Articles by Brad Culp

Where do I start? In Erin Beresini’s op-ed defending Danielle Dingman’s GoFundMe campaign she brought up a lot of points: Some good, some bad, and some that have nothing to do with Dingman’s fleeting attempt to have others pay for her hobby.

Helping “launch” her “pro” triathlon career is literally the last thing that people should be giving to this holiday season. I don’t mean to publicly shame Dingman, although plenty of people on Twitter have suggested otherwise. It was a little mean of me to sarcastically refer to her as a “gem” in my initial tweet on the matter. For that, I apologize. Now it’s your turn, Danielle. Apologize, take down the damn page, and donate the $1,670 you’ve raised so far to a worthy triathlon-related charity. Feel free to get in touch if you need help finding one.

A number of people on Twitter have made claims that what Dingman is doing is no different than an athlete asking companies for sponsorship. It’s completely different. When a company agrees to sponsor an athlete, they provide money or goods in exchange for brand exposure. There is, hopefully, a return on their investment of some kind. The anonymous donor who gave Dingman $1,000 this week will receive no return on his or her investment. People are free to spend and donate their money however they see fit. But, in my opinion, someone would have to be completely insane to choose Dingman as his or her charity of choice. They could’ve inoculated an entire village in Africa, but thought that money would be better spent flying Dingman around the world to exercise.

My other major issue with what Dingman is doing has to do with the dozens of true professional athletes that I’ve watched grind and suffer to actually make it. I’ve let them sleep on my couch. I’ve let them borrow my fancy race wheels. And yes, I’ve even paid for meals and tanks of gas when they’ve literally had no money to their names. Does that make me the same as those who’ve made the foolish decision to go fund Dingman? Not at all. Dingman has a job and a husband. This is a household with two incomes. If “making it” as a pro triathlete is truly her dream, then maybe they should make some sacrifices to make that possible. To me, this is someone who isn’t willing to make the necessary sacrifices and that’s why her dream will continue to be as pesky as it’s been.

But what do I know? I’ve never made it as a pro triathlete. So I asked someone who has for his thoughts. Here’s what long-time pro Eric Lagerstrom had to say:

“It’s wrong to expect someone else to pay for your dream. Pay for your own dream. It’s like she wants to skip half the process. Being a pro triathlete is being your own small business. Part of the process of starting up the small business of being a professional triathlete is working your ass off until you become one. You have to grind; you have to suffer, and you have to love that process. To me this is someone who doesn’t love that process. This is someone who wants to go live the dream and have someone else pay for it.”

Judging by the response I’ve received from dozens of other pros who’ve gone through a similar process as Eric, his thoughts reflect the overwhelming sentiment of the pro triathlon community.

Two final thoughts: $6,600 for flights?! Are you F-ing kidding me? Either she’s planning on flying Emirates first class to these races or she has no clue how to use the internet to find the best airfare. And $916 to cover the cost of the GoFundMe campaign?! She literally wants people to go fund her GoFundMe! That’s insane, and so is anyone who donates to this.

Take the page down, Danielle. There are a lot of really great charities that are a part of this sport that could use this money a lot more than you and I’d be happy to put you in touch.

Articles by Brad Culp

I’ve read a dozen interviews with Gwen Jorgensen over the past few months that have been nothing but baby talk. I get that. People like babies. But I don’t. So when I got Gwen on the phone for 10 minutes yesterday, I wanted to talk about her real passion: food.

TRS: So you and Pat just bought your first home in Portland. It’s not exactly known as a training Mecca, so how’d you guys end up buying there?

Gwen: I love it there. Pat and I felt like if we didn’t leave Minnesota now then we never would. We visited a few different places that we thought we’d enjoy and had the things that are important to us, like being able to get outside and having great food. We just really loved Portland when we visited. Like you said, it’s not a big triathlon Mecca like Denver or Boulder, but that just wasn’t a place that really appealed to us the way that Portland did.

TRS: So now that you guys are homeowners, what are the first things on Pat’s to-do list?

Gwen: We currently have no furniture. We have two Sleep Number beds, so we at least have a place to sleep, but we have no places to sit or eat. So getting furniture is the most immediate thing on the to-do list. After that it’ll be time for Pat to paint the baby room and get the baby room ready.

