2008 - The Year In Review

In a year that many describe as the greatest in the history of sport – there were so many examples. Michael Phelps’ one-hundredth of a second touch that preserved his eight gold medal streak. The Nadal-Federer Best Match Ever at Wimbledon, The rise of The Tampa Bay Rays, the resurrection of the legendary Boston Celtics. The spunky New York Giants’ upset of the unbeaten New England Patriots. Tiger Woods’ winning the US Open duel – with a broken leg. Usain Bolt’s world record-smashing performances in the Beijing sprints.

Triathlon may or may not have had its best moments in history, but it had two very different epic performances at the Olympics, giants retired and passed from the scene, youth and age shined bright. And on the other side of the coin of such nobility and drama, there were moments of comedy and perfidy as well. Both Glorious and Dubious Achievements, moments of quiet grace and wretched excess as well.

Enjoy the panorama.

Best performances

Triathlon is truly the Fountain of Youth
Pushing the age envelope out of sight

In a year that saw a 38-year-old woman won the Olympic marathon, 41-year-old swimmer Dara Torres take Olympic silver, and 45-year-old major league baseball pitcher Jamie Moyer signed a new contract with the World Champion Phillies, triathlon did its part in the sports geezer revolution. While youth was also served – note Great Brit Hollie Avil winning two World Cup podiums at age 18, Terenzo Bozzone winning the Ironman 70.3 world championship at age 23, Jan Frodeno and Emma Snowsill winning Olympic golds at age 27 – this was also the year top triathlon performers broke through many of the old age barriers. To start, two 37-year-olds – Brooke Davison of Boulder, Colorado and Jason Schott of Dahlonega, Georgia, won men’s and women’s overall titles at the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship in Hagg Lake, Oregon. Then the resilient Joanna Zeiger, now 38, dominated the Ironman 70.3 series and topped off 2008 by winning the Ironman 70.3 World Championship at Clearwater, Florida. Inspiring Zeiger, Penticton, B.C. dentist Tom Evans, age 40, scored a course record 8:07:59 while winning Ironman Florida, topping it off with a sizzling, Stadleresque 4:18:59 bike split. Topping that, ever-gorgeous 44-year-old Fernanda Keller won Ironman Brazil overall with a 9 minute 50-second margin of victory. Keller is the oldest person - man or women - to win an official Ironman event. And not to forget, another ageless north-of-the-border athlete, Canadian military man Tony O'Keefe, age 47, placed second overall at the Ultraman World Championship.

Biggest upset:

No, not Jan Frodeno winning the Olympic gold, nor Hilary Biscay finally nabbing an Ironman win. It’s triathletically unknown yclist Ruben Ruzafa of Spain winning the Xterra World Championship in Maui.

Best swims:

Amateur John Flanagan’s 20:55 at Clearwater and 47:02 Kona.

Best bike performances:

Tom Evans’ 4:18:59 at Ironman Florida and the Helen Tucker-Sarah Haskins’ long shot breakaway for elite gold and silver at the ITU World Championship in Vancouver.

Best runs:

Emma Snowsill’s dominating 33:17 at Beijing; Frodeno’s 30:46 to outrun Simon Whitfield for Olympic gold, Andreas Raelert’s 1:10:53 for second at Clearwater, and Wellington’s record-smashing 2:57:45 at Kona.

Biggest come from behind wins:

Max Longree started 10 minutes down to Chris McDonald and won by 21 minutes at Ironman Louisville. Longree ran 2:48:55 and finished in 8:33:58

Mariska Kramer-Postma, started Ironman Louisville run 17 minutes back of leader Lisbeth Kristensen and 14 minutes back of eventual runner-up Heather Gollnick. She finished 2 minutes 35 seconds ahead of Gollnick. Kramer-Postma ran 3:18:15 and finished the race in 9:54:17

Oh, those amazing Armstrongs!

Ex-triathlete Kirstin Armstrong wins Olympics gold in cycling time trial.

