#28: It's not called Harbor-side
Let's get this started.
issue #28: March 29, 2023
All sporters, for life reasons, I will not be in Oceanside this weekend—even though watching live sports is good for your health. We did preview the race, though, on this week’s podcast. We also have a chat thread going to discuss and debate the race before and during the live coverage.
And this past weekend, paying subscribers (thank you for your support!) got an interview with Thorsten Radde, tri’s go-to stats guy. I’ve opened it up to everyone for this week:
Q&A: The data guy behind most of triathlon’s stats, ratings, and predictions
Now, we have a lot (!), so let’s get down to it.
The unofficial official start of the season
This is one of my favorite photos of Oceanside. I think it’s from 2011 (I’m the one in the middle heading back towards the finish). And it cracks me up because, for all the IG spam and drone videos of palm trees and surfers and the sun over hills, Oceanside also looks like this. Your perspective depends on your framing. And, yes, that’s my deep thought for the day.
Which brings us to: this weekend is the unofficial official start of the N. American season at Oceanside 70.3 on Saturday, April 1 at 6:40 a.m. PT
The thing about Oceanside is it wasn’t always that big a race, no more than other big races. Race companies tend to say that pros don’t sell races, that pros don’t put butts on start lines. They typically view pros as peripheral to their business, which first and foremost is a participation business. And in post-race surveys athletes always say they participated in xx race because of location, friends, swag; they always say they didn’t do the race because of pro athletes. Which, to me, is a bit like how everyone always says ‘I don’t buy things because of advertising’ or ‘I don’t vote because of election mailers or campaign ads.’ Sure, you special unique butterfly, those entire industries exist because they don’t work. (Sarcasm.)
But of course they do work. Yes, even on you. Now, we’re talking about Oceanside because of the pros. You’ve heard of it probably because of the pros. It’s gotten media coverage and live broadcasts and attention because it’s considered a big race and it’s considered a big race because of the pros. And there are 72 pro men racing (who all each earned the race additional coverage in their home markets) not because they want to line up against Martin from Long Beach, but because they want to race against Jan Frodeno. Pros sell races. Invest in them and they’ll sell more races.
A few actual Oceanside predictions & details
Today’s email subject line is actually from the pro meeting a few years ago when the swim moved from inside the harbor to a beach start in the ocean. The RD told us to all get over it, it’s called Oceanside after all! But, a word of warning to everyone coming to California for a warm winter getaway, all of you who haven’t swum open water in six months: The surf break can be big, depending on the weather. Whether you get caught in a set or not is luck of the draw.
The only other thing that can be predicted with definitive-ness is it will be shockingly cold. That is my #1 tip: Bring a jacket and a hat and maybe gloves for pre-race. And also sunscreen.
Predicting who will win Oceanside 70.3 should always come with the caveat that it is, of course, just one of 33 70.3 races on the pro calendar, that it does not matter more than the others, that it only has a $50,000 prize purse, that the reason it attracts such a studded pro field is mostly because of the timing & location & broadcast (and then pros beget other pros and other athletes), and so of course there are a great many top athletes who are focused instead on bigger races later in the year, and this one race is only what it is, and there is always someone who does terrible in SoCal in April and then wins everything later in the season when it matters more. While all that has to be said, Jan Frodeno is not racing his first race since August 2021 to lose. Jan Frodeno does not race if he does not intend to win.
And so that is why this weekend’s race has to be framed as who is hoping to unseat Jan from his three previous wins here:
Jackson Laundry actually has bib #1 after his exciting win last year
Ben Kanute didn’t win last year, with the crazy run that went down, but has won twice here before (and has been in Oceanside for the last month training)
Lionel Sanders is out, but Sam Long will look to lay down the bike watts
And I, of course, wouldn’t count out Miki Taagholt, Jason West, Sam Appleton, Chris Leiferman, Andy Potts (yes, still), or (interestingly) George Goodwin
But “dark horse” of the day has to go to the other world champion in the race, Leo Bergere; Want to watch something truly crazy? Leo does a wheelie on his TT bike
While the women’s field is smaller (because of society), it has more (IMO) bigger names at the top. However, in this case, I do think a few of those big names are actually adopting the ‘get the rusty one out early’ strategy. The women’s fields also tend to have more mid-distance specialists. That means you can’t show up long-course focused and rusty, and hope to beat the best 70.3 racers in the world. Probably won’t happen. That’s why I think it’s Paula Findlay’s race to win; she’s good at this, she’s fit, she loves it, she’s won here before.
