#6: Who will win 70.3 Worlds?
Only the warm will thrive.
issue 6: Oct. 26, 2022
This past weekend I ended up volunteering at Run Aid Station #2 at Ironman California. While I’ve worked dozens of races over the years, it’s usually the local tri or Turkey Trot. This was the first time in maybe a decade I’ve volunteered at a bigger event. Was interesting—and probably useful—to be on the other side of the large Ironman aid stations. It’s not exactly what you picture it is.
Now, after last week’s super long (way too long) newsletter, this week we’re going to keep it short and sweet and focused on the fire at 70.3 Worlds. We’ve just got one quick announcement:
The Triathlonish podcast is here!
Snowy in St. George
Before we get to who’s gonna win and how you can watch all the action, let’s talk first about the crazy weather this week in St. George.
Of course, Lucy’s staying at 5,800’ elevation outside of the town—and St. George is 30 minutes and 3,000 feet lower than where she’s at. But still.
The St. George weather is predicted to be a low of 41 degrees at the 7:30 a.m. race start. (That’s 5 degrees Celsius, international people.) And the water temperature at Sand Hollow is currently 60 F (not sure where people are getting 55 from) and it’s expected to stay somewhere in the high-50s for race day.
Basically: It’s going to be cold. Or, as Paula Findlay said: perfect running weather.
There were also intense sandstorms last week, but the wind appears to have died down now. So how will all of this affect the race? Obviously, hard to say which athletes will struggle more with the cold—but some will definitely struggle and some of the pros will probably DNF with hypothermia. (Combo of earlier start, less likely to stop and put on warm/dry clothes, and general physical tendency towards retaining less heat make it more likely for the pro waves.) I don’t, however, think Ironman will cancel the swim. Shorten for the age-groupers? Maybe. But not for the pros.
One other important note: FYI, the course is different this year—both different than the regular 70.3 and different from last year’s nutty hilly Worlds route. The bike has a few small changes, but nothing substantial. The run, though, is significantly less hilly than usual—it simply does two loops up the false flat out of town, around a bit, then back and around the neighborhood a bit. This should favor some of the pure runners more.
How to watch
REMINDER: The races are Friday & Saturday. Women go off at 7:30 a.m. MT (9:30 a.m. ET) on Friday, and the men are the same time on Monday. Both races will be streamed live for free on OutsideTV, starting at 7 a.m.
As has been noted, there are a lot more women who specialize in mid-distance races. This is just a fact. You can look at the top-ranked men & women and count how many only do middle distance. This is also probably also why there are only two women who finished Kona racing in St. George. (Skye Moench decided against starting.) Why this is true is more of an opinion/analysis. My guess is it has to do with prize money, on the aggregate, constituting a larger portion of the women’s income—which, then, incentivizes more racing and racing for purses instead of sponsor dollars. That was already true before the massive PTO money; now it’s extra true.
That means, even with heavy favorite Ashleigh Gentle out for her wedding (and another Noosa Tri title while she’s home, why not), there are a wealth of 70.3 specialists ready to hammer it out.
Taylor Knibb: IMO, this is Taylor’s race to lose. Yes, it’s her fourth 70.3 (I believe) and sure she’s young, but she got second here last year in her second 70.3 ever. And at the US Open this summer her run looked almost fully back to form post-injury. Whether she can hold off the fast runners behind will all depend on how close to Lucy she stays on the swim and when she takes the lead on the bike.
Lucy Charles-Barclay: A lot of people are talking a lot about the toll Kona must have taken and that Lucy will be carrying fatigue, but I dunno, man, don’t count her out. She’s not going to want to give up world title here and she’s got the speed for it.
Paula Findlay: Paula’s been consistently impressive all year and has been putting in consistent injury-free training all year—which is actually rare. (She missed last year’s race for injury.) She knows this course and area, and she could easily come out on top.
Flora Duffy: Sure, the Olympic gold medalist is arguably the underdog this week, since she hasn’t managed to actually start a 70.3 since 2020. (It’s been one thing after another, plus 2x COVID this year.) But, you don’t win as many things as widely as she has without knowing how to win a lot of different things. Plus, I think this course could be tailor-made for her.
