USA Triathlon Announces Additional Safe Return to Multisport Resources

From USA Triathlon

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon today announced additional resources as part of its Safe Return to Multisport initiative, a comprehensive and multi-pronged set of racing, training and event production guidelines for the multisport community to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. The new resources include Guidelines for COVID-19 Contact Tracing, Guidelines for Volunteers, and a Safe Return to Racing Town Hall open to the public this Wednesday, April 7.

“USA Triathlon collaborated with world-class medical experts and leaders at all levels of the sport to develop useful resources to empower our community to get back to racing safely,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “Many towns and venues across the U.S. approved USA Triathlon-sanctioned races as the first events to be held during the pandemic. This was due in large part to the stringent safety protocols our race directors were ready to present to local authorities, as well as the outdoor and physically distanced nature of the sport itself. USA Triathlon sanctioned hundreds of races across the U.S. in the last year, and there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases among our participants associated with those events.”

About Safe Return to Multisport
The Safe Return to Multisport initiative was first launched in May 2020 and has been continually updated and expanded as circumstances change. It is developed in coordination with experienced race directors, medical experts, certified coaches, club directors, officials, athletes and endurance sport leaders. It is based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as sport-specific guidelines from the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and World Triathlon. The resources are meant to be used in conjunction with federal, state and local protocols — including mass gathering thresholds and physical distancing requirements.

Safe Return to Racing Town Hall — Wednesday, April 7
USA Triathlon and Triathlete will co-host a Safe Return to Racing Town Hall on Wednesday, April 7, at 7 p.m. ET, designed to help athletes of all levels plan their return to racing in 2021. The virtual discussion is free and open to the public, and will be livestreamed on USA Triathlon’s Facebook page. It will provide an overview of USA Triathlon’s Safe Return to Multisport guidelines and will feature industry professionals covering various topics — from getting back to training safely while managing expectations, to travel suggestions and what athletes should expect on race day. For more details, click here.

Contact Tracing and Volunteer Guidelines

The new resource Guidelines for COVID-19 Contact Tracing, primarily intended for race directors, outlines the actions that should be taken when a COVID-19 infection is identified among an athlete, spectator, official, volunteer or staff member at an event. This includes a step-by-step process for identifying and notifying close contacts, as well as a review of CDC-recommended quarantine, testing and isolation procedures.  

The Guidelines for Volunteers document is provided as a resource for individuals who volunteer at multisport events. This includes a self-screening checklist, a review best practices to mitigate exposure and spread COVID-19, and a set of do’s and don’ts for volunteer participation. Volunteers are vital to the execution and implementation of multisport events. To learn more about local and national volunteer opportunities, click here.

Additional Resources
In addition to the Volunteer Guidelines and Contact Tracing documents, resources also include a Safe Return to Multisport overview; Return to Racing Recommendations for Athletes; Return to Racing Recommendations for Race Directors; Return to Racing Guidelines for Officiating; Recommendations for Organized Mass Gatherings; a Return to Racing Training Program; and Travel Like a Pro, a set of best practices for athletes traveling to events nationally and internationally. All resources are available for download at usatriathlon.org/safe-return.

USA Triathlon continues to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19, while following the guidance of local authorities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), when making decisions regarding the status of USA Triathlon events and programs.

About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,000 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including World Triathlon Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of World Triathlon and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

USA Duathlon Virtual Run-Bike-Run, presented by RaceX, to benefit USA Triathlon Foundation’s General Fund

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon today announced the opening of registration for the second annual USA Duathlon Virtual Run-Bike-Run presented by RaceX, a virtual multisport challenge set for April 15-May 3. 

The event is free to enter. Participants have the option to make a $35 donation to the USA Triathlon Foundation and receive a finisher’s medal, or a $55 donation to receive a finishers’ medal and a USA Triathlon-branded premium wall-mounted medal hanger. All donations will go to the USA Triathlon Foundation’s general fund to help open pathways for all to swim, bike and run.

The 19-day challenge offers beginner and experienced athletes alike the opportunity to test themselves at the start of the racing season — whether they plan to return to in-person racing in 2021 or tackle their first-ever multisport event. Athletes can complete the challenge on their own time and at their own pace, from anywhere in the world. Registration is open now, and athletes can sign up at any point until the conclusion of the challenge on May 3. Click here to register.

