCAA tri champs—which is really officially called the Women’s Collegiate National Triathlon Championship, since it is not yet totally an NCAA official sport.
(And just because I always have to say it: This is different than the college club teams and the clubs’ national championship—which is co-ed and is not NCAA. For my European friends: The NCAA is our big serious American college sports system, whereas club teams are loosely organized by whatever the kids want to do themselves. Women’s triathlon potentially becoming part of the NCAA is a big deal.)
Want a quick primer?
These ‘NCAA’ college women’s teams race draft-legal sprint tri in a condensed fall season. As of 2022, 40 schools have signed on officially with varsity teams—but many still need to meet sports sponsorship requirements (having enough athletes, fielding full teams, racing at regionals, etc). Once they do that and it triggers the NCAA review from the Committee on Women’s Athletics, there’ll be a vote—probably the vote will be ‘yes.’ Then it’ll be officially NCAA and run by the NCAA. Originally, the hope/plan/dream was for that to be by next year. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
There are pros and cons to NCAA officialness, of course. But the biggest con right now is that it’s not yet actually fully an NCAA sport—and this has meant a lot of growing pains and weirdness. It’s also hard to think back to the start of any other NCAA sports and imagine how they grew into something big, so that we can mimic or learn from them. The last sports added to the NCAA were beach volleyball & bowling, so, not exactly huge. You probably have to really go back to 2004 when water polo was added or 1997 when rowing was added to see how/what triathlon could become.
National Championship Race
Because of all of that: the number, depth, and talent of the teams and athletes has varied and changed drastically over the years as it grows. And until it grows into full DI, DII, and DIII fields, the structure of the national championship race keeps changing, too. This year! There are 30 schools qualified and it’ll be run as two waves (DI + some of the bigger/higher ranked DII teams & then smaller DII/DIII + lower-ranked teams).
Maybe the most telling thing is that ASU is starting to seriously have competition, there are other big DI schools now (U of A, TCU, USF), annnnnnd there’s actual people writing previews (!) and actual social media (!). That’s how you know you’ve made it. Fingers crossed it can get over the hump from here.
This Sunday’s newsletter out to paying subscribers will be a Q&A with one of the DI college coaches to talk about how it works, challenges, what the issues are.
Course records in Florida
On the other side of the country-ish, it was the last-ish big Ironman race of the year—and course records, bike records, run records were set everywhere.
Now, Florida is always a fast course and always attracts that late season mix of people primed for different reasons, but it seemed particularly fast this year. I don’t know why, if someone could let me know if there was anything especially fast about it. It also should be noted (as Sid points out on the podcast coming out this Friday) that the women’s times were even more significantly under predications than the men’s times were: like 15-20 (even 30) minutes faster than predicted, while the men’s time were in the 5-10 minutes faster range. No theories, just interesting. Well, a few theories.
Rudy Von Berg: 7:34:41
Kacper Stepniak: 7:42:02
Matt Marquardt: 7:44:26
Skye Moench: 8:22:38
India Lee: 8:31:00
Jocelyn McCauley: 8:33:55
Both Rudy and Skye’s course records were also American records. Rudy broke Gustav Iden’s 2021 record and Skye took out Kat Matthew’s 2020 record by 18 minutes (India and Jocelyn were also under it).
The rest of the best
Noosa: Ashleigh Gentle proved she’s Queen of Queensland (is that right? is that where Noosa is?) with her 10th Noosa Triathlon title. Hayden Wilde won the men’s race, but really it just seems like one of the coolest week-long events out there.
Fun story: I did this race once. Got stung by a jellyfish, had a crazy reaction, ended up climbing into what I thought was an ice tub (because my Spanish is not good) but was definitely a cooler of Gatorade, and then eventually stumbled back and drank my woes away solo in the all-inclusive resort hot tub.
PanAm Games: Lizeth Rueda Santos and Miguel Hidalgo won the tri races, and shoutout to Matt McElroy for taking second for the U.S.
