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#39: Proper aid station etiquette?
And other questions from a busy weekend of racing.
issue #39: June 14, 2023
This week’s issue is presented by:
Welcome to your free weekly Wednesday morning newsletter on all things triathlon-ish. As you read this, I’m on my way to the Female Athlete Conference in Boston—an every-other-year convening on the latest science and research on female athletes. Let me know in the comments what questions you might have or stories you’d be interested in.
A shoutout, too, to the handful of you who joined us last week for Book Club with the author of ‘Up to Speed’—despite my sharing two different Zoom links somehow. The Q&A will be going out to all paid subscribers in the next week or two.
Most of my brainpower this past weekend, however, went into either working on the in-depth article that went out about anti-doping programs in long-course triathlon or to spectating the Dipsea (best race in the world, which I had to sit out for the first time in 12 years). So my brain is a little mush right now and this week’s newsletter will be lots of small things—what we used to call “piece-y” in the magazine world.
If you haven’t read it, here’s that deep dive: Who is Responsible for Anti-Doping in Long-Course Triathlon?
Now on to the week’s news.
What was the race of the weekend?
Let’s put it this way: I forgot that Escape from Alcatraz was this past weekend until about two days before. And I live 25 minutes from the race, have done it 10 times, and it’s typically one of my favorites—so if I didn’t even remember it was happening, then that doesn’t bode well. (FWIW: The vibe is off, and the super small weirdly “invite-only” pro field doesn’t help.)
With that being said: There were nine pro long-course-y triathlons over the weekend, an Xterra European Champs, and a handful of World Tri Continental Cups. That’s a lot.
What stands out in this crowded field?
Top of the list (and not just because everyone in Boulder thinks so) we have to start with…
Primarily because Sam Long won his third U.S. 70.3 in a row—and it wasn’t even close. He topped Lionel Sanders and Chris Lieferman (who, of course were in a sprint finish) by almost five minutes. The Big Unit seems to be coming into his own right now, rebounding, on a hot streak. And I think the only question for a lot of people is if it’ll stick (especially once the baby—from now on dubbed Little Unit—comes into the picture) and if it’ll translate globally.
The only performance in Colorado more impressive was Taylor Knibb’s. I think at this point we all have to agree with Kristian Blummenfelt’s assessment: Who is the best triathlete in the world right now? Taylor Knibb.
Taylor won by eight minutes (mostly on the bike, but her swim-run are no joke either)—and her podium competition was even tougher than Sam’s: Holly Lawrence and Jeanni Metzler. Taylor is, hands down, currently the best 70.3 athlete in the world. When she chooses to race 70.3s. I can’t decide if it’s infuriating or inspiring how much she constantly wants to mix it up, chase that Olympic medal, and do everything. Word is she’s considering a whole host of possible events (including, yes, that world championship) in the August-October time period—but it’ll depend on how the summer and Paris Test Event go.
Do you remember a time when a sub-4:00 woman’s 70.3 was rare?
Escape from Alcatraz
I just have to call-out some breakthrough type performances in the Bay. Marc Dubrick beat out two-time winner Eric Lagerstrom—and he did it from the boat jump all the way to the line, allegedly on rented wheels. (Also a shoutout to local newbie pro Miguel Mattox taking third.)
But while I had to Google Marc after I saw the results, I should not have had to Google the women’s winner, Vittoria Lopes—well-known on the World Tri circuit. For some mysterious reason, though, the race results kept referring to her as Vittoria Mello, the last part of her full name—which confused every triathlon fan in existence. Add it to the list of vibes that are clearly no long really aimed at actual triathlon fans.
The other big match-up of the weekend: Daniela v. Ashleigh. Doesn’t that sound like the name of a boxing promo. Daniela Ryf proved she’s back from whatever virus took her out in Ibiza (COVID, I’m saying it was most likely COVID) and that you never ever ever count out Daniela. Ashleigh Gentle ran four minutes faster, but couldn’t make up the gap off the bike. If only we could have actually seen it.