The Virtual Run-Bike-Run is a cumulative challenge, and participants can track their progress on the FitRankings platform using run and bike leaderboards sortable by total mileage, time and elevation gain. Athletes will receive messages from USA Triathlon and FitRankings as they hit overall running and cycling milestones toward traditional duathlon distances: sprint (7.5-kilometer run and 20-kilometer bike) and standard (15k run, 40k bike). 

The virtual event also serves as a precursor to the USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships, a weekend of in-person racing set for May 22-23 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. As athletes complete the cumulative distances in the Virtual Run-Bike-Run, their progress will be displayed on a map of the Duathlon Nationals standard-distance race course in Tuscaloosa. For more information about Duathlon Nationals, which does not require qualification and which will adhere to USA Triathlon’s Safe Return to Multisport guidelines, click here.

“While multisport athletes across the U.S. will be able to race in-person this year, 2020 revealed the importance of virtual racing in helping attract new athletes to our sport,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “The USA Duathlon Virtual Run-Bike-Run presented by RaceX enables athletes to test their racing legs on their own time, from their own backyards, as they gear up for a busy season. We also invite beginners who may have newly discovered or rediscovered the joys of running and cycling in 2020 to dip their toes into multisport racing for the first time with this virtual challenge.”

“The USA Triathlon Foundation spent much of 2020 focused on supporting members of the multisport community who were acutely impacted by COVID-19,” said David Deschenes, USA Triathlon Foundation Executive Director. “As we look ahead to a brighter future, we are proud to be able to continue that community support while focusing on broader programs and initiatives that advance our mission of opening pathways for all to swim, bike and run. We are grateful to those who choose to give back to the sport with a donation to the USA Triathlon Foundation as part of their participation in the USA Duathlon Virtual Run-Bike-Run.” 

Athletes can complete the entire challenge on one day or work toward their cumulative distance goal over multiple days or weeks. Workouts may be uploaded to the Virtual Run-Bike-Run platform, powered by FitRankings, at any time throughout the challenge. Run and bike activities can be synced to the platform automatically via most GPS-enabled fitness devices, smartphone apps and smartwatches — including Wahoo, Garmin, Apple Watch, Fitbit, Misfit, Polar, Suunto, Google Fit, RunKeeper, Apple Health and MapMyFitness. Manual uploads are also available. 

Workouts may be completed outdoors or indoors, while observing all local social distancing and safety guidelines: spin bikes and stationary bikes, bike trainers and treadmills are all acceptable.

The Virtual Run-Bike-Run is presented by RaceX, USA Triathlon’s Official Predictive Analytics Technology Partner. One participant will be selected at random to win a one-year subscription to RaceX PERFORMANCE valued at $228, which provides fully optimized race pacing plans, predictions, what-if analysis, and race-rehearsal tools powered by predictive analytics and AI, as well as athletes’ own genetics and training data. 

TrueForm, a global leader in non-motorized treadmill development and running education, is a supporting partner of the Virtual Run-Bike-Run. The first 100 people to register for the event and select the $55 USA Triathlon Foundation premium finisher’s package will receive a $100 gift card, redeemable at trueformrunner.comCompeed, USA Triathlon’s Exclusive Blister Care Partner, is a contributing partner of the event.

Athletes are encouraged to share their progress with members of the nationwide multisport community as they complete the Virtual Run-Bike-Run, using the hashtag #VirtualRBR on social media. 

To learn more and register today for the USA Duathlon Virtual Run-Bike-Run presented by RaceX, click here.

About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,000 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

Many Coloradans Race Challenge Miami, Leiferman, Von Berg Earn Podium Spot, Matt Miller Happy to be Racing Again!

