Can a Long-Course Pro Athlete Succeed in Short-Course?

News and Updates

Today, Super League Triathlon announced that three-time Ironman World Championship runner-up Lucy Charles-Barclay is racing the SLT Arena Games series in London (March 23) and Rotterdam (April 18).

This is a pretty big deal, because conventional wisdom in triathlon holds that short-course stars smash the competition when they transition up to longer distances. The reverse is rarely the case, as seen when Cameron Wurf attempted to race in the ITU (and got lapped).

Lucy said in the press release:

“I have decided to race the SLT Arena Games mainly because I want to test myself in the shorter distance.

“I have always had that question mark there having gone straight into long course so it will be interesting to see how I fare against some of  the best girls on the ITU circuit.”

She came into triathlon straight out of Olympic marathon swimming, where she had attempted to qualify for London. Rather than start from short distances as most triathletes do, she dove straight into ironman racing at a relatively young age and found success in it both as an age grouper and then as a pro.

Ironman World Champion Anne Haug raced the previous SLT Arena Games in Rotterdam, but it took her a while to warm up. By the time she had her pistons firing (her runs got progressively faster), the race was over.

With SLT Arena Games, the technical element of swim drafting and bike handling is eliminated due to the solo lane pool swim and virtual cycling on Zwift. Lucy will need no help in the water and is extremely experienced in the dynamics of Zwifting (she is, after all, a Zwift ambassador). Last year, she raced in the Super League Triathlon eSports Cycling series and took the overall victory.

Lucy’s brute speed and power should keep her at the pointy end of things – as long as she starts hot off the blocks.

In recent memory, only one long-course athlete did try to qualify for his country’s Olympic triathlon team (and almost succeeded). That man is no other than Chris McCormack, who after making the Australian shadow squad for London took his newfound speed and won the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championship.

With Lucy attempting to achieve a sub 8-hour iron distance for the Pho3nix SUB8, some short-course speed focus could be exactly what she needs. For her as an athlete there is no downside to her racing the SLT Arena Games. For me as a viewer and fan of triathlon, the spectacle is going to be awesome to watch.


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