Most Compelling IRONMAN Ever in Boulder, Here’s Why

By Bill Plock

IRONMAN Boulder 70.3 is usually a big deal. And it usually is one of the biggest races in all of IRONMAN. But the 2021 race might be the most compelling ever. Especially in the pro field. 47 men and 37 women will by vying for spots not only in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships, but some will be battling to get a spot at the coveted PTO Collins Cup in Slovakia on August 28th with some major money and notoriety at stake. Boulder is the last qualifying race for the Collins Cup.

The field is stacked with some top pro‘s like Sam Long, Sam Appleton, Chris Leiferman, Tyler Butterfield (all live and train in Boulder) all ranked in the top 30 in the world. Sam Long is the number one ranked American (according to PTO rankings) while Sam Appleton is the third ranked International for the Collins Cup. Chris Leiferman is 5th for the Americans and 1 point out of being an automatic qualifier. If he has a good race he could jump ahead of Ben Kanute and automatically make the team. Tyler Butterfield is 5th for the Internationals.

For the women it’s equally compelling with Skye Moench the number one ranked American battling Britains Emma Pallant, the sixth ranked European and Jeanni Metzler the fourth ranked International. Jeanni is barely ahead of Australia’s Sarah Crowley in the Collins Cup ranking and will need to have a good race to keep her automatic spot. That should create some exciting dynamics where the race matters on many levels. Meredith Kessler and Lesley Smith, ranked 7th and 8th for the American team and Emma Pallant who is 6th for the European team have a lot to possibly gain by good showings in Boulder. And lastly, keep an eye out for Chelsea Sodaro, she is ranked 11th in the world but hasn’t raced this season due to maternity leave. But with the PTO’s policy on holding rank, with a good showing at Boulder, she could be heading to the Collins Cup as well. 

The PTO’s Collins Cup will take the top four athletes automatically and two more will be chosen by the captains of the US team, the European team and the International team.

Throw into all of that, you have Taylor Knibb fresh off her silver medal performance in Tokyo racing. She is not known as a 70.3 athlete, but with her speed, youth and fitness coming off the Olympics, she could really make things interesting.

But there are many pro’s in field who also live in Boulder and no doubt some fun rivalries and hometown pride will keep it close. If there were odds, Sam Long would probably be favored but don’t be surprised is someone else is on top of the podium with so many factors at play. 

Keep an eye out for Olympian Andy Potts who is participating in the upcoming Paralympics guiding for Kyle Coon and is at the top of his game. Boulders Justin Metzler, Joe Gambles, and Kennett Peterson might emerge near the lead as well, and keep an eye out for Speedo sensation, Boulder native Colin Laughery who always relishes a chance to race at home.

And for Sam Long, born in raised in Boulder, in his most recent video getting ready for this race he says, “I’m the hometown boy coming after this race.” This was Sam’s first pro race years ago and he says he hasn’t had his best race in Boulder yet. He would like to make this years race his best Boulder effort since his first one as an 18 year old in 2014. Fun video here with many of the pro’s and a brief discussion with race director Julie Coleman

The race can be watched on IRONMAN Live here starting tomorrow at 6:50am: https://www.facebook.com/IRONMANnow/

Or come to the Boulder Reservoir tomorrow and check it out. Food trucks and lots of energy will be waiting for you. More on spectator transportation here: https://www.ironman.com/im703-boulder-athletes

USA Triathlon Foundation and Professional Triathletes Organisation team up to provide COVID-19 Relief Fund Grants

From USA Triathlon

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The USA Triathlon Foundation, in partnership with the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO), is now accepting applications for its second round of COVID-19 Relief Fund donations, with $55,000 in grant funding available. The relief fund provides financial support to members of the U.S. multisport community who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals and organizations may apply for funding starting today, through Monday, March 15.

A portion of the funding was raised through the PTO 2020 Championship Sweepstakes at CHALLENGEDAYTONA, in which past and present professional triathletes from around the globe — including Jan Frodeno, Dave Scott, Daniela Ryf, Mark Allen and Lucy Charles — donated their time and merchandise in a global, 10-day-long prize draw. In addition, the PTO itself contributed to the relief fund by donating all proceeds from its pay-per-view livestream broadcast of the PTO 2020 Championship.