By Bill Plock

As storm Xylia pummeled the Front Range of Colorado, many Coloradans raced the Challenge Miami Triathlon over the weekend. Ten Colorado based pro’s and a large contingent of athletes from Boulder’s BASE team raced the three day event. On the pro podium hoisting some champagne from Boulder were Chris Leiferman (4) and Rudy Von Berg (5). Germany’s Jan Frodeno won the men’s race over Lionel Sanders (2) and Ben Kanute (3). For the women, in a bit of a surprise, British triathlete Jodie Stimpson edged out favored Lucy Charles-Barclay of Britain by almost a minute and a half. Rounding out the women’s podium were Jackie Hering, Sara Perez Sala and Skye Moench. Boulder’s Lisa Bechares and Lesley Smith (A BASE sponsored athlete) finished 11th and 12th respectively. Other Colorado pros finishing included Tyler Butterfield (7), Tim O’Donnell (11), Matt Hanson (13), Ben Hoffman (16) and Robbie Deckard (19).

Rudy Von Berg, Jan Frodeno, Chris Leiferman and Ben Kanute (Left to right)

Chris Leiferman finished just under four minutes behind Frodeno and chased down Von Berg on the run overcoming about a minute off the bike to take fourth by 25 seconds. Said Leiferman, “I was happiest with my bike. It was fun and dynamic and being able to stay in the mix and come out of T2 in a good spot put me in a good position for the finish.”

Lesley Smith, photo Kenny Withrow

Lesley Smith also competed at Challenge Daytona at the end of 2020 and has been working hard on her swim and had this to say about the race, “I was happy to see the consistent super swimming I did in jan / feb pay off, as the swim went better than it did in Daytona. The Bike course was far more technical than Daytona and that is not my forte but it was a really amazing race and I’m glad to have had the opportunity.”

Challenge Miami, similar to Daytona, featured many events for age group athletes including a sprint, mid-distance (70.3), a kids challenge and a 5k making it a three day event with the pros racing on Friday.

Matt Miller

BASE president, Matt Miller said after his first racing in a while, “Challenge put on another fantastic event in Miami. BASE had 100 athletes in town racing split pretty even between the different events which was amazing. Everyone practiced safety snd was cautious with masks. I personally raced the sprint myself and although the body was rusty and filled with cobwebs, it felt to get back out there after 18 months and get a sweat on. Loved it”

Matt Hanson of Castle Rock, photo Kenny Withrow

Open Letter From Without Limits on Upcoming Season and New Waitlist Option

Editors note, this letter has good information on where things are at with Covid and how Without Limits is handling not only capacity for venues, but also the demand levels to race with a new wait list program that offers utmost flexibility in this uncertain environment.

Dear Colorado Triathlon Community,
As the days start to grow longer, that cabin fever has many of you wondering; what will triathlon season look like? Things are starting to move in the right direction for Colorado and the current COVID-Dial 2.0. Just this past week, Jefferson and Broomfield Counties recently moved to Level Blue, and the state enters Vaccine Phase 1B.3 for ages 60+ this Friday. Boulder County (Colorado Tri on June 5th) and Larimer County (XTERRA Lory on June 12th) “should” still safely enter Level Green (500 event limit) by the end of May. 

We use “should” in quotes, as our goal continues to stay on the side of caution, giving each event the best possible chance to move forward. That being said, we’re placing a 250-athlete cap (Level Blue) on ALL June events. Our new registration provider (TriReg) has a waitlist feature. How does it work? Once we hit the 250 level you’ll be able to register for the waitlist, and it will store your payment info temporarily without charging you. Assuming we hit Level Green, then you’ll be automatically rolled into the event without any additional sign-up needed, receiving an immediate update e-mail. 

Our goal is to notify all wait list athletes a minimum of 3 weeks prior to race day. Please note, that current 250 capacity level is combined for all distances. Unlike some running events that have been able to stage multiple waves throughout the day, we face unique obstacles such as limited water access, that prevent this option.

Special Incentive for Volunteers:  This season ALL volunteers will receive their discount code immediately upon signing up, even if they want to use their code for a race prior to their volunteer assignment. Why the change? We want to ensure all volunteers have first dibs to register before a race reaches a COVID-19 capacity restriction. Please don’t abuse the system, if you race then bail on your future volunteer assignment we’ll hunt you down faster than Liam Neesen in Taken.  To sign-up for the discounted entry program please email Olympia@withoutlimits.com
TO REGSITER FOR A 2021 EVENT – CLICK HERE!

