Angela Naeth, Tim Don in at Daytona, Will Sam Long Get a Golden Ticket? Still 8 more Slots Open

By Bill Plock

Will Boulder’s Sam Long find the Golden ticket to race in Daytona? The “top” 80 triathletes were invited weeks ago and now 12 others have been invited via the Wildcard selection. Eight slots remain and will be awarded in the next week. It feels like the PTO is taking a page from Willy Wonka handing out Wildcards like a golden ticket making their way around the world. Who will be Charlie and get the last golden ticket to race the most lucrative triathlon on the planet? There is a million bucks on the line and no doubt the pro’s want a shot at the prize, especially in 2020. 

The Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) is certainly doing its best to make the triathlon season competitive, fun and lucrative with the PTO 2020 Championship at CHALLENGEDAYTONA®  

Today Angela Naeth received a golden ticket. We just interviewed Angela on the 303 Endurance Podcast being released tomorrow so check that out! She has had a very interesting career with some great accomplishments and has overcome a huge challenge with Lyme’s disease. Angela grew up in a small town in a very remote part of British Columbia so learning of her journey is fun and interesting.

It seems the PTO is stirring up the pro triathlon circuit and maybe some fun rivalries will come out of this recipe for wanting to make pro triathlon a better followed sport. The vision is to make the profession more lucrative and more on par with other sports. Having an event like Challenge Daytona will definitely create some buzz. 

What’s interesting about Challenge Daytona is all types of triathletes are vying for the prizes; short course, ITU and long course champions will all be on the start line. No doubt winning Kona at the IRONMAN World Championships will not be replaced as coveted award, but with an event like Daytona, the monetary stakes are higher and it’s very hard to predict who will win. In Kona its a pretty small field of probable winners. But in Daytona it’s hard to know who the favorites are. 

Today we are interviewing Norwegian Olympian Kristian Blummenfelt who holds the world record time for a IRONMAN 70.3 distance. Daytona will be the same distance, so he must be a favorite. But then factor in someone like Tim O’Donnell the fastest American in Kona last year. The list of other athletes with amazing accomplishments is staggering. So many could win. 

And back to Sam Long, if he gets in; he has had an amazing year winning IRONMAN Cozumel 70.3 and the Bear Lake Triathlon earlier this summer with a solid list of pro’s. Check out this video from the Bear Lake Triathlon,

Let’s hope Sam gets the golden ticket—keep buying those chocolate bars Sam!!

Here is some commentary from the PTO and Executive Chairman Charles Adamo about the selection of the first 12 wildcards over the past couple of weeks.

The Professional Triathletes Organisation first selected Vincent Luis, Nicola Spirig, Kristian Blummenfelt and Georgia Taylor-Brown as wildcards for the PTO 2020 Championship at CHALLENGEDAYTONA®

Charles Adamo, Executive Chairman of PTO, commented, “It certainly was not a difficult decision for the non-athlete members of the PTO Board to select these four world-class athletes to join the already star-studded starting line at the PTO 2020 Championship.  With Luis and Taylor-Brown being the reigning World Triathlon Champions, Blummenfelt holding the middle-distance world record, and the pure greatness of Spirig, there is little doubt they will challenge for the title. It will be an exciting prospect for triathlon fans around the world to see these athletes doing battle against the sport’s middle- and long-distance stars.”

The Professional Triathletes Organisation then announced that Tim Don, Flora Duffy, Gustav Iden and Jessica Learmonth have been selected as wildcards for the PTO 2020 Championship at CHALLENGEDAYTONA®.

Charles Adamo, Executive Chairman of PTO, commented, “The second round of wildcard selections were as easy to make as the first. With these four tremendous world-class athletes added to the mix, the PTO 2020 Championship will have an unprecedented field.”

Adamo added, “No one better than Tim Don exemplifies the resilience and integrity of our sport. His comeback from a horrific bike accident is an inspiration to us all. The first championship event run by PTO professionals would not be the same without this seasoned statesman on the start line. While Don brings the experience and breadth of a 20+ year career, Learmonth and Iden, with their recent stellar performances, bring the speed and power of youth, and what can’t you say about the versatile, multi-world champion Flora Duffy? There isn’t any format, distance or style of swim, bike and run she doesn’t excel at. We all look forward to seeing her whiz around the iconic race venue.”