Ex-triathlete and 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong (no relation) came out of retirement and signed to race 2009 for the Kazakhstan-based Astana Team. Lance also strongly hinted he will take on Ironman Hawaii after his cycling comeback is done.

Current triathlete Shanna Armstrong (no relation) wins her fourth Ultraman title and won top honors for the best combined women’s performances at the 137-mile Badwater run and the 508-mile Furnace Creek bike.

Best sporting performance by an ex-triathlete not named Armstrong:

Sheila Taormina, 1996 Olympic gold medalist on the 4x200-meter freestyle women’s relay, the 2004 Olympic distance ITU World Champion and 2000 and 2004 triathlon Olympian, made an unprecedented third Olympic team in modern pentathlon and, fighting back after a disastrous last place fencing round, rallied with top scores in equestrian and swimming to finish 19th at Beijing.

Amateurs beating pros:

Amy Kloner won the Gulf Coast Triathlon in 4:38:34, whipping first pro Gabriela Loskotova by 4 minutes 43 seconds.

Brooke Davison finished 5th overall at Ironman 70.3 Worlds at Clearwater, and 3rd overall at Boulder’s 5430 Long Course, beating a host of top pros.

Tris score at Carlsbad 5000 road race:

Jarrod Shoemaker’s 14:32 wins 20-29
Julie Ertel’s 17:05 wins 30-39
Heather Fuhr’s 17:11 wins 40-plus.

Profiles in courage:

Anindya Bhattacharyya, 29, a computer technology specialist who is deaf and blind, finished the Seacrest-Tobay Triathlon in Oyster Bay, NY in 2 hours 8 minutes and finished 670th of 900 entrants with the help of eyes and ears guide Jim Belanich.

Six-time Ironman Hawaii winner Natascha Badmann finished the swim and bike at the 30th annual Ironman Hawaii just six weeks after she was first able to swim freestyle and four weeks after she was able to ride a bicycle. Badmann was still shaky and recovering from a devastating bike crash at the 2007 Ironman World Championship that required several operations to mend a severely broken clavicle, broken ribs and smashed ligaments and tendons.

Kate Allen, the 2004 Olympic champion, suffered serious injuries in a bike crash at the April New Plymouth (NZL) World Cup, knocking out several teeth, breaking ribs, and requiring 22 stitches in her face, hand and arm. Within six weeks, she prepared for a last chance, do-or-die effort to qualify for the Beijing Games, and scored a clutch 8th place finish at Vancouver to make the team, perhaps her finest race against the odds.

Not quite Abebe Bikila

Kieran Doe, who abandoned tight race flats when his plantar fasciitis became too painful at mile 8 of the marathon, threw away his shoes and finished Ironman Arizona in bloody socks.

Quotes of the Year

“I knew I was in trouble when an old guy with an oxygen tank passed me,” Jason Bourne aka actor Matt Damon did the Miami Triathlon on a relay team.

“She still had the courage to communicate and (indicated that) she didn’t want to go on like that. She never would have liked that. No athlete would like to have a life with only their eyes talking.” Angelika Drake, on why her twin sister and fellow endurance sport legend Barbara Warren requested to be taken off life support after a bike crash left her paralyzed and unable to talk.

“During the race I told myself: 'Boy, be greedy – it's champagne or fizzy water'," Olympic champion Jan Frodeno, explaining his all-out sprint strategy in the duel to the finish at Beijing.

“Mostly failed short course athletes race Ironman.” Jan Frodeno.

Lance has Kona on His Mind: “Even after the cycling comeback, I’d like to conquer some other endurance goals that I’ve had for a long time… You know, other sports I’ve dabbled in 15 years ago. Perhaps go back and get wet at the beginning, and then blow dry in the middle, and then run. You know what I’m saying? These days they say triathlons are a shampoo, a blow dry and then a 10k.”

“Andy Potts won’t be a factor for me (at Kona in 2009) Not in my head.” Normann Stadler.