With love, hope, and support, Lance, and the entire Without Limits A-Team

One Big Reason Why Darrin Was So Happy with Chilly Cheeks Duathlon…

By Bill Plock

If you know or have met Darrin Eisman, you undoubtedly have felt his positive energy and just his energy in general. His company Racing Underground has a number of multisport and running races, including past weekend’s Chilly Cheeks duathlon at Cherry Creek State Park. It was the third and final race of this popular winter duathlon series. 

About 75 people raced in the cold around the west shore of the ice covered reservoir where even the slightest breeze added to the challenge of figuring out how to stay just warm enough to comfortably race. People raced on everything from TT bikes to fat tire snow bikes—although the roads were perfectly dry and clear.  Some wore puffy jackets and others shivered in minimal kits and even with a few in shorts! 

Susan Felicissimo

When Darrin popped out of his van (down by a lake, not a river :)), and was asked how the day was going, he smiled wide and beamed with happiness watching people race. 

Like all racing events, Covid has had a major impact on Darrin’s business.  His joy was more than just because the race was happening.

Darrin said, “I’m so excited, my staff is so amazing, and we did some things to cut costs with minimal awards and a few other things, but they volunteered to work for free and we actually might break even today! We did get few extra entries in the past week because we were recently allowed to go from 75 to 150 people. The series had sold out but with a few more people, we might break even and if we have any extra we will happily pay our employees—they are just awesome, they want people to have fun and be here.” 

Like other races, they made some modifications to make it as safe as possible. Things like a time trial bike start and an overly ample amount of room for bike racking and transitions. 

Top 2 male finishers, Austin O’Brien and Brian Folts with Darrin

Racing Underground recently held the popular winter running race, the Yeti Chase. In April there is another duathlon at Cherry Creek, the Barking Dog. Check out their website for all of their races. They have a fun variety of venues and races all over the front range.

http://www.racingunderground.com

Vulnerable Wheat Ridge/CU Grad Deb Conley Overcoming Major Adversity On Way to the Hall of Fame

By Bill Plock

Deb Conley started running for the first time the summer before attending the University of Colorado at Boulder. She ran just to run with a new boyfriend. Like three miles. A couple of months later she walked on to CU’s cross country team and has been running ever since. 

At her home at base of Flatirons

And just recently, she was inducted into the Colorado Running Hall of Fame. Wow. She never played sports growing up, never ran, never did anything but work and go to school. 

In this video interview, Deb expresses a surprised happiness after being selected for the Colorado Running Hall of Fame. But she also shares something vulnerable; how running in college was the first time she ever experienced feeling truly happy.  Whats not really discussed, is the rocky and almost impossible path she took to get here. 

And now for the rest of the story.

If you knew Deb in high school you probably would never have foreseen her making the Colorado Running H.O.A.  But like 99% of her classmates, I had no idea how hard her life was until we reconvened about this honor almost 40 years later.

My high school experience differed greatly from Deb’s even though we both went to Wheat Ridge and graduated in 1983. I played sports, didn’t work, had a car, stayed busy with practices and homework and hanging out with friends. Admittedly, I led the “Leave it Beaver” lifestyle (yes I’m dating myself), like a good chunk of my fellow “Farmers” (our mascot). 

Deb, living just a few miles away lived in poverty. Her mom forged her birth certificate when she was 13 so she could work. Her bed was an old army cot. They had no refrigerator and the house was in disrepair. Her parents didn’t want her to go to college but rather help with the other kids. There was no modeling of “success” or “ambition” in her home. Yet she excelled at school and knew she had to figure out a way to go to college. She admittedly didn’t understand true happiness and felt lonely. 

Her friend and fellow classmate, Chris Tomlinson, one of the few who knew of Deb’s tough childhood said, “she was very smart, but seemed anxious and isolated. It seemed touch and go for her.” 

Deb can still do the splits–her key to youthfulness–being limber

She pushed through it, emancipated herself after graduation to help get Pell grants, was accepted to CU and enrolled for the fall semester in 1983. Freedom maybe at last? Happiness maybe or at least an opportunity to pursue it? 

Then, she began to run. Like Forest Gump she broke free of her shackles of shame and living in a place she hated, a place she couldn’t have friends over, a place where she didn’t feel appreciated, maybe not even loved. She found joy and happiness from just moving how she chose to move and when and where she wanted to go. 

