Welcome to Episode #328 of the 303 Endurance Podcast. You are listening to your weekly connection to coaches, experts, and pro athletes to help you reach your endurance goals. We're your hosts coach Rich Soares and 303 Chief Bill Plock. Thanks for joining us for another week of endurance interviews and discussion.
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In Today's Show
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Barkley wins again. For the fifth year in a row, no one could best the infamously rugged course in trail's quirkiest event.For the fifth year in a row, there were no finishers at the infamous Barkley Marathons. An incredibly deep field was lined up to face the beast. This included a mix of Barkley veterans like Courtney Dauwalter, and 2017 and 15th-person ever Barkley finisher John Kelly and strong Barkley virgins like Big’s Backyard record holder Harvey Lewis, 2017 Big’s champion Guillaume Calmettes, and Appalachian Trail FKT holder and Belgian dentist Karel Sabbe.
Other runners like Amelia Boone, Gary Robbins, and Johan Steene were originally slated for the 2022 race, but dropped out due to injuries, moving on, and testing positive at the airport, respectively. The 2022 edition was particularly heavy on international runners after the cancellation of the 2020 edition and pandemic-related travel restrictions for the 2021 race.
For the 2022 race, Barkley creator Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell threw one of the biggest curveballs in race history, holding the event three weeks ahead of when it normally runs around April 1. Additionally, he held the race in the middle of the week with the race starting on Tuesday, March 8.
There were concerns that the earlier time slot could create more difficult weather challenges, but when the conch was blown at 5:54 a.m. on Tuesday, relatively average Barkley conditions awaited. The race started cold but warmed up a lot during the day. Runners seemed to favor this, with a total of 30 out of 38 runners completing the first loop and starting a second. This was a Barkley record.
However, when night fell on day one, so did freezing rain. This was reminiscent of the 2019 race when rain took out most of the field overnight.
As a result, only five were able to start a Fun Run loop, which is three loops. This group included Sabbe, Kelly, British runner Jasmin Paris, New Zealander Greig Hamilton, and Danish runner Thomas Dunkerbeck. Paris is the first woman in a decade to complete a Fun Run.
Of these five, Sabbe, Kelly, and Hamilton were able to finish three loops with time to start the fourth loop. Sabbe came in first from loop three in 32:21:49 and left just under 20 minutes later. Hamilton returned to camp in 34:20:39 and left for loop four with daylight 34 minutes later.
Chris Froome believes the depth and breadth of data in professional cycling has raised the bar in terms of the overall standard of performance but also made the sport more dangerous.
The four-time Tour de France winner started his career back in 2008 and is now in his 15th season as a professional. In that time, he says the sport has changed beyond recognition.
"Across the board we’ve seen a huge raise of the bar in terms of the general level of performance in professional cycling," Froome said in a sponsor video for Quad Lock.
The main driver of that change has been, according to Froome, the rise of power meters, which measure the force being pushed through the pedals and can help riders judge their efforts. Whereas riders in the past may have raced or trained on feel, Froome noted that performances are now more dictated by numbers.
Froome himself was known in his pomp for carefully measuring his efforts and not being afraid to drop briefly rather than risk going into the red, but he claimed that even in the last few years, the advances in power and other performance-related data have changed the game for professional cyclists generally.
"There are quite a few different technologies that have played a massive part in shaping the sport in this last 10 to 15 years. First and foremost, the amount of data available through power meters and the collection and correlation of all that data means that performances now are lot more guided," Froome said.
"In the past, power meters been a round for a while but no one really understood how to train with them or what the data really meant. Now we've just got so much data, from the guys who are winning the biggest races in the world, and that data helps forms the basis of all the training plans and all the preparations that lead to racing.
“Everyone has structured training now. Very seldom do you come across someone who just gets on their bike and rides. Everyone’s got a plan, a coach, a structure to follow, which has been a big change compared to 15 years a go.”
As well as making the sport more competitive, Froome also pointed out a drawback to the datafication of professional cycling. Having recently held forth on safety issues relating to time trial bikes and gravel roads, the 36-year-old suggested that new technology is making the sport more dangerous.