“I still need help getting in and out of bed. I need help getting things to eat. I have not taken a shower since my surgery on July 14th! I have to wash my hair in the sink and then wash myself with a wash cloth. Thank goodness for action wipes because they have helped me feel fresh and clean. …. The only depressing thing is that it takes me about 45 minutes to walk a mile. I used to be able to run a 5 minute mile!” Jamie Whitmore, multiple Xterra national and world champion, on fighting cancer.

“Wow – Two major championships in less than two months. I’m going to Disneyland!” Joanna Zeiger, Ironman 70.3 world titlist and Boulder Beer Mile women’s winner.

“I’m like a littler tiger and will fight til I fall dead.” New Ironman-distance world record holder Yvonne van Vlerken of The Netherlands, who also explained why she rides a tiny, 48cm size Cervelo P3 bike: “Due to my pocket rocket body size.”

“Swimming is a killer. I’m not going to lie.” Actress and singer Jennifer Lopez and new mother of twins after finishing the Malibu Triathlon.

“It is strange, this urge we all have to suffer.” Faris Al-Sultan to the New York Times.

Normann Stadler on triathletes’ tech deficit: “Triathletes are different than cyclists. They change the saddle the day before the race. The aerobar or whatever. I changed my pedals the day before (IMH) in 2002 because the sponsors wanted it and ended up walking. …So triathletes can ride. We are strong. But what we do in technical matters, it’s like amateur sport. It’s crazy.”

“I feel like I have the upper hand in a lot of tie-breaking situations. (But) it’s a lot easier for me to think about showing up at the starting line and saying ‘I want to earn it,’ instead of leaving it in someone else’s hands.” Andy Potts, rejecting any wish that he make the Olympic team if Hy-Vee were canceled due to Iowa floods. Hunter Kemper beat Potts and won the third and final US men’s Olympic slot.

Triathlon’s Rodney King: Life Time Fitness CEO Bahram Akradi said: “I think all the parties need to come together and do the right thing for the sport. I would like to play the role of the middleman, pay all the expenses, and bring all the parties (ITU-USAT-Life Time Fitness race organizers) together to discuss what we could do to make the sport become as big as it could be, on a level with international soccer, tennis, golf, basketball, cycling If we are not together, if we continue to act in conflict with one another, nobody will win.”


Francisco Pontano of Spain tested positive for ephedrine, a banned sympathatomimetic amine on June 14. Pontano’s reps said it was inadvertent, caused by a cold medicine Five weeks later Pontano won Ironman lake Placid. 8:43:42. Unclear what WTC NA Sports and USADA would do.

Dimitry Gaag, 37, of Kazakhstan, a six-time ITU World Cup winner and the 1999 ITU Olympic distance World Champion, tested positive for EPO June 20 at the Hy-Vee Triathlon and was banned for two years.

Austrian triathlete Lisa Huetthaler reportedly attempted to cover-up a positive EPO doping test by bribing the lab tech to clear her B sample. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) confirmed the report by the Austrian Kurier newspaper that it had been informed of the incident in June by the Austrian government. "The laboratory informed us and the head of the laboratory confirmed the bribery attempt to us," the Kurier cited the letter as saying. "This appears to be a criminal act." A spokesperson for the Austrian prosecutor's office confirmed that the incident was being investigated while WADA confirmed the charges to Deutsche Presse-Agentur. The report stated that Huetthaler offered the lab worker 20,000 Euros to ensure the positive May result for the blood- booster EPO wasn't confirmed.

Blood samples taken at the Beijing Olympics are to be re-analyzed for a new variation of the banned blood booster EPO. The IOC announced that retroactive controls are designed to seek out the presence of the new generation of EPO known as CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator). The tests unearthed two drug cheats at the 2008 Tour de France - Germany's Stefan Schumacher, a double stage winner, and Italian Leonardo Piepoli. A joint IOC/WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) commission will decide the procedure to test some of the more than 1,000 blood samples taken at the Games as part of over 5,000 anti-doping controls. The IOC said that triathlon will be one of the sports tested.


