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#51: World Championship week snuck up here
You lost track of the time, didn't you?
issue #51: Sept. 6, 2023
All-sporters, it’s time for the first Ironman World Championship of the season. Can you believe it? I can’t. In fact, as I write this, I’m not even packed for my flight. We did, however, send out some things to know about Nice to paying subscribers this past Sunday. Get in the mood.
Also I opened up the official thread for Men’s Nice Podium Predictions. Whoever picks the closest wins a random prize from me.
And, we’ll have a special post-race edition of the newsletter for everyone on Monday.
One last thing (!) - I’m on my way again to France right now and will be in town by tomorrow evening. If you’re in Nice, come say hi (and maybe I’ll also give you some goodies, if you pop by while I’m doing work + eating pastries):
Friday, from 5-5:30 p.m., a short meet-up before dinner at the Boulangerie Jeannot (across from transition)
À bientôt! (I googled that.)
Some joke about ‘playing Nice’
This past weekend I was at a kid’s birthday party with a bunch of recently-turned-40-year-olds. And in between jokes about how boring we all are now (speak for yourself!), they kept making jokes about how old they were, how they have to sit down to put on their pants. And all I could think was: DO YOU THINK JAN FRODENO HAS TO SIT DOWN TO PUT ON HIS PANTS?! OK, maybe, if he’s been training a lot. But he’s 42 and about to win the Ironman World Championship. Stop complaining.
Actually, while Jan has to be the sentimental favorite going into Nice, the one we’re all rooting for, and he certainly could do it, he seems back in peak form, he looked strong on the ground in Milwaukee, the statistical favorites to win on Sunday are probably: Leon Chevalier or Clement Mignon or Magnus Ditlev. To which my husband said, ‘Who?’ And I said, ‘Exactly.’
That’s not to downplay how amazing they are as athletes. (They are very very good.) It’s more a comment on how much this World Championship has snuck up on all of us. Don’t deny it. You kinda forgot it was already Men’s Nice race week. You’re not pre-hyped. If you’re not a super in the weeds triathlon person (ie. my husband), you’re probably not totally sure who’s racing besides Jan. You’re like: Wait, what’s going on. This is one of the dangers of Silly Season (trademark: I believe Daily Tri). It’s hard to build momentum and keep track of the story lines; I was just pumped about Paris, and then psyched about UTMB (so obsessed)—which means we haven’t had that much time to turn our attention to the south of France.
Well, it’s time to get up to speed, now. It’s happening. The much-maligned-by-dudes-with-podcasts-everywhere world championship is here. Be ready.
Of course, the big question is how will it play out, what are the vibes, we can’t re-create Kona but we can make something new and different and great in its own right. Right? (Right?!)
To that end, I appreciated Triathlete breaking down the data on whether or not this race is actually less competitive than other world champs races. (As has been so often complained.) Remember: How fast or slow someone is behind you doesn’t ruin your experience of a world championship. Race your race. And, anyway, the best athletes will still be there and the numbers suggest it’s not really rolling down more than it ever was.
The bigger issue I keep circling around, though, isn’t whether or not “Kona got ruined” or if the “Ironman World Championship isn’t as competitive as it used to be.” I still keep thinking the problem is really going to be the underlying economics of triathlon are changing (as I’ve mentioned before). How the math works out on these things is changing, the markets and potential audiences are changing, the future business models and projections and targets are changing. Nice will be great, Kona will be great, and then we’ll have to see what happens from there.
But, most importantly: I’m just excited to have a world champion crowned on a different kind of course! You have to prove you can be the best here, on this day, in these conditions. Time for new myths.
Who to watch
We only have two athletes returning from last year’s top six (Sam Laidlow, who’s been sick a lot this year, and Joe Skipper). Max Neumann is out, Daniel Baekkegard is out. We have quite a few French athletes on a very French course looking to win in France. And it’s a race that will almost definitely favor the European riders—though, personally, I think people are not prepared enough for the pounding and monotony of that four lap run on the Promenade.
Jan Frodeno: Of course, the 42-year-old is on his retirement tour—and he looks truly ready to go out on top. I think he’ll be quietly near the front for most of the day and then we’ll just see how it shakes out in the second half of the run.
Patrick Lange: I don’t know that I had the previous Kona champ picked, but I’ve been told he’s ready for the course, and the flat (so flat, too flat) run could be fast and good for him.
Sam Laidlow: If he could just stay healthy this year, then he’d probably be a favorite—but it’s been a roller coaster since his second at Kona last year. (He’s heading up a French contingent that actually probably favors Leon Chevalier.)