Tim Don, commented, “I am grateful to have been awarded a wildcard spot. After over twenty-five years in the sport, it is great that professionals have their own organisation and now, a championship.  It is an honour for me to be competing alongside my fellow professionals in the PTO 2020 Championship, and while the competition will be tough, the camaraderie will be even greater as professionals unite to make our sport better.”

Charles Adamo, Executive Chairman of PTO, commented “Our third round of wildcard selections is filled with Olympic medallists and a gritty Canadian. With Britain’s Jonny Brownlee and South Africa’s Henri Schoeman joining Jonny’s brother, Alistair, and Javier Gomez on the start line, the star-studded field will have every men’s Olympic medal winner from both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Sweden’s Lisa Norden, silver medal winner in the 2012 London Olympics, will join previously announced wildcard selection Nicola Spirig, who denied Norden gold by 9/1000th of a second. Canadian Angela Naeth just missed out on an automatic qualifying spot, but her stellar career and her remarkable comeback after being diagnosed with Lyme disease has earned her a wildcard place.”

PTO 2020 Championships in Daytona, Million Dollar Purse; Will Recent IM Cozumel Champ Sam Long Be Chosen?

In Daytona on December 5th and 6th there is a triathlon festival–the Challenge Daytona Triathlon. There are two days of racing finishing with the PTO Pro Championship. One million dollars will be awarded to top male and female finishers. Pros are invited based on qualifying points and below is a list of the top 40 male and female pros who have qualified. In addition, 10 men and 10 women will be awarded “wildcard” spots. If you are curious how that will work, here is a link to the process: https://protriathletes.org/pto-2020-championships-wildcard-selection-criteria/

The Wildcards will be chosen next week. It will be interesting to see if recent 70.3 IRONMAN Cozumel winner and Boulder native Sam Long gets an invite. On Sams YouTube page in his Cozumel race review he alludes to hopefully being invited to Daytona. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7LaidPWcAs

Charles Adamo, Executive Chairman of the PTO, commented,“These will be very sought-after openings and the non-athlete members of the PTO Board will have some very difficult decisions to make, particularly as the ITU season is ended and many of the Olympic distance superstars, like Nicola Spirig and Kristian Blummenfelt, are relishing this unique opportunity to have a crack at the PTO 2020 Championship. In addition, the wildcard selection process will allow the PTO to invite some of the young and up-and-coming athletes, giving them a chance to cut their teeth in a championship field. With the top 40 PTO World ranked professionals and the wildcard selections, the field for the PTO 2020 Championship at CHALLENGEDAYTONA® will be one of the strongest fields ever assembled for our sport. It will be exciting to see the best athletes doing battle for the spoils.”

This race is lining up to be a very iconic event with the swim and shorter distance races held inside the track and a spectacular middle distance ride that hugs the coast for a bit. Imagine doing the 5k run of sprint or most of the bike on a race track?? Here is a link if you want to learn more or register. https://challenge-daytona.com

In the pro field there are notable Colorado ties: Tim O’Donnell, Miranda Carfrae, Lesly Smith, Ben Hoffman, Andy Potts, Rudy Von Berg, Sam Appleton, and many others seen training and racing in Colorado over the years.

This video shows the courses:

Watch this to see what Olympian Rowdy Gaines thinks of swimming INSIDE of the Speedway…

The Pro Men in order of rank

Frodeno, JanGER1
Brownlee, AlistairGBR2
Kienle, SebastianGER3
Sanders, LionelCAN4
Skipper, JoeGBR5
Hoffman, BenUSA6
Von Berg, RodolpheUSA7
Wurf, CameronAUS8
Currie, BradenNZL9
Gomez, JavierESP10
O’Donnell, TimothyUSA11
Heemeryck, PieterBEL12
Dreitz, AndreasGER13
Weiss, MichaelAUT14
Aernouts, BartBEL15
Dapena Gonzalez, PabloESP16
Hanson, MattUSA17
Appleton, SamAUS18
Beals, CodyCAN19
Clavel, MauriceGER20
Angert, FlorianGER21
Baekkegard, DanielDEN22
Reed, TimAUS23
Nilsson, PatrikSWE24
Amberger, JoshAUS25
Starykowicz, AndrewUSA26
Trautman, MattZAF27
Koutny, PhilippSUI28
Phillips, MikeNZL29
Russell, MatthewUSA30
Amorelli, IgorBRA31
Boecherer, AndiGER32
McNamee, DavidGBR33
Kanute, BenUSA34
Funk, FredericGER35
Potts, AndyUSA36
Van Berkel, TimAUS37
Weiss, BradleyZAF38
Llanos, EnekoESP39
Goodwin, GeorgeGBR40
Van Lierde, FrederikBEL41
Burton, MattAUS43