Holly Lawrence: Everything is going to depend on how these three (Paula, Flora, and Holly) come out of the swim. Can they work together? Who will be how far off of whom? Reading a whole lot into IG posts and word-on-the-street, I’d say Holly looks a lot closer to the Holly who won every single 70.3 regional championship race a few years ago. She seems strong, prepared, and ready.
Emma Pallant-Browne: Everyone’s top wildcard pick, Emma’s won a lot of big 70.3s this year, but (controversially) wasn’t picked for the Collins Cup. I think we all suspect she’s ready to show people they were wrong.
Imogen Simmonds: Imogen took third at 2019 70.3 Worlds, but has struggled with injuries a bit off-and-on since then. She looks back now, though.
Ellie Salthouse: Did you know Ellie’s won 17 70.3s (though none of them came this year). I just wanted to share that fact. She didn’t have a great race here last year, but is probably ready to put that in the rearview and has been preparing for this pretty much since then.
Jackie Hering: I think this race could end up being a bit of a runner’s day. Jackie won the 70.3 North American champs over both Paula and Holly earlier this year, so don’t count her out. She could run her way up to the podium.
Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images For Ironman
Kristian Blummenfelt: OK, OK, we all agree it’ll probably (probably) be Kristian v. Gustav again. And most stats/odds/predictions would favor Gustav in the 70.3 distance, but I think Kristian is really really going to want to come out on top this time. Really really. And if he really really wants something he will at least wreck himself for that thing.
Gustav Iden: The two-time 70.3 world champ is probably the favorite. But don’t you think he might be a little tired from his Kona win? At least a little bit.
Sam Long: Sam got second here last year, and he opted to not race Kona and focus on this and the PTO races instead. He races well in St. George, he races well in the U.S., he will be a crowd favorite, and he’s definitely going to go for it on the bike.
Magnus Ditlev: Magnus didn’t have the race he wanted in Kona after a penalty, but he’s been very solid across all the distances and I suspect he’ll be looking to finish off his season on a high note.
Jackson Laundry: Jackson is my dark horse pick. He won Oceanside 70.3 when no one expected him too and he was fifth here last year. He’s also one of the guy’s on the men’s side who has largely been specializing in this distance and focused on this race.
Frederick Funk: Frederick is the other guy who’s been focused on this race all year. He had a mechanical here last year, and he might not be as fast a runner as the front two, but he should be up there somewhere.
Aaron Royle: The Olympian should be first into T1 (or first-ish, first with Ben Kanute?) and had a strong race at the Canada Open. We’ll see how long he can hold onto it on Saturday.
Rudy von Berg: He was third at 2019 70.3 Worlds and third at the 70.3 North American champs earlier this year. Hopefully is recovered from Kona and seeing returns on the new training now.
Ben Kanute: The other Olympian who should be first-ish into T1. He’s been on the podium for 70.3 Worlds before, but has struggled more this year.
Full start lists here. And looking for more fun facts? Triathlete has the breakdown of St. George by the numbers.
Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or listen directly here.
