#54: The runway from Spain to Hawaii
Let the Kona sunset spam begin.
issue #54: Sept. 27, 2023
Hello, all-sporters: We again have an audio version of this week’s newsletter for paying subscribers—to make it easier for you all to listen, instead of read. (I think it worked mostly the way I wanted it to last week. Let me know if it didn’t.)
And, here’s the Q&A that went out to paying subscribers this past Sunday with the Director of Sustainability for New York Road Runners.
I’m headed to Kona this weekend, and buried in life stuff and work stuff and Kona planning stuff—so hit me up as we plan our Kona schedule. Which includes a first-timers webinar later today (more below).
How many women in Kona?
(This is something my husband always says: ‘Wait, you want how many women in Kona? Just 50 women?’)
I would like to officially dispel here and now any and all rumors and wild speculation and answer the hottest question of the day: How many women will there be in Kona? And the answer is! Per Ironman: Just over 2,000 women are registered for the Ironman World Championship in Kona in two weeks.
Sure, some of them will end up not starting. Sure, it’ll probably end up being around 1,800-1,900 finishers. Sure, you can say some stuff about how that’s too many women. But there were 2,200 men who started the Ironman World Championship in Nice—and it’s nice to see this many women also get a chance on the world stage.
And for the pro women: It’s all kinds of depth, so so much depth. The start list is every. single. one. of the top athletes back from last year + a bunch of the people who were missing in 2022. The only ones I know who have pulled out are Meredith Kessler & Manon Genet. (No, I don’t have an answer on if Taylor Knibb will be starting or not. I know she’ll be on the Big Island because her mom is racing, but no official word one way or the other what she’s doing herself—though I would say the hints are looking like she’s giving her first Ironman a go. And, personally, I have come around to: Why not! Let her do what she wants!)
Now, of course, with that many women, we have to build something for them to grow into. That’s how building a future works. And you can imagine there are more women racing in Kona for the first time than ever (500+), so we’re putting on a first-timers webinar later today with Feisty Triathlon + Ironman—with another event coming on heat & nutrition and then more during race week. RSVP here.
Honestly, maybe this was dumb of me, but I sort of thought we’d be done arguing by now. I thought we’d have all concluded: Like, sure, we’d love to have the men and women in one place in one week, it’d be great and easier and in a lot of ways better for sponsors and better for tri families—but I thought we also all recognized the operational hurdles and logistical challenges to two days in one place, we understood it wasn’t possible this year. We understood the pros and cons. And you can’t now, in the year 2023, choose to sacrifice the professional women’s world championship race on that altar, you can’t choose to hobble the growth of those 2,000 women and limit it forever to just the 700 women it used to be. And so I thought, and maybe this was dumb of me, we’d have realized by now that no one has offered another solution (no one!) and so let’s see this out, see where there are opportunities to try something new, make adjustments, and hopefully grow from here.
I thought, maybe, we’d all remember how 70.3 Worlds turned from nothing into something.
When you talk to male athletes about the split championships, they generally talk about how nice it is to have the women out there, how it makes it feel more like a championship, how it’s great to see the women while they’re racing. When you talk to the female athletes, they say some of those things too, but they always also talk about how the male athletes affect their race, how it changes the race, how it creates packs or guys won’t let them pass or even (on the upside) they can pace off men on the run—even the age-groupers much farther back talk about the effects. I'm not saying this is good or bad; I’m saying the framework is fundamentally different. And I thought we’d be done arguing about that, because I thought it’d be obvious.
I don’t know what’ll happen. And I know I could give you a list of things I would fix if I was Queen of Triathlon. But I also know that you don’t have a world championship in any other sport where the men are mixed in with the women competing for the world title. And I know that you can’t grow when you have no room to grow into.
Speaking of Spain
Since we’re talking about the packed season schedule and finally having a longer runway to build up buzz: What about that crazy WTCS Final this weekend!?
After last year, we all thought there was no way that could happen again. No way there’d be that big an upset! The only way the world series winner wouldn’t be Hayden Wilde or Alex Yee is if they both ended up so far back that someone else was able to capitalize.
Well, turns out. Enter Dorian Coninx.
He capitalized on maybe the worse race Alex Yee has had in four years, and a penalty for Hayden Wilde. And a huge sprint. And the French just continue to deliver when the stage is big.
After a DQ got overturned, the final year-end standings are:
The women’s race was less of a surprise—but only because Beth Potter has been solidly the best this year. She was the best on the day and took the overall best of the series crown.
Final year-end standings:
I think the biggest note to take home isn’t that Beth Potter and Cassandre Beaugrand remain the favorites (at least until Flora Duffy and Georgia Taylor-Brown are back to form, or Taylor Knibb gains some more experience); it’s that Kate Waugh has blown up Brit Tri’s Olympic qualification. A team that was already incredibly tough to make just got tougher with her second place (on top of her progression all season).