She ran and she ran some more. 

She then met some women on the cross country team and the coach and they encouraged her to come practice with them. They saw talent, raw talent. They encouraged her to try out for the cross country team. She made it, as a freshman—simply incredible.  For the first time she did something in life that others recognized as outward success. That elusive feeling of belonging, of being part of a greater success—a team. To feel empowered. To feel in control. Finally. 

Now fast forward four years and her team having won the first ever conference title for the school in women’s cross country. A tough division one conference with power houses such as Iowa State. Oh, and along the way she decided to give triathlon a try and finished fourth in nationals. Safe to say Deb found her sport, but more importantly she found her life, her happiness.

She never looked back. In fact, she kept running, hoping to make the Olympic trials as a marathoner. She narrowly missed recording a 2:46 marathon, but she kept running as an elite masters and still does to this day.

Soon though she found the gift of giving others a chance to thrive and began leading blind runners and changing lives. Lives with their own extraordinary challenges. Who better to help motivate others and to help them “see” their best selves and find happiness in running? 

For the last three decades Deb has led countless blind runners and set up an organization to help others guide. She tirelessly has made strides in the visual impaired community and even has developed the official tether for blind athletes. 

So between her own success running and her relentless pursuit of sharing the joy with others, she was inducted into a very exclusive place—the Colorado Running Hall of Fame.

The walls of Wheat Ridge High School are lined with photos of athletes who excelled in sports. They are revered. Some like Cherry Creek Football Coach and former pro football player Dave Logan, have certainly gone on to great success. But many faded into the everyday. 

Deb’s picture is not on those walls but should be based on her athletic achievements alone, let alone her impact on others. Wheat Ridge students who don’t play sports should know of someone who left those halls with no idea what success was and went on to greatness. Maybe they will honor her someday like the running community has and some youth, feeling alone among a hallway of student athletes might be inspired by Deb. 

Her friend, Chris, who himself as seen major despair as a journalist covering nine wars, now a well read author and Houston Chronicle columnist said, “for someone so extremely fragile and under such adversity to have become such a respected athlete and to give back so much to so many athletes is an extraordinary transformation I completely admire and respect, it’s mind blowing.”

Indeed it’s not only mind blowing, it’s worthy of the Hall of Fame—any hall of fame. Congratulations Deb. 

Endurance Exchange Silent Auction benefitting the USA Triathlon Foundation

Join us in supporting the USA Triathlon Foundation 

Unique Experiences. Olympic Memorabilia. One-of-Kind Items. Travel.

Looking to support a great cause? Check out the Endurance Exchange Silent Auction benefitting the USA Triathlon Foundation. Proceeds from the auction will support the Foundation’s mission to transform lives through sport for all, to include supporting our Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls and athletes competing at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The auction will close at 12:00PM EST on Sunday, January 31st. Packages are available for all interests and budgets starting out at Cases of Vice Wine all the way up to VIP Spectator Package for the IRONMAN World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Have questions about the auction items or want more information about the Foundation? Please contact Dave Deschenes at Dave.Deschenes@usatriathlonfoundation.org.

Dear Dave

Dear Dave,

When we first met, little did I know that I was talking to a legend. It was December of 2017 and we were at the IRONMAN World Championship NBC Broadcast Preview Party in New York City. I remember your big smile and infectious energy as you made your way around the room talking to various guests. When you told me who you were and your connection to IRONMAN, I was completely floored. Here I am, talking to the guy who finished 3rd at the 1st ever IRONMAN in 1978.

December 2017 – New York City

From that moment on, our paths crossed at various events and activities due to our invovlement with the IRONMAN Foundation. We dug up weeds to help restore sacred grounds on the Big Island, volunteered our time with Paradox Sports in Boulder with their adaptive climbing program, and so many other fun times. I’ll admit, up to that point I only knew you from your accomplishment as being the 3rd badass that ever finished an IRONMAN.

It was time to head back to Kona in October of 2018, and you reached out to me to see if I was also headed back to the Big Island. Somehow we connected the dots and realized we were both on the same flights from Denver to Honolulu, and then Kona. The travel angels were doing their magic, I got upgraded to a First Class seat, and there you were sitting in First Class as well. With a little bit of shuffling, our flight attendant made sure we got to seat next to each other.

