THE CHAL­LENGE FOR CHAL­LENGE (AND EV­ERY­ONE OTHER THAN IRON­MAN)

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - WARM-UP EDITORIAL -

TALK TO ANY­ONE who was at the sec­ond run­ning of “The Cham­pi­onship” in Samorin, Slo­vakia, and you’ll hear them rave about the event. I’m bi­ased be­cause I once again served as the host and main an­nouncer for the event, but un­less the pros and ath­letes were all ly­ing to me, ev­ery­one seemed to en­joy the sec­ond run­ning of the race that will take place at the spec­tac­u­lar X-Bion­ic­sphere for an­other three years.

The num­bers don’t re­flect the qual­ity of the event, though. De­spite a spec­tac­u­lar pro field there were fewer than a thou­sand com­peti­tors. The race hasn’t at­tracted the at­ten­tion the folks from Chal­lenge are look­ing for. That will hope­fully change, but it’s not go­ing to be an easy sell. The Chal­lenge se­ries has strug­gled in North Amer­ica and is hop­ing to get back on track with a new event at Florida’s fa­mous Day­tona Speed­way this De­cem­ber. While there are very suc­cess­ful Chal­lenge events

across Europe and Asia, qual­i­fy­ing for the Cham­pi­onship hasn’t en­gen­dered the same kind of en­thu­si­asm as Kona or the 70.3 world cham­pi­onship has.

As Iron­man cel­e­brates its 40th an­niver­sary this year, it re­mains the big­gest global player in the sport. Sure, there’s the ITU with the ex­cit­ing World Triathlon Se­ries and world cham­pi­onship events that at­tract some of the world’s top age group ath­letes. There’s the Chal­lenge se­ries, with al­most 40 races on its cal­en­dar for 2018. Pen­tic­ton will host a new qual­i­fy­ing event for the Su­per League Triathlon Se­ries this Au­gust, but Su­per League is very much a work in progress, al­beit a very in­ter­est­ing one.

But when it comes to triathlon, Kona’s the event that re­ally seems to in­spire par­tic­i­pa­tion. As you’ll see in Ray­mond Britt’s story (p.52), 80,000 ath­letes com­peted in 39 full-dis­tance Iron­man events last year, all of which served as qual­i­fiers for the big show in Kona. There are even more ath­letes who com­pete in the half-dis­tance Iron­man-branded events around the world – two years ago, there were 103,000 ath­letes who com­peted in the var­i­ous qual­i­fy­ing events and even more races were added in 2017.

It is hardly a sur­prise that the Iron­man

brand leads the way. They put on qual­ity events around the world, have the world’s most iconic and well-known triathlon event as their crown jewel and have steadily ex­panded their busi­ness to in­clude marathon and cy­cling events to at­tract more peo­ple to the sport. A few years ago, Iron­man bought the com­pany that put on many of the WTS events around the world (La­gardere), so they’re now a ma­jor player in that se­ries, too. Iron­man isn’t likely to go any­where but up in the fore­see­able fu­ture.

So, it’s to­tally worth your while to par­tic­i­pate in an Iron­man event, but why not sup­port some other races, too? In On­tario, there are many dif­fer­ent race se­ries, for ex­am­ple, the Mul­tisport Triathlon Se­ries, as well as in­de­pen­dent events like the Toronto Tri Fes­ti­val that put on out­stand­ing races. Mon­treal and Ed­mon­ton’s WTS races are sure to be spec­tac­u­lar events, too. As is the re­turn of the Kelowna Ap­ple later this year, Ed­mon­ton’s Great White North Triathlon and so many oth­ers.

I get the lure of Kona and the Iron­man name that put the sport on the map 40 years ago. But I’m also very aware of just how good many of the in­de­pen­dent and smaller se­ries races are. I hope you’ll sup­port them as much as you sup­port the Iron­man brand.

KEVIN MACKIN­NON

ED­I­TOR

Heidi Thranum ex­its the wa­ter at the Chal­lenge Cham­pi­onship

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