Dispatches: A Pro Triathlete Quaran-Teaching in New Hampshire

As the coronavirus continues to affect the world, we check in with Olympian Sarah True who has turned her focus from racing toward helping educate her nieces.

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As of this writing, roughly 1.7M people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and as the pandemic continues to spread, COVID-19 is something that will likely change the rhythm of our world and our sport for a very long time. 

We’ve connected with six triathletes—each in very different geographical areas, with different athletic experience levels, and in different coronavirus situations. They range from international-level pros to age-groupers to coaches to college athletes. We initially collected some of their initial firsthand experiences as the pandemic fully hit the U.S. two weeks ago, and we’re going to continue to check in with them to see how their situations change. 

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be posting expanded dispatches from each of these six triathletes and more to give you a closer look at how restrictions, wellness, goals, and personal decisions effectively “create” the smaller world that now surrounds each of them. 

Today, we’re checking in with Sarah True, a 38-year-old two-time Olympian who has recently made the transition to long-course racing with excellent results including a fourth-place finish at Ironman World Championships in 2018. Currently, True is in New Hampshire with her husband—elite runner Ben True—and her family. As of this writing, New Hampshire has approximately 1,000 cases of COVID-19 and under 30 deaths, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, putting the state at a case rate of roughly 73 per 100,000 (for reference, New York State’s case rate is at roughly 962 per 100,000 people).

On Her Area’s Restrictions:

“New Hampshire issued a shelter-in-place order on March 27th, but my local area has been following guidelines for a couple of weeks. After Dartmouth College took decisive action in the beginning of March, it sent a strong signal to all of us. My pool has been closed for weeks and the streets are very quiet. Many of us are opting to train inside, especially on the bike, not wanting to potentially add to the burden on our healthcare system. My community continues to prepare and to take this seriously. We haven’t really been hit, but we’re aware it may impact this area very soon.”

On Original Goals For The Season:

“I was hoping to race a spring and fall Ironman, along with a few 70.3s. I now realize that it is likely there won’t be any racing until the fall, at best. I had also planned to support my husband, Ben, in his pursuit of an Olympic team in track and field [for the now postponed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo].” 

On Adjusting Priorities:
“Since my brother and sister-in-law are both physicians and have four kids, I’ve realized that helping them is now my priority. I’ll continue to train, but it will be secondary to assisting in educating my nieces. Maybe there will be racing this year, maybe not. But my nieces definitely need an education, and I have the flexibility to help.”

On Experience With COVID-19:

“A few of my family members are physicians and have been preparing within their healthcare networks. My brother in particular has been especially busy, trying to coordinate logistics and managing PPE (personal protective equipment) supply for his staff. It’s been chilling to hear the people I love talking about preparing for war.“ 

On New Roles:

“I have a newfound respect for all teachers. It’s been really rewarding to prioritize my nieces over my training, even if I’m busier than I would have anticipated.”

On Training And Life Now:

“One of the reminders of this time is how important exercise is for our wellbeing. When you remove racing, it takes some of the blinding intentionality out of the equation. It’s been remarkable to see how we can use sport to stay healthy, a bit more sane, and to keep us connected. 

“I’ve had to adjust to a new routine, but it’s become easier with each passing day. If this moment has reinforced anything, it’s that humans are incredibly adaptable. We’re constantly recalibrating to the challenges, but the important part to remember is that we possess an inherent capacity to settle and find a new normal.”

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