Complete eligibility information and application materials for the COVID-19 Relief Fund can be found at usatriathlonfoundation.org. All applications are reviewed by a seven-member independent grant committee that includes USA Triathlon Foundation Trustees; coaches; race directors; age group athletes; paratriathletes; pro triathletes; and PTO members Matt Hanson and Jackie Hering. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives,” Hanson said. “The multisport community has been a haven for many seeking new challenges, a social outlet, healthier lifestyles, and an all-around way of life — but the sport has definitely not been immune to the impacts of the pandemic. Many individuals lost their training outlets, and many businesses were put under extreme financial pressure. I applaud USA Triathlon, the PTO and CHALLENGEDAYTONA for working to help give back to the triathlon community, and I look forward to reviewing the applications for these funds.” 

The Foundation will make all selections, announce grant funding recipients and distribute funds by the week of March 29. Grant applications up to $5,000 will be considered. The Foundation may not be able to support every eligible request for funding. In its first round, the relief fund distributed more than $110,000 in grants to multisport organizations and individuals.  

“The USA Triathlon Foundation is grateful for the generosity of the Professional Triathletes Organisation and the individual athletes and donors who gave time and resources to support the COVID-19 Relief Fund,” said David Deschenes, USA Triathlon Foundation Executive Director. “We are proud of the impact the fund has made so far through grants at the grassroots level, and we look forward to providing additional relief as the multisport community continues to grapple with and rebound from COVID-19’s effects.”

“2020 was an incredibly challenging year on many fronts,” said Charles Adamo, Executive Chairman of PTO. “The PTO and its member PTO Professionals were grateful to have the opportunity to harness the interest in Professional Triathlon as a chance to ‘play it forward’ with this fundraising initiative to support those in the sport most in need. We are grateful of the partnership with USA Triathlon and the USA Triathlon Foundation and their fantastic efforts to keep the sport going during these difficult times.”

The Foundation welcomes applications from USA Triathlon-certified race directors and race management organizations; USA Triathlon-certified coaches and clubs; and other individuals and organizations who have been impacted by the pandemic.

Funds may be used to support programs and events that have been rescheduled or postponed due to COVID-19, or to create new programs and events that will encourage participation in multisport activities. All requests must help advance the mission of the USA Triathlon Foundation, which is to transform lives through sport by providing opportunities to swim, bike and run for all.

Donations in support of the USA Triathlon Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund are being accepted on a continual basis. Visit usatriathlonfoundation.org to donate today, or to learn more about the USA Triathlon Foundation and the programs it supports.

About the USA Triathlon Foundation
The USA Triathlon Foundation was created in 2014 by the USA Triathlon Board of Directors as an independent tax-exempt 501(c)(3) entity. Under the leadership of its Trustees and Committee members, the Foundation serves as a means to create a healthier America through triathlon and seeks to transform lives by opening up new pathways to the sport for all, especially those who are otherwise underserved. The USA Triathlon Foundation operates with the belief that every child should have the chance to participate, every paratriathlete should have the opportunity to compete, and every aspiring elite athlete should be able to chase his or her Olympic dream. Since the Foundation’s inception, more than $1.9 million has been provided to worthy causes and organizations that support its mission. Donations to the USA Triathlon Foundation ensure America’s youth are introduced to the benefits and fun of a multisport lifestyle, athletes with disabilities receive the training, support and gear to be able to participate and excel, and the best aspiring young athletes have a chance to pursue their Olympic Dreams. Visit usatriathlonfoundation.org to learn more and donate today.

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 4,300 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).

About the Professional Triathletes Organisation

The Professional Triathletes Organisation is a not-for-profit entity representing the body of professional triathletes and seeks to showcase the passion, talents, determination, struggles and achievements of the dedicated professionals who strive to realize the highest levels of the sport and inspire all those who are a part of the triathlon community.

PTO Explains Its Vision, Will IRONMAN and PTO Raise the Bar for the Sport of Triathlon, 303 Thinks So.

