Triathlon Digest: Wednesday, February 18, 1998
Vol. 2, No. 37
Published by Triathlon Central
In This Issue:
* From the Conning Tower II (our editorial)
* USA names USA Triathletes and Races of the Year (from USAT Weekly
* Competitor Endurance Awards party report (from Bob Babbitt, USA)
Notes from Ms. Digest:
-- Duathletes go 1-2: In the 30th San Dieguito Half-Marathon on
Sunday, Heather Fuhr won in 1:18:50, followed by Australia's Jane Despas
(1:23:38). This item comes from David Monti's Race Results Weekly
- Thanks for all the postings submitted on Tuesday. Too many to
list all at once -- a first! Keep them coming (of course), but ones not
used in today's Digest will likely be used in the next few days. (Note:
Anyone with further thoughts-comments on winter triathlon may want to weigh
in on Wednesday, because that is developing into an interesting thread,
possibly for Thursday).
FROM THE CONNING TOWER II
(February 17, 1998)
("From the Conning Tower" is the editorial page of Triathlon Digest
where the staff of Triathlon Digest includes opinions based on recent
postings and happenings in the sport. Subscribers are encouraged to
comment and to make suggestions about future editorial positions to be
taken by Triathlon Digest.)
WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
Is triathlon heading for a catastrophe? It seems so. The Olympic dream
for triathlon is at the verge of becoming a casualty! It could have, and
should have been, very different. That's the pity of it all.
Two years ago, ITU's Les McDonald sold ITU and the Olympic Qualification
system to a private company -- Pacific Sports Entertainment (PSE) -- in order
to fund an overly ambitious World Cup and World Championship program.
ITU and PSE were to share the profits. PSE bought the sport for 10
years because, in McDonald's own words, the Olympic Qualification System
would be redesigned by ITU to drive the sport's best athletes into the
ITU World Cup races. The rules of triathlon were to be rewritten to
make it harder for athletes to compete elsewhere -- or to be true
professionals -- by making money except from prize money. The beauty of it
all was that other people's money would pay the freigh: $125,000 from
each World Cup race and million-dollar sponsor packages. ITU and PSE
thought the plan couldn't miss.
Well, it has missed -- and badly at that. There are no sponsors. Events
are refusing to pay the sanction price tag. PSE is getting tired of
underwriting the losses. The ITU-PSE deal is unraveling. ETU and ITU
are at loggerheads. The 1998 ITU World Cup is a debacle. Absent a
schedule, athletes are unable to plan a competition schedule.
Prospective sponsors Credit Suisse and Reebok have turned their backs on
the mess. ITU and PSE remain curiously silent in public (but
uncharacteristically candid in private) about what is happening.
Are these merely the to-be-expected growing pains of a new sport? Or is
the way the sport is governed seriously flawed? Triathlon Digest thinks
what's wrong has nothing to do with newness, and everything to do with
the old human failings of arrogance, ego, greed and incompetency.
What is to be done is that this sport's governance should be
overhauled. What is to be done is that the Olympic Qualification system
should be divorced from a shaky, commercially unsound ITU World Cup
Series. What is to be done is that ITU must learn to work with and
accept help from the other creative elements in triathlon (and that
includes Ironman) -- which ITU has all this while written off.
What is to be done is that ITU must soon settle the Ironman lawsuit in a way
that's good for triathlon before a court acts on its own, and restructures
the sport in a way that's good for no one.
But most of all, what is to be done is that triathlon must stop being a
house divided. Accomplishing that will require vision, intelligence
and people ready to leave their egos at the door. What is to be done
must happen as quickly as possible. Let's all hope and pray it's not
Excerpt from USAT Triathlon Weekly Report
(Note: Steve Locke says that he prepares his report "for individuals
interested in the governance of triathlon/duathlon within the USA."
Individuals wishing to receive a free subscription to this weekly report
may arrange for one by emailing
and placing the word subscribe in the title or body of the message.)
USA Triathlon Names 1997 Athletes and Races of the Year
Over the weekend in San Diego at the Competitor Magazine Endurance Awards,
USA Triathlon presented awards for the 1997 USAT Athletes and Races of the
Year. 1997 was a banner year for multisport. The athletes and races were chosen
through a highly competitive process, and the choices were difficult.
The athletes honored were:
Juniors (ages 16-19):
Sara Brinkley of Winfield, Kansas
Josh Fuller of Plant City, Florida
Masters (ages 40-59 for women and 40-55 for men):
Missy LeStrange of Visalia, California
*** Tomlin of Kingman, Arizona
Grand Masters (ages 60 plus for women, 56 plus for men):
Susan Bradley-Cox of Lexington, Kentucky
Wayne McSheehy of Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Joanna Zeiger of Baltimore, Maryland
Michael Hagan of Fayetteville, North Carolina
The races honored were:
Goodings Sprint Triathlon directed by CFT Sports in Clermont, Florida
Powerman Alabama directed by Team Magic of Birmingham, Alabama
Memphis in May Triathlon directed by Pam Routh and Wendal Robinson of
Wildflower Triathlon directed by Betsy and Terry Davis of Salinas, California
From: Bob Babbitt
Subject: Competitor awards
Despite pouring rain, 600 people turned out for the sixth annual Competitor
Magazine Endurance Sports Awards Banquet at Sea World in San Diego.
