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Triathlon News & Notes: IM Alaska Moves Ahead, World’s Oldest Ironman Still Learning, and More

A look at some of the news we’ve picked up in the sport over the past seven days.

Alex Yee talks Imposter Syndrome

23-year-old newly-minted double Olympic medalist Alex Yee recently opened up about having “a mild form of imposter syndrome” prior to the Games. The fleet-footed Brit, who took home the individual silver and the mixed-team relay gold from Tokyo, admitted that despite his obvious talents he still struggled with his self-worth going into the Olympics, especially since he only came into the sport in 2019. Yee is just one of many top tier athletes who have openly discussed struggles with mental health, highlighting the importance of supporting athletes’ emotional well-being as well as their physical fitness. 

Kevin McDowell reflects on Tokyo experience, supporting teammate Pearson

From a surprise sixth-place finish in the men’s individual event to a silver medal in the mixed-team relay, Kevin McDowell had the races of his life in Tokyo. He reflected on that experience this week, including how he helped enable his teammate and Olympic Village roommate Morgan Pearson to come back from a disappointing 42nd finish in the individual event to anchor the relay to a second-place finish. After a gutted Pearson asked his teammates to remind him that they believe in him, McDowell did just that, boosting him up whenever he looked like he needed it. “He’s built so much belief in me, I wanted to be there for him,” McDowell said of Pearson. “I kept telling him ‘you’ve done this.’”

Flora Duffy debates future plans

Fresh off her Olympic gold medal win, Bermuda’s Flora Duffy now has one giant question looming over her head: What’s next? Prior to being thrown a curveball in the form of an invitation to the 2021 Ironman World Championships (Duffy acknowledged the invite in an Instagram story with a poll asking her followers if she should go, with 94% responding yes), she had already addressed her plans in a live chat with a news team from her native Bermuda. “I feel like I still have more to give to the short-course racing,” the 33-year-old said. “I’m still really enjoying it. So, I don’t know. I’ll have to see. It’s still too soon to say, but definitely before Tokyo it’s 100% no to Paris and now I’m less 100% no to Paris.” Whether she races in Kona on Oct. 9 or not, Duffy is already committed to the Super League Triathlon Malibu on Sept. 25 and should be on the start lines of both the World Triathlon Series Championship Finals in Edmonton on Aug. 21 and likely 70.3 Worlds in St. George on Sept. 17—and then the World Triathlon Sprint & Relay Championships in Bermuda on Oct. 15-17.

Ironman Alaska looks like a go

After earlier reports that Ironman was planning to pin Alaska as its latest venue, the move now looks like a sure thing.  An event announcement and press conference is slated for Monday at 8 a.m. ET, streaming live on facbook.com/ironmantri, according to local reports. It’s believed that the race, slated for a three year stint starting in August of next year, will take place in Juneau and will be Alaska’s first Ironman-branded event.

At 89, world’s oldest Ironman still learning and growing

At 89 years old, Hiromu Inada is still racing—and learning. The Guinness world record holder for the oldest person to complete an Ironman, Inada said he watched the triathlon event at the Tokyo Olympics to pick up some pointers and analyze their leg movements and posture. “There’s so much to learn. I apply it to my training and it works! It’s fun,” he said of observing the Olympians. Inada, whose training schedule involves a 6 a.m. swim followed by a cycling session, wants to compete at the Ironman World Championships this year at the age of 90. “People laugh when I say this but now I’m living my youth,” he said. “I feel the joy of living.”

No new COVID spread from Lake Placid Ironman

In positive news on the COVID-19 front,  there have been no new confirmed cases of the virus connected to the Ironman Lake Placid triathlon, according to the Essex County Health Department and local reports. The July 25 event drew nearly 2,000 athletes from all around the world to Lake Placid last week, plus thousands of volunteers and spectators. While the city rolled back a requirement that all athletes had to be vaccinated, those who were unvaccinated had to provide proof of a negative test within 72 hours of the race in accordance to rules established by the Lake Placid village board and North Elba Town Council.

Triathlete turned marathoner Malindi Elmore shines in Olympic race

Canada’s Malindi Elmore, who spent some time as a professional triathlete before focusing on long-distance running, finished ninth in the women’s Olympic marathon on Friday. Originally a track star, Elmore briefly turned to triathlon in 2015, finishing third at Ironman Arizona in 2016 in a speedy 8 hours, 57 minutes, among other podium finishes. Elmore took time off to have her second son in 2018, before switching her focus to marathons. In Tokyo, Elmore crossed the line in 2:30:59 for ninth, the best Olympic marathon finish by a Canadian woman in a non-boycott Games. This is the second Olympic appearance for the 41-year-old mother of two, as she competed in the 1500-meter on the track in 2004. Early last year, she smashed the Canadian women’s record with a time of 2:24:50 in the Houston Marathon in her second-ever open marathon. 

British man finishes the world’s longest triathlon*

A British man recently completed the world’s longest triathlon–kind of. Adrien Bennett, who lives in Singapore, logged 225km (140 miles) of swimming, 3,850km (3,635 miles) of cycling, and 1,450km (901 miles) of running over the course of 189 days to earn the title, verified by Guinness World Records. Bennett’s event wasn’t a traditional triathlon, however: He first covered the running mileage in a span of 50 days, then spent 59 days to complete the cycling leg, and logged about 5K of swimming per day over 80 days to finish off the feat. (Guinness mandated that Bennett could not take more than five consecutive days of rest during the attempt, and he also had to take videos of himself, plus GPS proof to verify his activities). All told, the mileage Bennett covered is equivalent to the distance from Beijing to Berlin.

Podcast Notes

  • The Triathlete Hour brings on husband and wife reporting duo (and runners and triathletes) Brett Larner and Mika Tokairin, who have been covering the Olympics in Tokyo.
  • Get a recap of all of the action in Tokyo, plus updates on upcoming events (including Daniela Ryf’s anticipated bid for her seventh-straight win at 70.3 Switzerland) on the latest ProTriNews podcast.
  • If you can’t part with the Olympic chatter just yet, the Greg Bennett show offers some great insight from those who have experienced the emotionally-charged experience themselves. Greg is joined by his wife Laura, plus their longtime friend Marc Jenkins, who competed in Athens in 2004 and is considered one of the greatest athletes and coaches out of Great Britain.
  • Another triathlon great, Sarah Haskins, joins the IronWomen podcast to talk about her journey in the sport, plus the pressures that athletes face, especially at an Olympic Games, and how to see success even if you don’t win gold.
  • Want a better bike split? The TriDot Triathlon podcast runs through 20 tips for speedier cycling, covering topics like training metrics, pedal stroke, bike handling, and positioning.
  • Kona Kamps has an interesting conversation with age-group athlete Karen Monuszko, who won the 25-29 age group at Ironman Tulsa this year. Among other things, they discuss her training schedule, which involves 3 a.m. wake-ups to accommodate her schedule as a medical student.
  • The TriDoc discusses the pros and cons of various treatments for common injuries, including steroid injections, then has a chat with recently retired pro TJ Tollakson.
  • It’s the question everyone in the triathlon world is asking: Can Kristian Blummenfelt win Kona? This week, the folks at the MX Endurance podcast ponder this possibility.