By Bill Plock

Recently social media giant, Triathlon Taren interviewed the CEO of the Professional Triathlon Organisation (PTO), Sam Renouf. This podcast left me quite impressed with the direction of the PTO, Triathlon Taren and made me hopeful for the sport of triathlon. 

Triathlon Taren’s Podcast HERE

https://triathlontarenpodcast.libsyn.com/ptos-2021-business-plan-with-ceo-sam-renouf?fbclid=IwAR0prEShgNp4aeKqII4On69QiyVzuZz-ArG_1Pit5Viop2qSRFKtTwq7YI0

In a public perception sort of way, we seem to want a good vs. bad, a black vs. white, a villain vs a hero story. In the triathlon space, last year PTO took a shot at buying IRONMAN only to be denied. Then PTO decided to introduce a golf influenced triathlon extravaganza, the Collins Cup to showcase the sport of triathlon and attempt to make it a made for TV event. But Covid killed that for 2020 and its slated for August of 2021. 

They then partnered with IRONMAN competitor, the Challenge Family and made CHALLENGE Daytona their pro triathlon championship complete with a 1.2 million dollar prize purse. The PTO also awarded other non-Ironman races with prize purses during 2020 eventually rewarding pros with a few million dollars. Meanwhile IRONMAN had a few races in 2020, but all in all, PTO was responsible for a majority of the cash awarded to pro triathletes and frankly kept them going in 2020.

So now, in the eyes of the public, there seems to be a bit of a triathlon “war” between Ironman and the PTO. According to PTO, their mission is to grow the sport overall and they believe the way to do that is with a healthy pro field and events that appeal to sponsors who want to reach an audience not just racing, but watching on television or in the venue itself—like the home of the Daytona 500.  

Furthermore the PTO believes that salaries and prizes for pros should not be funded primarily by age group entry fees, but rather by sponsor fees. In IRONMAN races, the age group entry fees are the foundation for the revenues and thus the vehicle to fund prizes. The PTO believes that sponsors, TV advertisers and event marketers should pay for the bulk of the prizes and the age groupers shouldn’t be funding the pros. PTO believes IRONMAN races are too expensive for age groupers and that the experience can be made better and less expensive and also that pro’s should be compensated much better. 

Sam Long fired up running with Rudy Von Berg–photo Khem Suthiwan

Ok, so now what? PTO has deep pockets and has spelled out in this interview how they plan to eventually have a model like golf and tennis. There will be four or five triathlons the PTO manages that are the equivalent of the “majors” and will feed a championship. Along the way, local and regional triathlons will act as qualifying events for the majors. 

Not every event will be the same or on a track like Daytona. In this podcast they discuss for example how Challenge Roth could be a possible major and how covering it for TV won’t be as easy as a Daytona, but necessary. They discuss how they want a mix of race types so different athletes with different strengths can emerge champions. Again, think tennis or golf. There are clay court specialists, long course type of golfers, and so forth. Yes, they all need to be able to be good in all conditions, but not all triathletes compete well in say a Kona type environment, or even at a full distance Ironman. A full distance IRONMAN is pretty much about attrition and stamina.  There is strategy, and speed and making the most of one’s skills of course, but very few athletes have a chance to win. It’s not a compelling race. It’s a compelling event because what these pros (and age groupers) do is absolutely incredible and inspirational. 

303’s Khem Suthiwan and Bill Plock in Daytona

But, it’s not made for TV and a tough sell to non-endemic sponsors. The PTO, in Daytona had to prove they could pull off a made for TV event that was competitive and combined the need for skill and speed coupled with stamina and endurance—and they did it.

In Daytona, half a million people watched the race with an average watch time of 29 minutes according to Sam Renouf. That’s unheard of. The PTO definitely succeeded in orchestrating a watchable event. This isn’t to say that the steaming of Kona doesn’t have a large audience, but, according to this podcast the time watched is merely seconds versus 29 minutes. And, that makes sense. There is very little drama in Kona. In Daytona the lead changed practically every few minutes. People probably check in on Kona to see who is still in the lead and come back later. That’s what I do when I’m there.  Once in a while there is some drama in Kona, but with the lap format in Daytona, each lap showcased someone moving up or down the leaderboard. 

