If We Were Riding’ is a weekly triathlon-ish newsletter written by Kelly O’Mara and produced by Live Feisty Media. Subscribe to get it in your inbox every Wednesday morning. You can also read past issues. This episode is from July 11, 2018.
After 23 hours of traveling by cab, train, other train, express train, airplane, and then car, I’m back home. (Only for a week, before it’s off to Ironman Lake Placid.) Here are a few of the things I missed after two weeks in Scandinavia: chocolate mint Clif bars, Gatorade, tampon applicators, Law & Order, burritos, menus where I know what I’m ordering, casual swearing, and credit card machines that don’t require my signature. Isn’t it good to be home?
I’m still reeling a bit from the travel and unpacking and catching up on work I dropped the ball on, but I actually did quite a bit of reading while I was gone, since I did quite a bit of sitting on planes and trains and automobiles. So, let’s get right to what we’d be talking about if I was doing any real riding at all this week.
Ryf racing, Frodeno on form
What do we think of these social cards (above) everyone seems to be making for every race these days? (Photo: Ironman) Though I’m a little over them, they do, however, sum things up nicely.
The European Championships took place at Ironman Frankfurt this past weekend. And, no, we don’t think it was a coincidence it was scheduled just a week after Challenge Roth nearby. Almost as if one company is trying to dominate the market space.
Of all the various Ironman-declared Championships so far this year, I’d say this had the most stacked field. On the men’s side, two-time Kona champ and Olympic gold medalist Jan Frodeno beat out up-and-comer Patrik Nilsson (who took second) and last year’s Kona winner Patrick Lange (who took third). And he did it very intentionally, I’d argue. After all the raving about Lange’s running ability last year, and Nilsson’s to a degree, Frodeno clearly used this as an opportunity to remind everyone he’s still got the foot speed. All three started the marathon together and then one of them simply ran seven minutes faster. Making a very specific statement about what we can expect in October, while he was at it.
Obviously, Daniela Ryf won the women’s race, as Daniela does. I know the three-time Kona champ and three-time 70.3 world champ has lost a few races in the last few years, but I can’t think of many. And whatever fatigue she’s shown in the past, she’s clearly on form right now.
However, it’s worth nothing that the whole women’s field has been rising to Ryf, as often happens when there is one dominant athlete and then everyone else catches up. Of the Frankfurt performances this weekend, I was actually most intrigued by Sarah True’s debut Ironman, which she closed with a 2:54 marathon (faster than Ryf’s run) for second and Anne Haug’s debut for fourth — with Sarah Crowley in there for a solid third place. We should see them all at Kona.
Also, can we just admit the ‘no zipping your suit below your sternum’ rule (except you’re allowed to race in a sports bra top, but not zip your aerosuit below your sports bra if you’re wearing one) makes no sense and no one follows it anyway?
And I’d like to nominate an insider tweet of the week that I fully appreciated: Thorsten noting the women’s Frankfurt race was going to be pretty damn exciting too.
Keep Showing Up ©
Des Linden might have copyrighted the phrase “Keep Showing Up” after winning the Boston Marathon, but obviously she’s not the only one who keeps chugging along year after year waiting for it to all come together.
Two athletes this weekend won after a long time of not winning: Stephanie Bruce *finally* took home a national title, winning the 10K road title at Peachtree in Atlanta. It took her a decade. And Lauren Brandon won Ecaudor 70.3, which was only her second pro win in eight years and the first time she’s ever gotten to hold up the tape.
After having quite a few of my own races where it doesn’t all seem to come together exactly right, it was worth knowing that it doesn’t come together exactly right for even the best people all the time.
Stereotypes of a triathlete
If I was going to create a caricature of a triathlete, I’d make him (and it would be a him) Type A and tri-nerded out, with lots of gadgets and lots of money, but not a lot of time to talk about other people. But obviously stereotypes are just that — a little true, but not completely true. In Europe, the stereotype seemed to be completely different: Triathletes were almost seen as cool? They were intense, but it was a kind of intense that seemed very European. And to outsiders, maybe all our ideas about ourselves don’t even make any sense. Emma Coburn, the steeplechase star, tweeted that Ironman participants are the nicest people and all I could think was: Really??
