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 June 19, 2019.


OK, hi, hey, I’m back on the social medias and catching up on my gossip. And I even sort of made a plan for the rest of the year and started training again. Though I’m not sure if it’s personal issues going on here or if it’s possible to get really out of shape in 10 days, but holy hell, all I want to do is go back to sleep. So if we were riding the conversation would be short and sweet — which is mostly what I got for you this week.

We got fancy new quote cards over on the social medias — and they’re already prompting much debate. I’m also not 100% sure how much I enjoy being a quote.

Goodbye Gabe

Shortly after I finished last week’s newsletter, Gabe Grunewald passed away. It’s shaken the running world, since she was a much beloved runner and even those of us who didn’t know her had been following her story for years. I will still never understand how she managed to both be in treatment for cancer and be one of the best runners in the world. Neither is easy.

There have been a lot of things written about Gabe, but this was my favorite: “Gabe spent the last years of her life fighting, living, running…. inspiring others… fully aware that she was not winning her own fight, but fighting ever harder just the same. That is something beyond bravery. Something beyond courage. Many of us live every day in denial of our own mortality, gently nudging its presence to the perimeter of our existence. Gabe’s mortality was in her grill, and she punched at it until she could no longer lift her arms.”

This Runner’s World story, reported over the last year, is also outstanding. And it’s not about the end, but this doc is about her life and her and what it’s like to be both a runner and a cancer patient.

It’s not about the body

There was a medium controversy (a moderate disagreement?) this week over commentating at the NCAA Track & Field championships. Allie Ostrander posted on Instagram that she was disappointed the commentators in the stadium talked more about her weight and height than her performance. Obviously, we all agree with her that shit is annoying af. It’s particularly problematic within the history and context of how we talk about women’s sports and female athletes. ESPN quasi-apologized.

However, sports are about what bodies can do. Commentators talk about athletes’ bodies all the time. I know more than I ever want to know about Michael Phelps’ arm span and feet length and diet. At some point, in the progress of women’s sports, we’ll have to be able to talk about someone’s height and weight and how it impacts their performance without it meaning anything about whether they should lose or gain weight, how attractive they are, or if they’re less worthwhile than some other athlete. At some point we’ll have to get to that point. We’re probably just not there yet.

No ‘pro triathlete’ visa

Also on the Insta: Holly Lawrence had visa issues preventing her from heading to Denmark for the European 70.3 champs and then she had her visa issues sorted out. (This isn’t the first time she’s had visa issues before a race.) Which raised some questions from people: Wait, how does this work?

We get into a lot more detail on the podcast this Friday, but in case you were wondering, it’s actually sort of a weird situation for all those foreign pros living and training in the U.S. There isn’t actually a pro triathlete visa. The athlete visais for “internationally recognized” athletes, which can be a bit tricky. You can get a certain short-term visa to come for a race. You can get a short-term tourist visa too, but then you have to come and go within certain periods of time — which I know some athletes do by timing their races. You can also get a sponsor to “employee” you on a work visa for five years or so — which maybe isn’t what you’re supposed to do, but I know some people do that too. Then there’s also foreign taxes, etc, etc. It’s weirdly complicated.


  • I listened to the IM Talk podcast episode with Andrew Messick after Jordan recommended it. And there was some detail in there about behind-the-scenes of Kona logistics and Kona spots and future planning, etc. My one takeaway: There will definitely be an Ironman Russia soon. (IM Talk)
  • In case you missed it last week: The Certified Piedmontese Beef Ironman Tulsa 2020 will be in May next year. (The posted press release isn’t as funny as the one that was emailed out, but for some reason the constant references to beef make me laugh every time.) (Ironman)
  • There are some more details about the Wanda Sports Group IPO and it sounds like a lot of the money will be used in the build-up to the Beijing Olympics. (Mingtiandi/Inside the Games)
  • On the other end of the financial spectrum, Brad Williams laid out his year four budget for being a pro triathlete. (BW-Tri)
  • I won’t tell you which coaches I talked to anonymously about the things their athletes do that they hate, but it’s not who you think it is. (Triathlete)
  • USA Triathlon and Triathlon Business International announced they’re merging their conferences into something they felt the need to call ‘Endurance Exchange.’ It’s one of those announcement that sounds stupid, but is actually really good for the industry reps and coaches and people who go to these things—which has a trickle-down effect for the rest of the sport. I hope. (USAT)
  • Kara Goucher says finishing the Leadville Marathon was the hardest thing she’s ever done. (Runner’s World)
  • Kim Conley says the bizarre-ity of the new track ranking system is resulting in worse performances earning her more points. (Twitter)
  • The New York Mini 10K is the oldest womens-only race, with both an empowering and super weird history. (Outside)
  • Here’s your Women’s World Cup update: I’ve watched a lot of games and I watched the U.S. women beat Thailand 13-0. Yeah, it was ridiculous, but it was what it was. No one was really upset about it. It was a new record for number of goals scored in a match. Alex Morgan set a record. The team wanted to make a statement. Which is why it’s weird hearing now that it was “controversial.” It, uh, wasn’t. (NPR)
  •  The U.S. women’s team is a national treasure that generates more revenue than the men. Pay them. (Relatedly: The MLS players’ salariesare much better than I would have thought.) (Washington Post/Wall Street Journal/MLS)
  • In actual controversies I only sort of half paid attention to: This Spanish soccer team was using people’s phones to listen in and geo-locate if they were watching a pirated stream of the game. (NY Mag)
  • Bike shops should stop being snobs and treating their customers shitty. Full stop. (Bicycling)
  • Here are the National Geographic photo contest winners(National Geographic)


Comments & thoughts

– After our ‘coregasm’ podcast, listener Sean made my favorite joke so far.

– Whether or not you should pee in the transition tent has prompted a whole LOT of debate. Though the answer is no, always no.

– Erin, Lisa, and Theresa all pointed out to me too that Ironman Boulder isn’t actually that popular and had a lot of weird permitting issues with the city. So. It is what it is.