The Pro Women in order of rank

Ryf, DanielaSUI1
Charles-Barclay, LucyGBR2
Crowley, SarahAUS3
Haug, AnneGER4
Adam, TeresaNZL5
Lawrence, HollyGBR6
Lester, CarrieAUS7
Jackson, HeatherUSA8
Philipp, LauraGER9
Moench, SkyeUSA10
Sodaro, ChelseaUSA11
Piampiano, SarahUSA12
Bleymehl, DanielaGER13
Kahlefeldt, RadkaCZE14
Findlay, PaulaCAN15
Simmonds, ImogenSUI16
Salthouse, EllieAUS17
McCauley, JocelynUSA18
Watkinson, AmeliaNZL19
Hering, JackieUSA20
Seymour, JeanniZAF21
Carfrae, MirindaAUS22
Steffen, CarolineSUI23
Svensk, SaraSWE24
Frades Larralde, GurutzeESP26
Pallant, EmmaGBR27
Corachan Vacquero, JudithESP28
Kessler, MeredithUSA29
Jerzyk, AgnieszkaPOL30
Smith, LesleyUSA31
Wells, HannahNZL32
Lehrieder, CarolinGER33
Morrison, KimberleyGBR34
Stage Nielsen, MajaDEN35
Tondeur, AlexandraBEL36
Genet, ManonFRA37
Visser, ElsNED38
Annett, JenCAN39
Vesterby, MichelleDEN40
Siddall, LauraGBR43
Watkinson, AnnahZAF44

USA Triathlon, CHALLENGE North America and PTO Team up for $1 Million Prize Purse at Daytona Tri Festival

It was announced today that USA Triathlon and the Professional Triathletes Organisation have joined forces with CHALLENGENORTHAMERICA to be part of its iconic CHALLENGEDAYTONA race at Daytona International Speedway on December 4th, 5th and 6th.  The three-day triathlon festival will attract athletes from around the world to compete at the “World Center of Racing ®” and will feature an array of different events, including age-grouper sprint and middle-distance events, junior challenges, a Pro-Am relay and will culminate with a PTO Middle Distance World Championship Race with a $1,000,000 prize purse for the world’s top professional triathletes.

William Christy, CEO of CHALLENGENORTHAMERICA shares, “In often a divided world, triathlon has been a unifying force for athletes across the globe. We come together to compete as a family of global athletes. The global pandemic has displaced athletes and cancelled races and now more than ever, our world needs to unite. Our festival allows us to cheer and compete for a shared cause.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our daily lives and routines in dramatic ways. As we adjust and adapt to these changing circumstances, we also know that our entire multisport community is eagerly awaiting the day we can safely and responsibly race again,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “USA Triathlon is proud to support CHALLENGENORTHAMERICA and the PTO by sanctioning a world-class event in December that will showcase the camaraderie of our sport.”

Charles Adamo, PTO Chairman, stated “The PTO is pleased to be able to work with the USA Triathlon and CHALLENGEDAYTONA to support the triathlon community to provide race opportunities for athletes. Since many professional events have been cancelled and some races rescheduled without a professional prize purse, the PTO is committing $1,000,000 of prize money for the PTO Middle Distance World Championship.”