But, who knows, I could be totally wrong, that’s why we race:
Holly Lawrence certainly would also fall under that ‘70.3 specialist who knows how to win here’ category
I’d also say Grace Thek is on form—if she decides to race after her Geelong 70.3 win this past weekend
Tamara Jewett and Sophie Watts will run fast (Tamara very fast), so don’t count them out if they’re close in T2
And, of course, all eyes are on the Ironman world champ Chelsea Sodaro, who’s been down in SoCal putting in some big prep for the season, and Kat Matthews, who committed just last week to making this her first race since the big crash as she builds up for IM Texas
How to watch
Coverage will start at 6 a.m. PT on Saturday, with the men going off at 6:40 a.m. and the women a few minutes later. The broadcast is the first of the 70.3s airing live on Outside Watch this year. You can watch for free live on Outside Watch here or on the Outside app. Note: You’ll only be able to watch the live broadcast free; replays are just available to O+ members.
During the broadcast (and before), share your thoughts in our Oceanside chat thread. Watch party!
From the mailbag
After last week’s hard-hitting journalism, where I addressed the important issue of ‘where exactly is Lanzarote,’ we have a reader follow-up: Now, do Ibiza.
And so we present: Where is Ibiza?
Ibiza, popular party island, known for its nightclubs, like Florida during Spring Break but classier, is also home now to the World Triathlon Multisport Championships—like the real world championships but confusing-er. (What that means is it is the official world championship location for a whole bunch of stuff that isn’t the regular Olympic or sprint-distance triathlon: aquathon, duathlon, aquabike, cross duathlon, cross triathlon—ie. non-branded Xterra.) And at the end of this week-long festival, the island will also host the big-moneyed PTO’s European Open. In other fun Ibiza news: World Triathlon also announced it will use Race Ranger—now with the red light signaling drafting, hallelujah—for the pro athletes during the long-distance triathlon championship race (one of the things contested there), and one has to assume the PTO will follow suit for their event.
Bonus answer, that you didn’t even know you wanted: Europeans pronounce it “Eye-beetha.” You’re welcome.
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Results from the weekend
I finally got something set up this week that I’ve been wanting to try: A results page! With how many races there are and how much the email program yells at me for my emails being too long, I’ve put all the results in one place on Triathlonish, with all the details in detail and updated each weekend. Like a box score, but not.
Now for the highlights:
World Cup New Plymouth: What you really want to know is that Gwen Jorgensen was 14th in the first World Cup of her Paris 2024 bid. Sure, that’s not bad, but it’s also objectively not where she needs to be to make the second hardest Olympic tri team to make. And she knows that. She even got beat by one of the young up-and-coming Americans, Erika Ackerland.
Nicole van der Kaay topped a New Zealand bonanza and took her fifth win of the year in Continental Cups and now World Cups (which is a LOT).
Hayden Wilde did Hayden Wilde things, and then screamed for his teammate to win the sprint for second (which he did).
Ashleigh Gentle and Max Neumann won Hell of the West, exactly like we said they would.
Sarah Crowley looked back on form in Davao 70.3 (though there was also, unfortunately, a swim death and a serious bike accident in the race).
Mike Phillips and Grace Thek won in Geelong 70.3, and I would now like to see them take that form beyond the Southern Hemisphere
And, tell me the Winter Tri World Champs aren’t your new favorite thing.
Everything else from around our sports that I think you might want to know about, or that I just think is interesting.