News profiles of New White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel say he is a triathlete.

Matthew McConaughey, Texas Longhorn, movie star, and friend of Lance Armstrong, did the Malibu Triathlon in 1:43:48.

Jennifer Lopez did Malibu in 2:23:28. What led her to try? Eight months pregnant with twins Max and Emma, she recalled, “I was beached like a whale. I was watching TV and saw a triathlon and I said ‘You know what? I think I could do that. That would be great for me to do.’”

Super agent Jason Bourne is slow? Actor Matt Damon did the Miami Triathlon on relay team, running the 10k in 59:54.

Former tennis pro and still-hot model Anna Kournikova did a four-mile relay run leg at the Miami Triathlon, out-performing Damon's struggling tri relay debut and finishing with a very respectable 28:59 split (7:15/mile pace).

TV’s Biggest Loser female contender Kelly Fields, a 38-year old nurse from Titusville, Florida whose determination at the triathlon segment in Sydney, Australia signaled her rise to an eventual third place finish, lost 109 of her starting weight of 271 pounds.

Brian Boyle, the young Maryland swim star who made a miraculous recovery from a car crash that left him in a coma and paralyzed, then finished Ironman Hawaii in 2007, was a media star in 2008. Boyle returned to Kona and was featured in one of the main segments in the NBC race broadcast, appeared on the Ellen Degeneres Show, and was listed as Number 4 of Inside The Vatican magazine’s “Top Ten People of the Year.”

Jeff Conine, 42 and newly retired after a 17-year baseball career which included World Series wins in 1997 and 2003 with the Florida Marlins, completed his first Ironman at Kona in 14 hours, 43 minutes and 45 seconds. Conine was 1,499th in a field of 1,731.


Miami Herald lead: “Lawbreaker Triathlon”

“Call this one Miami driver’s version of a triathlon.
“He sped. He ran. He swam.
“All to get away from a trooper – who clocked him going 122 mph in a 55 zone.”

Yeah, but John Howard once BIKED 151 mph. Drafting.

Enthusiastic endurance athlete fights disability insurance fraud charges

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Christina Hijjawi, a former San Francisco firefighter, was arrested for allegedly collecting $140,000 in worker’s compensation and disability payments during the time she was participating in endurance sports. The Chronicle reported that Hijjawi, injured her right shoulder while fighting a fire in December 1998, then was intermittently assigned to desk duty or was out of work. During then next eight years, Hijjawi says she was unable to perform duties of an active fire fighter. During this period, Hijjawi completed five half marathons, 13 marathons, ten 50k runs, a 100k run, and at least two Ironman distance races and Ultraman Canada. Case closed, right?

Hijjawi’s attorney Christopher Shea begs to differ: “There’s a big difference between competing in a triathlon and running into a burning building with a 150-pound hose.”

Streaks and numbers:

- Bella Comerford won her 5th Ironman Florida title.
- Joanna Lawn took her 6th Ironman New Zealand win
- Cameron Brown took his 7th Ironman New Zealand title
- Javier Gomez won his 10th ITU World Cup, Vanessa Fernandes her 20th.
- Amateur Eric Gilsenan completed his 21st straight Escape from Alcatraz.
- Ken Glah, a two-time third-place finisher, completed his 25th straight Ironman Hawaii, well on his way to an unbreakable skein.


Kristy Gough, 30, of San Leandro, a rising star in Bay Area cycling who won her age group at the 2004 Ironman World Championship, died March 9 when hit by a rookie Santa Clara Sheriffs Deputy who fell asleep at the wheel on a winding road in Cupertino and hit and killed Gough and another cyclist head-on.

Dave Martin, 66, a retired veterinarian who had taken up triathlon and running later in life, was attacked by a great white shark and killed April 25 while on an early morning training swim near Solana Breach with fellow members of the Triathlon Club of San Diego.

