#10: Thanksgiving in Abu Dhabi
Triathlon never stops. It just goes on and on and on.
issue 10: Nov. 23, 2022
This is your Wednesday morning newsletter. I was going to write about Kona or doping or other serious things, but, well, it’s Thanksgiving week here in the U.S. and I’m already getting vacation auto-responders. Plus, I have a story coming for all you all on Sunday about what it would actually look like for triathlon to pay volunteers AND I suspect we’ll have a bunch of news to talk about next week.
So let’s just keep it short and sweet, and then go eat pie.
Back to the desert
Most importantly, this weekend is the Olympic-distance tri world championship (sorta), un-confusingly called the World Triathlon Championship Series Grand Final—which I will never stop making fun of ever. And so, of course, we’re back to Abu Dhabi, where this almost all began so many long months ago.
Last November’s Abu Dhabi race that also counts to this year’s series title, which Flora won and GTB took second at. Photo: Tommy Zaferes/World Triathlon
The 2022 WTCS season started with Hamburg in September 2021 and then Abu Dhabi last November. For some reason.
The season has included seven WTCS races, most recently Bermuda, and now finishing with the 8th: the final back in Abu Dhabi.
The final is worth more points towards the series title, so it’ll be a tight battle for the overall crown—a title which people, generally, care more about than the individual race win.
We could probably just call the Grand Final the world championship, but we don’t.
In the women’s race, it’s all about Flora v. GTB.
Going into the final Flora Duffy is 69.36 points behind Georgia Taylor-Brown in the series rankings. The winner of the final earns 93.75 points more than whoever gets second place. You can see where this is going. However, if Flora gets 5th and GTB gets 6th, then GTB would still win the overall title by a fraction of a point.
Winning the overall series title isn’t just a really big deal because it makes you the world champion for the year, it also comes with $80K. Plus, the race win comes with $30K.
On the podcast, we mistakenly said we weren’t sure if GTB had won the overall title before. My bad. She won in 2020. Flora won in 2021, 2017, and 2016. Katie Zaferes won in 2019, and Vicky Holland won in 2018. Just fyi. Four titles, if Flora wins, would be the most titles for any woman; Javi Gomez’s five titles (four under the current system, one under the previous model) is the most. Fun facts.
In the men’s race, Hayden Wilde has a bit more of a lead. He’s 118 points up on Alex Yee for the overall series crown, so naturally we’re all acting like it’s over and he’s got it in the bag. But, well, obviously that’s not really true.
WATCH: On Triathlon Live, at 4 a.m. ET on Friday for the women and 6 a.m. ET on Saturday for the men. Or just stay up from Thanksgiving into pre-Black Friday shopping straight into middle-of-the-night triathlon watching.
And then everyone will take a really long winter break.
«There are also elite para world series races, U23 titles, AND this is the for real age-group world championship, which is a bit of an odd one for Americans. So if you’re there, I want to hear all about it. Drop a comment: What is Thanksgiving like in Abu Dhabi?»
One of the things I’m building up for paid subscribers is a database of race reviews of popular races—available to everyone right now, but ultimately as an archived resource for subscribers. With Escape from Alcatraz’s lottery ending today, we started with that famous race (which was supposed to have gone out to paid members on Sunday evening, but appears to have gotten messed up…)
Moms, moms, everywhere
The last couple of weeks I’ve been working on a big feature piece for USAT’s magazine about moms. It started as a profile on Chelsea Sodaro and morphed along the way into a story that was also about why exactly it’s so damn hard to come back to elite sports postpartum—which I think Chelsea will appreciate.
Along with the systemic issues, and the literal physical and recovery issues, and the childcare issues, one of the things Sarah True mentioned was how much racing has been knocked out by child viruses this year. And it’s true, it’s not just anecdotal, parents missed work at record rates in October because of kids’ illnesses. So Sarah got sick going into Kona and ultimately DNF’d because of it. Her husband, a pro runner, pulled out of the New York Marathon because they picked up another bad illness. And I think it’s just been rough overall.
So, when she won Ironman Arizona on Sunday with a 2:55 marathon, I cried, you cried, we all cried.
Sarah, who is additionally going to grad school in clinical psychology, also continues to be part of one of the most interesting families out there. (Her sister, Lauren Groff, is the award-winning novelist, and their mom does a fire baton routine, so there.)