TRS: Whether it’s something that Pat has cooked or something you’ve had at a restaurant, what’s the best meal you’ve had during the past year?

Gwen: The past year—you’re going to make me decide that right now? I guess it would have to be when we went to this Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain called Asador Etxebarri. They made absolutely everything on this wood grill. Even the deserts were made on it—they roasted cocoa beans right on it. So everything came out with this amazing smoky flavor. It was very unique. Definitely something I’d never experienced before.

TRS: You guys post all these pictures of the meals Pat makes and everything looks perfect. But I know he doesn’t hit it out of the park every time. Tell me about a time that he just blew it in the kitchen.

Gwen: He is amazing at cooking. We actually had a Michelin-starred Chef come and teach him how to cook for a few weeks. He was a big triathlon fan, so he got to spend some time with our training group and Pat got to learn from him. But there was one time when we were in Spain and I got home from a workout and Pat had made something with absolutely no spices or no extras. It was basically just rice and vegetables. But that kind of thing doesn’t happen very often. His biggest thing is struggling to come up with ideas. So he just asks me what I want, and if I give him an idea, he is always game for doing it. I’d say he knocks it out of the park 99.9 percent of the time.

TRS: What was the name of the chef who came in to teach Pat?

Gwen: Alan Murchison from the UK. [Editor’s note: Murchison is the chef at Michelin-starred L’Ortolan in Shinfield.]

TRS: Last food question…have you had any weird food cravings during the pregnancy?

Gwen: Yes—I’ve been craving a lot of empty carbs, like white pasta and white bread, and also cheese. Usually I always crave a lot of meat and vegetables, but there have been a few times recently where all I want is something like mac and cheese or fettuccine alfredo.

TRS: Have you thought ahead to your race schedule for next season? Do you feel like you have a little more flexibility now that you have a gold medal in your pocket and might we see you at some non-drafting races?

Gwen: I haven’t thought too much about what my race schedule will look like. For me that will just depend on how training is going. I’ll need to do a few months of real training and then see where I’m at. But I don’t see myself branching out and doing non-draft races. What keeps me motivated is the Olympic dream and wanting to go back and get another gold medal.

TRS: What do you miss most about being on the ITU tour and bouncing between training camps in Australia and Spain, and what don’t miss about that nomadic lifestyle?

Gwen: One thing I really miss is all my training partners at the Wollogong Wizards. I’ve formed some really strong friendships with all of them and they’re some of my best friends. I just miss being around them and having them to train with. And then I just really, really miss racing. I love racing and I really want to be out there competing. That’s what keeps me motivated and it’s why I do this. Something I enjoy right now is having a little more flexibility. Now I just wake up and train based on how I feel, which isn’t normal for me. I have nothing to prepare for, so if I’m feeling a little tired I just take it easy.

TRS: Do you have any kind of training plan from Jamie Turner right now or are you going entirely by feel?

Gwen: Nope—nothing. It’s just waking up and doing what feels right. I have no goals right now except for staying relatively fit and healthy. Staying healthy is the big thing.

TRS: What do you think you’ll miss most about the Twin Cities now that you’ve made the move to Portland?

Gwen: Pat just asked me that the other day. I’ll definitely miss the people. I’ve formed a lot of really good friendships there, and I’ll miss being closer to my family. I also like familiarity and it’s a place that’s really familiar to me. And there are definitely a few restaurants that I’ll really miss.

Articles by Brad Culp

None of the six members of the Russian Olympic Triathlon Team were among the four triathletes named in the recently released McLaren Report and all six will be allowed to compete in the upcoming Rio Olympics, according to the ITU.

On Sunday morning, the International Olympic Committee announced that it would not issue a complete Russian ban in reaction to the report published by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which found that 312 athletes across 29 sports had so-called “disappearing positives” between 2011 and 2015. The IOC instead passed the buck to each sport’s international governing body to decide if athletes were clean and should be allowed to compete in Rio. Earlier today, FINA, swimming’s governing body, announced that seven Russian swimmers would be banned from Rio, including Yulia Efimova, who recently won the world championship in the 100-meter breaststroke.