In addition, the PTO Championships on December 6th, the CHALLENGEDAYTONAFestival weekend will include a wide array of events catering to athletes of all ages and abilities. The event weekend is anticipated to host the following events:

·       PTO Middle Distance World Championships

·       Sprint and Middle-Distance Triathlons

·       Junior Challenge kids’ race

·       Pro Am Relay Race

·       5K/10K run/walk events

·       Relay categories

·       Duathlon and Aquabike events


The top six male and female finishers in each Middle-Distance Triathlon age group will qualify for entry in THECHAMPIONSHIP, to be held in May 2021 at the x-bionic sphere in Samorin, Slovakia.

Zibi Szlufcik, CHALLENGEFAMILY President of the Board, commented, “While there is still uncertainty associated with the effects of the global pandemic, we know that planning, preparation and hope must continue for the triathlon community. Our teams are busy making the necessary preparations for what we all hope will be a tribute to our sport.”

PTO Paying Pro Triathletes Now to Help With Crisis

In a podcast interview to be released on March 28th, Co-President of the Professional Triathlon Organization (PTO), Tim O’Donnell commented on the recent announcement about the PTO paying professional triathletes now rather than making them wait until the end of year.

“Michael Moritz, Chairman of Crankstart (the financing behind PTO), and Charles Adamo, (Chairman of PTO) have really showed amazing graciousness and a commitment to the athletes who rely on prize winnings by paying now and increasing the purse by half a million dollars,” said O’Donnell.

Tim O’Donnell, Kona 2019 with Rich Soares

LONDON, ENGLAND. 18 March 2020. The Professional Triathletes Organisation today announced its response to COVID-19 by increasing its Year-End Annual Bonus Programme from $2,000,000 to $2,500,000 and paying it all immediately based on the PTO World Rankings. The $500,000 increase would go to men and women athletes ranked 21-50, who previously would have been paid $5,000 each in a year-end bonus, but will now see that amount raised to $8,000, and men and women athletes ranked 51-100, who previously would have been paid $2,000 each in a year-end bonus, but will now see that amount raised to $5,000. Athletes will be paid based on their PTO World Ranking as of January 1 or March 15, whichever is higher.

During this period that the race schedule is disrupted, the top ten PTO World Ranked men and women athletes have committed to work together with the PTO to engage in appearances and online exhibitions and any revenue from these will be distributed to athletes ranked 20-100.

Rachel Joyce, Co-President of the PTO, commented, “The world finds itself in a difficult and almost unprecedented time. We appreciate that many people are struggling both physically and economically. For our athletes, like many others, the future is filled with uncertainty. With many races cancelled, the ability of our athletes to be able to race in the near future has been greatly reduced. The PTO has been looking for a way to support our athletes in this time of instability. We appreciate that many race operators and race directors are struggling with financial constraints and the PTO is fortunate to be in a position to be able to provide some support to our athletes. We hope that our response in paying athletes a total of $2,500,000 today will help them manage the immediate disruption they are experiencing. We are now looking to work with sponsors, governing bodies, race organisers and other groups in exploring additional opportunities to help alleviate the hardships that COVID-19 is causing to the triathlon community.”

Charles Adamo, Chairman of the PTO, stated that, “The actions taken by the PTO today are indicative of the way our athletes are viewed as valuable partners. Once events were being cancelled, the Crankstart Investments team immediately contacted us and wanted to find the best way to provide short-term support to the athletes. We will continue to monitor the ongoing impact and hope to be able to adopt additional programmes where athletes are not only supported, but also are able to provide support to others who may be struggling in this current environment. As an organisation, the PTO and its professional athletes will look to work with governing bodies, race directors, race organisers and our entire triathlon community to see how we are able to help.” 

The PTO also has also announced that under the current circumstances, The Collins Cup, scheduled for May 30, will need to be postponed and will be rescheduled for 2021 at the x-bionic-sphere®. For THE CHAMPIONSHIP, scheduled for May 31, Challenge Family and the x-bionic-sphere are working closely with the local authorities to determine if the event should and can be rescheduled for a later 2020 date. Sam Renouf, CEO of the PTO, commented that, “Given the complex and innovative broadcast production we were going to deliver for The Collins Cup, it is just impossible to logistically have all the worldwide vendors and suppliers gearing-up in this uncertain environment and be able to hold The Collins Cup this year.”

PTO and IRONMAN Talks Heating Up, Maybe Not in a Friendly Way?