Joe Skipper: Solid, consistent, 5th in Kona last year and should be able to ride with the front group (as long as he can see over his aero contraption) and then run a high-2:30. If something crazy doesn’t happen, but something crazy often happens.
Magnus Ditlev: The (meh) penalty last year took him out of what I think should have been a podium. He also set a world “record” time of 7:24 at Roth back in June. He’s probably my actual pick for the win—if he can overcome the Jan Factor.
Rudy Von Berg: My wild card. The American grew up riding these roads, and won the regular Ironman here before.
And, what we’re all wondering: What will Cam Wurf do?
How to watch
Race starts at 6:50 a.m. local time on Sunday, Sept. 10. (12:50 a.m. ET/9:50 p.m. Saturday PT) You can watch for free on:
And don’t forget: Get your Men’s Nice Podium Predictions in now!
Rest of the results
GWEN! - This is obviously the biggest result of the weekend: Seven years after her last win, Gwen Jorgensen has won another triathlon. The American crossed the line first at the Valencia World Cup. A World Cup win is a World Cup win. She still doesn’t have enough points for a start at the Olympic qualifying race (in Pontevedra), but progress!
Super League: Toulouse - A lot of the short-course stars were on the Super League circuit instead before they’ll head to Pontevedra. And Super League, as always, was drama. Jeanne Lehair was DQ’d for not having her helmet buckled while running out with her bike (in case you thought Lionel’s DQ was intense). Britain continues to be very good at all kinds of racing, though, with Kate Waugh slotting in at the front spot this week. And then—just because this is really a penalty newsletter—Hayden Wilde and Leo Bergere both accidentally rode through transition not realizing they were on the final lap, but only Hayden was given a five-second penalty. Leo went on to win. FUN!
The rest of the races: Nikki Bartlett won Ironman Wales by 23 minutes (and took her spot to Women’s Nice next year), and Daniela Bleymehl and Fred Funk took 70.3 Zell am See, along with some other stuff.
Some interesting things in our sports you should know about. Will have a full Nice dump of things from the ground next week.
No, I don’t think Kristian is racing in Nice, despite all the rumors. I think he’s coming for an On press event and he’s just messing around with us. And also I think he just really loves triathlon. Like, really loves it. (Instagram)
Yes, Joe Skipper is riding his crazy set-up for Nice, despite safety concerns. (Triathlete)
Ahhh, the thing I was actually full-on obsessed with this weekend: UTMB! The coverage of the 100-mile race was so good, even on mountainous trails. It can be done. The crowds were crazy. And I can not get enough of the aid station transition videos: fast, slow, brush your teeth. I need to do this race. (UTMB/Instagram)
And, of course, the best part of it all: Courtney Dauwalter did it! She completed a Triple Crown I don’t even think anyone thought was possible: winning Western States, Hardrock 100, and UTMB all in the same summer. And Jim Walmsley (bless his heart) finally cracked the code for the U.S. men, leading a 1-2 sweep with Zach Bitter—and it couldn’t have happened to two nicer guys. (Instagram)
The other crazy race I have to do and am fully obsessed with: The defending champs won the Otillo Swimrun World Champs this weekend. And I also just learned that Pippa Middleton completed this race back in 2015—so that’s something I didn’t expect. (Otillo/People Magazine)
USAT’s elections are open until Sept. 30 if you’re a USA Triathlon member. (USAT)
Lionel Sanders’ video has come out on 70.3 Worlds and the DQ. (Youtube)
Another popular Youtube: Rich Roll talks to Brad Stulberg this week about change. (Youtube)
And an interview from DailyTri with Sanele Shange, who’s aiming to be the first black African-born pro triathlete on the long-course circuit. (Youtube)
Dylan Davison, who had a gastrectomy in 2018 (a procedure that involves the complete removal of the stomach) due to stomach cancer, has completed a 70.3—but now is trying to become the first person without a stomach to complete a full Ironman at IM Chattanooga later this month. (The Post and Courier)
When we landed in Paris for the Test Event, the famous every-four-year Paris-Brest-Paris 8,000-person bike “race” was starting. A new record time was set in 41 hours, 46 minutes. And the fastest tandem did it in just under 52 hours. (Road/GCN)
And Strava now has a carbon calculating tool. Personally, I love its mapping tool (it’s the only way to really create a route that’s what the actual runners or bikers would take) and I used it to drop in the Ironman World Champs Nice bike file and mess with the route. Hoping to go scope it out on Saturday afternoon! (Strava)
One last thing
Meant to share this a week or two ago. Remember, even handshakes post-race are hard. (Click on the video.)