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Triathlon News & Notes: What You Missed in February 2023

The biggest triathlon stories to make waves this month.

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USAT offers more gravel events, national championship; women’s-only race series

(Photo: SGRAIL)

USA Triathlon recently unveiled its Gravel Triathlon Series, a nine-race event that builds to a National Championships on June 2 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The series, which combines elements of road- and mountain-biking (mostly of riding over unpaved, non-technical roads) will run from May through October and feature races in California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Texas, as well as Arkansas. “Gravel triathlon is an exciting way for athletes to test their skills and try a unique race experience, and not surprisingly it has taken off in popularity,” said Victoria Brumfield, USA Triathlon CEO. Qualification is not required to participate in the USAT Gravel Triathlon Series or the USAT Gravel National Championships.

USAT also announced the creation of a women’s-only 15-race triathlon series this month. Built off many existing events, the first race of the series will be the popular Mighty Mujer Triathlon in El Paso, Texas, on April 22. Racers can receive special “USA Triathlon Women’s Series” stickers and be recognized on USAT’s social media. Women can also earn points for prized by competing in multiple events. For more on the series and this year’s schedule, see USAT’s website.

RELATED: How to Train for Gravel Triathlon

Super League Triathlon expands into New York, Chicago

Super League Triathlon (SLT), the fast-paced, short-distance swim-bike-run series, has acquired both the New York City and Chicago Triathlon from Life Time, Inc., the group announced (Life Time will continue to produce both races in 2023). This comes on the heels of the purchase of the Malibu Triathlon in 2020 and underscores SLT’s goal of “delivering mass participation events and our commitment to make short course racing cool again in the U.S.,” said SLT CEO and Co-Founder, Michael D’hulst in a statement. SLT kicked off the 2023 season over the weekend with a race in Montreal, where U.S. athletes Chase McQueen and Gina Sereno took home titles.

RELATED: Can Triathlon Ever Be a Spectator Sport?

Original Ironman finishers to be inducted into Hall of Fame

(Photo: Ironman)

The 12 finishers of the original Hawaii Ironman Triathlon held off the coast of Waikiki Beach 45 years ago this year, will make up the latest class of the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame. The all-male finishers, will be honored for their role in entering a “great unknown” and for pioneering the sport. The inductees will be honored at a premier gala hosted by the USA Triathlon Foundation on Thursday, Aug. 3 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in conjunction with the 2023 USA Triathlon National Championship.

RELATED: Recalled: The First Ironman By the Numbers

Barbara Perkins wins NCAA Women’s Triathlon Coach of the Year

Denver University’s women’s triathlon coach Barbara Perkins picked up top honors from NCAA earlier this month, as a result of her team’s third-place finish at the 2022 Collegiate National Championships. Perkins, who has been coaching at Denver since 2020, led the team to five other podium finishes during the regular season—their finish at Nationals was the highest result by a women’s individual program at a national championship event in school history. Perkin, a two-time Ironman World Championship finisher, came to Denver as an assistant swim coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Winter Triathlon National Champs crowned in Alaska

It may still be the off-season for most triathletes, but in Anchorage, Alaska, run-bike-ski specialists had their day to shine in late January. The USA Triathlon Winter Triathlon National Championships saw Alaskan residents Eric Flanders (of Anchorage) and Jordan Marie Pruszenski (of Fairbanks) take the male and female overall titles in the event, which featured a 6K run, an 8-mile bike, and 6K nordic ski throughout Kincaid Park. While Pruszenski stood out with her second USAT Winter National Championships title, the true star of the day was Sheri Schrock, who claimed her third consecutive national podium, winning the 65-69 age group title. Schrock, the World Triathlon Winter Champion in her age-group in 2021 (and runner-up in 2022) has also claimed podiums at the World Triathlon Cross Championships.

Sam Holness awarded Guinness World record

Sam Holness, a triathlete with autism, in Kona.
(Photo: Tony Holness)

The world’s first openly autistic athlete to complete the Ironman World Championship triathlon in Hawaii has been awarded a Guinness World Record for his achievement. Twenty-nine-year-old Sam Holness from London completed his first triathlon seven years ago, and has since climbed the ranks, competing in races around the world as an ambassador for Ambitious about Autism, a U.K. national charity which aims to improve opportunities for young people on the autism spectrum. Looking ahead to the rest of 2023, Sam will be competing in the London Marathon with Black Trail Runners, where his aim is a sub-3-hour time. He’s also aiming for a sub 4-hour 30-minute time at the 70.3 World Championships in Finland this August, and eventually a sub 10-hour full Ironman time.

RELATED: There’s No Limiting Sam Holness

Kat Matthews chronicled in PTO documentary series

Kat Matthews, the British triathlete who in 2022 became the first woman to dip under the 9-hour barrier in an Iron-distance race, is featured in a new five-part documentary series produced by the Pro Triathletes Organization. Crushed: The Kat Matthews Story will chronicle Matthews’s rise in the sport, as well as her planned return to the sport after a harrowing bike incident last fall in which she was hit by a car during a training ride, leaving her with fractures in her neck, vertebrae, ribs, and hip. Up until that point, Matthews was among the favorites to win the Ironman World Championships, and has now expressed her hopes to return to the top of the podium on the world’s stage. “Oh, I want to win this year,” she told The Telegraph.