We started out in the Wild Arctic Exhibit and then proceeded to the
Nautilus Pavillion for dinner and the awards.
Some of the highlights:
Frank Shorter, the 1972 Olympic Gold Medalist was named our Competitor
1997 Ironman champion Heather Fuhr was honored for the Performance of the
Year as was Luc Van Lierde for his unbelievable performance at the European
Michellie Jones and Chris McCormack were named Compettitor's Triathletes of
Mike Pigg was named as a Competitor Triathlon Legend. He said that becoming
a father was head and shoulders above anything he'd ever done in triathlon.
The video on Mike showed classic 1988 Hilton Head footage, where Pigg holds
off a charging Mark Allen. When Mark Allen accepted Luc Van Lierde's
Performance fo the Year Award for Luc later in the evening, he said, "Hey
Mike...I'm sorry if I scared all the hair off your head.
Ultramarathon legend Ann Trason was named Competitor's Runner of the Year.
The nine-time Western States 100-Mile champion won the Comrades 56-miler
this summer and -- 12 days later -- won her ninth Western States title.
Jurgen Zack was our Competitor of the Year because of the way he attacked
1997 after finishing 11th in Hawaii in 1996 and dropping out of Germany. He
broke the Ironman record by six minutes in Germany this year and only an
unbelievable run by Luc Van Lierde kept him from winning. He came back to
go off the front again in Hawaii and finish second to Thomas Hellriegel.
Being a Competitor doesn't always mean winning the race. It means getting
100% out of yourself everytime you toe the line and -- sometimes -- proving
people wrong who say you are through. Jurgen Zack did all of the above. In
his speech he told how everyone always told him he was too big to do the
job, that he should be a shotputter, not an endurance athlete. "This award
proves that I am just the right size to do the job," he said.
John Collins became the sixth inductee into the Ironman Hall of Fame.
Before he was introduced, Dave Scott, Scott Tinley, Mark Allen and Paula
Newby-Fraser were brought up on stage to a huge ovation. Then Dave Yates,
the president of the World Triathlon Corporation, introduced John Collins.
Collins told about stopping every 10 miles to eat toast and honey during
the 1978 Ironman bike ride. Then he followed that up with a bowl of chile a
little later in the ride. When ABC first called him about televising the
Ironman, Collins' response was short and to the point."Have you ever seen
this thing?," he asked. "It's like watching grass grow! There is no way you
can make it interesting television!"
Tell that to the 10,000,000 folks who saw the 1997 Ironman on NBC!
In the audience were Lyn Lemaire, the 1979 Ironman champion and the first
woman to do the Ironman; 1984 Gold medalist Steve Hegg; Tour de France
stage winner Jeff Pierce; plus the woman who oversaw the growth of the
Ironman, Valerie Silk.
Little 9-year-old Rudy Garcia-Tolson, an above-knee double amputee who
swims up to 3,000 yards a day and has run a 14-minute mile and competed on
a triathlon relay, was the Challenged Athlete of the Year.
The Challenged Athlete Foundation was created to raise money for Jim
MacLaren when he was injured for the second time and became a quadraplegic.
In the four years since, through the San Diego Triathlon Challenge and the
Banquet, the Foundation has raised $400,000 for not only Jim but for other
challenged athletes. The Foundation buys prosthetics and wheelchairs for
challenged athletes and over 50 grant requests were honored this year
alone. At the banquet, a $31,000 Ford Explorer was donated to the foundation
by North County Ford. Lottery tickets will be sold and over $100,000 is
expected to be raised for the Challenged Athlete's Foundation through the
lottery. Also, Road Runner Sports catalog is now caring a line of
Challenged Athletes clothing where a percentage of the sale will be donated
the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
Rudy Garcia-Tolson's motto was used as the theme for the evening: To be an
athlete, you have to have a brave heart. Rudy exemplifies what being an
athlete is all about. When he came on stage to receive his award, little
Rudy received a standing ovation.
Don Norcross of the San Diego Union Tribune was honored with a media award
for creating a weekly page called Fitness Fanatics in the Union Tribune and
showcasing runners, triathletes, cyclists and mountain bikers.
And Ernest Winborne of EXTRA TV was honored for showcasing Jim Howley,
Paul, Bob and Terry Jordan, Mark Allen and Paula Newby-Fraser this year
End of Triathlon Digest, which is sponsored by Triathlon Sourcebook. Please