Thank you United! It was a great ride!!!

It was during that flight that I had the privilege to really get to know you. That 9 hour flight flew right by in a blink of an eye. We talked about life, love, triathlon, and everything under the sun. You told me about your service in the Marines, leading to your post on the Island of Oahu where this crazy idea of swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles was cooked up.

Dave heading out on the bike leg of the 1st ever IRONMAN – Oahu, Hawaii

I’ll never forget learning about the nuances of your experience racing self-supported. The bike you rode was borrowed, you threw a $20 bill into the pocket of your jean shorts to buy food and drink along the way, one of your “aid stations” was a grocery store that you ran into quickly for fear that your bike would get stolen because you left it outside, and on the run your friends showed up with handups of beer.

You never hid how you felt about how the sport of triathlon has morphed from this grassroots bandit-like fun culture where finishing was a feat in itself to the now technology ridden profit-driven sport of the privileged few. Despite all these changes, your spirit and love of the sport never unwavered. You were extremely humble about all your accomplishments and had the upmost respect for the sport, how it made you a better person, and gave back to you personally in so many ways. Seeing the excitement in your eyes when the cannon went off on the Kailua Bay pier for the swim start even after 40 years since it all began gave me faith that maybe someday I would love racing long distance again.

I also remember you telling me about your battle with cancer and all the infusion treatments you had received. In fact, you missed going to Kona in 2017 because you were too ill and got stuck in Los Angeles to complete a round of infusions. No one would ever suspect that you were “sick” from interacting with you. Your spirit and energy definitely didn’t reflect that, which is something I really admired about you. You always rose to the occasion but took the time to yourself to recharge when needed. One thing that you did mention that I’ll never forget that even though the cancer suppressed your immune system, you were always willing to take that chance to be around people because you loved the energy of race week and race day on the Big Island. Nothing would make you miss being part of the fun!

You fought an amazing fight my friend. That battle is now over and you’ve cross the finish line of life. The way you lived is how we should all aspire to live. To the fullest. Dave Orlowski-style. Now you’ll live on forever in each and every one of us who’ve been blessed and lucky enough to have been part of your journey.

E hoʻomaha me ka maluhia my friend.

Kou kaikuahine me ke aloha,
Khem

PTO Championship and Challenge Daytona; Triathlon Forever Changed? Maybe so

By Bill Plock

Daytona Beach–It’s easy to want to compare the Professional Triathlon Organisation’s Championship (PTO) at Challenge Daytona with IRONMAN’s Kona. You really can’t though. If this were boxing, it’s like watching light and middle weight boxers fight versus heavy weights. One is full of action, flurries, speed and rapid fire punches, the other, a war of strength and stamina and seeing who can withstand the most for the longest. There is room in this world for both. There will be fans of both. But for the pros’ yesterday may have been a game changer. 

Kona is Kona. It’s a magical kind of place with known foes like heat, the Energy Lab, the winds on the Queen K and the hill on Palani. Daytona, like the backdrop for this race, was about speed and more speed. Like the NASCAR race that put Daytona on the map, these triathletes jockeyed for position all day long. They averaged up to 30 miles per hour on the bike! The road is flat, the only foe is the athlete in front, and the voices in their heads telling them when to make a move or not. 

For the pros, with their race contained entirely inside the 2.5 mile oval that is one of the most famous racing venues in the world, it was all right in front of them. Lap after lap. 20 times on the bike, four times on the run, and even twice on the swim. Yes, there is a large lake inside the track along with an RV park, smaller tracks and plenty of open space. The whole thing was a made-for-television event. The race was about speed and making moves. 