While the names of the four triathletes mentioned in the McLaren Report were not published, they were provided to the ITU by WADA and none of them are among the six triathletes qualified to represent Russia in Rio. The ITU issued the following statement regarding its decision to allow Russian triathletes to compete at the Olympics:

“ITU has carefully examined the information delivered by WADA and the McLaren report. Additionally, ITU has thoroughly reviewed the criteria set forth by the IOC on Sunday for Russian athletes to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics. None of the six Russian triathletes (three men, three women) that have qualified for 2016 Olympics are included in the McLaren report, nor have any of them served suspensions or bans for failed doping tests. Additionally, they have all been tested outside of Russia. Therefore, ITU will recommend to the IOC that these six athletes be permitted to compete in Rio next month.

ITU remains steadfast in our commitment to providing athletes a fair competition. We will continue to closely follow the updates from the McLaren report, as well as recommendations from WADA and the IOC on best practices in the fight against doping.”

The six athletes representing Russia at the Olympic Triathlon will be Alexander Bryukhankov, Dmitry Polyanski, Igor Polyanski, Anastasia Abrosimova, Alexandra Razarenova and Mariya Shorets. The men’s race will take place on August 18, with the women to follow on August 20.

Articles by Brad Culp

Richard Murray threw a tantrum at the finish line of Saturday’s ITU World Triathlon Hamburg. With two kilometers left to run, Murray learned that he had been assessed a 10-second penalty and would have to stand still while he watched Mario Mola run to the finish. The penalty was justified, because Murray put his wetsuit into the transition box of Gregor Buchholz in T1. The issue was how and when Murray was notified of the penalty and his reaction to it.

When an athlete is issued a penalty at an ITU race, his number is put up on a giant whiteboard next to the penalty tent to alert him of the infraction. It’s up to the athlete to recognize that he has been penalized and then choose when he wants to serve the 10-second stand down. Murray’s number was posted on the board shortly after the start of the bike, but unless athletes are aware that they made an egregious foul, they completely ignore the whiteboard throughout the race. There’s enough going on during a race of that level. Glancing up at a board and trying to find your number while riding at 30 mph in the rain is something that just doesn’t happen.

If an athlete has an infraction, typically it’s his coach or a member of his national federation that alerts him of the penalty from the sidelines. Unfortunately for Richard Murray this weekend, neither his coach, Joel Filliol, nor the two members of his national federation on site knew of the penalty or were able to alert him. Instead, he learned about the foul from his friend and training partner, Mola, as the two neared what would’ve been a great sprint finish. About halfway through the 5K run—while Murray and Mola were running side by side ahead of the rest of the field—a member of the Spanish Triathlon Federation let Mola know that Murray had incurred a penalty in T1 and would have to stand down 10 seconds before the finish.

“Mario was the one who told me about the penalty [on the run],” Murray said. “At first I was like, ‘is he trying to put me off?’ But the Spanish Federation told him.”

If you watched the live coverage, you know what happened next. Murray took his ten-second stand-down just 100 meters from the finish, while Mola cruised to yet another WTS title. During the ten seconds that he stood in the penalty tent, Murray repeatedly asked the ITU Technical Official what he had done wrong, but he received no response. As soon as he left the tent, he gave the universal sign for “up yours” to no one in particular, and then slapped a sign for the races’ title sponsor (Hamburg Wasser), before crossing the line in second place.

“I lost my cool as I ran towards the finish and did something I probably will regret, but hey, I was in the heat of the moment and very pissed off,” Murray said after the race. “I got [disqualified] for unsportsmanlike behavior, but I was not being unsportsmanlike to anyone really. I just did it in general at the world and event, really.”

Within a few seconds of crossing the line, Murray was given an earful from World Triathlon Series Director Kris Gemmell, and a few minutes later he was notified that that he had been disqualified by race referee Paul Groves.

The ITU issued the following statement regarding Murray’s DQ: “After making an inappropriate gesture to Technical Officials on the field of play following a 10-second penalty, Richard Murray was disqualified from World Triathlon Hamburg for unsportsmanlike conduct. The disqualification was made by the race referee.”