Speaking of Olympic qualification: None of the U.S. women were able to lock down their spots; Beth got hers through the toughest criteria out there; Rachel Klamer got hers; and Lisa Tertsch made the German team in dramatic fashion after getting a penalty and having to go all out.
There were also U23 titles, thousands of age-groupers, paratri world titles. And, it turns out World Tri has a sense of humor.
The rest of the results
The Para World Champs were in Spain too and a huge shoutout to wins from superstars Dave Ellis (in the visually impaired category—where favorite Susanna Rodriguez was upset in the women’s race) and Lauren Parker (in the wheelchair division) and Alexis Hanquinquant (in the PTS4). And, of course, my favorite Grace Norman with another gold. Maybe, most interestingly, Jetze Plat lost (after a flat tire)! There’s just so many stories to keep track of. Including, the U.S. taking the para mixed relay—which we’re hoping will be an event at LA2028.
Augusta 70.3: Paula Findlay finished out a long season with the win in Georgia. And Mika Noodt won the men’s race—but everyone was really focused on Jackson Laundry beating out Lionel Sanders on the podium (and Lionel, of course, declared he’s done with triathlon).
Xterra World Champs: AND! The moved-to-Italy Xterra World Championship—which closed out a full season of World Cups. Defending champs Arthur Serrières and Solenne Billouin won—but on the women’s side Alizée Paties held onto the season title after getting more podiums all year than anyone.
Some interesting things in our sports you should know about this week.
New York 70.3 this past weekend apparently set a record as the largest inaugural 70.3. 3,000 is a lot of athletes. (LongIsland.com)
The fight over what happened at Ironman Ireland continues. RTE has an investigation into the timeline of race morning: both Triathlon Ireland and Ironman agree that there was a conversation about changing the swim course, but they don’t agree on whether that conversation was a suggestion or an order and they don’t agree on whether Ironman was required to get final permitting from Triathlon Ireland or not. From all of our perspectives, I think at issue is that this isn’t really how it works here in the U.S. (ie. USAT doesn’t, typically, tell anyone to change things race morning) and, while I’m sure both Ironman and Triathlon Ireland have extensive liability insurance, legal cases and insurance also work differently in Ireland than here. Plus, of course, no one wants to be considered responsible for what happened. And so now it’ll go to an independent investigation. (RTE)
Malibu Triathlon is happening after all! (Los Angeles Times)
Challenge announced a new race back in North America: Quebec. (Endurance Sportswire)
This past weekend should have been the SGRAIL Big Bear race in California, but as far as I can tell it was quietly cancelled a month or so ago?
Jan Frodeno has been on a sponsor tour and will be on a “fun” relay at Ironman Israel—not racing the whole thing as was hinted on social media. (Triathlon Magazine Canada)
Biggest news of the weekend, though, was definitely the new women’s marathon world record of 2:11:53. Get to know Tigst Assefa. And a fun IG post from the top American man, who ran with her for miles—and tried not to get in the way. (The Guardian/Fast Women/Instagram)
And their preliminary 2024 calendar of events. (World Triathlon)
UCI also announced (finally) the course for Gravel Worlds. (road.cc)
A fun list of the collegiate triathlon “Big Ten” programs—with one big caveat: Chelsea Sodaro wasn’t an alum of the Cal tri team (I know, I was!), she was a DI runner there. (Triathlete)
I know this is not a balls newsletter, but I hadn’t gone deep on the changes to the college football landscape (via NIL & the transfer portal) and how Deion Sanders is making full use of that in Boulder. (Bloomberg)
Jakob Ingebrigsten ran a beer mile at his bachelor party. (Runner’s World)
Shorter, faster trail races are on the rise in the U.S. (They’ve long been popular in Europe.) They’re fast, they’re hard, they’re usually a little bit insane. And I am 100% here for it. (Trail Runner)
Should you get paid for crewing for a pro? (Outside)
Vicky Holland is on the start list for the World Cup in Tangiers next weekend. She’s back post-baby; good thing the British women’s team isn’t totally insanely deep! (World Triathlon)
Redbull Rampage will again, in its 17th year, be only men. No woman has ever been invited. (Freehub)
Stefan Küng finished the European Championship time trial covered in blood and with the front half of his helmet broken off. It was a mistake to finish (not on him! he had just crashed hard, someone else needed to be responsible!) and there needs to be more protocols in place. (Instagram/GCN)
Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of stories of crazy mysterious symptoms that turn you into a former shadow of yourself—and the answer is almost always long COVID. Except when it’s overtraining syndrome. (Outside)
One last thing
Just doing some yoga while racing the Vuelta. Press play.
That’s it. Issue 54.
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