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#59: Lots of small thoughts
Why, oh why, can't trail running learn from us?
issue #59: Nov. 1, 2023
This week’s issue is presented by:
Happy day after Halloween here in the U.S.! I finally have heat & internet & windows at my new house (and am mostly moved in), so things are starting to look up. The chaos, though, was why no Sunday newsletter went out to paying subscribers this past weekend for the first time—and it’s why we don’t have an audio version of this week’s newsletter for the paying subscribers either. But we’re getting back on track now.
And remember: Book Club!
As the year wraps up (or doesn’t, I guess, depending on where you live), we also have one last webinar tomorrow: Dealing With the Post-Race Letdown—And What’s Next?
And as the year wraps up, I’m also sorta kinda tentatively dipping my toe into thinking about actually having some big goals next year. (How’s that for commitment?) So I’m excited, after chatting the last few months with Precision Fuel & Hydration about all the numbers and case studies and what works (usually, it seems, eating more works if you’ve trained yourself to do it), for them to partner with me to help answer questions—both mine and yours. More on that in a moment.
Now, since I’ve only just gotten back on the internet wagon, I have fewer big thoughts this week and more small thoughts. So, onto the collection of small triathlonish news for the week.
Taking it to the trails
As trail running (which my husband says we just call “running” here) & ultrarunning grow around the world, one of the things that makes me lowkey crazy is that the sport is pretty much where triathlon was 20-25 years ago—going through the exact same growing pains, same fights, same questions, same controversies—and yet, they absolutely refuse to learn from our mistakes (and successes).
Do you remember when Ironman was buying up smaller local races back in the early- & mid-2010s? When they were picking dates and contracts to directly compete with the biggest regional players and push them out (whether deliberately or not)? Maybe you don’t remember that, but I do. I don’t necessarily fault the choices that were made, it’s how the market works, but I do think it ended up biting everyone in the ass. Of course, then COVID happened, so we never totally got to find out if I was right or not.
This weekend, trail running had it’s “RIP Wildflower” moment.
As best I can tell:
Ultrarunners were already primed to be not happy about Ironman buying a minority stake in UTMB; and they were already getting not happy about the feeling of “corporatization” of UTMB, whatever you feel that means
UTMB/Ironman announced this weekend a new UTMB qualifier race in Whistler, Canada
The problem is there was already a long-time popular local race at the ski resort in Whistler, which last happened in 2022 and then struggled to get permits from Vail Resorts (which had bought the ski resort). Shit went down, the race didn’t happen this year
Then UTMB/Ironman came in at the same location, same race distances, same date in late September — looking, for outsiders’ intents, like they colluded with Vail Resorts to take this race
Honestly, there’s a leap in logic there for me where I can’t tie UTMB/Ironman to Vail Resorts (unless you’re just saying rich guys know rich guys, which, OK, point). It seems more likely to me, though, that the company just had more money and resources, and took advantage of a hole and opportunity after the local race didn’t go off this year (and that’s what has been said publicly in a few outlets). But it almost doesn’t matter which way it happened: Either way it’s a problem now. Runners are not happy.
And, so the issue then becomes: At least one RD is cutting ties with UTMB. Will others follow? The original Whistler RD has said he will put on a competing event. Will athletes follow? What happens in trail running now?
This year’s Arizona: Ironman Florida
After Kona, there’s often still this handful of races that everyone sorta forgets about but that also draw oddly big fields as athletes either try to 1. make up for a disappointing World Champs season or 2. close out the year strong and lock down bonus money & 2024 qualification, thinking they’ll have a soft field late in the year.
This year, that race is Ironman Florida, which also drew a number of athletes who transferred over after Ironman Israel had to, of course, be cancelled.
Florida, this weekend, has one of those stupidly long start lists: Magnus Ditlev and Rudy Von Berg headlining the men (along with Denis Chevrot, Dr. Matt, and PhD Matt (Hanson)); and Skye Moench and Jocelyn McCauley on the women’s side (along with Alice Alberts and India Lee).
FYI, Joe Skipper will not be starting after some bizarre and terrifying-sounding health issues. Send good thoughts.
But, unfortunately, no, I do not think it’s being broadcast. Just follow along via people’s ad hoc IG updates and tweets, like we used to in the olden days.
Other races & results
Noosa Triathlon will celebrate its 40th anniversary this weekend. And that means if Ashleigh Gentle wins her 10th Noosa title, she’ll have won ONE-QUARTER of the times the race has been in existence.
And if you’re keeping track, Gwen Jorgensen took another World Cup podium (this time a second in Japan). She’s definitely collecting some points now to position herself for a start at the final Olympic qualifying race in the spring.
What questions do you have about fueling & hydration?
I sat down in both Nice and Kona with Precision Fuel & Hydration’s sports scientists and asked a bunch of probably dumb questions like: OK, so if that’s how many carbs the pros eat per hour, how many calories is that total? How many gels and how many bottles? Is more always better? Why do the women generally consume less? What is the conversion of mL to ounces (yes, I’m super American)? What’s a normal concentration of sodium per 16oz bottle? Do people really need salt pills?
