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Triathlon News & Notes: Ironman UK Limits Foreign Athletes, Mark Allen Shares Insights, Jan Launches Frodeno Fund

A look at some of the buzz we’ve picked up in the sport over the past seven days.

Ironman UK to limit pro field to local athletes 

Due to quarantine restrictions, Ironman UK, set for July 4, will not allow pro athletes to travel from outside of England to compete. “Given the ongoing changes to the circumstances around traveling to the UK, it appears that Ironman UK is likely to be a primarily local race,” Jennifer Tillema, who handles pro member services for Ironman, wrote in an email to pros. Tillema also indicated the race will continue to offer two slots for the Ironman World Championships for both the men and the women, and they will keep the $100,000 prize purse in place despite the limited field.

Competition heats up in Leeds as triathletes eye Olympic berths

Draft-legal action ramps up again this weekend in Leeds, England with the final World Triathlon Championship Series race in the Olympic and Paralympic qualification window. Not only will long-distance star Lucy Charles make her short-course debut, but it also serves as a chance for the U.S. Olympic hopefuls to make their case for selection for Tokyo, which will be named via discretion by USA Triathlon on June 16. American stars Katie Zaferes, Kirsten Kasper, and Taylor Spivey are all on the start list (Summer Rappaport and Taylor Knibb, who have already qualified for the Olympic squad, are not racing in Leeds). On the men’s side, the likes of Matt McElroy and Eli Hemming will be racing in the hopes of joining Morgan Pearson in Tokyo.

Twelve American paratriathletes will also compete in Leeds, including Melissa Stockwell, Hailey Danz, and Grace Norman—all stars of the Rio Games in 2016. Also of note? The top visually impaired athletes Aaron Scheidies, Brad Snyder, and Elizabeth Baker will race with guides Ben Collins, Greg Billington, and Jillian Elliott (née Petersen) respectively, all of whom had successful careers as pro triathletes. The events will be broadcast live at TriathlonLIVE.tv; monthly and annual subscriptions are available for purchase. The races will also be streamed live on FloTrack with a subscription. (Here’s more on how to watch.)

Alvernia University adds varsity triathlon for women

The Alvernia Golden Wolves will soon welcome another sport to its lineup: women’s triathlon. Beginning in fall of 2022, the NCAA Division III school in Reading, Pennsylvania, will offer women’s triathlon at the varsity level. This makes Alvernia the 37th school in the nation—and the first in Pennsylvania—to add triathlon, which is categorized as an emerging sport by the NCAA (other emerging sports include acrobatics and tumbling, equestrian, rugby, and women’s wrestling). The hope? That institutions can develop, implement, and ultimately sustain women’s triathlon programs at the varsity level. “USA Triathlon is proud to welcome Alvernia University to the women’s collegiate triathlon family as our first varsity program in Pennsylvania,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “This addition is particularly exciting, as it brings us one step closer to full-fledged NCAA Championship sport status while opening up a new opportunity for student-athletes in the Northeast Region.”

RELATED: Is Triathlon Ready for the NCAA?

Mark Allen shares insight into his life, training, and fuel from then and now 

Six-time Ironman world champ Mark Allen reflects on his epic career and shares insight as a triathlete and coach in a peice posted by Sports Illustrated. The story (which is sponsored content for the protein supplement True Athlete) offers entertaining nuggets about the 63-year-old Allen’s various approaches to nutrition and training, like how he used to “down a half-dozen chocolate chip cookies while triathlon training, depending on the quick bursts of sugar to fuel him” as well as his once-preferred method of running 90 miles or biking 500 miles each week for six weeks straight leading up to a race  (“by the end of that, you’re toast,” he said). And while Allen, who resides in Santa Cruz, California, still rides and strength trains, he says his favorite workout these days is surfing. “It’s my cardio, it’s my yoga, it’s my stretching, it’s my balance,” Allen said. “It’s my time in nature and my stress relief.”

Phil Liggett tapped for live coverage of the Collins Cup

A familiar voice will be leading the commentary for the 2021 Collins Cup: Phil Liggett, known as the “Voice of Cycling” has been tapped to head the live coverage of the much-anticipated event on Aug. 28. Liggett, who has worked as a television commentator for over 40 years, is perhaps best known for his work on the Tour de France, although he has covered several other sports, including speed skating, biathlon, and triathlon. “The Collins Cup is poised to be the most exciting and innovative format for endurance sports that I have witnessed in my long career,” Liggett said. “I am looking forward to being part of a talented team of commentators as we make an effort to give a great platform that will engage not only those who love triathlon, cycling and endurance sports, but also to those general sports fans who crave the rivalries that will be put on display when the best athletes in the world enter the arena to do battle for the Collins Cup.” 

Jan Frodeno launches FrodenoFun(d), opens bike park for kids in Spain

Three-time Ironman world champ and Olympic gold medalist Jan Frodeno has launched the FrodenoFun(d), a nonprofit focused on changing lives through sport. Frodeno posted on Instagram that the group has built a pump park near his home in Girona, Spain, along with a cycling program integrated into the local schools. “Growing up in South Africa and witnessing the end of apartheid first-hand, I understood early that sport can create bridges the way few other things can,” Frodeno wrote. “Sport became my path and I firmly believe that sport on any level has a positive influence on society.”

Irondad Life offers funny glimpse into becoming an Ironman

What to get the tri dad who has everything for Father’s Day? A copy of Irondad Life: A Year of Bad Decisions and Questionable Motives may do the trick. The recent release by Russell Newell, a former writer for Disney-ABC Television, puts a comedic spin on the journey to becoming an Ironman, or, as the author puts it, putting your body through a “seventeen-hour torture chamber during which a potpourri of exciting, physiological wonders—such as dehydration, fuel supply shortages, oxidative stress, muscle damage, brain fatigue, and overheating—occur, causing the body to age by twenty years.”

Podcast Notes

  • Olympic hopeful Kirsten Kasper opens up with The Triathlete Hour about what it’s like to go after a spot on the U.S. squad, as well as building back after injury.   
  • Australian star Ashley Gentle heads to Remember the Name podcast to reflect on her “nightmare” experience of racing in Rio (where she placed 26th) and setting her hopes much higher for Tokyo next month.
  • British pro Joe Skipper joins the Oxygen Addict podcast to talk about his past year, which included training in Lanzarote with David McNamee and Patrick Lange, and his recent race at Ironman Tulsa.
  • U.S. pro Chelsea Sodaro visits with Simon Ward, the Triathlon Coach, to talk about life since she gave birth to her daughter in March, touching on topics including postpartum anxiety, mental health, and her journey to returning to regaining fitness and competition.
  • Retired pro Mary Beth Ellis chats with WITSUP Women in Triathlon to look back at her career, which included posting the fast iron-distance race by an American woman (8:43:34).
  • South Africa’s Richard Murray opens up with The World Triathlon podcast about pressing pause on racing due to a heart condition and his hopes to still make it to the Tokyo start line.
  • IronWomen podcast shares a rebroadcast of the Future of Triathlon panel from the Feisty Level Up Summit, featuring Kelly O’Mara, editor-in-chief of Triathlete; Sika Henry, professional triathlete; and Eva Solomon, race director at the Michigan-based Epic Races.