Winner Gustav Iden

In the men’s race, Coloradans Matt Hanson, Rudy Von Berg and Sam Long finished 2nd, 5th and 9th respectively.  Both Hanson and Long came from fairly far back after the swim to chase down the leaders and contend for the podium. Hanson had the fastest run of the day with a blistering 5:20/mile pace over the 18k run. While Long made up his deficit mostly on the bike with a fastest bike of the day riding the 80k course in 1:38:24 averaging 30.2 mph! He showed moments of speed on the run trying to catch up and at one point he held second place! Von Berg with a fast swim and bike, ran in contention all day. He and Long battled on the run for a couple of laps creating a buzz in the crowd watching on the jumbo tron—sort of a modern day “Iron War.” Von Berg pushed ahead of Long but slipped back on the last lap finishing just off the podium behind Britain’s George Goodwin, a middle distance specialist and long course veteran Lionel Sanders—who turned in the second fastest bike split and came from far back himself.  

Matt Hanson flying to the finish

With early leader and favored Alistair Brownlee of Britain pulling out on the run due to injury, Gustov Iden of Norway moved into the lead about half way through the run and never relinquished it. Hanson’s run was one for the ages tracking down the fastest triathletes on the planet finishing 51 seconds back and in second place. With each lap he moved up the leader board and excitement built in the crowd, but Iden’s lead was just too much.  Two and half minutes separated the top ten men creating a buzz at the finish line. 

Sam Long and Rudy Von Berg Battling it out.

This race may change the sport of triathlon. With its contained venue, the distance and format offers triathletes specializing in all distances a chance to contend. It could be the answer to showcasing a sport to a wider audience and increasing exposure for the pros’ to make it a more viable career choice. 

The exceptional performances and feel good stories at Kona also have their place and capture the hearts of people everywhere. The age group, midnight finish line in Kona (or any IRONMAN) is an amazing spectacle. But the race in Daytona was a far more exciting race to watch. Winning Kona for the pros is a big deal. And the winner gets $120,000 compared to $100,000 yesterday. But at Challenge Daytona the prize purse was much deeper and finishing in the top ten made for a nice paycheck. (click here for a breakdown https://challenge-daytona.com/race-information/prize-money/) The overall purse was almost twice as much as Kona. Every pro who finished was guaranteed at least $2,500. 

Female Champion Paula Findlay

But this race may resemble days gone by when entities like the NBA and NFL finally had to pay attention to other leagues gaining a foothold in their sport. Both the NBA and NFL adopted more open, crowd appealing initiatives found in the newer ABA and AFL. They brought fresh ideas to basketball and football and in particular shifted the attention to the stars not the sport—sort of like what the PTO is doing. From the three point line, the dunk contest, and run and gun mentality of the ABA to the throw happy style of the AFL (with its football designed to throw easier) and putting names on the jersey’s all made their way into the sports we know today. Back in the day Julius Irving (Dr. J) got a thousand bucks and a stereo for winning the dunk contest with his famous free throw dunk. 

Every sport has defining moments that change it forever. Will Challenge Daytona be one of those moments? How will IRONMANj respond, or will it? Does it need to? Maybe, maybe not but with bigger purses and exciting venues like the Daytona Motor Speedway, hopefully a rising tide will elevate triathlon for all. 

We shall see….

Help Support Triathlon Relief Fund, $5 Entries for Daily Prizes, “10 Days to Daytona”

Welcome to the PTO 2020 Championship “10 Days to Daytona” Charity Prize Draw.

The Professional Triathletes Organisation and our partners, CHALLENGEDAYTONA®, USA Triathlon and British Triathlon, have launched a Charity Prize Draw in support of the Triathlon Covid-19 Relief Fund.

Much of our sport has been decimated by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic – in working together we hope to provide some support to those in our triathlon community most in need. Alongside our fundraising partners, triathlon legends past and present have united to create a prize draw with once-in-a-lifetime experiences – all donated to Support the Sport.

Every day for 10 days leading up to the PTO 2020 Championship on Dec 6th, five unique prizes will be up for grabs with the five lucky winners of each day’s prize draw selected at random at the end of each day. That’s 50 amazing prizes in total!

Priced at $5 per entry with no limit on the number of entries, all proceeds will go into the Triathlon Covid-19 Relief Fund and be used to support triathlon-related causes around the world. Administered by our partners, the USA Triathlon Foundation, US based donations will support US causes, European funds will support Europeans and other International groups to their specific region of the world. Triathlon is a truly global sport, and this is an opportunity for us all to unite together for a common cause.

To enter Raffle go here: https://championship.protriathletes.org/charity-draw/#donate-to-win