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Triathlon News & Notes: Caroline Steffen Retires, Boulder Recovers From Destructive Fire, and More

The news from around the multisport world this week.

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Caroline Steffen announces retirement

Swiss Ironman star Caroline Steffen, who racked up an impressive amount of podiums during her lengthy pro career, announced her retirement this week. The 43-year-old and mother of two posted, “I traveled the world with [a] suitcase and bike box to chase success and glory. I had it all and looking back, it was by far the craziest thing I have ever done in my life. We traveled to and prepared for over 80 professional races during 10 seasons, walking away with over 40 professional titles in my pocket feels surreal.” Steffen, who competed as an elite cyclist before turning to triathlon, won two long-distance ITU World Championships and placed second in Kona in 2010 and 2012. 

Joe Skipper runs a super fast 50K for fun 

It may be the off-season for most pro triathletes, but some aren’t scaling back on their training. One example? British Ironman star Joe Skipper, who posted about his 50-kilometer (31 miles) run earlier this week. When I was a kid I used to get the train to school from Lowestoft to Norwich every morning. Then when I got into cycling my dad would take my bike over to school in the summer and I would cycle back home and try to beat my sisters that used to get the train back,” Skipper wrote, adding that this was a challenge he’s had on his bucket list for two decades. Even more impressive? Skipper covered the distance in 2 hours, 57 minutes, (that’s an average of 5:41 per mile), coming through the marathon mark in 2:28:57. 

Boulder athletes cope with aftermath of massive fast-moving fire

Am abnormal winter wildfire sparked late Thursday night in Boulder County and, spurred by 100mph winds, quickly destroyed 1,000 homes and businesses in subdivisions and neighborhoods across the towns of Superior and Louisville (just south of the town of Boulder). It is now the most destructive fire in Colorado history, and with so many athletes based in the area, many connected to triathlon are now rebuilding and recovering. Olympian and runner Jenny Simpson posted that her and husband had to move quickly to escape the fire with nothing on them and have not yet been able to return to see what they’ve lost. Ironman champion Sarah Piampiano had just closed on a house in the neighborhood earlier that day. “The fires made it all the way to Harper Lake (see second photo) and devastated the entire neighborhood, which is just across South Boulder Road from where our homes are. And just as we thought we might lose our houses the wind died down and our entire neighborhood was spared,” she wrote. And Olympic champion Flora Duffy posted that her mechanic had lost his home. If you’re looking to help those affected, Denver7 TV channel posted a list of ways to donate.

PTO adds sports broadcasting to its board of directors 

In a quest to further extend its media reach, the Professional Triathletes Organization (PTO) has added Facebook parent company Meta’s director of sports partnerships Peter Hutton to its board of directors. Hutton, who has also held executive positions at Eurosport and Fox International Channels, will focus on growing the audience tuning into PTO events, like the upcoming Canadian and U.S. Opens, as well as non-live content, including documentaries and social media videos. “Peter has vast experience in the ever-changing landscape of sports broadcast distribution and commercializing media rights,” PTO CEO Sam Renouf said in a statement. “Our aim is to … make the superhuman exploits of the PTO professionals household names, and Peter’s experience will help us to do just that.”

Lucy Charles gets a new bike for Christmas

It was a very Merry Christmas for Lucy Charles, who posted that her sponsor, Cube, gifted her with a brand new custom bike to commemorate her Ironman 70.3 World Championship win. The silver and gold bike features Charles’s race splits on the top tube, as well DT Swiss rims and Schwalbe Tires. “Feeling extremely proud to have so many wonderful people in my corner,” Charles wrote. 

Ironman Chattanooga athlete claims she contracted E. coli from the race 

One finisher of Ironman Chattanooga is claiming she took more than just a finisher’s medal away from the September race. April Ancira, an accomplished triathlete from Texas, reports that she contracted E. coli in her nose from her swim in the Tennessee River—a diagnosis that even stumped her ENT. “He’s never seen E. coli in the nose before,” Ancira told a Chattanooga news station. “Once you look at [the] recent history of the cancellation, that’s where it had to come from.” While the 2018 Ironman Chattanooga was canceled due to high E-Coli counts, the 2021 race went off seemingly without concern, and Ironman had yet to respond to queries from the station. For her part, Ancira still plans to race again, and says she already signed up for Ironman Texas in April. 

TCU hires Jenny Garrison as women’s triathlon coach

Women’s triathlon is slated to start at Texas Christian University in fall of 2023, and now the program has a coach to put the program in motion. Jenny Garrison will head up the program at TCU after building a triathlon powerhouse at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, where she led the team to three consecutive Division III National Championships (2017-19) and five appearances overall at the USA Triathlon National Collegiate Championships. Garrison, a champion triathlete herself who won overall amateur female honors at the 2006 USAT National Championships, was the 2019 USAT Division III Coach of the Year and has developed four Division III individual national championships during her tenure at North Central College. “As the first head coach of the women’s triathlon program, my goal is to bring an amazing team culture that cultivates success,” Garrison said. “I also look forward to carrying on a winning legacy here at TCU.” 

Lawmakers aim to change Missouri’s distracted driving law following death of triathlon volunteer

On May 5, 2019 Randall Siddens was picking up cones after the biking portion of a local triathlon when a woman Facetiming and driving nearly 20 mph over the speed limit swerved past the police escort and hit him head-on. Siddens, a 34-year-old father of two with one on the way, flew some 120 feet on impact and suffered a traumatic brain injury that ultimately led to his death six months later. Now, Missouri lawmakers are hoping to prevent a similar tragedy by proposing to strengthen the state law regarding distracted driving, which currently focuses on texting only, and not Facetiming or using social media. The proposal? To ban Missouri drivers over the age of 18 to text or engage in texting or social media with a phone in their hand (Bluetooth or talk to text will be allowed). “Our law is so, it’s just laughable and it’s pathetic,” said Siddens’ widow, Adrienne. “So we have to do better.”

Podcast Notes

  • The Cooldown brings on Triathlete columnist Brad Culp to weigh whether the PTO, Super League, or Ironman is the future of triathlon, and many more hot topics.
  • The Real Triathlon podcast features Ari Klau, a nominee for PTO Top Performer of 2021, who talks about his breakout season.
  • The Ironwomen podcast rebroadcasts their chat with Taylor Knibb, which is worth a listen (or re-listen) to, as the young star talks about her Olympic experience and what it took to get her there.
  • Pro Hayden Wilde is the guest on the MX Endurance podcast, where he shares about his 2021 season, including his 2021 Xterra world title, as well as some of the recent personal challenges he endured. 

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