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Crossing (Imaginary) Lines in Lahti

And should you train hard after a bad night's sleep?

Good morning everyone,

It’s certainly an exciting time in the triathlon world. There are so many high-profile races going on that even we can hardly keep track! Luckily, there’s a newsletter that does its best to cover them all. Now let’s jump in 🦘

In today’s edition:

  • 🏆 A breakdown from the drama-filled 70.3 World Championships.

  • 😴 Should you train hard after a rough night’s sleep?

  • 🚲 And do you really need that new triathlon bike? (Please say yes)

Thanks for being here,

-Matt Sharpe, newsletter editor

Headshot of Matt Sharpe

Have a triathlete in your life who can't stop swimming, biking, or running? Fire this off to them. Forwarded from a friend? Sign-up for free. 


Shock and Awe at 70.3 Worlds


What happened: Over 6,400 of the world’s top age group and professional athletes gathered in Lahti, Finland for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships where the incredible beauty of the Finnish countryside was matched by the on-course drama.

Women’s race: Taylor Knibb (USA) used her trademark bike strength to power away from the field. She ran comfortably to take the incredible 4+ minute win over the rest of the field.

  • Kat Matthews (GBR) used a well-rounded effort to claim second, while Imogen Simmonds (SUI) nabbed the final podium spot.

  • Pre-race favorites including Paula Findlay (CAN), Daniela Ryf (SUI) and Laura Phillip (GER) lost time to Knibb in the swim and could never get a visual of her on the single-loop bike course.

Women | 🥇 Taylor Knibb (USA) |🥈 Kat Matthews (GBR) | 🥉 Imongen Simmonds (SUI)

Men’s race: Germany shocked the triathlon world by sweeping the men’s podium. 22-year-old Rico Bogen had the race of his life, breaking the tape ahead of countrymen Frederic Funk and Jan Stratmann.

  • After competing at the PTO Asian Open last week, many pre-race favorites including Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR), Sam Long (USA), and Jason West (USA) were quite ill and either didn’t perform to their typical level or didn’t even make the start line.

  • Lionel Sanders (CAN) was hit with a controversial disqualification after a referee told him he crossed an imaginary center line (huh?).

Men | 🥇 Rico Bogen (GER) |🥈 Frederic Funk (GER) | 🥉 Jan Stratmann (GER)

Tempo’s take: With so many championship races in close proximity, and many athletes sick or absent, this edition of the 70.3 World Championships just felt a bit empty. 

This doesn’t diminish the efforts of the athletes who laid it all out on the line. However, it does reflect a failure of scheduling and coordination between top triathlon entities. With four Championship caliber events within five weeks, there is bound to be dilution, and that was evident in Lahti.


😴 Is it worth it: Had a bad night’s sleep and wondering if you should still push through for that key training session? Well…it depends! According to GTN, life context will be the deciding factor. [GTN]

🌟 Aspiring Emirati: UAE triathlete Hana Al Nabulsi is racing towards her Olympic dream, and breaking barriers along the way. Check out this article on Hana’s unique journey to becoming the first UAE triathlete to compete in the Olympics. [Gulf News]

🚲 New bike smell: It’s light, fast, and you can’t stop thinking about it. The siren song of a new triathlon bike can be hard to ignore. But if you’re thinking of getting a new bike, take a look at this insightful Reddit post for some hard truths and lower-cost options. [Reddit]


In the (Imaginary) Firing Line

Talbot Cox

What happened: Lionel Sanders was disqualified from the Ironman 70.3 Worlds in Lahti for a center-line violation while biking, according to Tri247, and it’s raising more questions about confusing race rules.

The rule: During the bike, racers are prohibited from crossing the center line of a roadway to prevent any sort of crash with oncoming traffic. Athletes are also supposed to obey all traffic laws, according to a review of the rules by Triathlon Magazine. Race officials can give a 30 or 60-second time penalty, or disqualify the athlete.

  • A source speaking on background said Sanders had passed three athletes on the wrong lane, near a corner, which may explain the severity of the disqualification.

Yes, but: Sanders said race officials did not explain the imaginary line rule at the outset of the race. For a more lively discussion, check out what Reddit users had to say over at the triathlon subreddit.

In his own words: “I was just making a pass on one of the back roads, maybe 70km into the bike, on a small narrow road and I made the pass at around 60kmph…I am well aware of the center-line rule, of course, because that’s a real rule. So I said to the referee, there is ‘no center-line’ and he said that ‘it’s imaginary’. I told him that this was never discussed and that weren’t told that we would have to abide by an imaginary line on the closed course on narrow roads.” - Lionel Sanders on Instagram.

  • Dig deeper: Here’s a helpful guide from Triathlete.com that gets into rules you may not know you’re breaking.

Long-course racer and media pundit Tim Don shared some of his least favorite rules with Tri247, including accidental littering penalties argued for shifting to money penalties instead of time penalties, and streamlining rules for drafting and race ranger races.

  • Zoom out: Who can forget the disqualification of Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jess Learmonth for crossing the finish line together!

Contradiction? The rules are very specific when it comes to racing. But shoes? World Triathlon said back in October of last year they don’t check that shoes align with World Athletics standards, and shoes aren’t being checked at races, according to Triathlete.com. Back then the rules were still being implemented, but it begs the question about what race officials should or shouldn’t be focusing on, like fully unzipped suits…

Tempo’s take: Here at The Tempo we’ve had our own run-in with the triathlon law. And in our instance as in Lionel’s, there is uncertain and ambiguous language around the rule.