By Bill Plock

Below is a news release we just received from the Professional Triathletes Organization regarding their attempt to engage with IRONMAN for eventual purchase and/or collaboration. It’s no secret the Wanda Sports Group is hoping to sell its triathlon business (IRONMAN). If you are keeping up with this saga, here is the latest.

From afar, does this in some ways parallel what is happening in the National Football League, but on a much, much smaller scale? The NFL is trying to get the players union to accept a new collective bargaining agreement that is actually valid until 2021. But from all accounts, NFL owners want to leverage a long term players agreement as they approach upcoming, multi-billion dollar television contracts due for negotiation this year. If there is a “shaky”, one year agreement players contract still in place, it is thought the NFL will not be able to maximize television contracts due to a possible strike and loss of games to be televised. Makes sense.

Is this a similar situation? It seems the PTO is basically telling IRONMAN that with a supportive professional triathlete organization, they will have a better product to sell and a stronger brand. So why are there no conversations happening–at least publicly? It will be interesting to see how this moves forward.

LONDON, ENGLAND–: The Professional Triathletes Organisation today released the following letter sent to the Board of Directors of Wanda Sports Group Company Limited on 3rd March 2020 advising the Board that in its view the value of the Ironman® Business in any possible sale would be adversely affected by its failure to engage in constructive discussions with the PTO.

Board of Directors, Wanda Sports Group Company Limited, Wanda Plaza, Tower B, 9th Floor, 93 Jianguo Road Chaoyang District, Beijing, China, Attn: Mr. Yimin Gao–CEO

Andrew Messick, Chief Executive Officer, World Triathlon Corporation, 3407 W. Martin Luther King Blvd, Suite 100, Tampa, Florida 33607

Dear Members of the Board:

We are writing on behalf of the Professional Triathletes Organisation (the “PTO”) and note with interest your public announcement that the Wanda Sports Group Company Limited (“WSG”) is in preliminary discussions concerning the possible sale of its worldwide triathlon and mass participation business (the “WTC Business”). We further note that the WSG Board has yet to respond to our letter dated 3rd of February 2020, in which we advised the Board that the PTO is prepared to enter into discussions regarding the acquisition of the WTC Business and to consider an all-cash transaction or one in which the existing shareholders of WSG are able to participate in the growth of the WTC Business that the PTO and its professionals are uniquely able to deliver. In our letter we also advised the WSG Board that we are prepared to work with other groups who may be interested in acquiring the WTC Business.

We strongly believe that our involvement in the sale process will enable the WSG shareholders to maximise the value of any sale of the WTC Business, and failure to allow the PTO the opportunity to be part of any sale process will adversely affect the WSG shareholders. We believe that this proposal represents a unique opportunity to realise significant value for WSG shareholders and the employees of WTC, and that the PTO can uniquely provide a healthy and growing environment for the WTC Business. The PTO and North Point Advisors, our financial advisors, are prepared to begin discussions forthwith with your senior management and your financial advisors and to sign a customary confidentiality agreement in order to commence certain due diligence.

We hope that you share our enthusiasm and that the WSG Board, in the exercise of its fiduciary duties, delivers a prompt and favourable reply to us. As the WSG Board has failed to respond to our previous good faith approach, we will publicly release a copy of this letter. We would urge you to convey to any potential bidders with whom you may be in discussions our view that the cooperation of the PTO in the operations of the WTC Business is vital to its valuation and its ongoing and future success and, further, in our view, the continued failure of the WSG Board or any potential bidder with whom you may be in discussions to engage with the PTO in a constructive and cooperative manner may have an adverse effect on the WTC Business and the WSG shareholders. We would accordingly request that if there are any restrictions in any Non-Disclosure Agreements prohibiting potential bidders from engaging in discussions with the PTO, that they be waived so that WSG shareholders are able to maximise the sale price of the WTC Business.

