#16: You don't even know
If we could predict what would happen, then we'd never need to race.
issue 16: Jan. 4, 2023
Hello all sporters (gonna try to make that a thing),
This is your first Wednesday morning newsletter of 2023. I want to thank you all for jumping on board with me in the final months of last year. Now this year, we’ll be adding new things: You’ll keep getting this Wednesday morning triathlon-ish newsletter every week (lucky you). And paid subscribers will also receive a Sunday evening newsletter with an interesting Q&A, a deep dive story, or an archival piece. To get us started, I’ve opened up this past Sunday’s story to everyone: Our Sports’ Volunteer Problem
I’ll also be fleshing out additional content for paid subscribers and will be doing some live chats & threads for events and races, but I will not send you more email (because no one needs more email in their lives). An fyi: We’re taking a short break from the podcast right now, as I think about the future of podcasts, and will be back in a few weeks.
In the mean time, it’s an atmospheric river here or a pineapple express or whatever the term is for everything is flooding and the rain won’t stop, so we’re going to keep this week’s newsletter short and sweet and get down to the business of tackling a busy new year…
Here is this past Sunday’s story that went out to paid members, opening it up to everyone for a day or two:
Dare we make predictions
You know what my goal was going into 2020? To win an Ironman.
You know what happened? Definitely not that.
I’ve been reading a lot lately about predictions and industry trends and what do we think is gonna happen this year. And I don’t know if it’s just me, but man, the vibe seems weird this January. I swear I’m reading more articles about why you don’t need to set goal, you do you, than I am about how to set New Year’s goals. Sure, there were a lot of people out biking and running on Sunday (because it was the first sunny day in awhile)—but the gym was actually pretty empty this morning.
Basically, it seems like the international mood is one giant shrug, like we’re all nervous about getting too far ahead of ourselves after the last couple of years. Or, maybe, everyone actually started their training plan after Thanksgiving, like me, because time means nothing anymore.
I mean, we don't even know when (or where) the biggest races this year are going to be yet. So, just to get the ball rolling, to give us some sense of purpose, I started a to-be-updated Master Calendar of 2023 Races That Matter. At least then we have somewhere to start.
Other than that, what’s going to happen this year? If I knew, it wouldn’t be any fun.
The 2023 Calendar of Triathlon Races That Matter
What did I miss?
Photo: Delly Carr/World Triathlon
Gwen knows what you’re thinking
In things that will be fun to watch. Last week, I talked to Gwen Jorgensen briefly for a story that should run on espnW closer to the actual race season, but I told her I’d also use some of the things espnW readers wouldn’t be interested in (ie. the very tri-specific things) in this week’s newsletter.
So here’s what I took away from my chat with the gold medalist about her return to triathlon.
She knows it’s crazy. Like, she’s not stupid, OK; she can do math. She knows there are five Americans in the top 35 in the world—and that doesn’t count Katie Zaferes, who is also coming back postpartum. She knows she has zero points right now and an uphill battle to even get to the Olympic qualifying start lines (in August and September). She knows she gave birth in October and has to be racing soon to earn those points. And she knows USAT has no reason to give her a discretionary spot if she doesn’t perform. OK, look, she knows.
Yes, her first race will be in February, and yes, that is earlier than is ideal. No, she won’t be at peak fitness yet. But she has to start at a Continental Cup level, like everyone, and she’ll then have to do a World Cup before she can move up to the WTCS level. There are both of those races in New Zealand at the end of February and then the end of March. If she performs, she said, it shouldn’t be a problem.
She’s gonna try it anyway, because she wants to, so why the hell not. One of the things we forget sometimes is triathletes are just triathletes, not celebrities or superstars or removed from the regular reasons we all do things. Just like you sign up for a race because it sounds like fun, so too do the people who are much much (much much) faster than you. Gwen has always done things because she wants to see if she can—and she knows that doesn’t always work out, but she still wants to see if she can. And, I do actually agree, mixed relay at the Olympics does seem really fun.
World Triathlon shared their best photos of 2022, and they’re quite good. One of the smartest things World Tri ever did, btw, was hire very very good photographers for all their races, make those photos available immediately to all athletes for their social promotion and use, and open up the low-res galleries to media outlets. (Twitter)
Word is there should be an announcement this week about the super-not-secret location for the men’s Ironman World Champs. There should also be an announcement of the new PTO locations, dates, and races. I mean, one would hope, because I need to officially flesh out the rest of my 2023 master calendar and get on with making plans. (Triathlonish)
There are also, of course, quite a few new sponsor announcements out and more TK. Paula Findlay appears to be one of the few long-course athletes staying with Specialized—though she already rode the TT, not the Shiv tri bike that was discontinued. (Instagram)
Waterfall Racing also announced the two athletes they picked for their “pro project.” How are we currently feeling about elite age-groupers getting the pro treatment? (Instagram)
Svenja Thoes, who was DQ’d after crossing the line first at Ironman Ireland this summer, announced on her IG that the DQ was overturned by an “independent Irish arbitration panel.” She’s still listed as DQ’d in the results, but the PTO stats have her as the winner now, so not sure what’s happening. Since I was also not aware Irish arbitration panels could overturn Ironman results, either way, I have reached out to Ironman to ask how that works and have not yet heard back. (Instagram/Ironman/PTO)
Add Timberman 70.3 to your list of races that are no more. (Laconia Daily Sun)
The Lifetime Grand Prix (a gravel-ish cycling series) announced its list of athletes for 2023, and that list includes Heather Jackson and Angela Naeth. (VeloNews)
The latest outdoor activities to acknowledge they have a drinking problem: thru-hiking and cycling. (Out of all the pieces from all the sports, the cycling one is the best one.) Why has there been a rash of very similar stories about drinking in our sports? Probably partially because it’s accepted fact now that alcohol is a carcinogenic and sports, generally, tend to be closely associated with alcohol. Plus, it has a dog catches car feel in our “healthy” sports, which makes it catnip for editors. And that’s also probably partially the reason: Editors really couldn’t get a feel for the right kind of January vibe story and so they all ended up assigning the same one. (Outside/Bicycling)
In the same vein as our story on the legal issues around relying on volunteer labor, whether or not NCAA athletes count as employees may also come to a head this year. (Triathlonish/Politico)
India may bid for the 2036 Olympics. (Yahoo)
The bike industry is reeling from the whiplash of the pandemic boom. (Outside Business Journal)
This yearly ACSM survey on global fitness trends may be my new favorite thing. On the decline? Home fitness gyms and online personal training. #1 for 2023? Wearable tech. (ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal)
Back, back, at the end of 2020, one of my editors at Triathlete smartly suggested doing a whole feature story on the psychology of habits, where they come from, how to change them, and concrete ways to apply that to your training or health or whatever. As a result, I spent a lot of time reading about habits and taking to habit experts, thinking about goals. I didn’t feel particularly motivated at the time—I just felt tired—but there’s some actual science to it. (Triathlete/The Growth Equation)
And, really, the principles of exercise are actually pretty basic and known. (Slate)
What are your 2023 goals? Did you make any? (I’m keeping mine to myself.)
This is kind of more re: the volunteer article, but since I'm only a freebie ...
On pt. #3: A few of the local race companies (Racing Underground, Without Limits) in Colorado do the "volunteer for a free race entry" thing, and it's great. I'm pretty sure TriUtah does something similar but not 100%. I have no idea how WTC/Competitor could manage something similar (merch voucher? given those prices, that might actually be worth it ...), but it might end up being a possible answer.