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Dispatches: College On Hold

As the coronavirus continues to affect the world, we check in with promising elite collegiate triathlete Duncan Reid to learn about how the outbreak has affected his school and racing situation.

As of this writing, roughly 1.5M 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. last week, 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 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 Duncan Reid, a 22-year-old elite triathlete training with USA Triathlon’s Project Podium squad with his sights set on the 2024/2028 Olympics. He’s also a student studying at the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University in Tempe, where he is on track to graduate in May. As of this writing, Arizona has approximately 3,000 cases of COVID-19 and under 100 deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, putting the state at a case rate of roughly 43 per 100,000 (for reference, New York State’s case rate is at roughly 815 per 100,000 people).

On His Area’s Restrictions:

“Arizona’s activity status is changing rapidly, but for the moment, it is only essential businesses open. The state and the city are trying to encourage people to stay at home, but nothing has been ordered yet. As for my daily life, the university has shut down and shifted classes to online platforms, which changes the routine, and obviously I have been staying inside while not training…Recently the state has shut down the lakes we were planning on getting our swims in, and we have now switched to a stricter social distancing policy as a squad, that is no in-person coaching, no large group workouts, etc.”

On His Original Goals For The Season:

“I started off the season in a decent spot, and was looking towards building to ITU races in Sarasota and Ixtapa before going to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, to get an altitude block in before the PATCO Championships in the Dominican Republic. Based off of those races, my goal was to race U23 Worlds, and then some of the late season World Cups in the fall.”

On Adjusting:

“Right now I’m in a holding pattern, just trying to maintain fitness instead of building towards a specific race. The ITU hasn’t told us anything about when races will resume, which races will be rescheduled, etc. Additionally, COVID-19 has frozen the world rankings, which will affect who can get into what races…I think I (and most other triathletes) have come to accept that this year is effectively a year postponed. I think the fact that I’m going to throw in some “race-like” efforts in the coming months will make it easier mentally; it may not garner me any ITU points, but it will still be nice to know I can run X for 10k off a hard bike, etc.”

On His Struggles:

“I think the hardest part for most triathletes has been the wait to hear what and when races will resume. Originally it was to the end of April, now it’s until the end of June, but you hear rumors of races later in the season (or the entire season) being cancelled as well. It makes it a lot harder to plan out training, because it’s impossible to know when you need to peak. The first race could be mid-July, it could be the first week of March next year, it’s just so hard to tell.”

On Coping:

“Within my squad, we’re focusing on just taking it one day at a time, because any plans we’ve made have quickly changed. We’re using training to take our minds off things, sometimes it’s nice to focus on power zones, instead of what people say on Twitter. For us, it’s just as much about staying mentally sharp, as it is about staying physically sharp, and we’ve found that the easiest way to do that is to sometimes just take a step back for a bit. For example, I just got a new bike from Ventum and have been using this in-limbo period of training to explore some gravel and off the path roads on it…While I know triathlon is an individual sport, I hope everyone uses this time to reach out to other people, and while staying physically distant, stay emotionally and mentally close.”