Respectfully yours,

Charles Adamo –– Chairman

Sam Renouf –– Chief Executive Officer

Rachel Joyce –– Athlete Director

Dylan McNeice –– Athlete Director

P.T.O. Putting 2 Million Bucks in Pockets of 100 Top Pro Triathletes for 2020

LONDON, ENGLAND: The Professional Triathletes Organisation today announced that it has adopted a $2,000,000 Annual Bonus Programme pursuant to which athletes will be paid based on their PTO World Rankings at the end of 2020. The bonus amounts range from $100,000 for the PTO World No. 1 male and female athletes, to $10,000 for the PTO World No. 20 male and female athletes. In addition, male and female athletes ranked at the end of the year between 21-50 shall each be paid $5,000 and those ranked between 51-100 shall be paid $2,000.

Rachel Joyce, Co-President of the PTO commented, “We are very pleased to be able to adopt an annual bonus programme that rewards athletes for outstanding performances throughout the year. The triathlon season is a long one and just because an athlete might have an off race in a large event, doesn’t mean that their year’s performance should go unrewarded.”

The PTO World Rankings is a first-of-its-kind ranking technology to measure the greatest non-drafting professional triathletes. It is a worldwide benchmark of consistent excellence in triathlon. In addition to being the basis for the PTO Annual Bonus Programme, it is used to determine automatic qualification spots for The Collins Cup.

Tim O’Donnell, Co-President of the PTO, stated, “The adoption of the PTO Annual Bonus Plan, together with the $2,000,000 payments at The Collins Cup, means that so far in 2020 the PTO will be paying 200 professional triathletes $4,000,000. We believe that this demonstrates the value and benefits of professionals being unified in our own organisation and we hope that this is just the beginning of the many ways the PTO can bring not only a voice but meaningful contributions to our sport.”

All licensed professionals are eligible to be members of the PTO and there are no costs or memberships fees. More information can be found at protriathletes.org or by e-mailing us at membership@protriathletes.org.

About The Professional Triathletes Organisation

The Professional Triathletes Organisation is a not-for-profit entity representing the body of professional triathletes. The PTO seeks to showcase the passion, talents, determination, struggles and achievements of the dedicated professionals who strive to realise the highest levels of the sport and inspire all those who are a part of the triathlon community. The PTO will host The Collins Cup from May 28-30, at the world-renowned x-bionic sphere® in Samorin, Slovakia. For more information go visit thecollinscup.com

PTO Taking Another Run at Purchasing IRONMAN

LONDON, ENGLAND–BOULDER, USA; 4th February 2020: The Professional Triathletes Organisation today released the following letter sent to the Board of Directors of Wanda Sports Group Company Limited on 3rd February 2020 advising the Board that the PTO has closed on its financial partnership with Crankstart Investments and renewing the PTO’s proposal to enter into discussions to acquire the IRONMAN® business.

Dear Members of the Board:

We are writing on behalf of the Professional Triathletes Organisation (the “PTO”) to advise you that we have closed on our partnership financing with Crankstart Investments. We again want to put forth our proposal to enter into discussions for the acquisition by the PTO of all of the assets of the Wanda Sports Group Company Limited (“WSG”) related to its worldwide triathlon and mass participation business (the “WTC Business”).

The PTO is prepared to consider an all-cash transaction or one in which the existing shareholders of WSG are able to participate in the growth of the WTC Business that the PTO is uniquely positioned to deliver. We strongly believe that it is only with the assistance of the PTO and its professional athletes that the WTC Business has the ability to stabilise and grow, and that without our cooperation the WTC Business would deteriorate. We are happy to work with any other financially stable group who may be interested in acquiring the WTC Business, reducing its debt load and unleashing the value only the PTO and its professional athletes can deliver.

The PTO and North Point Advisors, our financial advisors, are prepared to begin discussions forthwith with your senior management and your financial advisors and to sign a customary confidentiality agreement in order to commence certain confirmatory due diligence. In light of the significance of this proposal to your shareholders and the triathlon community, as well as the potential for selective disclosures, we will publicly release the text of this letter tomorrow morning.

We believe this proposal represents a unique opportunity to realise significant value for WSG shareholders and employees, and that the PTO can uniquely provide a healthy and growing environment for the WTC Business.

We hope that you and your Board share our enthusiasm and, consistent with applicable fiduciary duties, we look forward to a prompt and favourable reply.

Respectfully yours,

Charles D. Adamo––Chairman

Sam Renouf––Chief Executive Officer

Rachel Joyce––Co-President

Tim O’Donnell––Co-President