- If you’re keeping up on race schedule news: Say goodbye to Syracuse 70.3, and hello to Bangsaen 70.3 (near Bangkok). Word is also that Challenge Aruba is gone.
- This weekend were the first races with slots for the 2019 70.3 world championships — including one slot for pro men and women (per race) under the new qualifying system. And, well, if they wanted to find a way to make pros stay through the whole age group awards ceremony, it worked. Even I hung out until the end, on the off chance the slot would roll down. (It didn’t roll down.)
- Emily and Zach on the Triathlon Preview Show also put forward the theory that since Ironman is now doing Facebook Live coverage of its big races, we’re actually seeing the drafting and motor-pacing and everything going on at the front of these events. And that, in itself, maybe is forcing Ironman to address some of those issues. I think it’s definitely possible; let’s hope.
- I said a few episodes ago Ceepo might actually be launching that bizarre bike no one was sure wasn’t a joke. Well, they launched it this week. And it’s still bizarre.
- USA Triathlon has been sending out a *lot* of press releases lately, under the new regime, but there were two I found interesting recently: 1. USAT is increasing the grant funding it’s handing out to support the collegiate effort, including a huge grant to the first historically black college to add women’s triathlon as a varsity sport, and 2. The Project Podium effort, the men’s elite development program, got a head coach and will be based out of ASU.
- We talked about FKTs last week, and this week, the king of them, Kilian Jornet, set a big one around the Lakes District in England.
- In other bizarre events people do: the Mt. Marathon 5K was this past weekend. It is a truly insane race straight up and down a mountain, with complete coverage by the local TV station of the men’s and women’sraces.
- I know, I know, the Tour de France is also happening, but I’m just having such a hard time caring. There’s an argument that we should stop boycotting pro cycling over the doping — and it’s not exactly the doping or the discrepancies in how it’s handled that bum me out, anyway. It’s just that there’s no one to really root for? To that end: At least Lawson Craddock’s campaign to donate money for every stage he can finish is inspiring, and Peter Sagan is just fun to watch.
- Oh, hey, speaking of: Lance Armstrong launched his WeDu site, with articles, podcasts, events, and yearly access for $60.
- This “fitness star” (and no, I don’t know what that means) is going to finish 50 Ironmans in 50 days to raise money for Haiti. There are certainly some logistical questions about how she’s going to hit 48 states and Haiti twice while taking 12-18 hours/day to swim-bike-run, and she seems to be doing the distances as unsanctioned events, but hell, if she raises the money for the orphanage, then good for her.
- In a completely different kind of unsanctioned event: The New York Timeswrote about a bootleg 10K that draws the best female runners to Brooklyn. While my favorite note in the story was “more people are becoming aware that these amateur racers aren’t so far away from the professionals,” what I actually found interesting is here’s one of those off-the grid, unsanctioned, back-to-the-basics events everyone keeps raving about, except this one’s *for women.* That’s rare.
- Oh, hey, you know what’s not rare? Dudes challenging female pro basketball players to one-on-one. This Twitter thread from WNBA Devereaux Peters on why she’s not interested is priceless.
- I wasn’t actually too excited about a story on how elite athletes navigate being moms — oh, look, it’s difficult — but I thought of it again when Serena Williams tweeted about crying for missing her daughter’s first steps.
- We’ve talked before about the effects social media has on our natural wonders. Things are crowded, distorted, possibly destroyed, and people get out there in over their heads. (A group of YouTube stars died going over a waterfall this past weekend.) In light of all of it, should we keep some of nature’s secrets, well, secret?
- And just because: Here is a bear in a hot tub, who then drinks a margarita.