Patrick Kane, 38, of Roswell, Georgia, a sales manager with a construction equipment company, was pulled from the Gulf Coast Triathlon swim and died en route to a local Panama City Beach, Florida hospital May 9.

Jim Goodman, 46, a Des Moines, Iowa businessman, died after being pulled from the water 150 yards from the finish of the swim leg of the amateur division of the Hy-Vee Triathlon June 22. Polk County Medical Examiner Gregory Schmunk said Goodman's death appeared to be heart-related.

One competitor died June 21 at the TriUtah Cache Valley Classic Triathlon in Hyrum, Utah.

Esteban Neira, 32, of Argentina, died after being pulled unconscious from the Hudson River while competing in the New York City Triathlon on July 20. Many swimmers suffered stings from an unusual infestation of jellyfish.

Donald Morehouse, 60, of Provo, Utah, died July 26 of accidental drowning at the Spudman Triathlon in Burley, Idaho.

John Hobgood Jr., 52, a mortgage banker from West Windsor NJ, disappeared during the swim at the New Jersey State Triathlon July 27. His body was found in Lake Mercer two days later.

Phillip Coulston, 63, a Bay Area dentist and a college swimmer, collapsed 100 yards from the finish of the 1.5-mile swim leg of the Escape from the Rock Triathlon August 24. Efforts to revive him on the beach failed.

Barbara Warren, 65, a psychologist and endurance multisport legend who with her twin sister Angelika Drake finished an astonishing array of the world’s greatest endurance challenges, died on August 26 two days after crashing on the bike at the Santa Barbara Triathlon. Warren was survived by her husband, Ironman Hall of Famer Tom Warren.

Henry Forrest, one of the Original 1978 Iron Man finishers, died of pancreatic cancer on November 6.

Darryl T. Kollai, 53, a Cleveland, Ohio water department employee and an accomplished amateur triathlete, died September 1 after suffering a heart attack on a 50-mile training ride. Kollai, who had been cycling, swimming and running regularly for the last 27 years, got hooked on the sport at age 27 after watching the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. Kollai earned a spot on the U.S. men's triathlon team and the title of All-American Triathlete. At his best in 1997, he took eighth in the Olympic-distance event (1.5-kilometer swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run) at the International Triathlon Union World Championship in Perth, Australia.

Gar Hackney, 59, a defense attorney from Boise Idaho and a multiple amateur world and national champion triathlete, died May 7 after a 7-year battle with prostate cancer. Hackney was a world champion age-group triathlete in 1995, and 1999. He was an age group national champion in 1994, 1996, 1999 and 2000 and was USAT Masters Triathlete of the Year in 1999.

Allan Goldberg, 40, a triathlete and two-time cancer survivor who was executive director of a nonprofit organization that introduced young cancer survivors to outdoor adventure sports, died of cancer June 22 in Rockville, MD. Two years ago, Goldberg joined the First Descents cancer foundation which takes young adult cancer patients and survivors mountaineering, kayaking and rafting in Colorado and Montana. An Ironman triathlete, endurance racer and mountain biker, Mr. Goldberg participated in 30 triathlons and 13 marathons. He previously worked for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Too bad – 2008 Missed Starts:

- Tim DeBoom - Leadville 100
- Michellie Jones, Sam McGlone, Tim DeBoom – Ironman Hawaii.

Most dangerous sport: Horse triathlon

The equestrian discipline eventing, informally known as “horse triathlon,” is a three-phased competition which includes dressage, show jumping and cross country racing. Twelve riders were killed over the last year and a half, making horse triathlon the most dangerous sport per participant.

Compression socks the rage?

Enough said.

World’s Toughest:

Sports Illustrated Online ventured to nominate the “25 Toughest Athletes” in a March article. The bad: Golfer Tiger Woods was ranked Number One. OK, OK, he limped around Torrey Pines with a broken leg to win a hard-fought US Open. The Good: Soon-to-be two--time Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington placed 10th and first woman. The bad: There were only two women on the list.

