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Triathlon News & Notes: Iden Hat Homecoming, Sika Henry Sets Ultra Record, Ironman in the New York Times, and More

Your roundup of news from the multisport world this week.

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State of the Sport Survey results to be shared at Endurance Exchange

USA Triathlon’s State of the Sport Survey will be shared next month during Endurance Exchange, a convention for endurance sports athletes and professionals in Austin, Texas. The survey, which was completed by USAT members, including coaches, race directors, and club leaders, will provide the “first true ‘post-pandemic’ view of the endurance sport industry and USA Triathlon membership,” according to Earl Walton, USAT Director of Education. “It’s research that gives us benchmarks and goals to chase.” Endurance Exchange, which will feature 30 live sessions presented by industry professionals, will be held Jan. 23-26 at the Austin Convention Center. To register for Endurance Exchange, visit enduranceexchange.com.

Arena Games releases 2023 schedule

Super League Triathlon’s Arena Games, the swift-paced, high-intensity series that blends real-life and virtual racing, is back for 2023—and is expanding to new cities. The four-event schedule features new venues in Montreal, Canada (Feb. 25) and Sursee, Switzerland (March 12), before returning to already-established stops in Singapore (March 25) and a Grand Finale at the Aquatics Centre in London (April 8). The winner of the Arena Games series will also be crowned the  triathlon esports World Champion; in 2022, Brits Beth Potter and Alex Yee claimed the titles for the women and men, respectively.

Global Triathlon Awards shortlist announced

The shortlist for the inaugural Global Triathlon Awards is out. The event, set for January 23 in Nice, France, will recognize “those involved in the production and development of the world’s best sport,” according to organizers. Contenders among the nominees include Hayden Wilde, Alex Yee, Matt Hauser, Kristian Blummenfelt, and Gustav Iden (Best Male Triathlete) and Flora Duffy, Georgia Taylor-Brown, Chelsea Sodaro, Lucy Charles-Barclay, and Ashleigh Gentle (Best Female Triathlete). Several other major players in the triathlon space will be honored in an event hosted by Will McCloy, (the “‘voice of Super League Triathlon”)  and running legend Paula Radcliffe.

Ironman XC piece in the New York Times makes waves

A feature in the New York Times about the ins and outs of “Ironman XC” is making waves this week. “How the 1% Runs an Ironman” by Devin Gordon highlights the Executive Challenge (“XC”) subcategory of Ironman that caters to business execs. The story, which has gone viral since dropping on Dec. 6, includes nuggets like how one triathlete spends six figures annually on Ironman racing, and that entry into the XC division at an M-dot race costs up to $15,000. While these details may not be suprising to those ingrained in the Ironman world, the piece has people talking—and has drawn ire from commenters who bash the concept of “buying your way to the finish line” and how it’s sullying the spirit of the sport. There are others who simply are dismayed by this niche lifestyle. “I actually thought this was satire until about half way through,” wrote a commenter named Edward in Canada. “I can’t believe this is a real thing but there it is.”

Gustav Iden visits Taiwan, home of his lucky hat

2022 Ironman World Champion Gustav Iden shared some content of his recent trip to Changhua County in Taiwan, where he’s a local star—all thanks to his lucky hat. The town is the home of the Puyan Shunze Temple, the name of which is emblazoned in Chinese characters on Iden’s famous cap, which he found on a dirt road on a training road in Japan. Iden later made the hat a thing while wearing it during some of the biggest wins of his career (he’s since had a replica of the cap made). Iden, who was joined by training buddy Kristin Blummenfelt, enjoyed being greeted by throngs of fans and media in Taiwan, signing autographs, and singing karaoke.

Sika Henry wins 100K ultra race

Sika Henry, the first African American woman to be recognized as a pro triathlete, took to the roads last weekend, winning the Dismal Swamp 100K in Chesapeake, Virginia, in 8 hours, 34 minutes, and 20 seconds. Henry’s time was a Virginia state record and was good enough to land on the top-10 leaderboard among USA women in the 100K distance. Henry, who spoke with Triathlete’s Kristin Jenny about the race, shared that her venture into ultra running was an antidote to the burnout she felt after her rookie pro triathlete season. Henry shares more about the race, her triathlon career, and her journey to turning pro on this week’s Run Eat Sleep Show podcast.

Pro golfer finishes Indian Wells 70.3

Professional golfer Anne van Dam of the Netherlands traded her clubs and golf spikes for a wetsuit, bike, and running shoes last week at Ironman Indian Wells 70.3. The 27-year-old, who recently placed 10th at a pro golf tournament in Spain, finished the race in 6:08:15, while raising some $15,000 for fellow pro golfer Jane Park’s daughter Grace, who suffers from seizures and undiagnosed epilepsy. “As I was training this year, I kept asking myself, can I do this for a good cause? There was only one thing that continued to be on my mind. That was to Race for Grace.”

Podcast Notes

  • Paula Findlay shares her thoughts after her win at Indian Wells 70.3 on That Triathlon Life, then the hosts answer listener questions.
  • ProTriNews recaps Clash Daytona, Ironman Australia, and Indian Wells 70.3; earlier in the week, the hosts dropped some post-race interviews from Indian Wells with Findlay, men’s winner Sam Long, as well as other competitors.
  • Greg Bennett chats with Kiwi star Hayden Wilde, an Olympic bronze medalist, the 2022 Super League Champion, and a top-notch runner with a 13:28 5K PR on the roads.
  • Ironwomen checks in with Nancy and Liz Jorgensen—AKA Gwen’s mom and sister—who share some stories behind having an Olympic gold medalist in the family, and their book Go, Gwen, Go: A Family’s Journey to Olympic Gold. 
  • The TriDot podcast brings on three triathlon coaches to talk about the best gift ideas for the triathlete in your life (or you!). They cover big-ticket items down to budget-friendly buys.