The bottom line, to me, is IRONMAN and the PTO can co-exist, quite nicely in fact. 

IRONMAN has one huge advantage over Challenge or any other triathlon—they have a brand. They own triathlon. 

To the average person on the street, if you say “triathlon,” they think “Ironman”. They will say, “oh that race in Hawaii.” Like Kleenex is to tissue paper. Do you see any tattoos of Challenge or USAT or any other form of triathlon on people? Nope. That says it all. 

So as long as IRONMAN continues to put on quality events, and they do, and people aspire be “Ironmans” they will succeed. And as long as Kona or wherever the 70.3 championships are held, are tough to qualify for and have a worldwide appeal, they will be remain relevant. 

To the pro’s, at the end of the day, they will, and need to go where the money is. But there may always be a desire to race Kona even if it’s not the top money gathering race. There may always be a desire to figuratively race against the legends of the sport on the same historic course; the Mark Allens, Dave Scotts, Paula Newby-Frasers, Chrissie Wellingtons, Miranda Carfraes etc.  And the same goes for age groupers. As someone who nearly qualified, I know its a pretty exclusive club to race there, and that appeal is strong. 

If I had my druthers, I would love to see IRONMAN and the PTO kiss and make up and throw IRONMAN races into the mix as qualifiers for the pros. Maybe Kona is the long course championship, maybe the Collins Cup is the place for national pride to take over (its America, vs Europe vs Internationals—like golfs Ryder cup) and maybe Daytona is a mix where triathletes of all disciplines get to race against each other and the fastest one wins. And maybe great regional races like a Lake to Lake, or Harvest Moon here in Colorado become qualifiers for a PTO Major maybe held in a place like Des Moines—think the old Hy Vee race. 

Who knows, but a fun, healthy made for TV sport will only help provide more opportunities for both age groupers and pros to excel, make a living and have fun.

The sport needs heroes and characters. Locally we have someone like Sam Long who isn’t afraid to mix it up and call people out and behind his “yo yo yo’s” I believe Sam is having a ton of fun and trying to make the sport more dynamic and earn a living doing so. He, I believe wants nothing more than great competition like all triathletes I have ever met.

The sport needs a healthy variety of races and distances and a sense of pride for competing in everything from a local sprint to Kona. Every triathlon and triathlete should be judged on their willingness to try every single day at every single event. 

Go PTO, raise the bar. Go IRONMAN, keep the dream alive and lets hope someday you both dance on the same dance floor together. 

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

Chris Leiferman and Sam Long in for Daytona as Wildcards!

Boulder, October 23–Yesterday the Professional Triathlete Organisation (PTO) announced the final wildcard selection the PTO Championship in Daytona in December and Boulder’s Chris Leiferman was selected. Also selected was Lucy Hall, Chris Simone Mitchell and James Cunnama.

Earlier this week, in case you missed it, the PTO announced Sam Long, Danielle Dingman, Magnus Ditlev and Renee Kiley will be racing in Daytona.

Sam Long (photo: Kenny Withrow)

Sam Long commented, “The PTO 2020 Championship is going to be epic, and I am thrilled to have been selected to be a part of it. It is fantastic professionals have all come together to form the PTO. This will be the greatest race EVER, and the best thing about it is that this is OUR race and the PTO is OUR organization. I am ready to give triathlon fans the race they have all been waiting for

Chris Leiferman

Chris Leiferman, said, “I am excited about being awarded a wildcard slot at the PTO 2020 Championship. With the calibre of the field, it will be the event of a lifetime. As the first event that has been organized by PTO Professionals, it is a historical moment for our sport, and it is an absolute honor to be part of it.”

Charles Adamo, Executive Chairman of PTO, commented, “Our final wildcard selections could not have been more difficult. There were many talented and qualified athletes to choose from. We very much wish we could have selected them all. We are satisfied that the wildcard selections represent a good balance from our criteria of top ITU talent, professionals whose ranking does not accurately represent their historical performances, and the newer, up-and-coming professionals. These were not easy decisions to make, but we think the result clearly delivers the greatest field ever assembled for a triathlon event.”

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.”