ITU calls 13- and 14-year old Iron distance athlete Hunter Lussi a victim of “child abuse.”

Lussi, now 14, finished September’s 2008 Chesapeake Man Ultra Triathlon in 13 hours 41 minutes, shaving 86 minutes off his 13-year-old Iron-distance debut in 2007. ITU lodged a complaint with USAT for sanctioning the race and refused to recognize Lussi’s mark. According to famed swim coach Bob Bowman, who guided Michael Phelps to eight gold medals, Lussi has the stroke of a classic long-distance swimmer, with high elbows, good tempo and minimal kicking, which may lead him to an Olympic berth in the 10km open water swim and also helps him in triathlon. Bowman sees no reason to bar Lussi from long-distance triathlons. "I kind of feel like young people are suited to endurance-type activities," Bowman said. "Clearly the danger is that you push them to the point that they are overly fatigued and get injured. But as long as the program is sensible and thought out, they can pretty much do anything they have their mind set to."

Tris in Beer Miles:

Joanna Zeiger won women’s division for the second year in a row with a time of 8 minutes 25 seconds - including downing four 12-ounce beers. Massage therapist to the stars and top amateur tri Josh Handle took the overall crown with a record 6:36 time, averaging under 10 seconds for each of four chugging pit stops. Simon Lessing, Wes Hobson and Matt Reed wimped out on the sidelines. In the San Diego Beer Mile, Heather Fuhr and Roch Frey won – to many observers equaling Bella Comerford and fiancé Steven Bayliss’s Ironman South Africa Couples Double. According to one witness, Paula Newby-Fraser puked and thus had to serve penalty minutes.

Pac Man corporate takeovers:

Falconhead swallows Competitor, Triathlete, Inside Triathlon and Velo News.

Providence Equity buys the World Triathlon Corporation and WTC soon thereafter buys Graham Fraser’s North American Sports.

Women’s sub-9 hour Iron-distance outbreak:

This year, Paula Newby-Fraser’s 14-year-old Ironman distance world best of 8:50:53 at Roth was shattered by three women in an Ironman-distance speed and barrier-breaking frenzy in which seven women broke the 9-hour barrier.

Chrissie Wellington started the party with a resounding near-record 8:51:24 at the Ironman European Championship on a newer, tougher Frankfurt course than old standards Almere, Roth and Austria. On July 13, Germany’s Sandra Wallenhorst started the craziness with a record-smashing 8:47:25 on a cold, rainy day in Klagenfurt, followed by Scotland’s Bella Comerford in 8:51:15 and Italy’s Edith Niederfriniger in 8:59:41. Just hours later, Wallenhorst’s record was wiped off the map at Quelle Challenge Roth, where four women crashed the once-daunting 9-hour barrier. Holland’s Yvonne van Vlerken took the record in 8:45:48, followed Hungary’s Erika Csomor in 8:47:05, New Zealand’s Gina Ferguson in 8:57:18, and Australia’s Belinda Granger in 8:58:08. Ferguson, a violinist with the Christchurch Symphony, put an exclamation point on the year in December with an 8:59:24 at Ironman Western Australia, thus joining Newby-Fraser, and Van Vlerken as the only women to score two sub-nine hours Ironman distance finishes in the same year.

From 2000 through 2007, five women cracked the 9-hour barrier nine times. Lori Bowden did it three times -- an 8:55:08 at Ironman Australia in 2000, an 8:59:41 at Ironman Austria in 2001, and an 8:51:22 at Ironman Austria in 2002. Before her 2004 Olympic gold medal, Aussie turned Austrian Kate Allen did it twice - an 8:58:27 at Ironman Austria in 2002 and an 8:54:01 at Ironman Austria in 2003. In 2004, a soon-to-be-busted-at-Kona Nina Kraft finished Ironman Germany in 8:58:37. In 2007 at Quelle Challenge Roth, van Vlerken scored a near-record 8:51:55 while runner-up Jo Lawn finished in 8:58:58. Two months later, Van Vlerken then did it again in Almere, clocking 8:57:54.