Last thing: A race I don’t super care about, Zarauzko Triatloia, other than that Sebi Kienle made it part of his retirement year tour and the video of his wild start is the kind of entertainment we’re all here for.
See all the rest of the many many results on our Results page.
Coming up this weekend
Ironman Cairns: A regional championship featuring many stars of the region, Braden Currie and Mike Phillips, Sarah Crowley and Radka Kahlefeldt.
WATCH: On Ironman.com/live and on their Youtube and Facebook on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET/12:30 p.m. PT.
Luxembourg 70.3: Men’s only, with Miki Taagholt as the clear favorite.
WATCH: Fun thing! The two Ironman races airing this weekend are airing on different platforms. Luxembourg will be live on Outside Watch at 2:30 a.m. ET on Sunday/11:30 p.m. PT Saturday.
World Cup Huatalco: Notably Katie Zaferes and Gwen Jorgensen are continuing their Olympic qualifying hunt for points at the World Cup in Huatalco—before the next WTCS in Montreal in two weeks.
WATCH: On TriathlonLive, interestingly. Women on Saturday at 4:50 p.m. PT/7:50 p.m. ET and men on Sunday at 6:50 a.m. PT/9:50 a.m. ET
Other races: I don’t know, do you think Alistair Brownlee is going to start Ironman Austria this weekend?
Last thoughts on Hamburg
Speaking of Boulder: At the start of the race broadcast, Ironman CEO Andrew Messick said a few words about the death at Ironman Hamburg last weekend. He said similar things on the Slowtwitch podcast. In short: They made a mistake, they’re reviewing safety procedures for motos and course safety, and there is an ongoing investigation in Germany. (This article, in German, reports that the moto driver may have been suffering from an ear infection and been told not to drive. But, whatever the case, the fundamental issues that created the environment that led to the crash and to the confusion after still need to be addressed.)
It was notable that there were fewer motos at Boulder’s race. Only Ironman’s broadcast feed and only in-house photogs. Of course, word is, there were other issues: the two laps got very congested and pros were left to either cross the double-yellow (as Sam Long was seen doing on camera) or get stuck behind age-groupers and risk drafting penalties (as Sam Appleton did).
And. Of course, since we’re talking about it, for as long as drones have been around, I’ve been trying to explain why they are not yet able to fully replace moto cameras for live broadcasts. While you can use them to supplement, you can not yet stream an entire four-hour race from drones. Thank god Triathlete laid out the reasons, so I don’t have to anymore.
Thanks to UltraSwim 33.3!
A big thank you to UltraSwim 33.3 for sponsoring this month’s newsletters. I’ve been intrigued by multi-day swim adventure races for a few years—it seems like the next evolution in the multisport lifestyle (kind of like fondos or gravel or trail running stage races before those things all got overcrowded)—and UltraSwim 33.3’s four-day event in Montenegro looks amazing. Why 33.3 kilometers total over the four days? Because that’s the iconic distance across the English Channel.
Good idea or bad idea?
There were lots (lots!) of interesting races in our sports this weekend. And the one I got medium-obsessed with was the World Mountain & Trail Running Championships. Grayson Murphy won her second world title and a bronze in the vertical kilometer (which is what it sounds like!). And if I could run downhill like that and there were more of them, I think crazy, hour-ish, trail races are another thing I could really get into.
The biggest social/viral/moment-y thing to come out of Innsbruck, though, was a video posted of Zach Miller going full send on an aid station: water bottle over head, water bottle over head, drink, another water bottle over head, then he realizes there’s a bucket of water for dumping (something we should have at triathlons) and pours more water on himself.
I thought it was kind of funny and a clear indicator of how intense the racing was. Zach ultimately missed out on 5th place in the 80K by five seconds. There was a similar video of Sam Laidlow in the final stretches of Kona as he clung to second place, yanking a jug of water from a small child.
