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 May 1, 2019.


If we were riding, we’d probably talk about life, training, me me me, oh and you. But I didn’t really mean for the newsletter to become an all-Kelly-wallowing-all-the-time event. Can we get back to triathlon?

Except I will be in St. George this weekend for the super competitive pro 70.3 North American Championships. As always, yell at me if you see me on course.

Yes, Daniela can be beat.

This is not a picture of many-time world champion Daniela Ryf. This is a photo of Jocelyn McCauley after she gave the champ one hell of a race this weekend at Ironman Texas.

Daniela eventually won, yes. She made the pass with four miles to go. And, yes, sure, Daniela’s not tapered or peaked. And her coach went very out of his way to be clear that she was just looking for a fitness test and validation race. Yes, we’ll see how it all pans out when Kona comes. But races are races. There isn’t an award for ‘oh well, here are all my reasons.’ It just matters how you do on race day. And Jocelyn reminded everyone that on any given race day Daniela *can* be beat.

As one of my new favorite race recaps reminded people: Daniela actually did lose one Ironman before, back in the day, to Mirinda Carfrae. But in recent years, she’s seemed unstoppable. It’s her lethal bike + very solid run that makes it hard to beat her. Lucy Charles has tried the ‘get enough of a lead on the swim and try to hold on’ tactic, but you can’t get *that much* of a lead in the swim. Now, Jocelyn tried the: What if you just ride with Daniela and don’t let her get away? And then get out on the run first and try to run faster. People do run faster than Daniela; it wouldn’t be crazy. Now, someone just needs to try to surge past Daniela earlier on the bike.

[All the above commentary presented with the knowledge that they’re all faster than me and this is some Monday morning quater-backing.]

This has happened before, when there’s been a champion who seemed unbeatable—Chrissie Wellington, Paula Newby Fraser. But eventually people rise to the occasion and the unbeatable gets beaten. These big jumps seem to come more often in women’s sports because history and catching up. When one woman makes a jump in performance, everyone else rises and the sport rises. It happens in all sports, but it happens a lot in women’s sports. It’ll stop eventually, when we’re all caught up. But for now: People are starting to believe Daniela can be beaten.

Other things from Texas:

– Jeanni Seymour’s debut Ironman in third was 👌

– The other Patrik (Nilsson) shined on the run for the win. And I had to Google David Plese, though apparently I shouldn’t have had to.

– Fewer complaints this year about insane draft packs. They did change the course to make it actually Ironman length, but apparently the change was mostly in more marshals and awareness. Does changing the culture work?

– Ironwomen did a ton of coverage on Facebook before the race and then on Instagram during. This interview, though, was maybe the first thing this week that made me cry. (Though, also, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 made me cry, so.)

2021 70.3 World Championships will be in…

After we made fun of Ironman’s announcing of announcements on the podcast last week, I got a press release saying they’d be making an announcement this weekend about the future of Ironman in St. George.

I will admit I was very confused. Why have a press conference with CEO Andrew Messick, voice of Ironman Mike Reilly, and a bunch of the pros? You wouldn’t do that to announce the end of the race there. And they’re not going to be bringing back the full-distance event—not when they just announced they’d be announcing a new U.S. Ironman in the middle of the country. And then I figured it out.

*EXCLUSIVE*: St. George will be the site of the 2021 70.3 World Championships(You heard it here first.)

Some other races this weekend

I know we don’t do a ton of excruciatingly detailed race coverage here. It’s not totally my wheelhouse. But if you’re looking for excellent race coverage: Fast Women is the place to get all women’s running news and Brad Culp’s new recap column for Triathlete is on point.

And from that, there are two things I would like to mention:

Katie Zaferes has quietly become the name to beat going into the Olympics next year. She won the WTS Bermuda race this last weekend, taking the #1 ranking in the world. (The U.S. women are starting to be dominant again post Gwen leaving and Sarah moving to Ironman.) That comes after a season of Katie dominating the Super League races as well. I’m really hoping Flora Duffy is healthy by next year and we can see two athletes at the peak of their game, who race with heart from the front, go at it.

Also, btw, Javi is back on the ITU scene. And Javi did what Javi can do, regardless of whatever else he dabbled in during his “ITU break.”

The biggest race in the endurance world, though, wasn’t really triathlon. (Shock.) It was the London Marathon this weekend. Which apparently Lucy Charles ran but DNF’d. FYI.

The exciting news, though, was the GOAT Eliud Kipchoge winning a fourth London Marathon and running the second fastest marathon time ever. What’ll he do now? Probably all six Marathon Majors. The race was fast and insane and it took a 2:03:16 just to get on the podium.

Brigid Kosgei was the youngest woman to win the race in 2:18:20 and much-heralded American Emily Sisson ran a debut marathon in 2:23:08. We’re witnessing a moment in American women’s distance running. Appreciate it.



Comments & thoughts

Some thoughts, comments, ideas, questions, and opinions from readers and listeners this week.

– I hope the few of you who said they’d be in Texas where able to see Ashley and Sara!

– “Another great newsletter,” said Pam, who also subscribed to our Patreon. Thank you!

– And Jo had some more tips on how to get through the ‘fuck it’ moment: “I think of how I would feel afterwards if I threw in the towel. Plus all the work it’s taken to get there. And if none of that works, I think, ‘If it was meant to be easy, it would be called soccer!!!'”

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