Major League Triathlon

While the overall pro short course race circuit and prize money in the USA continues to collapse under the weight of Ironman, one of the bright lights on the horizon is the Major League Triathlon. A short, short-course race series consisting of the same core professionals.

The latest press release announced that Paula Findley was joining the roster for 2017, it includes some good emerging short course athletes, as well as a few core athlete from 2016 and some new, senior talents. Paula had a non-optimal year last year, especially since it was an Olympic year. Racing with MLT in 2017 gives her a chance to train and really see if she can bounce back from her injury problems and settle back into some short course speed.

I have to say, I wish them luck and hope the series continues to grow. I'll miss the Colorado, Veil race as I've already committed to race the same day here in Boulder. With other emerging leagues, it will be interesting to see how they end the year.

  • Current Location: Colorado
  • Current Mood: optimistic optimistic
  • Current Music: The Stars are out - David Bowie

There is a hole in my bucket - Goodbye St Croix

AKA: Last Chance to Race in Paradise

One of the last races on my bucket list was the one that had become Ironman St Croix 70.3. Although as per this article on Slowtwitch, it didn't start out that way. Ironman has announced that the 2017 race will be the last. St Croix was always a favorite among British pro triathletes, and as well as being a very picturest course, it was also stunningly hard with the beast hill climb on the bike and some great offroad sections on the run.

It wasn't just on my bucket list, Lance Armstrong did it as one of his first races when he returned to triathlon after cycling, and came 3rd. Ben Collins has a great video of the Beast hill on youtube.

I don't know the reasoning behind Ironmans decision to pull the race but this doesn't come as a surprise. Ironmans recent delude of of new races, and their subsequent date, distance changes isn't anything new. Given that Ironmans growth in the USA seems to have stalled, WTC/Ironman are more carefully putting races on the calendar based on their needs, rather than the athletes and given the low numbers for St Croix in recent years this was always on the cards, especially as their race numbers have dropped significantly.

A lot of the original franchised races have been going away, St Croix like the other original franchise races used to have qualifying slots for the full Ironman Kona. These were taken away a few years back, and while they still have 70.3 World Championship slots there are a lot cheaper and easier places to qualify. Getting all the branding and racing equipment out to St Croix can't have been cheap. Although since I've never been, I don't know how much of the regulation branding and race staging they used or had locally. It's unlikely that the WTC/Ironman would want to buy the race for this and just because it was a hard race, and typically hard races don't sell out as much. And so, the only thing I can assume is that the local organisers were not prepared to pay "the kings ransome" to renew the Ironman brand franchise agreement.

Hopefully the race will continue, anyone have any information?

The Bragi Dash - Truly wireless workout headphones

If you are looking for a new MP3/workout headphone, you might want to read Jordan Rapps review over on Slowtwitch. As most product reviews typically do, it focuses on the features and their use.

I'd invested in the Dash before they had a working prototype. They seemed like a great idea for running and general workouts. Swimming and cycling were always options, but not really what attracked me to them. Here is my summary of some 8-months using the Dash.

I'm ok with the original kickstarter investment, but can't recommend them based on the pair I've got. Mine finally arrived on June 22nd 2016, way after the promised delivery date of November 2014.

My main complaint is, the number of times I've retrieved the Dash just before a run from the charger/dock, and they are dead.

Maybe if f you leave the battery/holder plugged in and just return the ear pieces after every use, then maybe thats OK.

I wanted them as true wireless headphones for use while travelling. My versions of the dash are regularly dead when I go to use them. I run, I return them to the charging dock in my backpack, 2-days later, I pull them out and go to use them, dead. There is no on/off switch, my experience suggests that they are constantly charging while in the dock, and once the dock runs down, the Dash just runs down and they are dead.

I could never find a useful way to use them in the swim, I lost the left dash on the bottom of the pool a couple of times. Started using a silcone swim hat, which just activated the dash controls. With the lastest software you can lock them at the start so the tocuh

activation isn't enabled, but its just too much hassle.

I had the bluetooth connectivity issues with my Android phone, and stopped connecting the two, especially as I don't take my phone with me when running. Using the Dash for cycling outdoors was never something I considered, and cycling indoors I have a old school large stereo in the garage so not used there.

That leaves running. Loading MP3/M4A files to the Dash is fine, the limited playlists is a restriction, not sure why they don't support M3U/XSPF playlists, basically all the files go in one of four folders, and that folder is a playlist. Minimal but useable.

The sound quality is average or worse. In my ears, there is no bass. They are about as good as a cheap pair of wired headphones. The Dash software has no equalizer facility, so you can't tune it to your own preference.

