Triathlon News & Notes: Triathlon Pioneer Passes Away, Richard Branson in Bike Crash, and More

Here are some tri-related stories generating buzz over the past seven days.

Photo: Courtesy of Virgin

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Pioneering race director Jan Caille passes away

Jan Caille, a longtime race director who co-founded the Bud Light U.S. Triathlon Series in 1983 and spearheaded the Chicago Triathlon in 1987 among other events, passed away last month of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 77. Caille’s list of accomplishments in the sport is impressive, including starting up the world’s largest independent kids triathlon, the U.S. Women’s Triathlon Series, the Race to the Toyota Cup Series Triathlon Series, and the Ironman 70.3 Steelhead. Upon selling his events company, CAPRI, in 2010, Caille focused on his  80-acre farm in McCleary, Washington, recently working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Washington Fish & Wildlife to restore a creek on his property and creating spawning pools for salmon. “Jan was a lot more than the events he created and produced, but a part of his heart and soul are still in every one of them,” read his memorial this week. “He truly had a unique understanding of the business that helped the industry grow far beyond what anyone dreamed.”

That Triathlon Life has its own blend of wine

That Triathlon Life, the multisport community created by pro triathletes Eric Lagerstrom and Paula Findlay has joined forces with Dusty Nabor Wines. TTL x Nabor Wines, a 41 % Cabernet Franc blend, “represents a collaboration between Lagerstrom, Findlay and winemakers Dusty Nabor and Karin Langer,” according to the TTL’s website. “Our motivation is to showcase the winemaking and brand of our longtime friends, Dusty and Karin by bringing you this special effort.” The medium- to full-body wine is available for $35 per bottle.

Richard Branson injured in cycling crash, says helmet saved his life

Sir Richard Branson detailed a “colossal” cycling crash he endured earlier this week while participating in Strive BVI, a multisport event entailing sailing, kayaking, paddleboarding, cycling, hiking, and swimming across the British Virgin Islands. In a blog post and Instagram post, Branson, an avid cyclist, shared that he had completed a 60-kilometer ride around Tortola, when he opted to do a bonus 15K when his brakes gave out while descending, taking his riding partner out with him. Both men hit the ground hard, their heads slamming into the concrete. “There is no question that wearing helmets saved our lives—not the first time that has been the case,” Branson wrote. After being treated for severe cuts and bruises, an “extraordinarily big bump” on his hip, and a massive hematoma on his leg, Branson said he is down, but not out. “I won’t stop taking on challenges and adventures,” he wrote. “It’s how I’ve always lived my life.”

Bahamian paratriathlete named Godmother of cruise ship

Here’s a title you don’t hear too often: Cruise ship godmother. That’s just the honor bestowed upon Erin Brown, Bahama’s first paratriathlete, whom Royal Caribbean selected for its newest ship, the Odyssey. Brown, who works at the University of the Bahamas as a counselor for those living with physical disabilities, was selected for her “courage and determination” as well as inspiring others to be more inclusive, according to a statement. Most of Brown’s godmother duties include “blessing” the Odyssey at its naming ceremony; otherwise the title is typically in name only.

Kahlefeldts conquer half-marathon

Pro triathlete Radka Kahlefeldt, who welcomed her second daughter in March, showed off the fine form that has landed her on several podiums throughout her career at a half-marathon last weekend in Mangoplah, Australia, winning in 1:24:16. “Best birthday present! First race back since we had our second baby,” posted Kahlefeldt, who turned 37 that day. Her husband, retired pro triathlete turned top runner Brad Kahlefeldt, won the men’s race in 1:13:18, leading a charge of family members who dominated the first four places in the race.

COVID survivor gives Ironman medal to caregivers

In April 2020, Ben O’Donnell lay on a hospital bed at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, in critical condition on a ventilator and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine. Twenty months later, O’Donnell returned to the hospital, not as a patient, but as a recently-minted Ironman finisher, offering his medal to the caregivers who treated him. The 40-year-old, who was one of Minnesota’s first reported COVID patients, was hospitalized for a month and nearly died, later facing kidney problems and internal bleeding as well as extensive lung damage. Despite it all, O’Donnell completed Ironman Tulsa in May—in a PR—and donated his coveted hardware to the critical care team. “All of you were with me the entire 140.6 miles,” O’Donnell told the staff in the ECMO unit during a ceremony on Friday. “Every step, you were with me, because without you, I wouldn’t be here.”

Ironman Foundation offers Thanksgiving bundles to Big Island residents

The World Champs may not be in Kona this year, but that isn’t stopping the folks at Ironman from making an impact on the Big Island. On Nov. 22, the Ironman Foundation, the charitable arm of the corporation, will offer free grocery bundles to local residents, including a turkey. This is the second consecutive year that the Ironman Foundation has distributed groceries at Thanksgiving; last year, they handed out 600 turkey dinners as part of their Kahiau Together initiative created to keep Hawaii Island fed during the pandemic.

Podcast Notes

  • Manami Iijima, one of Guam’s few pro triathletes, is the guest on this week’s Triathlete Hour podcast, where she discusses what it’s like training on the tiny island and life as a new pro.
  • The World Triathlon podcast brings on Norwegian elite triathlete Lotte Miller, who recently won the Europe Triathlon Cup Quarteira. Miller reveals, among other things, what it was like to train alongside superstars like Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden on Team Norway.
  • Dr. Philip Skiba, a sports medicine doctor with a PhD in exercise physiology and elite coach, heads to That Triathlon Show to share expertise on topics like periodization, specificity, and understanding and training your physiology.
  • The MX Endurance podcast rehashes Ironman Florida and discusses the game-changing ways of champion Gustav Iden.
  • ProTri News also touches on Ironman Florida, plus WTS Abu Dhabi and more.
  • Top pro Emma Pallant-Browne is featured on the Oxygen Addict podcast, where she talks about working with her new coach Tim Don and why, as a former track star, she now feels like a “complete triathlete.” (Pallant-Browne is featured on the Inside Tri show this week as well.)
  • Curious about NCAA triathlon? Check out the new episode of the Ironwomen podcast, showcasing Kinsey Lane, a pro triathlete and coach of the women’s tri team at Colorado Mesa University. Laine shares about her own journey in the sport as well as what it looks like to train and race as a collegiate athlete.

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