Best & Worst Person: Steven Stenzel. This guy is the inspiration for this whole list as he is both the best and worst. The worst because of his face and personality. The best because of how much he cares about me and us. We are discussing a possible Christmas Truce in order to sort out our complicated relationship. Our rivalry this year has been something special. If nothing else, it was a wonderful opportunity to exercise my vocabulary.
Best & Worst Move by Ironman: Championship Races. Super happy to see Ironman differentiate the pro races by designating a Championship in Europe, Asia-Pacific, & North America. These are drawing very strong fields and generating more excitement and interest. What could go wrong with deep fields? What if they only pay eight deep! If you get a deep field, why not pay a little deeper so more athletes are rewarded for racing a competitive race? Also, the race coverage could still be improved, though it is better for these races than standard Ironmans.
Best & Worst Pro Race Reports: Trevor Wurtele. If you can put aside the fact that he is Canadian, you may enjoy his 90 second youtube race reports. They are quick and funny and very well done. If you’ve ever read a blogged race report, you will appreciate the quick and funny part. What part of this is the worst? I LIKE SOMETHING A CANADIAN DID! Awful.
Best & Worst Pro Season: Mirinda Carfrae. I saw her in June at Quassy and she was way out of the race. As far as I can remember most of her halves for the year were far from her usual standard. Then she dominated Kona with a record run and overall record. She is a champ.
Best & Worst Ironman Performance: Starky at Ironman Florida. First American ever under 8 hours. At the front in the swim. World record on the bike, 4:02. Sub 3 hour marathon OFF THE FASTEST IRONMAN BIKE EVER. 2nd place. How does that happen?! Really exciting to see an American ripping the rides. See Germany? We can bike too.
Best & Worst Race Organization Conflict: Ironman vs Challenge. I love that Challenge is offering international competition for Ironman. Competition between the two organizations will hopefully help the sport overall. Unfortunately sometimes things get ugly between the companies and we have messy situations like what is currently playing out in Germany. Not ideal. Personally I hope both continue to thrive and push each other to find the best venues and create better experiences.
Best & Worst Triathlon Tweeter: @TheRealStarky. This is a parody account of Starky. At this point it is hardly even about Starky and more about someone speaking clearly about malarky that is happening in our sport. Whoever runs the account rips apart current events in triathlon with their own special version of Starky-talk. Really funny tweets, especially if you catch the inside jokes. I hope Andrew himself is ok with the parody. It is just awful that we need someone hiding behind a parody to speak clearly. Most pros tweets are fairly boring and innocuous. This parody has taken off because many of us want to hear someone go after the BS with no mercy. It would be a lovely world if we were all brave enough to communicate so clearly and effectively. I recently read a great article about the lack of journalism in running. All the problems discussed are present in triathlon as well. Due to a web of financial connections there are very few independent voices out there. Worth reading. @TheRealStarky worth following. To whoever runs the account, I drink white milk every day.
Best & Worst Self-Appointed Tri Messiah: Brett Sutton. I’ve written about Sutton before and hopefully won’t too many more times in the future. He has been around the sport a very long time. He has some very good ideas about coaching and also about the direction of the sport and points for improvement from organizations like Ironman. For example, he has been talking about regional Ironman Championships for years. Full credit to him for that. Unfortunately my tolerance for his Donald Trump egomania has run out. Right now he is starting his own personal campaign to change the tri world because he could not work with the team he built to create his vision. Parts of what he says are very true, parts of it seem very weird, but ultimately he is not the right character to bring about positive change. Hopefully all the attention he has gotten in the last months will spark others to think about changes that could be made.
Best & Worst New Minnesota Race: Superior Man. The event sounds distinctive and fun. I had a couple athletes race this year and they said all the issues from the first year were resolved. Superior Man won Minnesota Race of the Year. Worst? Those poor suckers have managed to pick 90+ degree days for the race two years in a row! In Duluth! Not sure how they did it. If things line up right I’d love to race there in 2014.
Best & Worst Ironman for me: Louisville. Louisville was the most fun I’ve had doing an Ironman. With 7th it was my highest placing by far at the distance and I got to spend some time in 2nd on the bike. It was also my slowest Ironman and my dumbest execution yet. I am excited to one day do a good job at an Ironman. The timing was good as I was able to use all the mistakes as examples for my athletes racing Ironman Wisconsin 2 weeks later – “Do as I say, not as I do!”
Best & Worst New Minnesota Pro: Ruth Brennan Morrey. Ruth raced really, really fast this year at a bunch of 70.3s. Her run splits were irritatingly fast. Almost obnoxiously fast. I am still not over the fact that she outran me at Rev3 Wisconsin Dells in 2012 (when I had my best half run ever). She was in the UK through the spring and early summer so she got a taste of Euro racing and then nailed some domestic 70.3s. All good news right? Well it would be but she didn’t race in Minnesota! Too cool for the land of 10,000 lakes Ruth? Ruth has joined my list of online-only friends (side note: my BOOFF, Best Online-Only Friend Forever, is Steve Brandes). Ruth and I met in real life at the Minnesota Multisport Awards out at Gear West Bike. It is always interesting meeting online-only friends and I’m sure she was confused because I do not look like a pro triathlete. I sincerely hope she gets her act together and races in the state in 2014. I write that fairly confident she will read this.
Merry Christmas! If you disagree with a best & worst assessment leave a note.