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Triathlon News & Notes: A 70.3 at Penn State, Global Triathlon Awards, Tragedy in Georgia, and More

The news from around the multisport world this week.

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Ironman headed to Happy Valley

State College, Pennsylvania—the home of Penn State University—is the latest location to land an Ironman 70.3 race. The inaugural Ironman 70.3 Pennsylvania Happy Valley Triathlon will debut on July 2, 2023, and take place annually through at least 2025. With a course featuring several local landmarks including Bald Eagle State Park (where the swim will be held in the Sayers Reservoir) and a run through Penn State’s University Park campus with a finish on the fifty yard line inside Beaver Stadium. General registration opens on Oct. 5.

First-ever Global Triathlon Awards to be held in January

The first-ever Global Triathlon Awards are set for Jan. 21, 2023 at Palais de la Mediterranee in Nice, France. The event, which will celebrate  the triathlon industry, was created to “fill the void of recognition within the sport on a global stage” and will include World Triathlon, Super League Triathlon, and the Professional Triathletes Organization (PTO) as partners, as well as gear brands XTERRA and Ekoi. Awards will honor triathlon’s top athletes, support staff, brands, events, media, and more; entries are open from October via globaltriawards.com. 

Laguna Phuket Triathlon returns

Southeast Asia’s longest-running triathlon is back after a pandemic-induced hiatus. The Laguna Phuket Triathlon, which last ran in 2019, is slated for Nov.  20 with a 1.8K swim, 50K bike, and 12K run through the lush, tropical community of Phuket Island, Thailand. This will be the 28th edition of the “Race of Legends” which for years has been a go-to season ending event for several of the world’s top pros. Swiss stars Imogen Simmonds and Ruedi Wild topped the podium in 2019.

Tragedy strikes again in Augusta

Ironman Augusta 70.3 confirmed this week the death of Evelyn Lopez, 44, of Miami, Florida, who was competing in the triathlon on Sunday when she became unresponsive during the swimming portion of the race. After being pulled from the water by a rescue team, Lopez was taken to Augusta University Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 5:40 p.m. This is the second consecutive year a competitor has died during the Augusta race; last year, attorney George Hall, 60, of Martinez, Ga., also became unresponsive during the 1.2-mile swim.

Kona-bound triathlete killed on training ride

Florida resident Jessica Koelsch Bibza, who was struck and killed by a vehicle last Saturday during her final training ride before leaving for the Ironman World Championships, is being remembered as a tireless environmentalist and a joyful and passionate triathlete who had completed 10 Ironman races. The 53-year-old, who was slated to race in Kona next week, was hit on the Gandy Bridge in Tampa, Florida. “She was doing one of her favorite things, training for a triathlon. And in this case not any triathlon but Ironman World Championships, a race she had done before,” Bibza’s close friend, Lindsay MacConnell wrote on a GoFundMe set up to cover funeral expenses and to make donations to the National Wildlife Federation, where she worked. A candlelight vigil will be held in memory of Bibza on Oct. 4 at the swim start in Kona—which will also be streamed live on Facebook. So far, no arrests have been made as the Tampa Police Department is investigating the incident.

Former NFL lineman completes Ironman Wisconsin

Alex Boone, a six-foot-eight-inch former offensive lineman in the NFL, finished Ironman Wisconsin on September 11, clocking in at 15 hours 51 minutes, and 36 seconds. The 35-year-old, who played nine seasons in the NFL with stints with the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks, shed some 85 pounds off of his playing weight of 325 pounds while training for the race, which he completed alongside his wife, Dana, Runners World reported. The father of four, who learned to swim in preparation for the Ironman, is one of several NFL players to complete the distance—others have included Darryl Haley and Hines Ward.

Podcast Notes

  • MX Endurance offers an in-depth preview of Kona, plus predictions on the Super League Triathlon in Toulouse. 
  • Toulouse is also teed up on the Short Chute Triathlon Show, which also includes a recap of Super League Malibu.
  • Iron Women serves up on-the-ground interviews from Kona, including one with the first Indian woman to compete at the Ironman World championships, Gwalani Meena Vankawala.
  • The Inside Tri Show features Michael Harvey, Daniela’s Ryf’s coaching advisor and head coach at the Solothurn Triathlon Centre in Switzerland.
  • Greg Bennett chats with 10-time world champ Javier Gómez-Noya of Spain about his illustrious career and what’s next for him.