Finally, since the latest 2.2 software upgrde, my Dash have developed a high pitch whine in one or other Dash. It's not linked to the music playing, so its not a defect in the encoding of the MP3. I run for a while, all of a sudden, one Dasg starts a high pierced whine. You have to pull the offending/whining Dash out, hold it for a few seconds and re-insert and it continues fine.

Finally, as far as I'm aware, you can't get any data off the Dash, and they don't sync with a phone, or watch for workout data interchange, so the workout capabilities are mostly like having a watch that collected data but couldn't save/sync.

I have to say, overall I'm not disappointed or angry about all this. After all, thats really what Kickstarter type crowd funding product development is a risk and a punt, you've no idea if you are getting anything at all, how it will work, or how long it will last. I was happy to invest and encourage the development.

For an easy to use, workout friendly MP3 player, I'm going back to the Sony Walkman. Better battery life, better audio, not truly wireless, but wireless enough.

  • Current Location: Colorado
  • Current Mood: Sweet Cow Day!
  • Current Music: Robert Elms BBC Radio London via iplayer

Triathlon Business International 2017

I'm heading to my 7th "Triathlon America", now Triathlon Business International (TBI) conference. It's the only time you'll ever see me on a start list next to Lance Armstrong.

I've written numerous times in the past about TBIs infatuation with Lance, especially here. It seems their forbidden romance is about to be consummated as Lance is on the agenda for a discussion with the aforementioned Dan Empfield, at 8:30am on Monday (full agenda).

I have lots of questions, mostly from a triathlon governance perspective, I want to know who knew what, when, and what were their actions?

It's unlikely I'll ask any of them though, as much as honest answers from Lance would tell us if the people governing our sport are fit to hold office, I neither expect Dan to ask the questions, nor Lance to answer them, especially if I ask. Lance, is as much a sideshow now as the TBI Conference was when it tried to get Lance to respond after Travis Tygart spoke at the 2014 Conference. Triathlon needs to move on.

I'll post some observations from the conference here, I'm sure Dana Willet from 303 Triathlon and Cycling will doing outstanding coverage via twitter and their web site.

My Prior posts on Triathlon America and TBI are tagged #tbi and/or #triathlonamerica and my posts about Lance Armstrong tagged #lancearmstrong. If you want copies of anything that is no longer online, I probaby have it somewhere.
  • Current Location: Colorado
  • Current Mood: pensive pensive
  • Current Music: Si - Waterfall [enr39] - BØC

Triathlon in America

Triathlon in the USA is sold as a poor man's ironman, and ironman is hard and you should nearly die trying to finish, and it's for the tough people.

Triathlon for the fast and furious pc gaming generation isn't ironman, ironman is a sport for old white people with too much time and money. In recent years, USAT and CEO Urbach are specifically to blame for this. Urbach has spent at least the last 4-years gloating over the membership and participation numbers while showing Ironman videos with people failing, using crappy Eminem tracks as backing. No young mother wants to see her 8-year old doing Ironman, its so unsuitable. Compare that to the fast and furious ITU (Super)Sprint Relays.

USAT has many challenges now the participation and membership numbers are dropping. There a very few professional/elite races at short distance in the USA this year that offer any reasonable amount of prize money. There are no significant short course races series of any consequence. USAT itself managed to isolate itself further from it's desperate and geographically huge regions, making local, nation coordination even harder. There seems to be no effective sports development program for new comers, in fact little to capitalize on Gwen Jorgensen Olympic Gold medal and now Gwen and Patrick have announced they are expecting their first child, Gwen won't be availble to race and showcase her speed.

I wrote parts of this as responses to Dan Empfields' Slowtwitch op-ed about "undisclosed fees". With all due respect, Dan missed a bigger opportunity. Another thing that needs a complete rethink is how the USAT license is collected and distributed, rather than simple hiding a unjustifiable high online platform fee in an already expensive race entry.

The big races have become largely interchangeable, same look and feel, common branding, supporting and promoting any products they can get onboard irrespective of the relevance to the competitors.

Yes, triathlon has a high price of entry, it is too expensive. Yes races are expensive, but that's more a reflection of the business demands from key industry players rather than nickel and diming participants. Almost all the equipment needed to participate in a triathlon goes through the normal marketing, product re-invention cycle, which instead of allowing product costs to be defrayed over many years, keeps costs high but delivering little to most competitors except to dazzle with (uneccesary) technology. The race organization field is slowly consolidating all the big city races, and many of the smaller races into a fewer organizations, which makes it harder to compete for smaller and single race organizers over anything but sprint distance.

