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Dispatches: How Triathletes Around the World Are Adjusting

As the coronavirus continues to affect our world and change the way we live, we check in with six triathletes to see how one big thing can be experienced in so many different ways.

As of this writing, roughly 850,000 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. As triathletes, our very nature is to seek out challenges, then prepare, adapt, and try to overcome them. In some ways, this crisis is no different. Many triathletes are faced with an ever-shrinking physical world while simultaneously trying to continue doing at least one of the things we love: swim, bike, and/or run. Virtual training groups, virtual races, and “quaranteams” have sprung up to form the communities and challenges that we look for, and triathletes have continued to identify as part of the multisport world even in conditions that were unimaginable only months ago.

We’ve spoken to six triathletes—each in very different geographical areas, with different athletic experience levels, and in different situations. They range from international-level pros to age-groupers to coaches to college athletes. Below we’ve collected some of their observations about how the coronavirus has affected their tiny corner of the world and their perspectives on how they’re coping and what they hope will come next.

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. While not everything is rosy all of the time—in fact, much of it isn’t at all—the fact remains that we are still triathletes preparing, adapting, and overcoming together, even if the challenges have drastically changed.

Photo provided by Molly Supple

Molly Supple

Girona, Spain

27, Former collegiate triathlete at the University of Arizona and aspiring professional triathlete who up until recently worked for Specialized Bikes

(As of 4/2/20, Spain has ~95,000 confirmed cases and ~8,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization)

On Her Area’s Restrictions:

“Our situation is very restricted. Spain has been hit very hard with this virus, and the government is taking every precaution possible to keep people safe and at home. Everything that is deemed non-essential has been banned. You can leave your home to go to the grocery story, pharmacy, take out the dog, or throw the trash away, but all of these things can only be done alone (not even with your housemates). If you do drive, you have to have a sheet that has a detailed account of where you are coming from, where you are going, and the ‘necessary’ need for your trip.”

On Experience With COVID-19:

“My good friend from college tested positive last week. She was sick for nearly 10 days before she finally got a test. She’s beginning to feel better, but she was extremely ill and was told by the hospital that she should stay home if she felt she could breathe.”

On Encouragement:

“There are really amazing moments that give me hope in a dire situation. Every night at 8 p.m., everyone comes out of their windows and claps, bangs pots and pans, and whistles for the healthcare workers who are working tirelessly. People are buying extra food to give to our homeless community. A group of people worked together to buy fresh cut flowers from a florist who was concerned about losing her business—she was so inspired that she made bouquets to give to the hospitals.”


Photo provided by Duncan Reid

Duncan Reid

Los Angeles, California/Tempe, Arizona

22, Elite athlete training with USA Triathlon’s Project Podium team while attending classes at Arizona State University where classes were moved online mid-March 

(As of 4/2/20, California has ~10,000 confirmed cases and ~215 deaths, according to the LA Times)

On Goals:

“I 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 those races, my goal was to race Under-23 Worlds and then some of the late-season ITU 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.”

On Coming Together:

“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.”


Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images for Ironman

Sarah True

Hanover, New Hampshire

38, Professional triathlete of over 15 years, with highlights including an ITU Aquathlon World Championship, three podium finishes at ITU Triathlon World Championships, two Olympic appearances, and a fourth-place finish in Kona

(As of 4/1/20, New Hampshire has ~400 confirmed cases and ~4 deaths, according to the New Hampshire Dept. of Health and Human Services)

On Her Area’s Restrictions:

“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.”

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 Helping Out:

“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.”


Photo provided by Eric Lagerstrom

Eric Lagerstrom

Tucson, Arizona/Portland, Oregon

30, Videographer, photographer, and professional triathlete of 10 years with highlights including wins at St. Anthony’s, Escape From Alcatraz, and 70.3s Indian Wells and Santa Cruz

(As of 4/1/20, Arizona has ~1,400 confirmed cases and ~30 deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services)

On Goals:

“My main goal was to have a strong showing at 70.3 worlds, to win St. Anthony’s again, and just have the most fun possible. I think I’m on track with the “having fun” part, but I’ve completely let go of any idea of what or when I’ll race again.”

On Coming Together:

“I’ve been meeting some friends from Oregon on Zwift for crit races. It gives a little structure to the day and it’s fun to connect and chat on the phone while we race…basically a digital version of what we’d do if we were both home and things were normal.” 

On The Future:

“I think this time has a lot of positives wrapped up in it because it’s making us all realize what we really like, what we miss most once everything is stripped away, and hopefully we’ll all come out of it as better people. I’ve re-realized that I love swimming, biking, and running just as a lifestyle—totally independent of racing and the financial implications as a pro. I feel zero drive to train for an event right now and my girlfriend (Canadian pro Paula Findlay) and I are just deciding what to do each day over breakfast, but we still end up running or biking.”


Photo provided by Alison Kreideweis

Alison Kreideweis

New York City, NY

37, Co-founder/head coach for the Empire Triathlon Club and 20-year triathlon veteran who is a 2x USAT All-American

(As of 4/2/20, New York State has ~84,000 confirmed cases and ~2,000 deaths, according to the New York Times)

On Coaching:

“I’ve done a lot in the past few weeks to adjust my coaching business. I’m no longer traveling to NYC. We are tying to create as much virtual content and community as possible, which includes launching a new communication app so members can stay in touch with one another, posting a daily workout challenge, hosting a weekly live virtual strength training class, and creating group meet-ups for athletes with indoor trainers to ride together through a virtual reality cycling app.”

On Experience With COVID-19:

“Several Empire Tri members are showing symptoms ranging from mild to fairly severe. (It’s not confirmed that they have COVID-19 since all have been denied a test because of the limited supply, and their health condition is not severe enough—but all symptoms point towards COVID-19.)

“One athlete posted a message to the group that she was getting sick (likely with COVID-19). Teammates immediately chimed in offering to pick up food, meds, and other necessities. Every day, they have checked in to see how she’s doing and asked if there was anything they could do.”

On The Future:

“While we are all going through a tough and unprecedented time, I hope that we’ll all come out stronger in the end. I believe that everything happens for a reason. If you are suddenly out of a job, perhaps this will open the door to a new career path. Maybe social distancing will help you reconnect with someone you’ve lost touch with. Perhaps the loss of freedom will help us realize how important it is to be grounded and present instead of always rushing from place to place. Without the ability to physically meet up, it’s showing me how important it is to be part of a team and have a strong support network.”


Photo provided by Julie Bockey

Julie Bockey

Temperance, Michigan

45, Part-time nurse and former Air Force servicemember, trains to help raise awareness for her two Autistic sons and gain acceptance for those with special needs

(As of 4/1/20, Michigan has ~9,000 confirmed cases and ~350 deaths, according to the State of Michigan)

On Working Out:

“As far as training, the biggest change is not having pool access. Michigan lakes are too cold. Most days have been 30-40 degrees and will only top out in the high 50s in the next several weeks. My youngest son, Jacob has learned over several years (and intensive therapy-repetition) to compete in triathlon with Dad. He swims on his own, rides a Tandem (Dad says he does all the work!), and runs on his own. Autism is often difficult to describe because every individual has quite varying strengths-limitations, but my other son Jake will always need us. He can’t cross a street safely or be unattended for lengths of time—he’s pretty much nonverbal and is also a Type 1 Diabetic (like me), but he’s AWESOME!”

On Her Area’s Restrictions:

“As a family with only autistic children, I know we live quite differently. Eating out and structured events has never come easy for us to attend with our boys. This new adjustment has been smoother than I could imagine.”