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Triathlon News and Notes: New Ironman Events, Daniela Coming to U.S., and More

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

Matt Russell recovers from a seizure

Pro triathlete Matt Russell posted that he suffered a grand mal seizure in his home over the weekend, but said he is doing better now and has undergone testing to figure out the root of it. Russell, who suffered a near-fatal bike crash in 2017 while racing in the Ironman World Championships, resulting in a concussion and other life threatening injuries, posted that the seizure may be linked to that incident but no conclusions have been made just yet. “Roughly 90 percent of people only have one seizure and do not have more. I’m hoping I fall into this category,” he wrote. Russell and his family recently moved to St. George, Utah, where he is training for the North America 70.3 Championships in his newly adopted hometown.

Daniela Ryf Planning Racing Stint in U.S.

As she did in 2019, four-time Ironman world champion will be spending the late spring/early summer competing in North American races. She’s on the start list for both the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George (set for May 1) and the Ironman North American Championship in Tulsa (set for May 23). Both start lists are packed with pros eager to get back to competing and earning a paycheck. Ryf took time off following her 2019 Ironman World Championship victory and then didn’t compete at all in 2020. After a year-and-a-half away from events, she proved why she’s considered one of the greatest triathletes of all time with a convincing victory at Ironman 70.3 Dubai in mid March.

Autistic triathlete aims to complete Ironman

Sam Holness, a 28-year-old triathlete from London who dreams of becoming one of the first people with autism to race in the Ironman World Champs, has announced that he’ll compete at Ironman Ireland on August 15. Holness shared his plans on World Autism Day and said he “is on a mission to raise awareness about Autism by doing Ironman races around the world to change how those with autism are perceived.” 

Ironman announces two new events

Ironman today revealed two new events for 2021: Ironman 70.3 Oregon out of Salem, Oregon, set for July 25, and Ironman Waco in Waco Texas, set for Oct. 23. Registration for the Salem event opens on April 12, with Tulsa registration following on April 19.

USAT Foundation offers COVID-19 relief grants

This week, the USA Triathlon Foundation in partnership with the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO), announced the 27 recipients of some $60,000 in grant funding aimed at supporting those in the multisport community negatively impacted by the pandemic. The 27 recipients include race directors, coaches, clubs, NCAA women’s triathlon programs, and an elite athlete–all of whom were selected via an application process and  by a committee, including USA Triathlon Foundation Trustees, coaches, race directors, age group athletes, paratriathletes, and pro triathletes. This is the second round of pandemic funding through the USA Triathlon Foundation since last April. 

Eliminator format to make WTCS debut in Montreal

This August, the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) in Montreal will introduce the Eliminator format of racing. Taking place across two days and over a super-sprint course (300m swim, 6km bike, 1.5km run), the elite field will be whittled down from 60 until there’s a final field of just 10 athletes going for gold. The Eliminator format will also be featured in the men’s and women’s elite races at October’s WTCS Bermuda.

Chrissie Wellington writes a pair of kids books

Four-time Ironman world champion can add another accolade to her resume: children’s author. The retired pro–who published her autobiography A Life Beyond Limits in 2021–just released two childrens’ books: You’re So Amazing and You’re So Strong. The illustrated books are aimed at lifting children’s spirits, which Wellington urges is as important as ever during the pandemic. Wellington, mom to daughter Esme, 5, spoke in-depth about the books with Triathlete’s Tim Heming earlier this week. 

Alistair Brownlee gets inside the minds of champions in new book

And speaking of books, another Brit, Alistair Brownlee has written one as well. The 32-year-old two-time Olympic champ is set to release Relentless: Secrets of the Sporting Elite, in July. “I talked to some of the world’s highest performing individuals. Did hours of research…included some of my own experiences and thoughts as well as some of the stories and anecdotes from the journey,” Brownlee posted. The book promises to “reveal how talent alone is never enough and how hard work, pain, pressure, stress, risk, focus, sacrifice, innovation, reinvention, passion, ruthlessness, luck and even failure can all play a crucial part in honing a winning mentality” and features the stories of those like Tour de France champ Chris Froome and former marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe.

Ben Kanute aligns with Calmr

On the heels of Sam Long’s signing with Miraflora, Ben Kanute is the latest pro triathlete to join forces with a CBD brand. Calmr, based in Salt Lake City, announced that they’ve partnered with the 2016 Olympian to “support him as part of his recovery.” Calmr products include CBD oils, salves, sports creams, and bath bombs. 

Katie Zaferes moves, makes local news

It’s not every day a world champion triathlete moves into your neighborhood. So it’s not a surprise that Katie Zaferes’s relocation to Cary, North Carolina made the local news last week. In the segment, Zaferes talks about why they chose the city to buy their home, including the ideal training grounds on the area’s paved trails, also known as Greenways. While Zaferes and her husband Tommy selected Cary as their homebase, the pair are currently in Spain to train as Katie eyes another Olympic berth. 

ITU standout Sophie Watts stepping up to 70.3 distance

Up-and-comer pro Sophie Watts is profiled in the Kingsport TimesNews, which details her success as a high school runner, a college career stymied by injuries and an eating disorder, and her relatively swift trajectory in triathlon. The 27-year-old Watts–née Chase–had been on the ITU track as part of the USA Triathlon National Development Team, but said “my coaches and I agreed that I have shown promise in the longer distances where I can grind it out.” She is currently training for Ironman 70.3 Texas, set for April 11. 

Chris Nikic continues to inspire, lead by example

Chris Nikic, the first person with Down syndrome to finish an Ironman triathlon when he completed Ironman Florida in November, continues to make an impact worldwide. Most recently, he is serving as a prime example of how exercise can help with memory, speech, social skills, and other abilities among people with Down syndrome. The Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) is launching an international research study looking into this  link, gathering data on those with Down syndrome who take part in physical activity at home and then complete mental exercises on an app. The hope? To prove that exercise is a powerful medicine that can improve cognitive ability–and open doors for those with Down syndrome who may be inspired to follow Nikic’s footsteps. 

Lucy Charles-Barclay shares rare glimpse into a day in her life

The Daily Mail spent time with Lucy Charles-Barclay for an fun profile on triathlon’s It Girl, including a highlight of her typical training day and sheds details on her high-tech pain cave (which has different colored lights as well as heaters and humidifiers to mimic the conditions of Kona). Charles-Barclay also reveals her glam side, saying she has a secret obsession with Louboutin heels and jokes that she’d “happily run a marathon in them if it meant [she] could get a sponsorship deal” with the luxe brand. 

Podcast Notes

  • The Triathlete Hour  replays an episode with Rach McBride, the only gender nonbinary pro, who shares about their colorful past (they play the cello and works in sexual health education) as well as their decision behind coming out as gender nonbinary. 
  • 4-time world champ Leanda Cave has a candid conversation with WITSUP women in triathlon about her unique childhood, her coaching career, and her plans for the future, which involve the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii in November.
  • Zwift Power-Up hosts Sarah True and Matt Lieto chat with Malindi Elmore, 41, a middle-distance track star turned pro triathlete turned marathoner who is a favorite to make the Canadian Olympic team, thanks to her 2:24:50 PR (a Canadian national record).
  • Can’t get enough of Super League racing? Check out the Inside Tri Show for post-race interviews from the Arena Games London last week, including chats with the winners Beth Potter and Marten Van Riel plus other participants like Lucy Charles-Barclay, Ruth Astle and Tim Don.
  • Greg Bennett brings on Jan Frodeno for part one of a two-fold conversation, where the German world champ recaps his recent win at Challenge Miami (including his travel drama getting to the states) as well as what he’s been up to outside of triathlon.