Richard Murray messed up. He made a gesture that was absolutely inappropriate, and then he smacked a sign of one of the ITU’s longest-running sponsors at one of their longest-running events. Those were two big mistakes. But he still finished the race in second place, and would’ve finished this weekend ranked second in the WTS rankings.

By disqualifying Murray from this race, he lost $12,000 (USD) from this race alone and potentially another $30,000 to $50,000 from the end of the year WTS bonuses. That’s not to mention whatever bonuses he has worked into his sponsors’ contracts.

I have no idea how much money he’ll make this year, but I’d guess that this DQ cost him at least 20 percent of his annual income. That’d be like an NFL quarterback getting fined $5 million for one (somewhat) obscene gesture. Murray didn’t even raise his middle finger. A similar gesture in any other sport would’ve resulted in a penalty (technical foul, personal foul, yellow card, etc…) and a fine of one or two percent of the athletes’ salary.

“I do tend to have moments of rage,” Murray said shortly after the race. “I guess that this will have some negative implications, but I think it would be nice if the penalty was communicated to the athletes … Only fair I think.”

Murray overreacted for sure, but I can’t blame him for being so heated in the middle of running a five-minute mile. The bigger overreaction was on the part of the race referee for disqualifying him. In any other sport, he would’ve been given a fine and possibly a deduction in points. That would’ve been the appropriate punishment for Murray’s crime.

Articles by Brad Culp

It took a little longer than many of us would have liked, but 10 days after the final Olympic qualification race in Yokohama, a USA Triathlon committee (appointed by another USA Triathlon committee) has decided to send Katie Zaferes to Rio. Katie was given the good news by USAT’s High Performance Director Andy Schmitz last night, which was followed by a press release this morning. We caught up with her less than 24 hours after she found out she was going to the Olympics.

How much communication have you had with USAT over the past two weeks and what has that communication been?

Andy Schmitz has been really good at keeping me in the know. I talked to him right after the race [last] Saturday and he had told me that it could take a week or so. I’ve talked to him probably three times over the past week. He told me he could update me every day but I didn’t really need to be updated if there wasn’t anything to be updated on.

Were you worried they might end up choosing a domestique for Gwen or were you confident they’d end up choosing you?

I was pretty confident in myself. Under the criteria for a domestique I didn’t think we had anyone eligible for that position—including myself—and I thought I was probably the most capable of doing it. I was relatively confident, but at the same time you never really know. Of course there was some worry and doubt in my mind. I mean, you have Gwen Jorgensen—and I don’t know if she wanted a domestique or not—but she’s obviously a gold medal contender, so you know there’s a possibility that one would be wanted.

If USAT had approached you and said, “Katie, we want you on the team but you have to be a domestique for Gwen,” what would your response have been?

I probably would’ve had to think about it a bit. I’m confident that I’m also a medal contender. But at the end of the day, if we had exhausted all other options and that was the only way for me to go to the Olympics, it’s not something I would turn down. It’s still going to the Olympics and representing the United States. If I said no to a chance to go to the Olympics, I’d regret that for the rest of my life.

What’s your “racing” relationship like with Gwen and Sarah? Say a pack gets away on the bike—could you see the three of you working together to reel it in or will it be every woman for herself?

I used to say that Sarah and I were more similar athletes than Gwen and myself, but Gwen has proven herself over the past year to be a very strong swimmer and cyclist. It wouldn’t be unlikely to find ourselves all together in a group. In that case, because we all have the same end game, we could be working together within the pack. But once you get on the run it’s every woman for herself. I could see us being together and working toward a common interest, but we all want to be on that podium—we all want to be on the top of that podium. I guess because we all have similar racing strategies I could see us working together.

There’s been quite an outpouring of opinions on social media because of USAT’s delay in naming you to the team. What was your reaction to all the tweets and posts over the past two weeks?

