Last Weekend Now: Oceanside, Gravel Tri, and the Start of the 2024 Olympic Cycle?
Who you should keep your eye on in the next few years...
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Last Weekend Now is our Monday morning column covering pro triathlon and racing. It is typically written by Brad Culp, but Culp called in sick this morning, which means this week’s edition of Last Weekend Now is mostly a photo gallery—with words by us. So instead of Culp telling you they swam, then they biked, then they ran, we’re here to let you know we’re pretty sure that at every race this past weekend, they swam, then they biked, and then—wait for it, wait for it—they ran. Here’s the roundup.
Findlay ends Pallant-Browne’s streak in Oceanside
This season, Emma Pallant-Browne’s been racking up so many wins, that people started to remember her last name has an extra “e” at the end of it. With a weaker swim (for a top world-class 70.3 athlete, not for your regular lap hours at the local pool), Pallant-Browne is almost always chasing down from behind. This weekend, at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside, she finally ran out of room. Canadian star Paula Findlay emerged from her garage set-up to put together a 26:23 swim, 2:20:31 bike—which she noted was six minutes faster than she rode there in 2019 and 15 minutes faster than 2018—and held off the super-runners with 1:21:43 half-marathon to take the W, almost two minutes ahead of Pallant-Browne. Jeanni Metzler rounded out the podium after some “stomach issues,” which we think might be the polite way to say bathroom stops.
In the men’s race the dominance continued, however: Ben Kanute defended his title with a finishing time of 3:46:31, followed by the up-and-coming Miki Taagholt (yes, you need to learn how to say his name) and always-consistent Sam Appleton.
A new streak for Beth Potter?
After that 5K world record on the road earlier this year, you can’t be blamed for forgetting about Beth Potter. There are just so many fast British women that it’s hard to keep track. But now it’s time to put her back on your list. After a win at last weekend’s World Triathlon Cup in Haeundae in South Korea, Potter took a bus transfer to another WTC in Tongyeong and dominated again.
If you didn’t watch the race—and we’re guessing you didn’t—you missed out on the fun of seeing a tactical masterclass put on by Potter and her training partner Kate Waugh (also another British woman whose name is worth remembering). The two rode together to open a gap of more than a minute on the bike, then Waugh broke away in an attempt to bank time on her teammate heading into the run. It didn’t quite work—it’s hard to put time on a world record runner—and Potter closed the gap in the final stretch, but it’s always fun to watch friends sprint to the finish. Isn’t that the whole point?
Collin Chartier gets down and dirty at Frodeno’s new race
We may have finally reached peak gravel. Sunday saw the first-ever SGRAIL100—a gravel triathlon (swim, gravel bike, and trail running) put in Girona, Spain by Ironman world champ Jan Frodeno and his wife, Olympic gold medalist Emma Snowsill. The distances don’t fall into any standard triathlon—a 1.2-mile swim, a 55-mile bike, and a 6.2-mile run—which makes it extremely on-brand for gravel racing. Rules? What rules? We’re making memories here, people. Collin Chartier took the win in the men’s race, notching another victory in what has become a breakout season for the American—but it’s gravel, so it’s not even really about the win. It’s really about the fact that Chartier managed to post mid-race stories on his Instagram feed. (He also documented his train trip and bike ride from Barcelona to Girona in the true adventurer influencer spirit.) On the women’s side, Molly Supple took the win over Kat Matthews, though neither posted a selfie.
A peek at Paris 2024 talent
And our last race of the weekend was, of course, back in St. George—which has somehow become the hotbed of triathlon. A few weeks ago, the southwestern Utah town hosted the Ironman 70.3 World Championships; in April, it will host the Ironman World Championships. And this weekend, St. George hosted Olympic hopefuls from 17 different countries at the 2021 Americas Triathlon Championships. The draft-legal races—of which there were U23, juniors, and elites—served as the first major race for many of the young athletes, who were trying to earn points that are then used to determine who qualifies for national teams (and ultimately, the Olympics). Basically, it was the start of the Olympic run-up for everyone you’ve never heard of but will hear of going into 2024.
Up-and-coming athlete Gena Sereno, who has turned her successful collegiate running career into success as a member of USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program, broke the tape in the women’s race. She then teamed up with Chase McQueen to win the unique two-person mixed relay event. Mexico’s Irving Perez crossed the finish line of the men’s race in first place, barely edging out Canadian Charles Paquet.