NEWS! It’s not super often that we report out breaking-ish news in the newsletter here (usually I leave it to you all to run with my tidbits), but this is one I confirmed with Ironman: Pregnancy deferrals also extend to pro athletes who have qualified for the world championship races. As in: when Ironman announced their pregnancy deferral policy last year, it actually applied to both age-groupers and pros, but no one noticed because the only races a pro would have to defer are qualification-based world championship races. Now, while the timing is a bit funky due to COVID cancellations, Ironman confirmed Meredith Kessler and Michelle Vesterby are the first beneficiaries of this deferral policy, with Kona qualification spots for this October. (Scroll to the bottom—though of course I’m not suggesting I know what either of them plan to do with their race seasons, just that they have the spots!) Kudos to Ironman for the move. (Ironman)
Camille Herron set a new 48-hour women’s world record this weekend, running 270.5 miles in 48 hours—which also set a new U.S. record for both men and women. And I just learned that she apparently already has the women’s world records for 50 miles, 100 miles, and 24 hours. (iRunFar)
I also missed the news last week that the first American woman at the L.A. Marathon was former triathlete Ashley Paulson. (Yes, Ashley previously served a 6-month doping ban for ostarine and was under scrutiny last year over her Badwater win—though I’m sorta of the opinion that the internet needs to chill out, and her 4th place at L.A. is legit.) L.A. is a weird semi-major race, though. Only 10 women broke three hours. Compare that to CIM—the other big California marathon—where, as best I can tell, 273 women broke three hours. (Facebook/USADA/Marathon Investigations)
A New Zealand runner this week first tried to claim that he tested positive because he meant to get a COVID shot but was given EPO instead. (Totally happened at my COVID vaccination clinic at the abandoned Victoria’s Secret at the mall, too.) Then he admitted that didn’t really make any sense. (New Zealand Herald)
I learned from this piece that World Tri has banned shorty bars on bikes for its draft-legal races this year—which explains why everyone’s been headed to the wind tunnel lately. (Slowtwitch)
Three-time Olympian Andrea Hewitt has retired. (Youtube)
Gustav Iden, Jonny Brownlee, and Beth Potter are among the stars in for the Super League Arena Games finale in London. (Instagram)
Sam Laidlow and Patrick Lange will face off on that other island, Gran Canaria. (Challenge)
And one of the other facts I learned from the story on Leo Bergere (linked in the Oceanside preview) is that, after winning Challenge Daytona back in December, Angi Olmo has been dealing with Lyme disease. (Instagram)
Sam Appleton is riding the weird Cadex bike now, which I think expands the number of people riding that bike to three. And Daniela Ryf is leaving Asics; is she signing with On? (Slowtwitch/Instagram)
TTL announced the seven athletes on their new development team. (Instagram)
And, just for fun: Crazy triathlon animal encounters. (Triathlete)
Not for fun: World Athletics (ie. track and field) changed their policy this week both to regulate hormone levels in athletes with sex differences (ie. women who, in many cases, didn’t even know they were born with some range of genetic variations) and to ban trans women from competing as women if they went through puberty before medically transitioning—which is basically all trans women. Never mind that World Athletics’ own announcement acknowledges there are no known trans women competing at the international level and there never have been, or that it’s unclear how you’re going to prove or check that someone “went through puberty,” or that this means the policy essentially pushes kids under 12 to complete medical transitions. What bothers me is 1. the lack of hubris when it comes to the history of sex testing in sports, as if this time again we’re convinced we know everything, and 2. this notion that trans women suddenly burst into existence and all of a sudden threaten women’s sports. It seems like it’s all a matter of how you frame the question. My question: Is this a solution searching for a problem? (World Athletics/New York Times/Triathlonish)
Fast Women has a great update on the OTQ and the effect it has had on women’s running groups and races. (Fast Women)
I read a headline this week that essentially said ‘with all these new weight loss drugs, what’s even the point of working out.’ Which really misses THE POINT OF WORKING OUT. As if the main and only point is weight loss. It is not. (The Sun)
Primož Roglič and the power of second chances. (Bicycling)
And you absolutely want to read this 1966 Sports Illustrated story on the amazing new bizarre phenomenon of women running. That’s it, the whole story: women can also be runners, isn’t it crazy. The article starts with this gem: “It takes getting used to, seeing young women run long distances, gasping and gagging and staggering around and going down on all fours at the finish line, pink foreheads in the mud. But they are young women, all right, make no mistake. The shaved legs, the singlets that actually do a service, all that symmetry, that fragrant hair. You might just as well get used to the sight, because women are getting to like the idea.” (Sports Illustrated)
One last thing
Here’s that other depressing thing that the U.S. is bad at. (And for many many of these reasons our life expectancy also looks like this graph, but in reverse.)
really like your writing style and tone in the recent newsletters! For me this is just enough detail on what's happening with pointed observations and not getting too deep in the weeds.