I think, honestly, I’m probably not alone in sorta having worked out what roughly works for me in long-course triathlon, but still (despite that) not having a super detailed grasp of all the numbers. Plus, it took a lot of trial-and-erroring to get to this point—and I still sometimes to succumb to generic GI and heat issues without warning. So, as I prep for my first 100K in the spring and then want to really truly perform at an Ironman again next year (and qualify for Nice), I’m kinda excited to be partnering with people who are willing to answer a lot of questions—How do you keep yourself from getting nauseous in a 15-hour running race? Can I simply drink to thirst?—and go through the data with me. I also, and I can not stress this enough, genuinely am so excited someone has bothered to make a gel that actually operates the way we all use them in races—instead of having to water down a bunch in a bigger bottle. (If you want to try any Precision Fuel & Hydration, you can get 15% off your first order using this link.)
And if you want to start working through what you did right and wrong this year, you can use their free planner to create nutrition & fueling plans. Let me know in the comments (or press reply) what questions you have (stupid or not), because we’re going to be working through them all.
Other interesting things from around our sports this week that you should know about.
The New York Marathon is this weekend on Sunday—with the USATF 5K Champs on Saturday (watch the shorter race here). I feel like my money’s on Peres Jephchirchir for the marathon title, though the women’s field is pretty stacked overall and I’m also rooting for Molly Huddle’s return to form. (Olympics/USATF/Runner’s World/Instagram)
Gonna also throw it back to our interview with New York Road Runners’ head of sustainability. (Triathlonish)
PanAm Games are also going on. They’re like our not-as-good version of the Commonwealth Games, so maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that the 20km was really only 17km, which isn’t actually like 20 at all. (Canadian Running)
Reportedly, everyone but the local race organizer wants to move the Olympic Marathon Trials from noon in Orlando. (Twitter)
The women’s World Tour will be bigger than ever next year, but the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening—which is actually sorta common across women’s sports right now (see also: WNBA) as some spots move faster to parity and investment than others. (Velo)
Most impressive performance of the last week: Harvey Lewis covered 450 miles in 108 hours at Big’s Backyard Ultra. What makes the backyard ultra so tough is that you have to go (4.167 miles) every hour on the hour until you either can’t or you choose not to start another lap. It’s the ultimate mindfuck, to put it simply. And not that many years ago, it was believed 250 miles was the upper limit. This year, six runners passed 100 hours. Maybe it really is all (mostly) in your mind. And then, Harvey ran to his job as a teacher on Friday morning, because. (Runner’s World/Twitter)
My other favorite running performance of the week: Heather Jackson ran the second fastest time every at Javelina Jundred and got her Golden Ticket! Retirement from pro triathloning isn’t going too bad. (Instagram)
Also Courtenay Dauwalter did Javelina with her mom, which is just ❤️ (Instagram)
In other trail news, the Skyrunner World Series announced its 2024 scheduled (and, no, the U.S. doesn’t have a race, because it’s still hard to convince Americans this is a thing they should do). (Skyrunner)
This is another race I loved this week—but this one isn’t competitive and isn’t pro and isn’t anything other than you make up what you want to care about: two brothers created a Dicks-a-thon, running a loop around the Dick’s restaurants of Seattle and eating at each one. Now, after one of the brothers died, it’s a fundraiser locally. (The Mountaineers)
USAT announced Age Group Nationals for Atlantic City in September next year. (USAT)
What does it take to be the fastest age-grouper in the world? (I mean, Dan seems like a nice guy and he works hard and is obviously quite good, but of course the answer is the same as what it takes to be fast in the pro category, just in different degrees: talent, work, time, resources, and luck.) (Triathlete)
Speaking of. Ironman announced their AG world champs in each division for the year—and the fact that two former pro cyclists, who also had previously served penalties for doping, were on the list has caused some upset-ness about pros v. amateurs. But—setting aside the doping time served issue—the other angst feels very meh. I’m all for naming Masters world champions & Seniors & Super Seniors & Juniors, but the idea that someone can be the world champion of the people who are the same age and have the same resources but just aren’t quite as fast as the pros is…less exciting. (I say this 100% as someone who used to race in the elite/pro field, but absolutely does not qualify anymore and will not this coming year—and so this is my option left. *giant shrug emoji about the entire system*) (Facebook)
Challenge Roth will be using RaceRanger next year, and Ironman Florida will be testing it this weekend. (Roth)
You can also use FORM goggles in World Triathlon (and World Tri sanctioned) races now—which I feel like could be a big advantage for some age-groupers. (FORM)
World Anti-Doping Agency changes for 2024 have released. (WADA)
Cavendish, Froome, and Sagan were defeated in a rickshaw relay. (GCN)
And Killian Jornet’s carbon footprint calculator for your outdoors activities. (Killian Jornet Foundation)
One last thing
Just because you probably need this: Did you know Netflix has a baby animal cam that livestreams 1x/wk?