Other interesting things from around our sports this week that you should know about.
Lots of big news out of the New York Marathon. First up: Helen Obiri raced a smart and attack-y final mile to become the first woman to win the Boston Marathon & New York Marathon in the same year since 1989. And Tamirat Tola set a course record in the men’s race (2:04:58). With the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in February, a lot of Americans skipped New York—but the top two U.S. women, Kellyn Taylor in 8th and Molly Huddle in 9th, were both coming back to elite marthoning postpartum. And NY expanded a lot of its support for moms this year. (Youtube/ESPN/New York Times)
Lots of good stuff out of New York: Wheelchair course record for the women, an 80-year-old woman finished her 44th consecutive NY Marathon, and a former world championship medalist in the 800m ran 2:50 in his first marathon—and showed that even world class runners can have their legs give out on them in the final stretch. (New York Times/ABC News/Twitter)
An update on the dispute over the noon start time in Orlando for the Olympic Marathon Trials: The local race organizers say USATF is full of shit, and the organizers were told the time wasn’t moveable, but are willing to move it to 8 a.m. even though all this chaos has cost them a lot of money. (Twitter/Runner’s World)
The Sydney Marathon, Cape Town Marathon, and Chengdu Marathon are all in contention to become the next World Marathon Major. (Outside)
Sure, it feels like world record marathon progression has been crazy lately, but let’s compare it to history. (Outside)
The lottery for Western States opened this past week and a record number of people have already submitted, in case you were wondering if trail running is still booming. Here are the most popular qualifying races. (Twitter)
A semi-update on the Whistler UTMB drama. (iRunFar)
It appears there’s no Zwift Tri or Run Academy for this upcoming year—just the road cycling academy. (Zwift)
Super League has rebranded Chicago, New York, and Malibu (all of which it bought) as the Triathlon Majors—which I am here for. And they hired a new U.S. general manager. Which is good. (Super League Triathlon)
Less good: The teaser for the Super League Georgia Taylor-Brown interview video. It sounds like she’s definitely been going through a tough time the last year, but I’m not nuts about the clickbait-y-ness of the promo—hoping the full interview treats everyone involved respectfully. (Super League)
Challenge has a new race for next year in Norway. (Challenge)
Cycling may ban body fairings in time trials (ie. shoving stuff down the front of your kit and calling it a water bottle). I suspect triathlon will follow suit, if so. (Cycling Weekly)
The trial of Kaitlin Armstrong, who is accused of murdering cyclist Moriah Wilson, began this week. Armstrong was in a relationship with gravel semi-celebrity Colin Strickland at the time, who had also been in a relationship with Wilson. After fleeing Texas, Armstrong was captured by authorities in Costa Rica, having changed her appearance. She also attempted to escape jail a few weeks ago while awaiting trial. Strickland took the stand this week as the case continues. FYI: You can donate to the Moriah Wilson Fund in her honor. (Bicycling/Twitter/Moriah Wilson Fund)
LifeTime announced the roster for the 2024 Lifetime Grand Prix. (Velo)
LifeTime is also going to pilot prescribing Ozempic (and other of the new brands of weight loss drugs) in-house at its gyms. (Fitt Insider)
The carb revolution is getting athletes to eat more, which is largely good for performance. But Camille Herron found success by reducing carb intake slightly and upping protein. I suspect it has a bit to do with one of those things where there’s a slight difference in how female athletes process fuel but we don’t have enough research on them yet. (Velo/Outside)
Prince George wants to do triathlon, of course. (People Magazine)
Jan Frodeno was named a ‘Legend of the Sport’ in the German Sports Awards. (Tri 247)
And these Olympic curling hopefuls needed somewhere to stay, so they moved into a Canadian retirement home and found a new set of grandparents. (New York Times)
One last thing
AI has made the worst snowboarding video of all time. So at least AI is good for something.
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