RELATED: The Indefatigable Mind of Kat Matthews

Ironman ace Cam Wurf continues to shine as pro cyclist while training for triathlon

Cam Wurf may be one of the world’s top Ironman athletes, but he’s still a force on the pro cycling scene. The 39-year-old Australian, who races for Ineos Grenadiers, recently rode at  the UAE Tour from February 20-26, all while prepping for Ironman South Africa on March 5. Wurf shared that on one particularly big training day, he swam for an hour before the UAE stage, then rode some 200km (spending half of that at the front before a big climb), then went for a run afterwards. “The Ironman stuff is for me, but the team’s a lot bigger than me, so that’s 100% the priority,” said Wurf, who has been dubbed the “Chief Morale Officer” on the Grenadiers team for his role as a supportive teammate.” I’ll contribute the best I possibly can to get the best results.” Aside from his racing schedule with the cycling team, Wurf will also toe the line at Ironman Lanzarote in May, Nice in June, before returning to Nice for the World Championships in September.

RELATED: Cam Wurf on the Challenges of Crossing Over from Road to Tri to Gravel

Heather Jackson continues ultra adventures

Heather Jackson, the successful pro triathlete who recently retired from the sport to pivot to ultrarunning, continues to make her mark in her new venture. Last weekend, the 38-year-old placed second in the Black Canyon 100K race, in what was just her second ultrarun trail race, finishing in 8 hours, 47 minutes and 59 seconds. Jackson also shared that although she was gifted a coveted “golden ticket” to the prestigious Western States 100-mile race from her sponsor, Hoka, she wanted to earn one on her own. “I raced like I didn’t have an entry,” she shared after Black Canyon, where she officially qualified. Western States is set for June 24 and 25 in Olympia, California.

RELATED: Heather Jackson’s New (Off-Road) Adventure

Sam Long picks up Plews as new coach

“It just felt like the right fit,” said Sam Long about his connection with Endure IQ coach Dr. Dan Plews. Long, 27, recently signed on with Plews, who also coaches 2022 Ironman World Championships winner Chelsea Sodaro, after parting ways with his former coach, Ryan Bolton, elaborating in a YouTube video that “[Plews] is cracking the whip in but in the sense of paying attention. I’ve heard things like ‘hey that recovery interval needed to be easier,’ or ‘ease up that run by 15 seconds a mile,’ which allows me to be faster and fresher the next day. It’s the most attention to detail I’ve ever gotten.” Long also shared that he’ll make his 2023 debut at CLASH Miami next weekend, where he hopes to defend his 2022 title, then follow that up with Oceanside 70.3 on April 1. “If I’m on the start line, I hope to be there to win,” Long said.

RELATED: Meet Dan Plews, Javier Gomez’s New Long-Course Mastermind

Pro triathlete Lesley Paterson collects BAFTA win

Lesley Paterson, triathlete Oscar winner
(Photo: XTERRA, Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Lesley Paterson, the pro triathlete who also happens to be an Oscar-nominated screenwriter, earned a collection of hardware at the recent British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA). The All Quiet on the Western Front writer picked up the award for Best Adapted Screenplay with her co-writers, and the film won several more awards, including Best Film and Best Cinematography. Paterson also made headlines in the days following the awards, after she and several others expressed frustration when her BAFTA speech was cut from the BBC Broadcast, although she later said, “But at the end of the day, I haven’t gotten this far by being negative about little things like that. I’m a positive person, I’m so, so happy with what’s happened.” All Quiet on the Western Front is nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Film, and Paterson is up for Best Adapted Screenplay.

RELATED: Lesley Paterson’s Journey From Professional Triathlete to the Academy Awards

Triathlete dies in shark attack in South Pacific

A 59-year-old Australian man died last week after being bitten multiple times by a shark while swimming off the coast of the French Pacific island of New Caledonia. Chris Davis, who was visiting the area and swimming just 150 meters offshore, is being remembered as a loving father and husband who also represented Australia in three age-group world championship events, most recently at the World Triathlon Sprint Championships in Montreal this past June. New Caledonia, home to one of the world’s largest lagoons, ranks 13th in the world for the total number of shark attacks.

RELATED: From Shark Attack to Shark Advocacy

Florida triathlete still recovering from gator attack

In slightly more positive animal attack-related news, J.C. LaVerde, the Florida triathlete who was attacked by a 12-foot alligator during a training swim last August, has undergone what he hopes will be his final surgery since his attack. The 34-year-old  former U.S. Air Force pararescueman, was filming an instructional video for his adventure racing company in Lake Thonotosassa when the gator came directly at him and bit down on his head and chest before releasing him (the footage of the attack was captured by a drone and later went viral). LaVerde suffered from a fractured skull and jaw and later endured infections from his injuries, but remains hopeful that the worst of it is now behind him.

The most-read Triathlete articles of February 2023

  1. Certain Supershoes Deemed “Illegal” Under New Rules
  2. The Ironman Legacy Program Will Change in 2024 Here’s What You Need to Know
  3. We Review Shimano’s New 12-Speed 105 Di2 Groupset
  4. The Richest Pro Triathletes of 2022
  5. How Much Faster Does a Wetsuit Make You?
  6. “I Feel That Car in My Body:” Surviving an On-Course Collision at 70.3 Worlds
  7. Ali Brauer Was A Rising Pro. Then It All Came Apart.
  8. The Best Triathlon Bike Fitters in the United States
  9. Ask a Gear Guru: What Are The Best Beginner Triathlon Bikes in 2023?
  10. 10 Questions With Olympian Colleen Quigley After Her Triathlon Debut