This weekend is also the Super League Tri finale in NEOM, Saudi Arabia. (I do not expect the scheduling conflicts between big races to stop anytime soon.) Of course, I have no idea what Super League team is in the lead. (I think it’s Sharks v. Scorpions? Maybe.) But I do know it’s Georgia Taylor-Brown v. Taylor Spivey and Hayden Wilde is very much ahead and also there’s a crazy stupid amount of money on the line. You can watch it live here. (Super League Tri)
We talked before about the rather grim background of the NEOM super-city, but here also is some history on the beginnings of triathlon in Saudi Arabia. (The Gaurdian/Triathlete)
Noosa Triathlon is the biggest race no one in the U.S. knows about and Ashleigh Gentle should win a record ninth title this weekend. Nice wedding present. (Noosa Tri)
Don’t forget: Next next weekend is the World Triathlon Championship Series race in Bermuda. And if I wasn’t going to the New York Marathon, I would 100% be going to Bermuda to see the crowds turn out for Flora Duffy. Oh, and also the Norwegians will be backing up their Kona-St. George schedule with a trip to the mid-Atlantic island and a return to short-course because they’re The Norwegians. (World Triathlon/Instagram)
SGRAIL, the world’s funnest triathlon, was this past weekend in Girona and Sid gives us the play-by-play on the podcast. (Instagram/Triathlonish)
We mentioned Big’s Backyard Ultra last week—where everyone runs a lap every hour on the hour until they can’t anymore—but we didn’t talk about the national international competition. Even Ukraine fielded a team, although they obviously didn’t have the hullabaloo that other teams had. (New York Times newsletter)
And the beer mile was dominated by the American women, as we do. (Outside)
In what has to be the most fascinating post-Kona retirement ever, Heather Jackson raced Big Sugar last weekend (it’s a gravel race, my triathlete friends) and is now officially on the start list for Javelina Jundred (it’s a 100-mile trail race, my triathlete friends). Word is she’s going for a golden ticket to Western States? Either way, it’s definitely the most fun anyone is having post-Kona. (Instagram/Javelina Jundred)
There were lots and lots of triathlon awards this week: The Bavarian region of Germany gave both Challenge Roth and Anne Haug awards, and Jonny Brownlee was awarded the Order of the British Empire. (Tri-Today/Instagram)
USAT also announced their Board of Directors, which includes Katie Zaferes. (USA Triathlon)
Endurance Exchange is on for January 2023 and the Outspoken Summit for women in endurance sports is in two weeks—with their awards in a number of categories. (Endurance Exchange/Outspoken/Facebook)
Taylor Knibb talked to How They Train ahead of 70.3 Worlds, and Chelsea Sodaro talked (along with her coach) after Ironman Worlds. And Rich Roll talked with the Boys from Bergen and with Gordo Byrn (also fascinating ‘simple is best’ insight). Or just read the key takeaways. (How They Train/Rich Roll/Twitter)
The Norwegians are also the best thing about video on Strava, and they may have even inspired me to get on BeReal. (Strava)
Teammate Molly Huddle gives insight into Emily Sisson’s American marathon record day. (Runner’s World)
Eilish McColgan’s Scottish 10K record doesn’t count now because the course turned out to be 150m short—and race directors everywhere had panic attacks. (She does still have the record from a previous performance, don’t worry.) (The Gaurdian)
Should women’s races be longer? Should the teams be bigger? (VeloNews/Cycling Weekly)
Two campaigns on women’s training this week: 1. Call a ‘period' a period after all, like a goddamn adult; it’s an integral part of training (which also brings up, of course, a whole lot of issues around tracking and records right now in the US, which we have got to deal with), and 2. Fueled is fast, which women should know but we statistically tend to underfuel for a variety of societal, coaching, body image, and bad science reasons. (Instagram/The Well/Twitter/Women’s Performance)
Train your brain to enjoy hard things. (Washington Post)
The Red Bull founder died. And, if you think about it, what Red Bull has done creating events and then turning them into real things is actually kind of amazing/crazy. (Outside/RedBull)
Daniela Ryf is the latest person to come out of Kona with COVID. Whether she got it before or after the race is probably hard to say; mathematically, more likely it was after, but still, she’s simply the latest. I’ve heard of dozens and pros are less likely to say anything until much later; I even saw reports of people who raced with COVID because being good at triathlon doesn’t necessarily mean you’re smart. With all the cases coming out of the week-long event and the increased numbers in hospitals in Kona after, the internet debates about whether it was a superspreader event have been a bit dumb—as if the scientific factual definition of a thing depends on how a bunch of people online feel about it. (Instagram)
One last thing
World Comedy Wildlife Photo finalists have been announced. And I think we all identify with this poor zebra.
So glad you are sticking with newsletters and podcasts! Big fan since if we were riding/feisty newsletter. Happy to hear yoy and Laura will continue on!!!
I tend to favor Blu over Iden too as I think a 70.3 more closely resembles an Olympic than an IM. That said, I have trouble believing they've completely purged Kona fatigue from their systems in just three weeks. They're not thaaaat much better than everyone else. (Are they?)