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Triathlon News & Notes: Afghan Triathlete Makes History, Sam Long on 70.3 Worlds Penalty, and More

The news from around the multisport world this week.

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Competitor struck on Ironman Florida course, one week after incident on St. George course

A competitor was struck by a vehicle on the Ironman Florida course, according to Bike Law,  a network of independent bicycle attorneys that advocates for cycling safety. Reports on social media indicate that the injured male competitor is Robert Swan, who was competing in the 25-29 age-group and was leading the race when a driver struck him with a vehicle. But Ironman has yet to make a statement about the incident as of Sunday afternoon. Bike Law’s Facebook post showed Swan on a hospital bed with the caption: “We’re so glad it wasn’t worse, but at Bike Law, we are against relative privation being applied to bike crashes for any reason.”

This is the second incident to occur during an Ironman race in two weeks; last week, Mark Evans and another male were both struck by a vehicle on the Ironman 70.3 World Championships course in St. George, Utah and seriously injured. Evans has been sharing the aftermath of the accident on his Instagram account, recently posting the extent of his injuries, which included  four broken back vertebrae, four broken ribs, a broken nose, and lacerations so severe in his right arm that he may not regain full use of it. Following the incident, police arrested Diana Linford for allegedly causing the crash, charging her two felony counts of driving under the influence resulting in serious injury, as well as a misdemeanor of driving on a closed highway. She is accused of smoking marijuana prior to the crash.

Kiwi Olympian Shane Reed dies of brain cancer

Shane Reed, who competed for New Zealand in the triathlon at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, died earlier this week at the age of 49 after a six-month-long battle with brain cancer.  The stand-out athlete was the older brother of Matt Reed, who represented the United States at the 2008 Olympics, with the brothers finishing 34th and 32nd, respectively. During his career, the elder Reed won two ITU World Cup races, claimed three World Aquathlon titles, and collected several World Cup podium finishes. “Among the tributes flowing in from around the globe, Shane is remembered as ‘one of the good guys’, a quiet and humble achiever at the highest echelons of our sport,” read a statement by Triathlon New Zealand. Reed, who was married and had two children, was also remembered by World Triathlon, who shared a video highlighting some of his best moments in the sport.

Sam Long shares thoughts on his controversial penalty at Ironman 70.3 Worlds 

Sam Long has spoken. Long, who was doled a controversial drafting penalty at last weekend’s Ironman 70.3 World Championships, ultimately finishing 19th, expressed his disappointment with a video recapping the day and explaining what was going through his head after the penalty, including that he didn’t know what he was being penalized for and expressed the gamut of emotions he experienced afterwards, from frustration, to anger, to sadness, as well as his hopes for making a “collective change” in the rules of the sport. Long also indicated that he’s planning to race Ironman Arizona and Ironman Indian Wells, posting,, “I’d be lying if I said this week was easy. Multiple times I thought about calling it a season…[It] feels like things are starting to turn around. Fake it till you make it!”

RELATED: Commentary: When the Penalty Doesn’t Fit the Crime

Afghan woman makes history in St. George 

When 27-year-old Zeinab Rezaie crossed the line of the Ironman 70.3 World Championships last week, she inked her name in the history boots by becoming the very first Afghan woman to race and finish the heralded event. Rezaie, who was the final finisher among the women, crossed the line in 8 hours, 28 minutes and 57 seconds, pipping the cut-off time by just over a minute. Born a refugee in Iran, Rezaie was raised in Afghanistan and now lives in the U.S., where she’s studying for a Master’s degree. She began competing in endurance sports in 2017, ultimately using her participation in the events as vehicles for awareness and change. “In lots of ways…[triathlon] has given me a voice to speak up about basic rights for women, such as freedom of movement, sport, education, and travel,” said Rezaie. “Many women in my country are deprived on these things,”

RELATED: #MyTri: Triathlon Gave Me a Voice—Now I’m Helping Fellow Women in Afghanistan Find Theirs

Pro triathlete the first Israeli to compete in Saudi Arabia

The presence of an Israeli athlete in the field of last weekend’s Super League’s Grand Finale in NEOM, Saudi Arabia is being noted as a “very significant breakthrough” between the two countries, who are working on forging a peace plan after decades of icy relations. Although Shachar Sagiv, 28—who represented Israel at the 2020 Olympic Games, finishing 20th—was ultimately lapped out of the Super League race in NEOM after crashing on the bike course. But just the fact that he attempted to compete in the country is a big deal, said Athlete Israel’s Olympic Committee head Yael Arad. “In the past year we’ve seen many Arab states come to terms with the fact that hosting an international tournament means hosting Israelis. This is a growing trend and the true force in normalization between nations, and especially people,” he said. Sagiv’s coach, Lior Cohen, also commented on the significance of his athlete’s race, saying,  “Shachar came to make professional history and not only diplomatic history.”

Podcast Notes 

  • The Streak, a recently-launched podcast aiming to dig into the history of triathlon, brings on Scott Molina for a deep dive into the France Irontour, a 1994 event where teams of triathletes squared off in Vichy and raced four times in five days.
  • That Triathlon Life co-hosts Paula Findlay and Eric Lagerstrom recap their races at Ironman 70.3 World Championships, then answer listener questions.
  • The Ironwomen podcast showcases pro triathlete Eloise du Lauart, who represents France and recently placed fifth at Ironman 70.3 Dresden. du Luart shares her experience with disordered eating as well as how her relationship with food has evolved throughout her career.
  • MX Endurance brings on pro Joe Skipper, who offers an analysis of the performances at the Ironman 70.3 World Champs, chats about Sam Long’s penalty, and more. Skipper also chats about Long’s controversial penalty and offers other hot takes from the day on his own podcast, Triathlon Mockery.