Obviously it was nice seeing people support me. I think people were a little aggressive toward USA Triathlon, but I also think there are some things that they’ll change in the future based off of how the decision-making process went. I was talking to Andy and he said it was difficult because all the people who needed to be involved with the selection committee happened to have conflicting schedules for the whole week. They wanted to make sure everyone was educated on what was going on before making a decision, which I appreciate in the end. I didn’t want them choosing me to be a domestique because someone didn’t know me as an athlete. I guess I had a mixed reaction is what I’m trying to say. Sure there are things that need to be improved, but I knew from the start that it would take until at least [last] Friday until I had an answer. There are plenty of other federations that have a similar process. Australia just announced their team; Canada hasn’t announced their team yet; New Zealand hasn’t. It’s not like it’s an unlikely scenario, but I think it just wasn’t communicated very clearly, which led to a lot of people coming to their own conclusions about what was going on.

Between the water pollution, Zika virus and rampant violent crime, do you have any concerns about your safety at the Olympics and will you cut your trip a little shorter than you might if the Games were, say, anywhere else but Rio?

I’ll probably wear plenty of mosquito repellent—but no, having been there last August without any issues gives me peace of mind. I’ll take a few extra precautions, like I won’t get into the water for my pre-race swim, which is something I normally do. Having raced there last year, I feel confident that things will run smoothly. I’m probably less concerned going back this time than I was when I went last August.

What kind of a result will it take for you to leave Rio satisfied?

Podium.

I like it. Have you thought about race strategy at all and is there an ideal race scenario of how you’d like to see the race unfold?

I think it’s kind of dangerous for me to hope for a particular scenario, so I try to be flexible and feel confident in any kind of race situation. Of course, my dream would be a breakaway that I’m a part of, but if that doesn’t happen, I feel confident in being able to use my run to my advantage. Hopefully it’ll be a bit warmer and make it a more difficult race on the run. So there’s not set plan, but if a breakaway happens and I get to be a part of it that would be fantastic for me.

I believe Joe [Maloy] and Ben [Kanute] are the only members of the Team USA triathlon squad who are single. Who do you think will do better with the ladies in the Olympic village?

Sorry Ben, but Joe for sure.

You husband is known for writing really bad jokes on Twitter. He did have one regarding USAT’s prolonged decision that was hilarious. Was that his best joke to date?

I guess it’s his most memorable. Does that make it his best? I’m not sure. But it certainly got a lot of interest on Twitter.

Does he run his jokes by you first or does he just go for it?

He’s learned not to because the ones that I like are the ones nobody else likes. The ones that I don’t like are the ones that get the most interest. If he runs it by me, I’ll usually say “no” and then he’ll post it anyway.

From now on you’ll always have the word “Olympian” before your name. What does that mean to you?

It means so much. This might sound different, but I’m not someone who grew up always dreaming of going to the Olympics. It’s been a newer goal for me. I never took for granted that I was going to by an Olympian one day. Now that I actually get to do it and represent the United States…it means so much. My best memories and my most proud moments are those when Gwen, Sarah and I have stood on the podium together and we’ve gotten to hear our national anthem played—not just for one of us but for all three of us. If that could happen in Rio it’d be pretty amazing.

Articles by Brad Culp

Belgian pro triathlete Sofie Goos was stabbed during a run in Antwerp yesterday and is being treated in the intensive care unit at Stuivenberg Hospital for a kidney injury. BMC-Etixx manager Bob De Wolf has been in contact with her doctors and reports that Goos is recovering and is in good spirits. 

According to De Wolf, Goos was finishing up a run when a man attacked her “out of nowhere” and stabbed her in the back. Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reported that a 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with attempted murder. The article indicated that the attack appears random and that the man suffers from a mental illness.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sofie and her family,” De Wolf wrote in an e-mail. “Foremost we hope and pray for a full and speedy recovery. Sofie is an incredibly strong athlete and we strongly believe she will recover from this. It is way too early to provide any analyses on when she will be fit to race again. That is also not relevant at this stage, most important is her recovery process at this moment in time. We wish Sofie and her family all the very best in these difficult times. The BMC-Etixx Team will do all we can to support her along the way.”

Sofie Goos

[BrakeThrough Media]

Goos posted the following message to her Facebook page shortly after news of the incident broke: “I was stabbed by an unknown man … without reason, cause or motive … stabbed in the lower back and lost a lot of blood.” 

Goos was getting ready to race Ironman 70.3 Barcelona next weekend.