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Triathlon News & Notes: Jan Stalled On Way to Miami, Cunnama Retires

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

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As triathlon season starts to getting going again, here are some of the headlines from around the world of multisport.

Jan Frodeno stalled at airport, trip to Miami on hold

The much anticipated arrival of Jan Frodeno on U.S. soil has been postponed indefinitely, due to a travel hiccup when he attempted to board a plane to Florida from his home in Girona, Spain. Frodeno, a three-time Ironman World Champ who is a heavy favorite for next weekend’s Challenge Miami event, posted on his Instagram story that he did not have a “travel exemption,” and was forced to return home to figure out his next steps. Likely, Frodeno was referring to the travel exemptions obtained by Challenge race organizers from the Department of Homeland Security for international athletes, to circumvent the restrictions placed on travel to the United States from origins including the European Schengen area. The timeline for Frodeno to get his exemption sorted and travel to Florida in order to race next weekend is extremely tight, as all Challenge competitors must get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for seven days upon arrival, adhering to CDC guidelines.

The pro race, this Friday, March 12, will be streamed live on the Challenge Miami Facebook page—with a $1.99 charge if you sign up now and a $2.99 charge after Wednesday. A highlight show will also be aired on NBC Sports three times, starting March 18.

James Cunnama announces retirement 

Decorated South African pro James Cunnama announced his retirement this week, ending a 14-year career that included multiple Ironman wins and a convincing victory at Challenge Roth in 2012, with a 7:59:59. Cunnama, who most recently placed 34th at Challenge Daytona in December after winning The People’s Triathlon in South Africa in November, posted that he had been offered an “exciting opportunity” and a new challenge that he couldn’t pass up. “When I started pursuing my ‘Pro career ‘ all those years ago, the goal was to see if I could win a race and see some new places, and maybe make as much money as I spent on it,” he wrote. “14 years later, I’ve won some races, seen some places and probably just about broke even.” Cunnama is married to former pro triathlete Jodie Swallow, with whom he shares three toddlers.

World Triathlon Series shifts Montreal race to August

With another change to the constantly shuffling calendar of race events, the World Triathlon Series (WTS) championships in Montreal has been moved from June to August, World Triathlon announced. This move, race organizers hope, will allow more time for the scaling back of international travel restrictions due to the pandemic. The Montreal event will take place just a week before the WTS Championship in Edmonton–and right after the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. This is the second shift made by the WTS this week; earlier, organizers of the 2021 World Triathlon Long Distance Championships in Zofingen announced that the event, originally set for May, will be moved Sept.19.

Draft-legal racing resumes in Florida

The top young talent from across the country have descended on central Florida for the Clermont Draft Legal Challenge this weekend. Orchestrated by 2008 Olympian and former pro triathlete Jarrod Shoemaker, the two-day event includes sprint-distance races for 12 and up, including Elite Cup races, which typically attract up-and-coming pros. On the first day of action, Iceland’s Edda Hanesdottir, the 2018 ITU Aquathlon World Champion currently living and training in Boulder,  took the women’s Elite Cup over Gina Sereno, who was a five-time Big Ten champion while on the track team at the University of Michigan before turning to triathlon. For the men, Eli Hemming outsprinted Kevin McDowell in a tight finish where just six seconds separated the top six.

Sarah Piampiano welcomes son Harrison

Ironman champ Sarah Pampiano-Lord added another title to her resume this week: Mom. The 40-year-old, who won Ironman Brazil in 2019, welcomed son Harrison Michael with husband Michael on Feb. 28. “Words truly cannot describe everything [we]  are feeling, but it is some combination of awe, profound love, respect, disbelief, compassion, excitement, overwhelm, pride, relief, happiness and complete gratitude all mixed into one,” she posted. “Labor and the birth of your child is an experience like none other.”

Podcast Notes

Writer, athlete, and advocate Kathryn Bertine joins the Triathlete Hour to talk about her new book, Stand, which speaks to her fight for equality in women’s cycling.

In a special International Women’s Day special, the World Triathlon Podcast showcases Egypt’s Basmla Elsalamoney and Kuwait’s Najla al Jeraiwi’s stories, including the challenges they’ve faced during their groundbreaking journeys towards representing their countries on the World Triathlon stage.

The Greg Bennett Show features a fascinating chat with Ed Baker, whom he connected with after meeting his cousin at a playground, about his rise in the ranks of age-group triathlon while maintaining a career as an entrepreneur, including key roles at Facebook and Uber. 

Sika Henry, who’s aiming to become the first African-American female professional triathlete, is the guest on the Zwift PowerUp Tri podcast, where she talks about her unconventional path to the top, plus her recent pacing job at the Hoka One One Project Carbon X2 100K race.

That Triathlon Show brings on Michael Crawley, a top British marathoner, professor, and author of Out of Thin Air: Running Wisdom and Magic from Above the Clouds in Ethiopia, who talks about what he learned from Ethiopian runners and how triathletes can learn from their training methods.

Fresh off her win at last weekend’s Husky Triathlon, Australian pro Ellie Salthouse offers a download of her triathlon experience from a kid to now on the MX Endurance podcast

Triathlon icon Karen Smyers, the only woman to claim the Ironman World Championship and the World Short Course Championship titles in the same year, is the most recent guest on the WITSUP podcast, where she chats about the ups and downs of her impressive career.