In the 1990s, six women cracked the 9-hour Ironman distance barrier 10 times. Curiously, Thea Sybesma beat Newby-Fraser to the punch with an 8:55:29 at Ironman Europe at Roth in 1991, (then scored an 8:57:37 at Roth in 1992.) Paula Newby Fraser set the sub-9 hour standard with four – an 8:55:00 at Ironman Germany and a still-standing record of 8:55:28 at Ironman Hawaii, both in 1992, an 8:58:25 at 1993 Ironman Hawaii, followed by the long-standing world-best 8:50:53 at Roth in 1994. Ines Estedt of Germany recorded an 8:56:05 at the little known Jumme in Germany in 1995. Then Katinka Wiltenberg of the Netherlands followed with an 8:56:57 at Almere in 1996, Sue Latshaw finished in 8:59:312 at Roth in 1997 and Irma Heeren of the Netherlands scored an 8:56:23 at Almere in 1999.

All in all, 18 women have broken the 9-hour barrier at Iron distance events a total of 28 times.

Bombs Away!

Tobias W, age 27, a sports photographer based in Munich, who had contributed some pictures to Faris Al-Sultan’s website, allegedly make a fake Islamic terrorist bomb threat so he could make a connection to his flight to a World Cup soccer match. While Tobias W was once reported to be facing fines and prison time, he was seen at the Laguna Phuket Triathlon in Thailand this December.

Coaching Switches:

Right after Ironman Hawaii, Chrissie Wellington, Belinda Granger and Hilary Biscay switch out of Brett Sutton’s Team TBB to work with coach Cliff English and his wife, 2007 Kona runner-up Sam McGlone, based in Tucson. In late December, Wellington changes her mind, signs on with fellow British citizen, 5-time ITU World Champion Simon Lessing, based in Boulder.

Signs of the Apocalypse:

Biblical proportion Iowa floods left 2007 Hy-Vee swim site 23 feet under water. San Diego Los Angeles and Santa Barbara suffered through destructive fires.

Sign the Apocalypse will be delayed:

Rebekah Keat’s Good Samaritan lending of her CO2 canisters to fix Chrissie Wellington’s flat tire.

The Grinch grouches about sloppy rules interpretations:

Case number 1 – Rebekah Keat gives Chrissie Wellington her CO2 cartridges. Precedent. In the 1990s, wife Sian Welch gave husband Greg Welch, sidelined with a broken wheel, one of her wheels at Ironman Japan in Lake Biwa. Welchy eventually ran back to third place, which was protested as a violation of the outside assistance rule by one of the competitors he passed, US athlete Kevin Moats. While current Ironman rules do not specifically ban getting assistance from a fellow competitor, USA Triathlon rules demand a “variable time penalty” if one competitor offers assistance to another- and a protest is lodged. Reportedly, one of Wellington’s rivals considered a protest, but with a 15-minute lead, Wellington still would have won and any protest would have ruined the glow of good feeling surrounding Rebekah Keat’s Good Samaritan gesture. There was some speculation that Keat and Wellington took precautions to avoid any danger of an outside assistance penalty as Keat simply dropped her canisters on the ground and Wellington appeared to have fortuitously found them. But that, points out Rules Grinches, would have put Keat in danger of getting a penalty for littering.

Case number 2: ITU rules state that if competitors go off course, they must go back and re-enter the course where they left it. Emma Snowsill was temporarily blocked and directed off course on the final lap of the run at Beijing by a water truck, and hopped over a concrete barrier to get back on track. While Snowsill’s actions exemplified good sportsmanship on her way to the gold medal, she was technically subject to a penalty of disqualification.

