2016 Triathlete Holiday Gift Guide: The Traveler

The Traveler

You chose this sport as much for the jet-setting opportunities as the adrenaline you get when you cross the finish line. Your 2017 race schedule includes several destination triathlons—where you’ll swim, bike and run on and off the race course and explore all that the world has to offer. Travel doesn’t always go as planned, but these gift ideas will make for a smoother ride from A to B and help you enjoy your final destination.

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Video: Brent McMahon Gets 4th Sub-8 Ironman Finish

Canada’s Brent McMahon turned in a 7:50:15 Ironman on Sunday in Arizona, finishing second to fellow Canadian (and new Ironman record holder) Lionel Sanders. McMahon chats about his Ironman performance, the fast course and rebounding from a disappointing Ironman World Championship.

Video: Meredith Kessler On 3rd-Straight Ironman Arizona Win

American Meredith Kessler has competed in all 13 editions of Ironman Arizona, dating back to when she competed as an age grouper in 2005. Now with three-straight wins on the course, Kessler chats about overcoming a tough year of injuries and what the future holds.

Lionel Sanders On Record: “I Want To Be The Best In The World”

Canada’s Lionel Sanders says that he had Marino Vanhoenacker’s world record on his radar heading into Sunday’s Ironman Arizona and makes the surprising announcement that he doesn’t plan to race in Kona next year. Sanders crossed the finish line at 7:44:29 to become the fastest athlete ever to finish an Ironman-branded race.

Photos: 2016 Ironman Arizona

Photos: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image/@Compimagephoto

Lionel Sanders (CAN) and Meredith Kessler (USA) showed strength and fortitude as they battled a competitive professional field to claim victories at the 2016 Ironman Arizona triathlon. Sanders pulled off a brilliant race to end the North American season, breaking the Ironman triathlon World Record by a minute and a half with a finish time of 7:44:29. Kessler was consistent from the start line to the finish tape to claim her third win in a row at Ironman Arizona with an impressive time of 8:48:23. Read the recap

Lionel Sanders Sets New Ironman World Record In Arizona

Fall temperatures and cloud cover in the location normally known as “The Valley of the Sun” made for ideal conditions at Sunday’s Ironman Arizona, with Canada’s Lionel Sanders turning in the fastest Ironman time ever to dominate and defend his title. Sanders, who finished 29th at the Ironman World Championship in Kona six weeks ago, put together a 53:45 swim, a 4:04:38 bike and a 2:42:21 marathon to establish a new Ironman world record of 7:44:29, breaking Marino Vanhoenacker’s previous record of 7:45:58—which was set at Ironman Austria in 2011. Germany’s Jan Frodeno still owns the record for fastest iron-distance race. He posted a 7:35:39 at July’s Challenge Roth (a non-Ironman event) to break the previous record of 7:41:33 from countryman Andreas Raelert, which was also set in Roth.

For the second year in a row McMahon had to settle for second place—despite turning in a blazing performance himself. McMahon went under eight hours for the fourth time in his career, crossing the finish line in the runner-up spot at 7:50:15. It’s worth noting that McMahon came within 12 seconds of Vanhoenacker’s record earlier this year in Brazil. American TJ Tollakson turned in an impressive 8:02:30 to finish third.

In the women’s race, American Meredith Kessler won for the third year in a row in Tempe. She put together a 49:31 swim, a 4:44:24 bike and a 3:09:40 marathon to cross the finish line in 8:48:23. Kessler has completed every running of Ironman Arizona dating back to when she competed as an age grouper at the inaugural race in 2005. The Netherlands’ Yvonne Van Vlerken finished second at 8:51:27, with Canada’s Malindi Elmore rounding out the top three at 8:57:22.