However. There seems to be a hot debate about these kinds of videos: Is it just a pro doing what they can to go as fast as they can? Or, is it poor sportsmanship and bad behavior that they should be shamed for?
Personally, I think it’s #1. These athletes are pushing the edge of what’s possible, and so limiting water usage isn’t high on their list of priorities. Any issue with supplies or shortages is not on them but on the race organizer. I also think when we criticize what people do or don’t do in the middle of a race, we have to remember what things made entirely perfect sense to us when we were at our limits. I once picked up a sponge off the ground during an Ironman and put it in my mouth. It seemed completely reasonable at the time. Sure, if everyone is doing crazy deep-in-a-hole things, then that requires more planning from the event. But if the athletes’ heat of moment decisions are made in good faith—not in an attempt at bad sportsmanship—then I don’t think we can fault them for doing the best they can.
(Another one: I once thought the most logical way to get into the correct T1 corral, when I’d been sent to the wrong section, was to climb a fence in my wetsuit.)
As long as you don’t pee in the changing tents.
Things from around our sports this week that you should know about.
Faith Kipyegon wanted to “test out” moving up to the 5,000m this past weekend. She ended up breaking the 5,000m world record (14:05.20) one week after she’d already broken the 1500m record. (Fast Women)
Jakob Ingebrigtsen also broke the 25-year-old two-mile world record (7:54.10). His dad, who no longer coaches him, gave an interview post-race on the famed Norwegian method. (Citius)
Comrades Marathon (which is not a marathon, but actually 56 miles) was this past weekend, too. It’s one of the few bucket list races I have—and the history of it is part of that appeal. (Sunday Times/New York Times)
Here’s another thing that’s also wild, but less on my bucket list: The Tour Divide. (Velo)
It’s true, Taylor Knibb is on the start list for the Individual Time Trial National Cycling Championships next week, rep’ing Trek Segafredo. Who isn’t excited to see how that goes? (UCI)
Cody Beals said he’s not doing Men’s Nice, but will instead try to back up three IMs in a row this fall for money reasons mostly. (Instagram)
Daniela Ryf moved over to Hoka. Thank goodness they have a supershoe now. (Instagram)
I didn’t super follow Candice Burt during her 200 days of running 50K/day, but it would pop up in my feed every now and then. Now that I read up on it, it’s officially fascinating. (Instagram/Wall Street Journal)
The Kona of trail running is coming up: Western States next weekend, preceded by Broken Arrow in the same mountains this weekend. (If you were going to pick one, I actually think Broken Arrow is a lot more interesting.) I may have to eventually give Western States a try just to see what it’s all about. Is it worth the hype? (TrailRunner)
Super League’s Arena Games numbers are out and, while we can debate what constitutes reach and a view, they’re solid. (Sport Broadcast)
World Triathlon announced two new World Cup races (World Cups are below WTCS but above Continental Cups) in Rome and Tangiers. (World Triathlon)
Toughman triathlon, in New York, will interestingly be offering 30 qualifying spots to Challenge Roth—which I have to believe is part of Roth’s interest in getting more Americans over there. (Toughman)
Ironman California renewed its contract through 2029, which is good news for me because I also want to do my local-ish Ironman but can’t this year. (FOX40)
It turns out Olympic medalist Tori Bowie died from complications in pregnancy, which is horrific. Why is maternal mortality in the U.S. so high, why is it so much higher for black women. It doesn’t have to be this way. (USA Today/AP/Twitter)
One last thing
In honor of the second best race in the Bay Area, and just because it’s the coolest photo I’ll ever be in (second from the left). Rocky Arroyo is awesome.
This issue was brought to you by UltraSwim33.3: UltraSwim 33.3 is the ultimate adventure race. Swim 33.3km over four days, in a point-to-point open water ‘off-road’ format in stunning Montenegro. With varied and challenging conditions—combined with an incredible coaching package included in your entry—you'll feel rewarded when you cross the finish line, and be a better swimmer.
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