Froome referred chiefly to modern mapping technology in making the point that every rider knows exactly what to expect from the route of any given race. Directors can study race roads in minute detail, and they feed that information to the riders in real time.
"We’ve just got this abundance of data coming through to us about conditions for the road coming up, so everyone knows what to expect and you get this huge fight for position," Froome said.
"It’s mental. Someone says to you, ‘right guys, you’re going through this really narrow dangerous little village coming up, the road’s really tiny and there’s small bridge with a corner straight after’, and we actually go faster, because you want to be the ones to get there first. If you’re at the back, you’re going to be stuck in this backlog trying to get through the pinch point. It’s probably the only sport where someone tells you there’s danger up ahead and the pace lifts. It’s mental.
“I think racing has, as a result of that, become more dangerous. Through having more data it’s basically made the race more dangerous. Previously we wouldn’t have known necessarily that each pinch point was there and there wouldn’t have been this massive scurry for position. We’d have just got there and all been more relaxed and got through it with no issues. But that’s changed quite a bit.”
Froome has yet to race in 2022 after suffering a knee injury over the winter, but is back in full training and expecting to make his season debut this month.
What's New in the 303:
Olympic and Paralympic Medalists Headline 2021 Elite Triathletes and Elite Paratriathletes of the YearUsa
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – USA Triathlon announced its 2021 Elite, Under-23, Rookie and Junior Triathletes of the Year, as well as its Elite Paratriathletes and Paratriathlon Development Athletes of the Year, both presented by Wahoo Fitness.
Katie Zaferes (Cary, N.C.) was named the Women’s Olympic/World Triathlon Triathlete of the Year for the fourth time, and Kevin McDowell (Colorado Springs, Colo.) earned his first-ever Men’s Olympic/World Triathlon Triathlete of the Year honors. Kendall Gretsch (Downers Grove, Ill.) and Brad Snyder (Baltimore, Md.), along with his guide Greg Billington (Poway, Calif.), were named 2021 Elite Paratriathletes of the Year
Zaferes, 32, won bronze at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, becoming the third U.S. woman to win an Olympic medal, joining Gwen Jorgensen (gold, 2016 Rio) and Susan Williams (bronze, 2004 Athens). Zaferes then led off Team USA as the first leg in the Olympic debut of the Mixed Relay event, helping the team earn silver, and her second Olympic medal in Tokyo.
Zaferes capped her season on the draft-legal World Triathlon Championship Series circuit by placing fourth at the World Triathlon Championship Finals. She also finished third overall in the Super League Triathlon Championship Series.
“I am very honored to receive this award considering how many of the USA women had great achievements last year,” Zaferes said. “It’s extra special for me because this year was so challenging. I’m proud of being able to regroup and refocus with the assistance of the team of people that surrounds me in order to achieve one of my biggest goals, which was to win a medal at the Olympics.”
McDowell, 29, made his Olympic debut in Tokyo and showed his Mixed Relay prowess as Team USA’s second leg in the race that features four athletes (two male, two female) who each complete a super-sprint triathlon in the order of female-male-female-male. He recorded the fastest split of the U.S. team that earned the silver medal. In the men’s individual race, McDowell placed sixth, the highest-ever finish for a U.S. male triathlete at the Olympic Games.
“It’s a huge honor to receive this award after so many great performances on the U.S. men’s side, which has been really exciting. This wouldn’t have been possible without the entire team behind me, my family, coach Nate Wilson, physio/medical, friends, community, and USA Triathlon,” McDowell said. “It truly takes a village to do what we do and perform at the highest level. I’m thankful for the one I’ve got.”
Video of the Week
3/25: A’nna Sewall of Athlete Blood Test and Jordan Jones of Powder7
Andy Potts and Daniel Brienza of APRacing
Chris Schwenk about cycling and Zwift and his intimate knowledge of it and I think it would fun to share his love of indoor cycling, but also outdoors and his upcoming trip across the US.
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