Times are changing, and if they don't, they should be.

  • Current Location: Colorado
  • Current Mood: reflective
  • Current Music: Fool on the Hill - The Beatles

2017 is going to happen...

Well 2016 was another quiet race year, moving 1000+ miles and building a house was distracting enough, so it was never going to be a big race year. Also after 17-years of racing, it's hard to get motivated to do enough training to justify the mostly high race entry fees. Add to that I'm living at 5,430ft, aka mile high country and there you have it.

However, given the old moto "a change is as god as a rest", I've made a start on training for next year in 3-different ways. From my races this year, I can see how much my swimming has dropped right off. We've joined the local Y who have an outdoor pool, but for the winter they've covered it with an impressive cover. Swimming twice a week at least it is.

For biking I've got a trainer set up in the garage, but it is still nice enough to get out on the bike. One of the more amazing sites when we head north on rides through Erie, CO. is the Boulder Valley Veldrome. A neighbor and fellow cyclist extolled the virtues of it, we went one evening earlier in the year to watch the racing, it looked like a lot of fun.

They run taster sessions for new folks to try out the track and I signed up for one. It's actually pretty difficult to ride at speed as there are no real rest areas. I averaged 26-28MPH for a couple of mile rides, but faded badly after that. Also actually getting off the bank section is pretty hard when you start to slow down. It was fun, but my reluctance to do anything that puts me in danger means I probably won't ride there again. It's well worth experiencing though, and the taster sessions include the use of a bike, and shoes, so you just need to bring a helmet.

For running, it couldn't be more different. While running in Austin can't be criticised, it was a bit monotomus. Sure there were numerous routes, but from where I lived it almost always included running on Town Lake Trail. Not a bad thing at all, but included a couple of miles from the house on urban sidewalks, or a "track session" and run down the railroad track.

Here there are endless trails, both concrete and crushed granite. Hills, no hills, lakes, no lakes. The weather is constantly changing. I ran homefrom school drop-off, which is almost exactly 3.5-miles across the Louisville North open space, and it was in the high 30's(f), two days later it was in the 80's.

So much to do for next year, I age up, and after 18-years(?) in triathlon, I'll be in the 60-64 age group. I'm thinking it will be a good year for a bike tour, another Sierra to the Sea, a couple of sprint triathlons, and I think a half ironman distance race. Yep, 2017 is going to be a big year ;-)

  • Current Location: Louisville, CO
  • Current Music:

USAT Votes Yes!

To be more precise, just 1% of USA Triathlon's claimed 500,000 members voted at all in the recent election, and of those 3,592 voted for the board submitted amendment to the bylaws.

That in one vote is everything wrong with USAT. Nobody cares except the board and a small number of others. USAT is little more than a necessary evil in the life of most triathletes. They are forced to hand over money once per year, or once per race do join an organization that seems to spend most of it's time and effort in-fighting, changing it's own byelaws.

While there are many people that volunteer their time, and effort, to make sure races happen, to provide guidance on the sport, the national association has little in the way of structured programs to grow and publicise the sport; it either deliberately or through ineffectiveness fails to engage and capitalize on the huge membership base and allows the scale and geography of the country defeat any practical attempts to localize. At least as I understand the amendment, and thats mostly just through reading it, they are reducing the regional representation on the board, making the centralized structure less visible, and less transparent. That can't be a good thing.

  • Current Location: Louisville, CP
  • Current Music: Stomp and Buck Dance - The Crusaders

USAT - Vote NO!

A few weeks back I got a back door notification that there were some changes afoot at USA Triathlon. I talked with a couple of people who had inside knowledge, and one who had heard change was coming. The discussions didn't lead anywhere and I didn't get specifics.

Then 10-days or so I got an innocuous email from USAT announcing what looked like their annual voting. I either didn't read it, or did and didn't realize the significance. Thanks to Ben Hoffman, and to TRS Radio for the interview, available here and slowtwitch to read, here.

I won't repeat Ben's descriptions, but net net, I can't support these proposed bylaw and process changes. They have a significant impact on both the composition of the USAT Board, and the process for composing the board. It took me only two clicks to vote against the changes after I'd found the email. As discussed, you've not been counted until you've voted.

My link looked like this

Where MMMMMM is my USAT membership number, and PPPPPP is a member unique password.

For research, the changes are all listed in the documents, here.

[Update 9/30/16]
Triathlete has published a useful summary of the issues.
Barry Siff, USA Triathlon President posted this publically on facebook.