Check back for more from Ironman Arizona

2016 Ironman Arizona
Tempe, Ariz. – Nov. 20, 2016
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run

1. Lionel Sanders (CAN) 7:44:29
2. Brent McMahon (CAN) 7:50:15
3. TJ Tollakson (USA) 8:02:30
4. David Plese (SVN) 8:04:29
5. Giulio Molinari (ITA) 8:06:47

1. Meredith Kessler (USA) 8:48:23
2. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 8:51:27
3. Malindi Elmore (CAN) 8:57:22
4. Ruth Brennan Morrey (USA) 9:02:28
5. Leanda Cave (GBR) 9:10:41

Complete results

Ironman North Carolina Discontinued

It was revealed yesterday that Ironman North Carolina will not take place in 2017. Ironman purchased the Wilmington, N.C.-based Beach2Battleship triathlons at the end of 2015 and planned to continue running both the half and full-iron distance events on the same day. The 2016 event on Oct. 22 had its share of issues as the Ironman bike course was shortened significantly due to damage from Hurricane Matthew. Ironman 70.3 North Carolina will continue into 2017, with a race date yet to be determined.

Ironman posted the following statement on its website:
“After careful consideration, Ironman North Carolina will not continue for 2017; we will put all efforts into making Ironman 70.3 North Carolina a top-notch late season race for athletes. We appreciate the efforts and support of the city as well as our volunteers, partners and everyone else involved in putting on the dual-event this past year and look forward to continued support for the future Ironman 70.3 North Carolina event that will continue. We appreciate our athletes’ dedication and understand the disappointment that some will have in not being able to race a full-distance event in that location. We encourage those athletes to consider Ironman Maryland, Ironman Louisville and Ironman Florida.”

It has been a busy couple of weeks for Ironman, as several new events for 2017 have been announced. Other noteworthy changes include the rebranding and move of the Vineman races to Ironman and 70.3 Santa Rosa, Rev3 Maine’s transition to Ironman 70.3 Maine, and purchases that will add Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast and Maryland’s Across the Bay 10K (a running race) to its roster of events.

Gwen Jorgensen Runs 2:41:01 In Marathon Debut

Eleven weeks after becoming the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in triathlon, Gwen Jorgensen marked another first off her personal career resume today in New York City by competing in her first marathon. She crossed the finish line in 14th (the sixth American) with a time of 2:41:01.

Jorgensen turned in the impressive performance on minimal preparation for the marathon with post-Olympic commitments, as well as the WTS Cozumel Grand Final and Island House Invitational Triathlon as priorities over the last couple of months.

“For me, if I ran that race again today I probably wouldn’t do anything differently,” Jorgensen said at the post-race press conference. “It was super fun and every step was kind of a new experience for me. It was different than a triathlon. Normally I go into a triathlon and I’m fully prepared and I’m ready to go. For this race, I wasn’t prepared and it definitely hurts.”

Despite the solid effort Jorgensen admitted to being “a little disappointed” because the final miles were so tough. The American again emphasized that she has no aspirations of ever competing in an Ironman and her immediate plans now include starting a family with her husband, Patrick.

Read more about Jorgensen’s marathon debut at Competitor.com, watch a clip from the post-race press conference at Runnersworld.com and check back to Triathlete.com for more on Jorgensen’s performance in New York.

ASU’s NCAA Triathlon Team is Ready to Rock

Inside the school’s brand new sport

Arizona State University’s triathlon team will be the one to watch this Saturday at the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championship. This’ll be the third time the event has been held since USAT officially declared triathlon an emerging sport for women in January 2014, and the Sun Devils will be one of the first NCAA Division I programs to compete in it. (East Tennessee State University, another first-year Division I program, will also race in New Orleans.) Here’s what you need to know about this exciting new collegiate team.

The Sun Devils tri team was the vision of elite athlete (and ASU alum—she received her Master’s of Education from the university in 2015) Nicole Truxes, who presented the idea to ASU’s athletic director Ray Anderson early in 2015 and then wrote a draft of the proposal that led to the program’s three-year Emerging Sport grant from USA Triathlon totaling $140,000. She was also an integral part of hiring renown coach Cliff English, who made the move up from Tucson, Ariz. (about 100 miles from ASU’s campus) to take the head coach position.

“It was the right time for an opportunity,” English says. “They have a pretty big vision for what they want to do with the program, which was definitely in line with what I wanted in terms of working to the level of having elite athletes be developed here that could possibly go to the Olympic trials and the Olympic Games.”