According to the anonymous source, the pass may have been in a higher-risk scenario, which is a valid reason for a DQ. However, there is no “imaginary line” language in the rule, which is what the referee cited, according to Sanders. Lionel is an incredibly high-profile athlete, so any type of controversy around him will be turned up to 11.

  • If Lionel was truly making a reckless and dangerous move, then a DQ is the answer. But if it was a center-line violation then he wasn’t the only one who was guilty…🙄

Do you think racing rules are clear and understandable?

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🥇 Duffy effect: Team Bermuda racked up the medals at the recent Carifta Triathlon Championships with a clean sweep of the gold medals. [Royal Gazette]

🇨🇳 Welcome back: Big congrats to Bianca Serengni (ITA) and Cristano Grajales (SPN) who won the women’s and men’s races at the 2003 World Cup in Weihai. The race returned after a long break due to COVID. [World Triathlon]

🌊 Canceled: Unlike the race in Ireland, race officials canceled the swim portion of the 40th Chicago Triathlon due to unfavorable conditions, with waves that were up to six feet. [ABC7]



The number of participants reported by officials at this year’s Chicago Triathlon, which happens to be one of the biggest triathlons in the world. [ABC 7]


Super League Launches in London

What is it: The first round of the fast and furious Super League Triathlon took place this weekend at London’s West India Quay.

  • Similar to last season, the athletes are competing amongst four teams, which include last season’s team champions the Bahrain Victorious Scorpions, the RTP Sharks, the Santara Technology Eagles, and the RTS Warriors.

  • The race format was contested over the grueling Enduro format, a non-stop series of three swim, bike, and run races in a row.

Women’s race: There was blood in the water as the Sharks found all five of their team members amongst the front group after the first round.

In round two the Sharks were able to employ team tactics to put pressure on the Warrior’s Kirsten Kasper (USA) and the Eagle’s Jeanne Lehair (LUX) with Lehair just barely hanging onto the front pack as they dismounted for the final run.

  • Lehair put forth a brilliant run on the final leg and blasted ahead of recent Olympic test event winner, Beth Potter (GBR)

  • Sophie Coldwell (GBR) used the home crowd to propel her second, while Taylor Spivey USA) rounded out the podium in third.

Women | 🥇 Jeanne Lehair (Eagles) |🥈 Sophie Coldwell (Sharks) | 🥉 Taylor Spivey (Warriors)

Men’s race: After absolute carnage at the first buoy, Max Stapley (GBR) kept the Shark dominance going and was able to keep a gap ahead of the field for the entire first round.

  • He dove in for round two with a small group including pre-race favorite and fellow Shark’s Alex Yee (GBR), Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) and Scorpions Roberto Sanchez Mantecon (ESP) and Tayler Reid (NZ).

  • At the start of the third round, it was Yee, Brownlee, and Reid solidly together. Which really meant it would be a battle for second.

  • Yee broke the tape with Brownlee shortly in tow as Reid held on for bronze.

Men | 🥇 Alex Yee (Sharks) |🥈 Jonathan Brownlee (Sharks) | 🥉 Tayler Reid (Scorpions)

Team points: | 🥇 RTP Sharks - 148 |🥈 RTS Warriors - 75 | 🥉 Bahrain Victorious Scorpions - 65 | 🍫 Santara Tech Eagles - 60

Tempo’s take: It was absolutely full gas in London with plenty of thrills and spills. This kind of racing is brutal and totally unforgiving, Which is what makes it so much fun to watch!

The big revelation was Lehair taking on super-runner Beth Potter on her home turf. Which just shows the different demands that Super League brings.

  • We’re already stoked for next week’s showdown in Toulouse and with more additions, including World Champion Leo Bergere (FRA), Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA), and Hayden Wilde (NZ) it’s going to be even more lit 🔥🔥🔥


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A triathlete’s nightmare - flying to a race only to find out that the airline broke your bike! But what could have been a disaster turned into an opportunity for the triathlon community to shine!


Here’s what readers said about the controversial swim conditions at Ironman Ireland.

Many shared their opinions about the decision to go ahead with the swim. A big thanks to our Tempo community for participating.

Reader: Looking at the conditions, they should have cancelled the swim section entirely and run it as a duathlon. As it stands, with a shorter swim it was never going to be classed as a full Ironman, so why the decision to proceed? Was it driven by money and not wanting to have to refund?

Reader: I have been in charge of the swim leg in many local triathlons. These were all ocean swims. Our policy was a meeting with the race director, head lifeguard, USAT official, and me, the swim captain. We would discuss the mornings ocean conditions and potential hazards. Only with anonymous ‘go’ would the swim be held. Each organization can point their finger at the other one, but both failed by not having a go-no go plan in place.

Reader: Both groups are mature enough to understand the dangers of a swim like that. But as a promoter, I don’t think Ironman should have taken the risk and allowed it. They should not have waited to follow the lead of Ireland Triathlon and made the difficult decision. Regardless of the blame game being slung now.

Reader: While ultimately accountability for whether or not to start a race lies on the shoulders of the individual athlete, it is extremely difficult to withdraw from t he swim chute when you see so many other hundreds enter the water. We have to be able to trust our event organizers on all aspects of race safety, from road conditions to water purity to swim course safety. Better coordination between the two organizations was critical plus courage in leadership on the ground to cancel the swim portion of the course when necessary.


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