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Triathlon News and Notes: Post-Race COVID Diaries, Super League Starts, and More

Here are some of the tri-related stories generating buzz over the past seven days.

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Super League Triathlon starts up

Super League Triathlon kicks off its championship series in London this weekend, on Sept. 5. The race will have athletes complete in the Triple Mix format, where athletes swim-bike-run in stage one then run-bike-swim in stage two. Stage three follows a pursuit style start (based on the athletes’ times in the first two stages) and is done in a bike-swim-run format, with the winner being the first person to cross the line at the end of the final stage. Expect to see Tokyo Olympic medalists Katie Zaferes (U.S.), Georgia Taylor-Brown (Great Britain), Hayden Wilde (New Zealand), Alex Yee (Great Britain), plus a slew of other stars battle it out for a piece of the prize purse.

“Hammer Friday” celebrates paratriathlete

Now this is a warm welcome home: Chris Hammer, who finished fourth in the PTS5 division at the Tokyo Paralympics, was greeted with a parade by his community in Elkins, West Virginia. The town also deemed the day “Hammer Friday” to honor the triathlete, who coaches the varsity women’s triathlon team at Davis & Elkins College there. Hammer, 35, who was born with one hand, is a three-time World Paratriathlon Championships bronze medalist as well as a three-time USA Paratriathlon National Champion.

Another Russian pro suspended for suspected doping

Three weeks after Russia’s Igor Polyanskiy was pulled from competition due to suspected doping, his countryman Alexander Bryukhankov was given the same suspension. According to World Triathlon, a sample collected from Bryukhankov, 34, during an in-competition test on June 19 in Austria has returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for recombinant Erythropoietin (EPO). Brukhankov, who has finished as high as third at the World Championship Series events but did not compete in Tokyo, now has the right to request the analysis of the B-sample and to challenge the suspension before the Court of Arbitration for Sport – Anti-Doping Division (CAS ADD), according to World Triathlon.

Tokyo paratriathletes go viral for recreation of iconic image

A picture of Japanese Paralympic triathletes recreating the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover in the Tokyo Games athletes’ village is racking up the likes on Twitter. The photo, featuring seven athletes strolling across a crosswalk a la John, Paul, George, and Ringo on the cover of their 1969 album, has collected more than 29,000 likes and nearly 6,000 re-tweets since team ambassador Mami Tani posted it on Monday. “Everyone is unique, everyone is great,” Tani captioned the now-viral image.

Moose attacks former pro triathlete in Colorado

Another week, another triathlete/animal encounter: This time? A Colorado woman’s run-in with an aggressive moose outside of Boulder. According to local reports, Diane Joy Israel was hiking solo in Winter Park when a moose charged at her, hitting her in the head, kicking her ankles, and knocking her to the ground. “I got up because I think I wanted to see if I was alive, and she just attacked me again,” said Israel, a former professional triathlete, accomplished runner, filmmaker, and published author. While Israel suffered a broken back and arm and will undergo surgery to repair damage to her hand, she shared a post on Instagram defending the moose. “We are the aggressors as humans, encroaching on the animals’ home,” the message said.

Tommy Zaferes shares his “COVID diaries” while quarantined in Slovakia

Prize money wasn’t the only thing some pro triathletes took away from the Collins Cup last week. According to their Instagram accounts, American triathletes Ben Kanute and Skye Moench both tested positive for COVID after the event, as did Tommy Zaferes, who was in town to take photos and support his wife, Katie (who had a negative test and continued her travels). While Kanute and Moench both tested negative after a few days and were able to return to the United States, Zaferes shared that he will likely remain isolated in his hotel until the end of next week. The 35-year-old, who’s carved out a career as a professional photographer, has remained upbeat, posting videos and sharing his fruit art on Instagram.

Elite age-grouper paralyzed after wreck in Scotland race

Sad news out of Scotland with reports of an elite age-grouper and coach suffering severe injuries after a wreck in the British Triathlon Championships. Nathan Ford, 37, of Wales was leading the Aug. 22 race when he lost control of his bike on a downhill section of the course, according to the local news. After taking the full force of the impact to his head and neck, Ford remains paralyzed from his neck down and is unable to move or breathe without assistance, although friends report that he is conscious and can respond to questions through eye movement and nodding. A popular fixture on the British triathlon scene, Ford was the first age-grouper (and eighth overall) at Ironman Wales in 2019 and won his age-group at Ironman Cozumel the same year. A GoFundMe established to support his recovery process has amassed over $121,000.

Triathlon returns to L.A.

The Herbalife24 Triathlon Los Angeles is back. After a COVID cancelation last year, the race returns to the streets of Los Angeles on Sunday, Oct. 24 with sprint and international distance races, a bike tour, and a 5K run/walk option. Those pros competing in the international distance will be up for a $40,000 prize purse, almost double the money offered in 2019.

Escape From Alcatraz opens up registration

Eager to escape from Alcatraz? Mark your calendars! The random drawing registration for the 2022 event officially opens on Tuesday, Sept 14. 2,000 entrants will be for guaranteed entry to the triathlon, slated for Sunday, June 5, 2022, in San Francisco. The first round of registration opens at 6 a.m. PST and closes on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. PST, with a list of selected athletes posted online by Oct. 27 (they’ll then have to complete registration and pay the $750 entry fee). A second round will follow in November.

RELATED: Photos: 1,600 Athletes Escape from Alcatraz

Podcast Notes

  • American pro Tim O’Donnell sits down with Greg Bennett to share more about his harrowing heart attack experience during Challenge Miami on the Tim and Rinny Show, offering more insight into what happened as well as his path towards recovery.
  • And on his own podcast, Bennett brings on British pro Emma Pallant-Browne, whom he calls “the next great champion of the sport of triathlon.”
  • Fresh off picking up an Olympic triathlon gold in the mixed relay event in Tokyo, British triathlete Jonny Brownlee joins The World Triathlon podcast, where he reveals team GB’s tactics that went into that success and prepping for the Olympics without brother Alistair.
  • The Triathlete Hour has a special Sid Talks episode with co-host Laura Siddall joining in from Tokyo to discuss the Paralympic races and all things Collins Cup.
  • The hosts of The MX Endurance podcast  offers their own take on Collins Cup and chat about whether the event lived up to the hype. (It’s also the topic du jour on ProTriNews.)
  • Want to know more about the Super League Triathlon Champs? Tune into the Short Chute Triathlon Show to get the full download of the London event, including predictions, plus teams and race tactics.
  • The Inside Triathlon Show brings on Brit Kim Morrison, who shares some takeaways from her career as a professional triathlete, and her ongoing love-hate relationship with running.
  • On the latest IronWomen Podcast, hosts Haley Chura and Alyssa Godesky are joined by two age-group triathletes who are Type 1 Diabetics to chat about managing their diabetes while training and racing.