English received the job offer at the end of 2015 and was tasked with building the program—everything from finding an assistant coach to building the entire roster of athletes, and even finding all of the equipment the athletes needed. Olympic bronze medalist Erin Densham, who competed for Australia in Beijing, London (where she medaled) and Rio, was quickly identified as the assistant coach. Like English, she says the job came at the right time.

“Knowing that I was coming to the end of my career pretty much, I still want to be a part of triathlon and this is a great way to be a part of it,” Densham says. “This opportunity allows me to give back and see these girls progress.”

After earning a 12th-place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Densham went back to Canada—where she was based—to wrap up a few loose ends and then made the drive down to Arizona.

“I raced in Rio and haven’t stopped since,” she says of the new job. “It’s been go go go, which I think is really good because I haven’t really had time to just sit back and dwell on what Rio or what my career was. I’ve just moved on… I’ve loved every minute of it.”

English says that having someone on the coaching staff who so recently competed at the sport’s top level has been helpful in many ways.

Head coach Cliff English, Katie Gorczyca, Charlotte Ahrens, Delaney Bucker and assistant coach Erin Densham. Photo provided by ASU.
Head coach Cliff English, Katie Gorczyca, Charlotte Ahrens, Delaney Bucker and assistant coach Erin Densham. Photo provided by ASU.

“We’ve been complementing each other really well,” English says of their coaching relationship. “It’s been nice to have someone who is fresh from being an athlete and thinking like an athlete. She’s been key preparing for races and traveling and taking care of all of those details.”

With the coaching staff in place, English went to work building a team of student-athletes—not an easy task when you consider that the entire idea of triathlon as an NCAA sport is new. Ultimately ASU ended up with a group of seven athletes whose individual experiences in the sport are wildly different. Some of the athletes had competed in several triathlons before joining the team, while others had never competed in multisport but were standouts in other sports, including swimming and track and field, in high school.

The team veterans include junior Katie Gorcyzca, a transfer from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with U23 experience at the ITU level; freshman Charlotte Ahrens, a two-time German junior national champion; and fifth-year senior Amy Darlington, who is new to triathlon but is using her fifth year of eligibility after competing at the University of Pennsylvania in track and field and cross country. The remaining four athletes on the team are freshman Delaney Bucker of Indianapolis, Ind.; freshman Sarah Quintero of Round Rock, Texas; Lillie Robinson of Madison, Ala.; and freshman Kendal Williams of Anchorage, Alaska.

“It challenges us as coaches because we have some that are good triathletes that we can make better, and then we have some where we have to go back to the basics and teach from the ground up, which is fun,” English says of the team dynamic.

One element of NCAA triathlon that has been particularly challenging is teaching everyone the bike handling skills required to compete in a fast-paced draft-legal format—and how to manage their nerves riding in a pack. Group rides that focus on hard efforts in pace lines have been key, as have skills sessions that the team does on the university’s lacrosse fields. (Think: practicing transitions in the grass.)

With strong finishes at all three regional competitions this year (including a sweep of the podium at the last regional event), the team is one of the favorites to take the national championship title this Saturday in New Orleans. The entire team will travel, with Gorczyca, Ahrens, Bucker, Quintero and Darlington on the start list. They’ll compete in a 750-meter swim, a 20-kilometer bike and a 5-kilometer run near the New Orleans Lakefront. Both the top three overall team and individual finishers will win awards.

ASU will see tough competition from defending national champions Queens University of Charlotte. The Sun Devils will also compete against non-NCAA programs, including the talented club team from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Next year, however, it’s likely only teams at the NCAA level will be allowed to compete in the national championship. See the full list of all 12 NCAA tri teams here.

Overall English sees the NCAA movement as not only something that will not only benefit the sport, but also provide young triathletes with an exceptional experience.

“It’s not an opportunity that was around when I was in college and I think that’s why so many of us are excited about it,” English says. “This is pretty amazing. To be able to get a quality education and train is great.”

Photos: 2016 Island House Invitational Triathlon

After three days of unique competition, American Gwen Jorgensen and South African Richard Murray earned the Island House Invitational Triathlon victories. For more from the weekend of competition, read the recaps from day one, day two and day three.