My take: Both non-calls were absolutely correct and in the spirit of the sport.

Wretched Excess:

Henry Macel, age 27, won the Deca Triathlon in Monterrey Mexico. Macel covered 1,402 miles in 206 hours, 29 minutes and 2 seconds.

Keep on Trucking

Tom Knoll, age 75, and his son completed the 3,300 mile Freedom Run Across America, hoofing from San Diego to Washington D.C.

Dave Orlowski returned to Kona 30 years after he borrowed a Sears Free Sprit Bike to race in very first Ironman. Another Original Ironman, Henry Forrest, suffering from late stage pancreatic cancer, was there to meet Orlowski at the finish line. Forrest died November 6.

Best Nicknames:

- Tim Berkel’s old nickname: Runt
- Berkel’s new nickname after winning Ironman Western Australia: Berzerkel
- Jan Frodeno: Frodo
- Yvonne van Vlerken; The Little Dutch Girl

Best Tri Blogs

Amanda Lovato: “Hear Me Roar” Uncensored, so funny, so touching, dares to reveal the sorry truths about life and triathlon training. So frank it’s riveting. Love the tight buns shot of hubby Michael Lovato and online lobbying for ML to win EverymanTri’s 2008’s Hottest Male Triathlete. Love pros and cons about the treadmill. “I can’t fart in public. I was squeezing cheeks for at least 40 minutes. That can’t be too healthy!” Great pics of her high school portrait of her frizzy, monster-hairdo, and her anger at gym thieves who took her favorite swim paddles and Bumble Bar.

Simon Whitfield: Intense and hilarious stories about his failed effort to lead out a biker friend’s attempt to set a record for the Haleakala climb on Maui. Fantastic pictures of his home life with daughter Pippa. Crackles with the Whitfield wit and intelligence and feeling.

Jamie Whitmore: No self pity whatsoever, a frank heartfelt, funny chronicle of her courageous battle with cancer.

Shanna Armstrong, Ultra Triathlete: Very funny and heartfelt and prolific! Armstrong is a West Texas girl whose take on life is wicked, droll and engaging. Subjects range from her wish to remove scary cacti on her favorite mountain bike trails, to caring for her beloved grandpa during a scary stay in the hospital. Like Lovato, she is not at all afraid of the raw details of endurance training and racing.

Chrissie Wellington: It seems unfair that someone who comes into the sport after the age of 30, knocks out two Kona wins and enters legend status in her first two years of the sport, would also be this engaging and articulate and open in another illuminating, prolific blog. But it’s true. The only tiny knock is that with all the attention she is getting, Chrissie’s blogs are getting a little more polite and diplomatic and well, Wellingtonish – as though she is practicing for an eventual run for Gordon Brown’s PM seat.

It’s not technically a blog, but Scott Tinley’s website.

Tinley has laid it all out in his columns for Triathlete the last 15 years. But his essay about a return to Kona at its 30th anniversary posted on his website is one of the most lyrical, moving, reflective, poetically observed pieces of writing on the sport – ever. It ranks with our time National Magazine Award winner Gary Smith.

Excerpt From “Haven’t We Met – an athlete’s journey into the place of his making.”
“Watching old Ken (Glah) lurp away at his silver anniversary, his ‘70s mullet rocking from shoulder to shoulder, a metronome of past times and tides, I loved and hated him for his tenure. Give it up, Kenny, I thought. What’s the damn point? But I knew and watched the historiography pulse through his veins. For the briefest of moments, I wanted to trade places, let him ride my borrowed bike so that I might dance just one more time around that ring of fire. Somehow, I willed that desire away, convincing myself that Ironman was the utter embracement of the trivial. What IS the damn point?
“This is not war.
“Oh, yes it is.
“For mortal stakes?
“Immortal stakes.
“Ridiculous. War is hell. Sport is fun.
“And at mile 22 of the marathon do your legs and heart feel heavenly?
“Sport is trivial.
“Then so is life.”