One other moms policy note: Maybe it’s just the circles I’m in and maybe it’s because so many people use Arizona as a end-of-year make-it-mean-something race, but it did seem like there were a whole hell of a lot of babies being carried onto podiums and across finish lines. And so I’d like to call out a couple of new policies that I learned about while working on that story:
- World Triathlon will vote this week at its executive board meeting in Abu Dhabi on a maternal leave policy that will freeze an athlete’s ranking (not points, just ranking) for two years, to allow them to earn starts again postpartum
- Ironman apparently has a pregnancy deferral policy for all athletes, age-group too, who knew
- USA Triathlon also extends stipends and benefits to national team members through pregnancy and six months after, which I knew about before, but is still worth noting
Mark your calendar
- Ironman Israel - Nov. 25: The Middle East championship, taking place at a new event, with a start list topped by Patrick Lange, Sebi Kienle, and Cam Wurf, as well as India Lee on debut, Ruth Astle, and pretty much all the Europeans (but not a single American), has NO broadcast coverage as far as I can tell.
- Ultraman World Champs - Nov. 25-27: Are ultras considered mainstream yet? I don’t think there’ll be much coverage out of the three-day event on the Big Island other than Twitter & IG posts, so you might as well follow @dedegriesbauer, where Sid will be providing updates.
- The NBC Kona broadcast - Nov. 27: You should, though, set the DVR and get your drinking games ready post-Thanksgiving. The annual show will air at 2 p.m. ET this Sunday on NBC, and be available on Youtube worldwide after. Mostly I’m just very curious how they’ll piece together the men’s and women’s days with the magic of editing.
A few other notable results from this past weekend: Joe Skipper won in Arizona, which is just a whole lot of big performances from him in not a lot of time, Matt Hanson ran a 2:35 for second, and Ben Kanute took third on debut and took his Ironman world championship spot for next year. Skye Moench couldn’t quite hold on to Sarah’s run and ended up second (Kona spots for everyone!), and we gotta call out Danielle Lewis for her 2:52 run course record into third after a long flat tire on the bike. (Instagram)
Ironman Cozumel I’m still deeply eh about, but Magnus Ditlev closed out a very impressive season for the win. For Lisa Norden, though, the heat and humidity took its toll on her 22-minute T2 lead—still a solid year. Triathlete has more details and tried to guess how this will all affect the PTO rankings. (Instagram/Triathlete)
Amelia Watkinson and Charlie Quin won the Laguna Phuket Triathlon. (Tri247)
USA Triathlon announced their 2023 state championships, which is always just funny to me. If I win a state championship, I’m making myself a jersey. (USAT)
Daytona announced its start list, or at least its top ten athletes, plus you can see the Indian Wells 70.3 and Bahrain 70.3 start lists. Notable: In Daytona there’ll be some short-coursers in Vince Luis and Kevin McDowell, Matt Hanson will do his 117th race of the year there, and my money’s on Jackie Hering for the women. Lionel Sanders is looking to defend in Indian Wells against Sam Long (?) and Eric Lagerstrom, while Paula Findlay should run away with it, but Danielle Lewis could be rebounding off that AZ run. Bahrain has fewer of the big names than usual—maybe they’re all tired—but Holly Lawrence will probably pick up another regional champ title. It also looks like Georgia Taylor-Brown, Ali Brownlee, and Jan Frodeno will make celebrity appearances as relay team swimmers there. (Ironman/Facebook)
The way many of us track these start lists and results is through Obsessed Triathlete, which uses a scraper on Active (I believe) to gather the data. However, it sounds like Ironman has told him he can’t do that anymore, which seems both short-sighted and legally questionable to me. And just kind of sucks. (Obsessed Triathlete)
Speaking of. Outside Inc, home of Triathlete, laid off a bunch of staff at CyclingTips, VeloNews, and Outside last week. (These were the cited reasons why, in case you were wondering.) I don’t have a lot to say about that without beers in me, other than 1. there was a reason I left back in the summer, 2. it wasn’t because of the people who work at the publications—all of whom know their sports inside-out, work really hard to cover them, and are generally experts in their niches, 3. seems like a good time to tell you to go check out CT founder’s new Substack. (Cycling Industry News/Medium/Substack)
Another thing worth checking out: FundHerTri has launched a UK arm, and both arms are running a fundraiser right now. (FundHerTri)
An open letter to the trail and ultra community from non-binary athletes. (TrailRunner)
I watched some of the NCAA cross-country meet this weekend (women’s and men’s) and am fully obsessed with Katelyn Tuohy, with the race that she and Parker Valby delivered (shoot your shot!), and with how Katelyn’s North Carolina coach has been managing such a talent. (Youtube/The Journal News)
You know what would suck? Thinking you had a 100-mile world record and then find out the certifiers ruled the course was 716 feet short. (Washington Post)
Do you know how and when to quit? ()
One last thing
Weird how this works.
I'm going for the Delaware state championship title! 😂😂😂 And damn right I'll make a shirt if I win. Which is hilarious because I was never fast enough to qualify for the California state championships in track or cross country.